TSLAC Offers Free Help for Public Libraries to File for Federal E-Rate Funding

E-Rate is a federal discount program available to accredited public libraries that pays up to 90% of broadband costs, but we at TSLAC know the process to complete an application like this can be daunting. TSLAC is continuing its support of libraries this year in applying for E-Rate. The project, called Libraries Connecting Texas (LCT), provides FREE, one-on-one support from a professional consulting firm, E-Rate Central, to guide participating libraries successfully through the 2022 E-Rate Funding Year. 

Sticker that reads "We offer highspeed internet made possible by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Since the program began in 2018, LCT libraries receiving this support have seen their Internet speed (bandwidth) increase significantly, all while making the cost more affordable.

Chart showing significant increase in Internet speeds from 2018 to 2021.

Check out these testimonial videos from two grateful LCT librarians:

If you’re interested in participating this year, please contact Henry Stokes at LD@tsl.texas.gov as soon as possible.

Upcoming Webinar: New Grant Program – TSLAC Community Advancement Packages (CAP) Grant Program Webinar

Join us on Wednesday, January 26, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. for a webinar to introduce Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s (TSLAC) newest grant program – The Community Advancement Packages (CAP) Grant Program. In this webinar, TSLAC staff Laura Tadena, Equity and Inclusion Consultant, Patrick Lloyd, Community Resilient Consultant, and Bethany Wilson, Grant Coordinator, will provide a funding overview and essential details about the grant program and award information.

Attendees will hear about Community Advancement Packages (CAP) designed to help libraries respond directly to identified community needs by purchasing items that will support and advance community development through library-sponsored programming and services. Each Community Advancement Package is designed to include eligible items that will assist libraries as they expand community services in specifically targeted areas. We will also answer questions from attendees and provide instructions on how to apply for the grant.

REGISTER for the upcoming CAP Webinar.

About the TSLAC Community Advancement Packages (CAP) Grant Program

The goal of the grant program is to assist libraries as they expand community services in specifically targeted areas. Target areas and available packages are described below:

PROGRAMMING & SERVICES: Packages include equipment and tools to support in-person, hybrid, and virtual programming and services. Other items can include materials and resources for outreach programming that reduce barriers to library spaces and/or provide access to inclusive services and programs beyond the walls of the library (retirement facilities, day-care centers, schools, and other community spaces/group living facilities).

TECHNOLOGY: Packages include equipment and tools to meet libraries’ growing technology needs, assist with marketing material development, and support in-person, hybrid, and virtual programming and services. In addition, materials and resources that reduce barriers to library spaces and/or provide access can also be included in the packages.

SPECIAL COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT: Packages to assist with the expansion or development of the current collection. Items can include print, audio-visual, and non-subscription based computer software programs (e-books or e-resources on subscriptions not included). Also included in bundles are general collection development supplies and storage for new items. **Not intended for general collection development.

CRITICAL NEEDS: General supplies to support library operations and responding to unplanned and immediate community needs.

Questions:

To learn more about the TSLAC CAP Grant Program, please visit www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/cap. Applications open Wednesday, January 26, 2022, and will close Friday, April 1, 2022.

If you have questions about the TSLAC CAP Grant Program or need assistance with the application process, please get in touch with the Grants Administrator at grants@tsl.texas.gov. This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to TSLAC under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

Texas Public Libraries Encouraged to Apply for Federal Broadband Funding Through State Library

New promotional video from TSLAC to support E-rate and the Libraries Connecting Texas program

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has announced the application window for federal E-Rate funding is now open. From Jan. 12, accredited Texas public libraries can apply to receive discounts on monthly Internet access costs and most anything to do with bringing high-speed Internet to the library (including equipment and cabling).

E-rate was created to ensure schools and libraries have access to affordable high-speed broadband to support digital learning and robust connectivity. It is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In Texas, a majority of public libraries are eligible for an 80% discount, with more than a quarter eligible for a whopping 90%. That means most participating libraries only have to pay 10-20% of their Internet costs, with E-rate paying the rest of the bill. High-speed Internet (aka “broadband”) has become a necessity in public libraries, and E-rate is the chief means to support and sustain this crucial service as costs rise and demand increases. This is non-competitive funding—a library just has to fill out the forms correctly to receive the discount. Libraries must be accredited by TSLAC in order to be eligible for E-rate discounts.

