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Think you received an email from us? Read carefully!

2019 January 25
by Henry Stokes

It has recently come to our attention that libraries around the state have been receiving spoofed emails containing fake invoices and embedded links from what appears to be state employees’ email addresses. This includes spoofed emails from LDN staff members, including division director Jennifer Peters. We are currently monitoring the situation. It is not standard agency practice for program staff to send invoices. If you receive an email that appears to be from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, please feel free to contact us to verify its origin. Our staff directory is found on our website, or you can call (800) 252-9386 (toll-free). You can also email us at ld@tsl.texas.gov.

In light of this evolving situation, we want to make sure you are aware of a few tips to help you spot spoofed or phishing emails, as well as resources where you can learn more.

What is spoofing? Spoofing is when cyber-criminals create fake, official-looking emails which instruct you to take precautionary measures to protect your finances or reputation. They’ll often embed corporate logos or other identifying graphics just to make things seem more authentic. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, they claim to warn you that identity thieves are targeting you and action must be taken to prevent it. In fact, the senders are the very identity thieves they purport to be protecting you from. The spoofing email urges you to click on a link within the message. Doing so is a mistake: it executes malware – a malicious file that damages your operating system,  important applications,  and even your whole network.

What is phishing? Phishing is a form of spoofing that incorporates an additional fake web page that ‘reels’ you in to believing the hacker is a trusted source. Like spoofing, you receive a legitimate-looking message, but the link within takes you to an often realistic-looking, but totally fake website in your browser. The bogus website asks you to enter in sensitive, personal, or confidential account information, such as login/password, social security number and even bank account information.  An example of phishing would be asking for personal information in an email that appears to come from a government employee, but in reality comes from someone unassociated with the agency!

How can I tell a fake email from a real email?  It can sometimes be difficult to tell a fake email from a real email. A few key items to look at when confirming the legitimacy of an email are:

  • Spelling or grammatical errors – these could be a clue that the email is not legitimate.
  • URLs included in the email – always check the destination of URLs by hovering over the link.  Links that send you to the Texas State Library website should begin with https://www.tsl.texas.gov.
  • Telephone contact information from the wrong area code (TSLAC should be 512).
  • Check the email message header information (instructions for how to view in MS Outlook) to confirm whether the email addresses in the FROM, REPLY-TO, and RETURN-PATH are the same.
    • FROM jpeters@tsl.texas.gov – This appears to come from a legitimate source on a spoofed message.
    • REPLY-TO hacker@tryingtophishyou.com – This can also be spoofed, but a lazy scammer might leave the actual REPLY-TO address. If you see a different sending address here, the email might have been spoofed.
    • RETURN-PATH hacker@ tryingtophishyou.com – This can also be spoofed, but a lazy scammer might leave the actual RETURN-PATH address. If you see a different sending address here, the email might have been spoofed.
    • SOURCE IP address or “X-ORIGIN” address – This is typically more difficult to alter but it is possible. To determine if it’s a phisher, you would have to know what IP your mail is coming from, and you would need to compare what’s listed here to that. If different, it’s coming from a different mail service.

If you receive an email that definitely looks fake, delete it right away.  You can also check with the sender to see if it was legitimate. Always be extremely cautious about clicking on any links or files that come from an unexpected, suspicious email.  As a rule-of-thumb, it’s always best to visit a trusted site via a clean link in the browser first, before ever using a link within an email – just to ensure you are logging in to the legitimate site and not a fake, phishing one.

Resources

Here are a few additional resources that may help you in learning about phishing and spoofing.

Again, please do not hesitate to contact us directly if you wish to confirm the legitimacy of any communications from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.


Free CE and Training This Week – January 28 – February 1

2019 January 24
by Christina Manz

The weekly listing is sourced from Wyoming State Library Training Calendar with free training online, and free Texas workshops, updated as new events are added. See what’s happening on the CE calendar. Confirm the date and time when you register, or follow links for archive information. Events listed in Central Time. 

