Calling All Texas Public Libraries: Take the 2021 TSLAC Public Library Speed Test!

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is currently collecting data about Internet speeds from all Texas public libraries (both mains and branches) with an online speed test. The test measures how much Internet speed (how fast things load from the Internet) patrons can receive from their library location and automatically sends the results to us at the State Library. The data will be invaluable in our planning and help us determine further statewide needs for broadband.

Email invitations with the testing link were sent out Monday to all directors. Please use the link from the email and conduct your test at the library location(s) by next Friday, April 16. If you did not receive the invitation, please contact Henry Stokes at ld@tsl.texas.gov.

New Winter Storm Recovery Grants for Humanities Programming and Collections

Humanities Texas invites Texas cultural and educational institutions that suffered losses or damages to humanities collections as a result of the February 2021 winter storm, or incurred costs related to resuming humanities programming that was postponed or cancelled as a result of the storm, to apply for fast-track Recovery Grants.

For more information about eligibility, allowable costs, and the application process, visit the Humanities Texas website at https://www.humanitiestexas.org/recoverygrants

Humanities Texas will accept online applications through April 30, 2021. To apply, please use the online form at https://forms.humanitiestexas.org/winter-storm-2021-grant-application

Questions? Contact grants@humanitiestexas.org or 512-440-1991.

Humanities Texas Recovery Grants are made possible with a National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman’s Emergency Grant.

FY 2021 Interlibrary Loan Lending Reimbursement Program

While interlibrary loan activity and services have been touch and go over the last year, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is glad to be able to make lending reimbursements available to participating Texas libraries again this year. 

The annual ILL Lending Reimbursement Program awards eligible and participating libraries a set amount per lend made to other Texas Navigator libraries between August 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021. You can find your library’s lending statistics in your NRE account by clicking “Reports” on the left-hand menu, selecting “Monthly ILL Statistics” with a start date of August 1, 2020, and an end date of the current date, and generating the report. The Responder – Shipped column will represent your eligible lends to date.

This year’s program will open for participation in the Grant Management system on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. TSLAC staff will host an informational and instructional webinar that day from 2:00 to 3:00 pm CST, any library staff may register and participate here, a recording will also be made available if you are not able to attend the live presentation:

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6952096987429248268

It continues to remain a local decision whether your library offers ILL services to your patrons and fellow libraries. You can suspend or unsuspend your Navigator account as needed based on your available resources and designated safety measures.

For information on what services libraries across the state are currently offering to their communities, including ILL services, you can visit our COVID-19 Information and Resources for Library Workers page and explore the Library Status Project resources at the top of the page. Please feel free to update information for your library while you are there!

Please contact Sara Hayes, Statewide ILL Coordinator, by email at shayes@tsl.texas.gov with any questions.

Time for a TexShare ShoutOut

All around the state, libraries are promoting the TexShare databases to their students and patrons for research, homework help, genealogy, and more. We at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) think the TexShare databases are worth shouting about. And so are the libraries that are doing the shouting, helping give their community access to its amazing and life-changing suite of resources.  We want to give a big TexShare ShoutOut to all the great efforts.

Logo for "TexShare ShoutOut"

Hondo Public Library

Elsie Purcell, Library Director at Hondo Public Library, had a couple of people comment that they hadn’t known about the databases before, so Elsie wrote several articles about them.

In Hondo, all new members receive three brochures: a basic one about the library, memberships, fines, etc.; one about Libby/Overdrive; and one about the online resources (copy attached). This includes their county patrons who were recently added through COVID funding from their County Commissioners.

Before the pandemic, they used to hold an annual Teacher Appreciation event and share information about the resources available for them and their students. Library staff talk to them about the databases for their students including Learning Express for STAAR test practice but also about Teaching Books.net for the teachers to use in lesson planning.

Twice a year, Hondo holds a 7 week program called Hondo U; citizens apply to attend and each week they learn about one of the departments or divisions of the City.  Elsie’s portion of the presentation is limited to 15-20 minutes during our week but she does manage to make a brief mention of the databases to them.

Elsie has done two videos as part of their virtual programming – Friday Facts and Fun. These are posted to Facebook and then uploaded to YouTube.

October 23, 2020 – Learning Express – https://youtu.be/sV5dKqkVHrY

March 12, 2021 – Chilton Library – https://youtu.be/U7IcnJU05wQ


Bee Cave Public Library

While Bee Cave Public Library has been closed to the public, they’ve been working on online tutorials for their digital resources. They added a page to their website to explain their digital resources and a page that links to all of their video tutorials.  Topics include an overview of TexShare, Explora Elementary, Credo Reference, and Learning Express Library. 