This year, TSLAC has partnered with professional coaching firm E-Rate Central to make applying as straightforward as possible for participating libraries. This one-on-one support will guide applicants successfully through the entire process.

“Why should your library participate in E-rate and use our free coaches? E-rate is the main method available to public libraries to acquire and afford faster speed, and then continue to sustain those costs into the future,” said TSLAC Director and State Librarian Gloria Meraz. “Faster speed means that Texas libraries are able to continue providing the myriad services that heavily rely on high-speed broadband and have rapidly become the lifeline for living successfully in the 21st century.”

Accredited Texas public libraries are encouraged to apply well before the deadline of February 22, 2022 which is the last possible date to ensure participation. Visit www.tsl.texas.gov/erate to learn more and email Henry Stokes to get the process started.

Resources for Creating Collections Development Policies and Responding to Community Needs and Challenges

In response to requests from librarians looking for professional resources on collections development policies and responding to content challenges, TSLAC staff have compiled a list of resources available on our website. They have also been included below for ease of access. These resources include common professional tools with information on policy development, reconsideration procedures, tracking questions and concerns, and professional support.

Overview

Libraries of all types create their collections development policies and procedures to address the unique needs of their communities, schools, and institutions. These policies, like all library policies, are under the jurisdiction of the library and its governing local authority.

This sample list intended to assist professionals in researching issues. Librarians may also contact TSLAC staff to seek additional information.

Policy development

WebJunction course: Collection Development Policy: this self-paced course developed by the Idaho Commission for Libraries provides a broad overview of how to write a collection development policy, and includes a section on reconsideration. WebJunction is free to use for all Texas library workers, but requires creating a free account.

WebJunction webinar: Hooray for Freedom! Part Two: Developing Policies in Support of Ethical Practice: this archived webinar provides guidance on assessing library policies, and includes a section on selection and reconsideration policies.

Webjunction offers additional webinars and training for professional library workers. Go to WebJunction, which is free to library workers, to learn more.

ALA Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries: Guide to creating a collection development policy that includes reconsideration procedures.

TSLAC webinar: Top Legal Issues for Texas Public Libraries: includes information on policy development starting at minute 3:29, and a section on challenges starting at 17:12.

TSLAC webinar: Responding to Challenges in Public Libraries: Ensure Your Library is Prepared: Held on 02/02/2016, this recorded webinar still offers valuable instruction for public libraries in developing policies and in responding to challenges, both in person and online. Presented by Jeanette Larson (Larson Library Consulting), Courtney Kincaid (Assistant Library Director, North Richland Hills Library), and Kate Horan (Library Director, McAllen Public Library).

What is Intellectual Freedom?: This is a brochure from AASL with concise explanations about censorship, internet filters, challenges, online and print resources.

Professional library organizations tools

The Texas Library Association (TLA) supports Texas library workers in all areas of service. Contact TLA staff to discuss topics, including how to develop policies, work with the parents and the community, ensure access to information, respond to the media, or access professional legal resources. The TLA Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) educates, offers guidance, and supports efforts to help professionals work with their communities and respond to challenges. To learn more about requesting assistance and support, go to TLA Tools & Resources.

The American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom also provides support and resources to librarians. Inquiries can be directed via email to oif@ala.org or via phone at (312) 280-4226.

TSLAC staff can provide additional professional support and suggest additional informational resources.

Other detailed resources may be accessed at the TLA Tools & Resources page.

The 2021-2022 Letters About Literature Texas Competition is Officially Open!

The Texas Center for the Book (TCFB) has launched the 2021-2022 Letters About Literature Texas contest, a program that invites students to respond to authors of books or poetry who have touched their lives. The contest is open to Texas students in grades 4 through 12.

Students, educators, and families: join the Texas Center for the Book in promoting the joys of reading and writing! Participants select a book, book series, essay, play, poem, short story, or speech that has made a lasting impact on their lives. They then write a personal letter to the author that reflects how they have been changed, inspired, or motivated by the work they selected. State winners receive $100 and will be honored at the 2022 Texas Library Association Conference.