Tuesday, Jan 29
Building and Maintaining a Graphic Novel and Comics Collection (Utah State Library)
Graphic Novels can be one of the most popular and highest circulating formats in your library collection, but often, staff are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the format. In this webinar, graphic novel enthusiasts and longtime collection developer, Amanda Jacobs Foust, will share the secrets of purchasing, organizing and preserving graphic novels and comics in the library for all ages. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/usl-training-208844751
Time: 11-12pm

Tuesday, Jan 29
3 Steps to Effective Storytelling to Grow Your Memberships (Wild Apricot)
Are you finding it a challenge to grow your membership? For many organizations, the culprit is not telling the right stories to motivate your target audience. If you want to learn how some of the most successful membership organizations use strategic storytelling to attract and engage members, please join our free webinar on January 29 with storytelling expert Vanessa Chase Lockshin. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.wildapricot.com/academy
Time: 1-2pm

Tuesday, Jan 29
Introduction to the 2018 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report (Texas State Library and Archives Commission)

Texas State Library Program Coordinator Stacey Malek provides participants with an overview of the Texas Public Library Annual Report for Local Fiscal Year 2018. This will include an overview of accreditation. Her colleague, Valicia Greenwood, does a quick demonstration of the online report. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/workshops/webinars/index.html
Time: 2-3pm

Tuesday, Jan 29
Footprint Foothold: Helping Students Manage Their Online Reputations (edWeb)
In this edWebinar, Sean Coffron, Ph.D. will present strategies and tools for introducing the topic of digital footprints to students and for preparing them to be thoughtful keepers of their online presences. For more information and to register, visit: https://home.edweb.net/webinars/2019-01/
Time: 2-3pm

Wednesday, Jan 30
Moving Diversity Forward: Using Embedded Diversity Practices to Enhance Learning Opportunities for Youth (American Association of School Librarians)
This session will introduce participants to best practices for implementing multicultural literature into curriculums. The goal of the session is to engage participants in a meaningful, reflective discussion about the importance of diversity and inclusion as a strategic imperative for creating a sense of equality for all students. For more information and to register, visit: http://www.ala.org/aasl/ecollab/upcoming
Time: 6-7pm

Thursday, Jan 31
How to Use Facebook’s Free Fundraising Tools to Drive Donations (CharityHowTo)
In this free 45-minute webinar, you’ll learn how to successfully register your nonprofit to use Facebook’s powerful new Fundraising Tools, and a brief step-by-step guide to using these free tools to raise money using Facebook! For more information and to register, visit: https://www.charityhowto.com/nonprofit-live-webinars
Time: 12-1pm

Thursday, Jan 31
Understanding Soft Risk in Volunteer Engagement (VolunteerMatch)
We all worry about the hard risks that can have an impact on our volunteers and the work they do, but too often we don’t think about the soft risk. Soft risks are the attitudes, beliefs and actions that expose our organizations to risks. Those risks may include the actions of staff – both paid and volunteer, interactions on social media, lack of training for leaders and volunteers – leading to risky behavior, and how failing to screen for characteristics or “fit” can open volunteers and the organization up to risk. This webinar is designed to help attendees identify soft risks in their organization and give them the tools to make changes to processes and culture to minimize and address these risks.  For more information and to register, visit: http://learn.volunteermatch.org/training-topics
Time: 1-2pm

Thursday, Jan 31
Assistive Technology for Reading and Writing: An Overview of Innovative Tools for School, Work, and Home (PACER Center)
This workshop will introduce you to new tools that support reading and writing. Demonstrations will include devices from the STC lending library, mobile apps, Chrome extensions, and Microsoft learning tools. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.pacer.org/workshops/
Time: 3-4:30pm

Literacy Behind Bars: Inside the world of Texas prison librarians

2019 January 23
by Katherine Adelberg

Windham School District logo

Last week’s webinar outlined success stories and possibilities for collaborating with public libraries

Last week a team of librarians and administrators from the Windham School District (WSD) presented a webinar on how their libraries inside the Texas prison system are transforming lives through literacy.