They also created a fun video spoofing Dead Poets Society to highlight both TexShare and the work their reference librarians do. TexShare Society tells the story of a teen doing remote learning and his mom trying to find research help for a homework project. The librarian helps them “seize the database” and directs them to the many resources that TexShare offers. 

Here’s the link to the video on both Facebook and YouTube


Bastrop Public Library

Besides their web page devoted to TexShare, Bastrop Public Library highlights five topics/databases with the stacks:

  1. Home Improvement
  2. Hobbies and Crafts
  3. Chilton
  4. Small Engine Repair
  5. Medical

For the first three, they have the bookmarks provided by TSLAC in holders out in the stacks near the Dewey numbers. They did print on mailing labels the website and log-on information so that patrons can easily access.

For the Small Engine Repair database, they advertised it using a flyer.

For the medical databases, they created miniature brochures that they could easily slip into their pocket or purse in case patrons felt discomfort or embarrassment to discuss with staff.


Northeast Lakeview College Library

The Northeast Lakeview College Library, part of the Alamo Colleges District, has been making a huge push to let their students, faculty, and staff know about their databases and how to access them. They have been using weekly blog posts to let students, faculty, and staff know what databases they have access to through the library. In most cases, they are spotlighting a database, showing how to conduct searches, and narrowing results to get their visitors to the most useful information in their research. This has been a successful campaign with more than 450 views from June 2020 to January 2021.


Please send what you or another library are doing to promote the databases and any ideas for the “TexShare ShoutOuts” blog series to: texshare@tsl.texas.gov

Celebrating #TXBookChat Author Don Tate

In honor of Black History Month, we would like to continue the celebrations by recognizing the incredible work of author and illustrator Don Tate, one of our #TXBookChat spotlight authors. In his prolific career, Don has authored one book illustrated by someone else, authored-illustrated three published books (with two more on the way), and illustrated 80+ trade and educational picture books. Through his work, Don showcases narratives from Black history.

His words and illustrations provide children the opportunities to view history from a Black artists’ perspective, which is incredibly important when we consider the lack of representation in children’s literature. Don believes in the importance of telling children the truth and not sugar-coating history. His extensive research and incredible talent pair together to provide literary treasures.

We will highlight a handful of his powerful titles and encourage readers to check out the full list of his publications on his website: www.dontate.com/.


Book cover of William Still and His Freedom Stories: Father of the Underground Railroad

William Still, known as the Father of the Underground Railroad, collected the stories of thousands of other freedom seekers and reunited many formerly enslaved families, while building a remarkable collection of records. He worked with Harriet Tubman, Henry “Box” Brown, William and Ellen Craft, and many other key figures of the abolitionist movement from his base in Philadelphia.


Book cover of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton

George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time away from his master, though not his freedom. He became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.


Book cover of It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw

A biography of outsider artist Bill Traylor, a formerly enslaved Alabama man who at the age of 83 began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life.


Book cover of No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and his Kingdom in Kansas

An incredible, true story of how one of history’s most successful potato farmers began life enslaved, purchased farmland after emancipation, and worked until he was named the “Potato King of the World”!


Book cover of Hope's Gift

A poignant story celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.


Watch the recording of Don’s recent #TXBookChat discussion here!

HHH: Library Telehealth Visits Revisited

Logo for Henry's Hightech Highlights

In May 2019, I highlighted the topic of telehealth for my Henry’s High-Tech Highlights blog series. I think it’s high time we take another look. Before this year, telehealth was a fairly new technology that only a handful of folks were thinking about and exploring. With the pandemic, it’s risen to the forefront of people’s minds, becoming more relevant than ever. Suddenly we need telehealth implemented everywhere, on a massive scale, as communities, especially rural ones, are facing a worsening health crisis. Many lack local healthcare facilities to visit and the necessary Internet connectivity to make virtual doctor visits work. Libraries around the country are poised to be the perfect partners in these efforts to bring this critical need to the community, and we just happen to have a pioneer right here in Texas leading the charge. 

Today’s highlight: Telehealth at the library


The Facts

First off, why do folks need telehealth access, especially now?

  • Rural hospitals have been closing at a catastrophic rate.
  • Many people in rural areas are located far from any hospitals.
  • There’s also a lack of transportation options (no public transit) for folks to physically travel to the hospital.
  • Even when transportation is available, patients are often reluctant to travel outside of their area.
  • And most significantly, there is insufficient broadband access, a requirement for telehealth, in many residents’ homes.

Additionally, many of retirement age buy homes in rural areas to live, but when they find they need more healthcare, they end up selling their homes and returning to the cities due to the lack of access. Adding telehealth services to libraries means these seniors could receive the healthcare they need, thus allowing them to stay, age in place, and have the quality of life they desire. Libraries have the opportunity to be transformative, helping to maintain the vitality of their communities.