All submissions for the 2021-2022 contest must be submitted through the online platform by 5:00 p.m., Dec. 17, 2021 (CST).  A permission form is required for all students who will be younger than 13 on Nov. 4, 2021.

To learn more about the contest, how to submit and to view winning entries from previous years, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/lettersaboutliterature. The site includes a Frequently Asked Questions page, student and teacher submission guidelines, letters from past winners, videos from authors, and the official contest rules. Visit the Educator Resources page to get your own printable bookmarks and student handouts, participation certificates, key dates, permission forms, and a step-by-step teaching guide featuring writing prompts.

For more information on Letters About Literature, please email LettersAboutLit@tsl.texas.gov.

Apply for 3-day Virtual Library-Focused Training Opportunity

You can apply now to participate in the upcoming Transformation for Libraries: The Futures School training program.

Through the continuation of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant, the Connecticut State Library will be hosting various cohorts that you can join for a three day, hands-on, virtual training during 2022 and into 2023. Sarah Fuller, Senior Program Officer at IMLS, referred to the training program as “a game changer for librarians.”

“You have the opportunity to participate in this IMLS grant funded project. With tangible results and a repeatable framework, you’ll be on your way to developing a foresight mindset and skillset, ensuring you are primed for market-leading innovation, successful opportunity development, and revenue-generating futures intelligence. Ultimately, you will learn a strategic framework that enables you to continuously learn-unlearn-relearn to lead discussion and action in the transformation of libraries.”

  • Who Should Attend: Individual library staff from academic, public, school, and special libraries, regardless of geographic region
  • When: It’s a three day opportunity at various times in the upcoming year for cohorts based on geographic region, but you can join any of them. The Southwest one is happening this March. See full schedule
  • Where: These are online, via Zoom meetings
  • Cost: Free; funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant #RE-250063-OLS-21 in the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program
  • How to Participate: Select which three day cohort works best for you and then submit an application form
  • Questions: Contact the CT State Library via their online contact form

HHH: Hodgepodge

Logo for Henry's Hightech Highlights

Howdy, y’all! It’s the Halloween edition of Henry’s High-Tech Highlights, and I am here to heap a hefty hoard of handy hyperlinks to heighten your happiness, hopefully. A hodgepodge, if you will.

Today’s highlight: A variety of emerging technologies of interest to libraries.


A Palm-size Robot Pet that Helps Teach STEM

Meet Petoi Bittle, an open source, build-your-own pet robot dog that fits in the palm of your hand and can be programmed to perform tricks. It’s great for STEM programming as it integrates with Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Close up photo of the Petoi Bittle (small robot dog) perched on someone's fingertips.
An animated gif of a robot dog walking along a desktop.


New Virtual Escape Room That Teaches Misinformation

Be one of 10 public libraries nationwide that will host a special Zoom escape room that teaches patrons about misinformation.

A logo for the Misinformation Escape Room

“Is your public library looking for a fun way to teach community members about spotting misinformation in social media? Do you know people in your community who like to solve puzzles, play live-action adventure games, or who are craving some structured social activity? If so, your library can apply to be one of ten across the U.S. to host and evaluate an online escape room game, The Euphorigen Investigation. As part of a project led by the University of Washington Information School (UW iSchool), this game was developed in response to library staff who asked for ways to help patrons navigate misinformation beyond traditional information literacy programs. Euphorigen builds upon the success of other online games about misinformation, and has been designed for and tested by public libraries.”

“To indicate your library’s interest, please fill out this short form by November 10, 2021. The ten public libraries will be selected based on capacity and commitment to host the Euphorigen virtual escape room during January – March 2022, and to participate in data collection procedures. The project team seeks a group of libraries that represent a variety of library sizes, geographies, and communities. See below for more details and how to apply.”


AI Innovation Rundown

In case you didn’t know, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can now:


Augmented Reality (AR) Spectacles Can Guide in Mountain Climbing

Animated gif that shows the point of view of a mountain climber seeing super-imposed symbols that show which parts of the cliff wall should be reached for next.

