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BTYBB: Distance Learning

2018 January 4
by Henry Stokes

Move over, books! Because high speed Internet, or broadband, will be doing a lot more heavy lifting in libraries where education and learning is involved. What happens when we’ll be able to transmit huge amounts of data in real-time between the library and another location with no lag?  The answer is: Crazy, Amazing Learning Opportunities!Image of library getting powered by broadband with words "Brought to you by Broadband"

For my third entry in the “Brought To You By Broadband”, or BTYBB series (I previously covered Job Search/Training and Consumer Health), I’m shining a spotlight on the distance education potential of providing broadband access at the library.

Logo representing Distance Learning

     Distance Learning

Here are some examples of how high speed Internet in libraries is contributing to distance learning in sometimes unexpected ways:

> Virtual Reference : With streaming videoconferencing technology (which relies on broadband), librarians can offer reference and information services to their patrons who are in remote locations.  Put the ‘home’ back in ‘homework help’ – a live librarian can help a student who is literally working from home

> Streaming Videos &  Software Tutorials in the Cloud  : Videos have become an often preferred vehicle for learners to receive instruction. Live webinars (like the ones TSLAC provides), pre-recorded/archived presentations, even quick how-to tutorials from YouTube, will not load without a fast connection. As part of the TexShare Databases program through TSLAC, public libraries can provide free access for their patrons to LearningExpress Library, a resource packed with interactive, self-paced, online tutorials on common business software applications, test prep tools, and job skills videos – which are even usable on patron’s mobile devices!

> Live Events : Libraries have often invited community partners to help them conduct live events at the library location. With video conferencing, guest speakers will no longer have to be present, but rather streamed in live, for an interactive talk, performance, training, or discussion.  This has a lot of potential to bring in speakers and trainers that wouldn’t normally visit less accessible communities in person.  Chattanooga Public Library, which has a gigabit connection, has been at the forefront in this area, showcasing what their high speeds allow them to do. They’ve had live musicians perform in their library accompanied via videoconferencing by other musicians in a whole other state, as well as  avant-garde art installations.

> Use of MOOCs and Learning Circle Model : Libraries are entering the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) world, creating actual physical spaces in the library for students to participate in MOOCs, and contributing to the development of local ones.  With increased bandwidth, these MOOCs can include more videos in their offerings, enriching the learning experience.  Kansas City Public Library, another library that is fiber-connected, received a 2017 IMLS grant to expand their Learning Circle Model which will be shared with the larger library community.  This kind of online group collaborative learning is only possible with high speed Internet connectivity.


> Virtual Reality: The technology of VR is about to hit it big, making a huge impact on our society. It has great potential to dramatically transform education for the better. For it to work, however, broadband needs to be the backbone. Libraries can be at the forefront of this new technology, introducing their patrons to VR and enhancing their educational programming. To jump-start this inevitable (and far from virtual) reality of the near-future, the California State Library recently partnered with one of the major VR hardware companies to launch the Virtual Reality Experience Project, which provides VR to public libraries across the state.  We’ll be seeing a lot more examples of libraries using VR for distance education very soon, so keep a look out – or alternatively, get on the ground floor yourself and start playing around with VR at your own library – as Arlington Public Library and others have done!

> Research-grade microscopes – and beyond! : Chattanooga utilized their gigabit bandwidth to live stream a research-grade microscope from 1,800 miles away in Los Angeles to a Tennessee high school.  The microscope in California has a 4K camera normally used to make Hollywood movies, and the students can literally control it from within their classroom, zooming in and out as they please, studying microscopic life in a firsthand, tactile and visceral way.  Such technology could be brought to the library. Libraries could ‘check out’ access to such a microscope to their patrons. They wouldn’t have to house the microscope themselves – only the access to the software to control and view it.  And, of course, they would have to provide a fast enough connection to make such a feat possible.

What other amazing feats are just around the corner? How will libraries leverage new and upcoming technologies to continue being the educational powerhouses they have reliably been for centuries?

The answer is : with broadband!


In conclusion, it’s a pretty simple formula:

Libraries + Broadband + New learning tools  = A better educated community

So how can libraries keep their speeds up, particularly when demand is just going to get higher and higher? The federal discount program – E-rate – has been pivotal in connecting libraries and enabling them to afford broadband. It provides billions of dollars each year for libraries. Money is just put on the table for libraries to use – Don’t let it just sit there!

It’s understood that broadband in Texas libraries means better educated Texans. This year, the State of Texas Legislature appropriated $1 million to TSLAC to support Texas public libraries in using E-rate for the next two years to secure faster connectivity. The Libraries Connecting Texas project can help your library stay up to speed. But act now! The window is closing and we’re only accepting 100 libraries.