In one particular example, a patron in her 70s with a second grade reading level eventually worked her way up to reading on her own. When she was approved for parole, she had tears in her eyes as she talked about the possibility of reading to her grandchildren for the first time.

Learn more about Windham School District libraries by watching the archived webinar.

How can your library support the Windham School District patrons? Here are some suggestions from WSD staff:

  • Consider working with WSD to issue their patrons a library card prior to their release. WSD staff shared that very few of their patrons have any experience with public libraries.
  • Promote library services to WSD patrons – produce a flier to include with library card applications, or create a video like this one from the Hennepin County Library.
  • Include your local unit in author visits or other programming.
  • Develop a family reading program that includes WSD patrons.
  • Offer storytime during unit visiting hours.
  • Include halfway houses in library outreach and programming.
  • Collect materials relevant to WSD patron needs.

Have questions about how your library might partner with a unit of the Windham School District? Contact Rebecca Gillen, Library Services Supervisor, at rebecca.gillen@wsdtx.org

Next Week! Introduction to the 2018 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report

2019 January 22
by Valicia Greenwood

On Tuesday, January 29, at 2 p.m., Accreditation Program Coordinator Stacey Malek and Library Statistics Specialist Valicia Greenwood will present an Introduction to the 2018 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report.

This webinar contains what you need to know about the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report and public library accreditation. Whether this is your first time through, or have been doing it for years, it will be worth your time to participate.

You’ll learn tips for successful completion and what changes have been made in report questions. There will be time spent on the financial reporting sections and details about maintenance of effort (MOE). We will provide links to tools that will help you understand the questions, from reporting downloadable materials to program statistics. We’ll discuss each section of the report and include a live demonstration of how to work your way around Texas LibPAS, the data collection portal. We will answer questions you may have about reporting and accreditation.

This webinar provides 1 TSLAC CE hour of credit with the live viewing. Join us! Register at Introduction to the 2018 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report.

Log-in information to Texas LibPAS, the data collection portal, was sent out earlier this month.  If you did not receive it, or if there has been a recent change in leadership, please contact Valicia Greenwood (vgreenwood@tsl.texas.gov)

Free CE and Training This Week – January 21-25

2019 January 20
by Christina Manz

The weekly listing is sourced from Wyoming State Library Training Calendar with free training online, and free Texas workshops, updated as new events are added. See what’s happening on the CE calendar. Confirm the date and time when you register, or follow links for archive information. Events listed in Central Time. 

Tuesday, Jan 22
Providing Great Library Service With Skill and Empathy (Utah State Library)
This 90-minute webinar session with Steve provides realistic and practical tools to help all library employees with patron-contact jobs to better deal with entitled, difficult or even angry people, over the counter or over the phone. Steve uses his background in HR, security, and law enforcement to teach this program in a fast, entertaining, and even humorous way. Steve is the author of the ALA 2015 book Library Security and Service! Service! Service!, which is all about how to deliver excellent service to a variety of customers, in many contact settings. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/usl-training-208844751
Time: 11-12:30pm

Tuesday, Jan 22
Social Media 101 for Nonprofits (Firespring)
This session includes practical tips and tools for extending your cause and mission via social media. We cover the basics of using social media for your nonprofit organization and give you handy tips for the “big 3:” Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.firespring.com/resources/webinars/
Time: 1:30-2:30pm

Wednesday, Jan 23
Reclaim Your Success: Lessons from Disrupters – Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold (American Management Association)
Dr. Patti Fletcher, speaker, advocate, leadership futurist, and author of Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold, shares how a disrupter’s mindset enables women to not just break the glass ceiling, but shatter it against all odds. You will take away an action plan with specific lessons learned that can be put into practice right away. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.amanet.org/news/events-calendar.aspx
Time: 11-12pm

Wednesday, Jan 23
Size Doesn’t Matter: Transforming Big Ideas into Small Library Environments (Programming Librarian)
If you’ve ever heard about a fantastic library idea from a super-big library and thought, “There’s no way I can make that idea work in my understaffed, underfunded small library,” think again! This presentation celebrates all things small and shares big ideas that work in small libraries. For more information and to register, visit: http://programminglibrarian.org/learn
Time: 1-2pm