These smart glasses in development include a way to make rock climbing more accessible for beginners. There’s even a dancing monster that appears to celebrate reaching the summit.


Turn Any Paper into a Tablet

Photo of hands holding a piece of paper with a number keypad on it.

Engineers at Purdue University developed a simple printing process that renders any paper or cardboard packaging into a keyboard, keypad or other easy-to-use human-machine interfaces.

“I envision this technology to facilitate the user interaction with food packaging, to verify if the food is safe to be consumed, or enabling users to sign the package that arrives at home by dragging their finger over the box to properly identify themselves as the owner of the package… Additionally, our group demonstrated that simple paper sheets from a notebook can be transformed into music player interfaces for users to choose songs, play them and change their volume.”ld mean your food packages.”

Ramses Martinez, an assistant professor in Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering and in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering


Message to Library, Archives, Records, and Information Professionals from the New State Librarian of Texas (Gloria Meraz’s “The Director’s Report”)

This week, Texas State Library and Archives Commission Director Gloria Meraz shared her blog post titled Message to Library, Archives, Records, and Information Professionals from the New State Librarian of Texas.” We wanted to share her blog post with our readers.

Information is power. To be informed is to have agency—the ability to think and to do for oneself, to exert influence, and to shape circumstances. Places that house information, preserve knowledge, and further research and learning are among the most powerful. Libraries and our allied information institutions are as vital as ever. Though the people who work in libraries, archives, and records management organizations may not always feel powerful, history teaches us repeatedly that information—the right to access it and the responsibility to share it—is fundamental to a robust and informed citizenry.

The mission of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is to help Texans lead informed and productive lives. Indeed, I believe that all knowledge organizations share this fundamental purpose. As the new State Librarian, I am incredibly honored to be in this work alongside the talented and committed people who staff and support libraries, archives, records management, and information organizations.

We are in an especially important time. Our communities, students, researchers, and publics are demanding the best of us: facts, truth, objectivity, respect for diverse viewpoints, responsiveness to learning needs, and safe environments where all are welcomed and able to find information that is valuable and meaningful.

One might imagine that little about libraries or reading could evoke debate, but then, anything with such enormous power often draws strong passions. I keep in mind the many difficult times in history when people had to fight for access to information—everything from making sure all people (the poor, the marginalized, minority populations, and so many others) had access to reading materials to the cases in history when totalitarian regimes attempted to wipe out viewpoints and histories through book burnings and eradication of historical and archival records.

Generations of Americans have fought to preserve our right to information among our most cherished liberties. We all take special pride and responsibility in our role protecting these rights. And, in our area of work—that of libraries, literacy, reading, history, and all forms of 21st century information resources—I am thankful to work alongside all of you to ensure that we continue to serve the public and support access to a broad array of resources, technologies, and viewpoints.

Thank you for all you do!

Only A Few Days Left to Apply for Texas Telehealth Funding!

Act now to take advantage of available funds set aside by TSLAC for Texas libraries to pursue telehealth projects.

Instructions for how to apply are here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/arpa/telehealth

Symbol of a library building embedded with a laptop displaying virtual doctor's visit

Want to set up a space at your library for your patrons to have virtual visits with doctors?  Funding from the Texas Telehealth Grant includes the following:

  • Networking equipment and cables
  • Computer hardware, software, and accessories
  • Furniture
  • Camera/video equipment/accessories
  • Portable ring lights/lamps
  • Sound baffles
  • Teleconferencing kiosk(s)
  • Mobile devices and related apps
  • Printers/scanners
  • IT support (computer/web)
  • Staff training
  • Medical supplies
  • Sanitation/infection prevention
  • Marketing and promotion

The maximum grant award will be $25,000 for a single library location and $50,000 for a multi-branch library. After notice of success, TSLAC will provide training to successful applicants to help finalize their grant budgets.

The deadline to submit applications is this Friday October 1, so APPLY NOW!

Check out these excellent resources to inform your applications:

Front cover of the SaferCareTX Pottsboro Playbook
Cover of Craig Settles' Library Telehealth Guide
First slide from "Establishing aTelehealth Center in Your Library" presentation