Why are libraries the perfect telehealth partners?

  1. It’s a place already in communities to serve people’s needs that people trust.
  2. It has friendly, helpful staff who respect privacy and are pros at teaching digital literacy skills.
  3. It often has free high speed Internet, faster than many might get at home.

I think libraries and telehealth go great together, so I decided to make another promotional poster based on ones from World War 2 to support telehealth services at libraries.

Poster depicts librarian (dressed as Rosie the Riveter) holding an ethernet cord and standing proud in front of a waving American flag. The words "Telehealth Saves Lives" are next to her. Below, the text reads: "High Speeds Meet People's Needs. See your local public library. Telehealth Services at participating locations."
The previous poster I designed is placed next to the original 1940s one that shows a Rosie the Riveter type with her husband standing proud in front of the American flag. The text below reads "I'm Proud... my husband wants me to do my part. See your U.S. Employment Service"
The original poster on the left, and my remix on the right.

I’ve created other library tech posters in a similar style if you want to check them out.


A Pioneering Pilot

Despite the great match-up of libraries and telehealth, there are very few examples in the U.S. I’m pleased to report that Texas is leading the pack in this regard. Pottsboro Area Library, a very small rural library an hour and a half north of Dallas, has a new telehealth pilot project in partnership with University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNT-HSC).

Last week, I invited Dianne Connery, former Director (now Special Projects Librarian) at Pottsboro Area Library and Jessica Rangell from UNT-HSC, to present during a monthly Zoom “TechChat” for TLA’s Innovation and Technology Round Table (ITRT) to discuss the facts I’ve outlined above and give a brief update on the pilot.

Here is a youtube recording of the 30 minute chat from 2/25/2021 if you want to watch the whole thing, but I’ve also highlighted the key points below.

During her talk, Dianne described how patrons would come into the library during the early days of the pandemic, reporting that their doctors wanted to talk to them but didn’t want them coming in for appointments for fear of contracting Covid. Unfortunately, a virtual visit wasn’t possible for these patrons since they didn’t have Internet access at home. What were these patrons supposed to do? 

Dianne had recently installed fiber at her library in order to support an innovative eSports program, so she knew the library’s Internet was up to snuff for a video-conferencing call. At first, she ended up setting up telehealth visits for these patrons in her office so they could have their doctors’ appointments. This was just a stopgap solution, however. A clear need was being articulated by the community, and Dianne wanted to do more to address the issue.

Investigating further, Dianne discovered a grant available from the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) – South Central Region (SCR). She applied and was awarded funding to pay for lighting (more on that later), health collection development, hardware (webcam, microphone, computer), signage, and marketing materials so that she could set up an innovative telehealth pilot with her partners at UNT-HSC.

Photograph that shows desktop computer in a designated telehealth room with good lighting.
A closer look at Pottsboro’s telehealth setup. Note the lighting.

How It Works

Step 1: If someone in the community has the need for telehealth, they make a call directly to the Health Science Center to make the reservation. This protects their privacy (library staff never knows the names, only the times of the appointments). This is especially important in a small town where everyone may know each other. 

Step 2: Once the reservation is made, the patient can come into the library to a special designated room that is staffed by healthcare professionals. Besides the registration, the payment process and screening for Covid is all handled through the Health Science Center.

Promotional banner that reads "Check out telehealth at your local library!" and a bullet point list of : "Call to schedule your appointment, Complete your pre-visit check-in electronically, Show up at the library for your appointment" Below that is the contact info for UNT-HSC.
Promotional banner for Pottsboro Area Library and UNT-HSC’s telehealth program

Here are a few more points made by the presenters:

  • Offering this kind of telehealth service is scalable to any size library.
  • A library doesn’t need to have a separate dedicated room.
  • It does, however, require good Internet like from a fiber connection.
  • It also requires good lighting to ensure clinicians can diagnose their patrons with the same visual information they would have in person. 
  • As mentioned in my intro, many are now abuzz about telehealth due to the pandemic’s highlighting of the ever-widening digital divide. Legislators and funding providers are eager to support projects like this and bring telehealth to communities. So keep on the look-out; funding is coming!

A Community of Practice

With her pilot, Dianne says she’s building the plane as she’s flying it, just winging it really. This is such new terrain we’re all in. We will all benefit from the lessons learned from her attempt, but let’s get the conversation going and develop a community of practice.

Some questions to explore:

  • What kind of training do library staff need to set up and implement telehealth services?
  • How should libraries advertise this new service and reach people where they are? 
  • How should libraries implement good workflows to deal with infection control issues?
  • What are considerations not thought of?
  • What more can be done in this space? For example, could it be made mobile to visit patients where they are  – such as in nursing homes and assisted living facilities?