Wednesday, Jan 23
The Future Is Now: Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality in Public Libraries (WebJunction)
Libraries have long been at the forefront of providing community access to new technologies. Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) are now finding a place in library programming and services, engaging with communities in truly innovative ways. Two Maryland libraries are building their programming with straightforward approaches to community discovery and local partnerships. Join us to hear creative ideas for how to get started using VR/AR/MR at your library, as well as practical tips about applications, equipment and potential uses to meet your community’s needs. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.webjunction.org/events/webjunction.html
Time: 2-3pm

Wednesday, Jan 23
Emerging Tech Trends in the Library – Part 9 (Infopeople)
With so much new technology coming at us so fast, it can be difficult to keep up. As part of the Emerging Tech Trends series, presenter Laura Solomon continues the exploration into emerging technology trends, and how these trends might (or might not) re-shape library services. For more information and to register, visit: https://infopeople.org/training/view/webinar
Time: 2-3pm

Wednesday, Jan 23
Leadership in Youth Services, Part 3: Moving Beyond Youth Services (Association for Library Services to Children)
Thinking of the next step in your career? Learn how to translate the things you do everyday in your role as a Youth Services Librarian into desirable supervisory skills on your resume. Get advice from professionals in the field who have made the leap to management and hear what you should be doing right now to make yourself more marketable. For more information and to register, visit: http://www.ala.org/alsc/elearning/live-webinars
Time: 2-3pm

Wednesday, Jan 23
Leading Transformational Learning Through Making (edWeb)
The library makerspace is emerging as a powerful vehicle for increasing library visibility and value to the student community. In this session, Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair, and Donna Burns, Technology Integrator, of New Canaan High School in Connecticut, will feature how reorganization and materials selection helped one learning community fully embrace “making” across disciplines and grade levels. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.edweb.net/emergingtech
Time: 4-5pm

Thursday, Jan 24
National Mentoring Month: Strategies for Mentoring Girls in STEM (National Girls Collaborative Project)
The National Girls Collaborative Project is celebrating National Mentoring Month by highlighting the importance of role models and mentors in empowering girls and young women to actively pursue STEM education and careers. Join us as we cover tangible takeaways for educators seeking to utilize mentors in their programming, in addition to concrete strategies mentors can use to engage girls.. We will also take time to hear from participants and discuss methods for promoting the mentoring work that inspires girls to pursue STEM. For more information and to register, visit: https://ngcproject.org/events
Time: 1-2pm

Thursday, Jan 24
I Inherited a Mess! What Do I Do Now? (Texas State Library & Archives Commission)
You’ve landed your dream job. Every position has its challenges, but from day one, week one, or month one, you figure out that the library has problems: collection, human resources, public relations, technology, finance, policies, circulation, programming, or that the 100-year-old building is held together with duct tape. And maybe all of the above. This session is part case study, part plan, and part cheerleading session. Gwin Grimes, director of the Jeff Davis County Library in Fort Davis, Texas will share her decision-making matrix and outline of how to prioritize and plan for a library makeover, large or small. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/workshops/webinars/index.html
Time: 2-3pm

Apply NOW for E-rate funding with help from FREE consultants

2019 January 16
by Henry Stokes

It’s E-rate Season!

 That means it’s time for accredited public libraries to apply for big discounts on their broadband services! Libraries are eligible to receive up to 90% on their monthly Internet access costs, plus equipment and cabling, through E-rate, the federal discount program which puts billions of dollars aside each year for schools and libraries.

The Filing Window to submit the second form, the Form 471, starts TODAY (January 16) and will close Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 10:59 PM Central. This means that the first form, the Form 470, should be submitted asap in order to have time for the required 28 days of competitive bidding. The deadline for the Form 470 is February 27.

E-rate funding becomes essential in enabling libraries to afford attaining basic national standards of broadband for their communities and to continue providing patrons efficient access to distance learning, e-government information, and employment opportunities.

Take advantage of FREE consultants this year!