Logo for the Libraries Connecting Texas project

Ready for Input : 2017 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report!

2018 January 4
by Valicia Greenwood

Texas LibPAS (, the data collection portal for the Texas Public Library Annual Report, is now open for reporting local fiscal year 2017 information, including library revenue, expenditures, collection, circulation, service and e-resource information. Although the firm submission date is April 30, 2018, we encourage libraries to submit their information before March 31st, to allow State Library staff time to review the reports and work through accreditation issues in advance of the June LSA advisory board 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 take advantage of the TexShare card and database programs, the State competitive grants, statewide interlibrary loan, and E-rate – the federal telecommunications discount program.

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 presenting an informational webinar about the Annual Report on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 2:00-3:00 p.m.: Introduction to the 2017 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report. Register by following this link:  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 this 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.

FREE Young Adult Workshop Series is Open For Registration

2018 January 3
by Bethany Wilson

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission welcomes YALSA Continuing Education Consultant, Linda Braun as she presents the “Engaging with Teens in Your Library” workshop series for Texas librarians. This workshop is for all librarians and library staff who work with teens or are interested in bringing teens into the library.

About the workshop:

There is a shift in the ways in which library staff work with and for teens which includes a focus on: relationship building, facilitation of learning, impact and outcomes, and community engagement.  In this interactive session Linda W. Braun, YALSA’s CE consultant, will help participants review and re-envision the world of library teen services. These are services with the goal of helping teens develop the skills, knowledge, and social emotional development needed for success in life.  At the end of the session attendees will have tools and knowledge for a revitalized approach to teen services and be able to begin integrating new and expanded ideas into their communities right away.

The workshops are free of charge and will be hosted in twelve locations around the state in the months of February, April, and August. Please visit our website using the link below for more details about the workshop, to find the location nearest to you, and to sign up to attend.


If you have questions about the workshop, please contact Youth Services Consultant, Bethany Wilson, at 512-463-4856 or

10, 9, 8… Countdown the Top 10 reasons to join the Get Involved Collaborative in 2018

2018 January 2
by Kyla Hunt

New Year

#10.  Locate resources from your public library colleagues who are creating effective volunteer engagement tools, practices and strategies! Search the database of Get Involved resources and enhance your success in volunteer engagement.

#9.  Free up staff time to concentrate on new projects they never get around to with the assistance of highly skilled volunteers.

#8. Connect with highly skilled volunteers hiding within your community. This Texas small town librarian found volunteer tech support within her 5,000 service population.

#7. Become a resource to your community by adding the Get Involved Widget to your library home page. The widget is a box you can put on your website to encourage your library patrons to volunteer with your library or to get involved with other community organizations. Once your library user enters their zip code they will be whisked to our custom Get Involved hub to find library and literacy volunteer opportunities.

#6. Find photos to increase volunteer recruitment.  Free to use professional photos for all kinds of volunteer roles in the library. Remember, online recruitment results are 3x greater when accompanied by an action photo. Find photos of volunteers in action here.

#5. Engage virtual volunteers near or far to share their skills with you. Learn how this small Texas library engaged a virtual graphic designer from another state.

#4. Request a VolunteerMatch Premium subscription. To assist public libraries in recruiting and engaging high-skilled, high-impact volunteers, “The Get Involved Collaborative” will fund VolunteerMatch subscriptions for up to 200 Texas libraries. Your VolunteerMatch Premium subscription will continue until the end of the Get Involved grant  – through October 31, 2019. Contact for an account.

#3. Expand and increase your library’s capacity to provide early literacy outreach. Here is just one example of how your library volunteers can make a difference in your community.

#2.  Increase support of your library’s programs and services within the community when volunteers better understand what you do.

 And the #1 reason to join the Get Involved Collaborative is…..

1. You will learn to engage today’s volunteer and watch them transform into some of your strongest library supporters and advocates!

Happy New Year!

To learn more about how your 2018 can include highly skilled volunteers contact Jennifer Peters at

Free CE and Training This Week – January 1-5

2017 December 31
by Christina Manz

Our weekly listing of free training online and free Texas workshops is updated as new events are added – throughout the week! 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.

Wednesday January 3, 2018
Best New Children’s Books of 2017 (Nebraska Library Commission)
Sally Snyder, Nebraska Library Commission’s Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Service, will give brief book talks on new titles that could be good additions to your library’s collection. Titles for pre-school through elementary school will be included.
Time: 11-12:00 p.m.

Strengthening Inclusive Early Childhood Programs with Music Therapy Strategies: The Director’s Role in Tuning up Music to Turn on Inclusion (Early Childhood Investigations)
All children make music and music therapy practices can make early childhood classrooms inclusive. By using therapeutic techniques, educators can support children of all abilities and their families to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts. Focusing on developmental goals, intentional music interventions help children with disabilities become successful in inclusive early childhood programs. Join Dr. Petra Kern to learn how you can turn on the music and make your inclusive program sing!
Time: 12-2:30 p.m.