This year, as part of TSLAC’s Libraries Connecting Texas project, accredited public libraries in Texas can use the free expertise of E-rate Central who will help them file the forms correctly and on time. 

NOTE: Last chance to get free, E-rate consultant help is Friday, February 1!

For more information about E-rate and getting started with the free help with LCT, please see TSLAC’s E-rate page or contact TSLAC’s E-rate Coordinator, Henry Stokes, at 512-463-6624, hstokes@tsl.texas.gov.

Logo for Libraries Connecting Texas Project

Staff Highlight: Meisa Parkinson

2019 January 15
by Kyla Hunt

Meisa Parkinson

As part of our effort to make sure you know who the staff here at the Texas State Library are, we would like to periodically highlight staff members that you may at some point come in contact with! For our first staff highlight of 2019, I interviewed Meisa Parkinson, Administrative Assistant to the Library Development and Networking Division (LDN).

What are your job responsibilities in LDN? I am the Administrative Assistant to the LDN division. You may wonder who sends out those TexShare cards you order, that would be me! I also handle all day to day tasks and provide all travel assistance to my division.

What project have you been the most proud of during your time at TSLAC? Although I have only had the pleasure of being here at TSLAC for 6 months, I have assisted with so many various projects. My proudest project would be assisting with the Texas Authors Celebration hosted by the Texas Center for the Book, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas Book Festival and Writers’ League of Texas at our agency.  Being able to meet Ms. Guadalupe García McCall, the 2018 Texas’ Great Read author and author of “Shame the Stars”, was a true pleasure and honor. Being able to learn more about Texas history and to see how the information provided here at TSLAC is able to reach and assist so many patrons across the state has been inspiring.

What was the last book your read/movie you watched/podcast or song you listened to that you enjoyed? The last book I read was “Shame the Stars” and I truly enjoyed the love, history, and battle of equality/freedom synopsis the book contained.

What is something about you that people don’t know? Something about me that people don’t know is that I moonlight as an Income Tax Preparer.

Free CE and Training This Week – January 14-18

2019 January 13
by Christina Manz

The weekly listing is sourced from Wyoming State Library Training Calendar with free training online, and free Texas workshops, updated as new events are added. See what’s happening on the CE calendar. Confirm the date and time when you register, or follow links for archive information. Events listed in Central Time.

Tuesday, Jan 15
Literacy Behind Bars: Inside the World of Texas Prison Librarians (Texas State Library& Archives Commission)
Meet librarians working for the Windham School District (WSD), which operates in partnership with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Learn about their unique role within the prison and characteristics of the patrons they serve. Leave with ideas for partnerships between public libraries and prison libraries, and public library services that can support WSD patrons upon their release. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/workshops/webinars/index.html
Time: 10-11am

Tuesday, Jan 15
TechSoup Tour: How to Access Donations, Discounts, and Resources (TechSoup)
Join us for our free webinar on how your organization can access TechSoup’s wide variety of product discount and donation programs. We’ll show you how to access our many learning resources to help you optimize technology for your organization. During this tour and Q&A session, we will highlight the ways you can make the most of the donation and discount programs for hardware, software, cloud applications, and services available to eligible organizations. We will reserve time to ensure your questions about TechSoup and our donation programs and services get answered! For more information and to register, visit: http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/events
Time: 1-2pm

Tuesday, Jan 15
Presenting the 2019 Morris Award Finalists (Booklist)
Join Booklist for this exciting Q&A with all five authors nominated for YALSA’s 2019 William C. Morris Debut Award, an honor presented annually to first-time authors writing for teens. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.booklistonline.com/GeneralInfo.aspx?id=6
Time: 1-2pm

Tuesday, Jan 15
Implicit Bias in the Library Workplace (Infopeople)
In this webinar, presenter Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran will share examples of implicit bias within the library workplace and discuss best practices for addressing and minimizing implicit bias in recruitment, hiring and retention. Attendees will have access to a reference list of articles and videos on implicit bias including ones the presenter has authored and instructions for taking a free implicit bias test. For more information and to register, visit: https://infopeople.org/training/view/webinar
Time: 2-3pm

Wednesday, Jan 16
2020 Funding Opportunities – TSLAC Competitive Grants (Texas State Library & Archives Commission)
Erica McCormick, TSLAC’s Grants Administrator, will provide an overview of the FY 2020 competitive grant opportunities from TSLAC. She will review the funding priorities for the Texas Reads and TexTreasures programs, explain changes to the Special Projects grant program, and unveil a new regional ILS cooperative grant opportunity. She will also discuss a new opportunity for small libraries that are new to grants. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/workshops/webinars/index.html
Time: 10:30-11:30am

Wednesday, Jan 16
Introduction to Fundraising Planning (GrantSpace)
Does your organization need help directing its fundraising efforts? Planning focuses your organization by setting fundraising priorities and helps give staff and board members a roadmap to success. For more information and to register, visit: https://grantspace.org/training/search/format/live/location/online/
Time: 1-2pm

Wednesday, Jan 16
Elementary Educator’s Guide to Primary Sources (School Library Connection)
A compelling primary source can bring a bit of mystery or intrigue into an elementary classroom. Even in kindergarten, using an analysis process to look at primary sources can lead to student engagement,critical thinking, and empowered learning. Tom Bober, elementary school librarian and author, shares insights on the benefits of primary source analysis to student thinking and learning along with steps and strategies to unleash them in the classroom or library. For more information and to register, visit: https://schoollibraryconnection.com/
Time: 4-5pm

Thursday, Jan 17
Do You Speak Possibility? (Colorado State Library)
Based on “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander and using examples from fields as diverse as classical music and early childhood, this presentation will focus on the ability to “speak possibility” as a crucial skill for all leaders i.e., anyone – regardless of position on the organizational chart – to cultivate. Attendees will leave this highly-interactive session having learned three skills associated with speaking possibility, and having had the opportunity to consider how these examples from outside “libraryland” apply to our daily work. For more information and to register, visit: https://cslinsession.cvlsites.org/
Time: 1-2pm

Thursday, Jan 17
Making the Move from Summer Reading to Summer Learning (Association for Library Services to Children)
Participants will gain an awareness of best practices in making the shift from summer reading to summer learning and examine outcomes based evaluation as a way to measure program success and communicate their programs’ impact. For more information and to register, visit: http://www.ala.org/alsc/elearning/live-webinars
Time: 1-2pm

Thursday, Jan 17
Handling the Holiday Device: Tips and Best Practices (edWeb)
In this edWebinar, join Christine Elgersma,Senior Editor of Parent Education at Common Sense Media, to learn best practices and messaging to give to both students and parents to help them navigate using that new holiday device. For more information and to register, visit: https://home.edweb.net/webinars/
Time: 3-4pm

Friday, Jan 18
Your Guide to Free Tax Prep Services (American Libraries Live)
 Join us for a free webinar to learn about free tax services and resources to share with your patrons to help them file their annual returns. In this 60-minute webinar, you will learn more about the free IRS-sponsored tax prep services that are available in person and online. You will also gain access to tools and resources available from Tax Time Allies to make it easy to provide information to patrons and the larger community. The webinar will also offer a brief demonstration on the IRS Free File program (www.irs.gov/freefile). For more information and to register, visit: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/al-live/
Time: 12-1 pm

Close the Homework Gap with a local Wi-Fi Map

2019 January 10
by Henry Stokes

The Homework Gap”

If you haven’t heard the phrase before, it refers to the fact that so many school-age children must now rely on Internet access to complete their homework. Even though access is provided within the school grounds, once the school day ends, homework can’t be completed by students with no Internet at home. There’s literally a disconnect between what’s expected and what they are actually capable of. These students are seriously disadvantaged and fall dangerously behind.  To illustrate this growing problem, watch this entertaining video:

The best solution for schools and public libraries is to check out Wi-Fi hotspots (See our post for more info). If you’re a school district, you can also put Wi-Fi on your school buses or even install Wi-Fi kiosks throughout your community.