Thursday January 4, 2018
Online Tools that Help Nonprofits Learn, Listen & Engage (Firespring)
Every day you learn about a new mobile app or piece of software that will “change your life.” There’s so much coming at you, it sometimes feels like you’re drinking through a firehose. In this session, we will help you make technology your friend. In his most revealing session, Jay takes you behind the curtain to show, in real-time, which tools he uses to manage his online presence and why.
Time: 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Your Government Career Resolutions (GovLoop)
On January 1st, millions of people around the globe will pledge to change an aspect of their life. Whether it’s eating more salads, going to the gym more often, or even investing in more quality time with family, New Year’s is the time to make big changes. Those changes are often centered around people’s careers too. But how do you actually implement your career resolutions? Join us as we talk to government experts about how employees can invest in professional development and make major strides forward in their career.
Time: 1-2:00 p.m.

Season’s Greetings!!

2017 December 22
by Kyla Hunt

We wanted to extend our warmest wishes to you all this holiday season.

Just as a reminder, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission will be CLOSED Friday, December 22 – Tuesday, December 26 as well as Monday, January 1.

Looking forward to a wonderful 2018!

End of the Year Lists – Best of 2017

2017 December 21
by Kyla Hunt

Reading a Book by Manual Cacciatori is licensed through CC BY 2.0 (

As we near the end of 2017, I wanted to share some of the books, podcasts and other media that staff here at the Library Development and Network Division loved this year! Happy holidays!

Jennifer Peters, Director of Library Development & Networking

As I’m always on the hunt for dark British police procedurals, I was delighted to discover the Simon Serrailler series by Susan Hill this fall. Starting with The Various Haunts of Men, I’m less interested in  the lead detective than I am by his extended family, colleagues, and the inhabitants of the fictional town of Lafferton where these murders take place. And they are good whodunits. I’m on book four of the series and am making a concerted effort to check them out in order from the library – so far, Austin Public hasn’t failed me once!

A read that left me thinking this year was Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue’s novel about a Cameroonian couple pursuing the American Dream in the early 2000s. Employed by a wealthy New York family, Jende and Neni Jonga seem to be on the verge of financial stability before the Great Recession hits. Its impact leaves their family in crisis and illuminates both the struggle and spirit of immigrant communities.

Russlene Waukechon, TexShare E-resources Coordinator

If you love, really LOVE storytelling you have to listen to Snap Judgement. This weekly podcast will keep you glued to your headphones. Focusing on deeply personal stories this is a podcast anyone would enjoy.

Valicia Greenwood, Library Statistics Specialist

I have long been a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, and Harper Lee, so when I came across Charles Shields 2006 biography, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, I read it quickly.  Although Lee refused to grant an interview to him, Shields interviewed many, many others who knew her well, and presented a compelling picture of Lee’s life.  One of the aspects Shields covered details Lee’s research with Truman Capote into the Clutter family murders in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 – the background material for Capote’s 1965 novel, In Cold Blood.

With that background in mind, I then took the opportunity to read In Cold Blood.  Capote’s book was considered graphic and unsettling for its time, but I found it tame by modern standards.  It reads like a Ken Burns’ documentary, capturing the personalities, the dialect and feelings of major and minor players in this true-life crime story.  I would heartily recommend this modern classic, both for the structure and language of the book, as well as the way Capote leaves judgement and interpretation largely to the reader.

Liz Philippi, School Program Coordinator

Origin by Dan Brown – As usual our favorite Harvard professor is again embroiled in a murder/mystery. In his usual style Dan Brown delivers a book full of history, religion, and mysteries, this one is set in Spain. I really enjoyed the questions this book raised with regard to technology and it’s rapid rise, how that affects us now and in the future. It also questions the future of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and how it might control our world more than we think, even now……

As always if you like mysteries, history, and a good murder story Dan Brown will make it an interesting one!

Ann Griffith, Electronic Resources Coordinator

I recommend Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948.  Proving once again that truth is stranger than fiction, this biography documents how, in middle age, Madeleine discovered her family’s Jewish heritage and the sad fate of many of her Czech family members during World War II.  Czechoslovakian history and Madeleine’s family involvement in mid-20th century politics are clearly explained and quite fascinating.  Her father, Josef Korbel, was a gifted diplomat who served the Czech government until the Communist Party’s rise to power in 1948.  Korbel and his family successfully applied for U.S. political asylum when Madeleine was 11 years old.   She became a U.S. citizen in 1957 and later served with distinction as a U.S. diplomat, notably as Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001.