But sometimes checking out hotspots is either not feasible (due to funding or network availability), or it is feasible, but demand is too high with many students left out and unable to take advantage of the service.  That’s why schools are trying out an additional solution: Community Wi-Fi maps and decals.

Maps & Decals

The homework gap can be further closed by leveraging the existing free Wi-Fi in the area.  Schools can reach out and partner with local businesses who become powerful allies, offering to share their Wi-Fi so students can complete their schoolwork. Or if the businesses don’t have Wi-Fi to share, schools can provide them hotspots to use for maximum benefit.  Maybe not every student without access at home can check out their own personal hotspot. But with this solution, they can go to places in town with a school-purchased hotspot or already free Wi-Fi in place. 

It then behooves schools to make their students aware of these safe spaces in the community to utilize this approved Internet access.   Businesses are asked to display a decal, usually with the school’s branding, that signals to students it’s a good place for homework to be completed. 

Decal example
Example of Decal (Source)

Then, using existing free Google Maps tools, schools can pinpoint exactly where these approved Wi-Fi spots are in their communities. By embedding the map on their web pages, it becomes easily shareable via mobile device. Students can then navigate to the most convenient safe space when needed.

Texas is on the map for being one of a few states with school districts creating community Wi-Fi maps and decals, and even supplying businesses the Wi-Fi hotspots to make it happen and help close the Gap. 

Here are a few examples I found:

1) El Paso ISD (El Paso, TX)

Map: Free WiFi sites in the El Paso TX area

Screenshot of El Paso ISD web page showing WiFi map

2) Weatherford ISD (Weatherford, TX)

 Wi-Fi “HopSpots” Program (their mascot is a kangaroo – get it?)

Weatherford’s HopSpot Decal

3) San Marcos ISD (San Marcos, TX)

News article and video from 8/27/2018: San Marcos CISD students encouraged to use WiFi at local businesses



Video of news report
Decal for local businesses
Photo of decal being applied

OK, but what about Public Libraries?

Public libraries need to be part of this community partnership if they aren’t already!  They need to ensure they are included on any local Wi-Fi maps and are displaying the decals their school districts are creating. Or, if map and decals don’t exist, they should make them!

Public libraries should be the first place schools partner with to help address the homework gap problem. Not only do they provide free Internet as part of their mission, they also have supportive staff available to assist students.   

Photo of Marathon Public Library's Internet sign
Sign in front of Marathon Public Library (Marathon, TX)

(And one is never obligated to buy anything like in a coffee shop or fast food place.)

Further reading

Ready for Input Now: 2018 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report

2019 January 8
by Valicia Greenwood

Texas LibPAS (https://tx.countingopinions.com/),the data collection portal for the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, is now open for reporting local fiscal year 2018 information, including library revenue, expenditures, collection, circulation, service and e-resource information. Although the  due date is April 30, 2019, we encourage libraries to submit their information by March 31, to allow staff time to review the reports and work through accreditation issues in advance of the June LSA Advisory Board appeals meeting.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission participates in a national public library data collection system and the data is used for the creation of a composite report on the public libraries of the United States, and for state-to-state comparisons by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).Additionally, some data elements in this report are used to accredit public libraries in the state of Texas. Accredited libraries can participate in statewide interlibrary loan,and E-rate– the federal telecommunications discount program.  They are also eligible to apply for the agency’s competitive grants and other fundingopportunities, and to participate in the TexShare Card and TexShareDatabase programs as well.

On the Annual Report webpage, you will find links to

  • Sample Annual Report worksheet,
  • Population and MOE Planning Tool,
  • Information on reporting downloadable items,
  • Benefits of accreditation and more!

We are covering changes in questions in an informational webinar on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, 2:00-3:00 p.m.:  Introduction to the 2018 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report. Register by following this link: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7662534312221319170.  If you are not available at that time, register and the link for the archived webinar will be sent to you.

Emails were sent out last week reminding library directors of their Texas LibPAS log-in information. If you have not received the email, or you have questions about the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, please contact Valicia Greenwood or Stacey Malek by email or call within Texas toll-free 800-252-9386.