Kyla Hunt, Library Management Consultant

Maybe it’s just been a busier year than others, but I found myself rereading books this year more than reading new titles. One author in particular that I have found myself turning to is one of my favorite graphic novel authors, Faith Erin Hicks. I have reread her book Friends with Boys at least twice this year, and each time am struck with different aspects of the illustrations or characters. This book, about a previously homeschooled girl who starts high school while being haunted by a ghost, appears trivial but is satisfying with every read. I also recommend her currently running The Nameless City Trilogy, two of which are currently out now.

Free CE and Training This Week – December 18-22

2017 December 17
by Christina Manz

Our weekly listing of free training online and free Texas workshops is updated as new events are added – throughout the week! 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 December 19, 2017
PART I – Your Community by the Numbers: Intro to American Fact Finder & Thematic Maps (U.S. Census)
This workshop is designed for novice data users who would like to become familiar with accessing key demographic, socioeconomic and housing indicators from the American Community Survey using the American FactFinder tool. Participants will learn how to access statistics for areas down to the city/town level.
Time: 12-1:30 p.m.

Managing Difficult Volunteer Transitions (VolunteerMatch)
This webinar will give you the tools to address challenges around difficult volunteers, volunteers aging in place, and suggestions to minimize these situations in the future. Suggestions for determining when a volunteer should be terminated, and making it easier on you, other volunteers, and staff will be presented. The role that risk management plays in these decisions will also be included.
Time: 1-2:00 p.m.

Going Deeper with Social Media (WebJunction & TechSoup)
Learn how to take the next steps toward amplifying your library’s social media program. During this third webinar in our social media series, we’ll discuss best practices in growing your library’s social media program and managing user engagement. You’ll learn tips on assessing your library’s audience based on their preferred platforms and ideas for converting your in-person library community into an online community.
Time: 1-2:30 p.m.

Thursday December 21, 2017
PART II – Your Neighborhood by the Numbers: Tracts, Block Groups and Mapping (U.S. Census)
This workshop is designed for data users who are already familiar with ACS datasets and the American FactFinder tool. You will learn how to access key demographic, socioeconomic and housing indicators for non-traditional geographies such as tracts, block groups, and blocks. Users will be able to utilize these geographies to define neighborhoods and service areas and create community profiles and basic maps.
Time: 12-1:00 p.m.

Dispatches from Texas Libraries – New Braunfels and Uvalde

2017 December 15

In our effort to highlight the libraries that we visit while on our travels, this post is a part of our ongoing blog series titled Dispatches from Texas Libraries where we will raise up a library and the work they are doing for their community.

New Braunfels classOn December 7 and 8, I travelled to New Braunfels and Uvalde to facilitate sessions of our SLM Advanced workshop, Telling Your Library’s Story: Value, Benefit, Worth and Impact, led by Dr. Julie Todaro. This session is a part of the Small Library Management Training Program; registration is still open for the Uvalde classreminder of the 2017-2018 series throughout the state.

First thank you so much to Gretchen Pruett at the New Braunfels Public Library and to Mendell Morgan at the El Progreso Memorial Library for providing such a wonderful experience at their libraries. Both directors are stellar leaders in their communities, and their leadership shone during the workshops. Both libraries shown with warmth in this chilly season.

The New Braunfels Public Library does a wonderful job balancing a traditional, classic ambiance with responding to the needs of their community. Along with a beautiful space, they offer a teen space, plenty of room to charge personal devices, and information on evaluating information.

The El Progreso Memorial Library serves their community members while retaining the history of the community. The children’s area features a “front porch” to provide a homey feel, an art exhibit lines the walls, and their book store is the only book store in their county! I also want to give a particular shout-out to those attendees of the Uvalde session who showed up even after the surprise snow storm!

Interested in attending one of our upcoming workshops? Check out our face to face workshop page here:

The Texas Book Festival now accepting applications for 2018 Texas Library Grants

2017 December 13
by Kyla Hunt

The Texas Book Festival is now accepting applications for the 2018 Texas Library Grants. In 2017, TBF awarded over $100,000 in collection enhancements grants to Texas libraries.

The submission period is open now through February 2. The application can be found at

The Texas Book Festival awards grants to support collection enhancement for Texas public libraries. This funding enables libraries to share the diversity and breadth of literature with their entire communities. Funding comes from book sales at the Texas Book Festival and other generous donors.

Still have questions? The Texas Library Association is hosting the following webinar to provide more information:

How to Apply for Texas Book Festival Collection Enhancement Grants

When: December 14, 2-3pm Central Time
Presenters: Lea Bogner and Sarah Northam
Learn how to apply for the TBF Collection Enhancement Grant – categories, application, deadlines, and tips for success!

Register here:

Questions? Check out the Texas Book Festival’s contact page at