Are you considering telehealth at your library, or are you already doing it? Want to learn more? Please email me with subject line “Telehealth” if you have stories, ideas, or resources to share – or if you just want to stay in the loop with regard to library telehealth in Texas.

TSLAC’s Program to Get FREE E-rate Consultant Help Continues this Year!

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 2021 E-rate Funding Year. 

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

Last year, 157 libraries received the free expert help and successfully received E-rate funding. LCT applications now represent 67% of funded library applications in Texas, and the average bandwidth for LCT libraries has increased from around 70 Mbps to 450 Mbps.

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

On February 25, Let’s Talk Telehealth in Libraries

The Innovation & Technology Round Table (ITRT) of the Texas Library Association (TLA) is hosting a FREE half-hour Zoom chat about libraries and telehealth on Thursday, February 25 from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. They’ve invited Dianne Connery of Pottsboro Area Library to speak about her telehealth pilot project and answer any questions you have.

If you’re interested in how libraries can offer telehealth services, come join us!

Description:

Learn how a small library launched a pilot program to provide access to quality health care through telehealth. In rural communities, libraries often have the fastest internet connection in town together with the digital literacy to assist users. How can information professionals create healthier communities?

Banner to advertise Pottsboro Area Library's telehealth pilot. "Check out telehealth at your local library!" with bullet points: Call to schedule your appointment, Complete your pre-vist check-in electronically, Show up at the library for your appointment;
Promotional banner for Pottsboro Area Library’s telehealth pilot

Time:

Thursday, February 25, 12-12:30 p.m. (30 minutes)

To attend:

Please contact Henry Stokes (2020-21 ITRT Chair) at hstokes@tsl.texas.gov to receive the TLA Zoom meeting link.

E-Read Texas launches site for children

E-Read Texas recently launched a new site specifically for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade. E-Read Texas for Kids can be accessed at https://e-readtxkids.biblioboard.com/home.

The site is geofenced so that any user located in Texas can access it, with no login nor password required. There’s no need to “check-out” the books—just click and access. And there are no simultaneous user restrictions, so that means there are no holds and no waitlists.

E-Read Texas for Kids includes a collection of more than 600 titles from Teacher Created Materials, including the TIME for Kids series. The majority of the titles comprise juvenile nonfiction, including science, mathematics, sports, history, and art, in both English and Spanish. The site also includes juvenile fiction and craft and hobby books for kids. Because these books allow unlimited simultaneous users, they are the perfect fit for winter break reading! Encourage your children to indulge in some fun break time reading about animals, crafts, and a variety of interesting topics. This is a great time to introduce kids to e-books and keep them reading during the long break from school. Please consider contacting your local school library person to coordinate this effort to get kids reading.

E-Read Texas is an online program that makes electronic books freely available through the SimplyE app, which is easily downloadable at no cost through an app store. The program was created to support digital content for public libraries serving communities with populations of fewer than 100,000 people. For more information about E-Read Texas, including titles available and library eligibility, visit the website at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/ebooks

2020 Texas Great Read Selection Butterfly Yellow Available Statewide as a Free e-Book

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) and the Texas Center for the Book are thrilled to announce that any resident of Texas will be able to read the 2020 Texas Great Read, Thanhhà Lại’s award-winning young adult novel Butterfly Yellow, free online through E-Read Texas, from Nov. 16 – Jan. 16. 

TSLAC is partnering with Biblioboard to make this and thousands of other e-books available to Texas residents. The Biblioboard website is geofenced so that any user located in Texas can access it, no login or password required. And there are no simultaneous user restrictions, so that means there are no holds or waitlists. A special web page has been set up for Butterfly Yellow and can be accessed via the Texas Great Read web page by clicking on the “Read the Book” link.

In addition to the full text of the Butterfly Yellow e-book, readers and teachers across Texas will be able to access multimedia support materials, including interviews with the author, teaching guides, and other resources from Teaching Books/Book Connections. Libraries looking to promote the availability of the e-book to their patrons can visit the Texas Great Read webpage to download promotional graphics and blurbs to help in marketing.

Public libraries that participate in E-Read Texas can also access the Butterfly Yellow e-book through their SimplyE app, along with thousands of other e-books. E-Read Texas is a recently launched statewide e-book program made available to eligible public libraries in Texas. The collection currently includes more than 6,000 high-quality e-books from top publishers. While many of the e-books in the collection have limits on the number of simultaneous users, more than half the e-books are available for simultaneous use with no wait lists or holds. To learn more about E-Read Texas, please visit the E-Read Texas webpage, or contact Karen McElfresh.

A linkable graphic that has the text "Texas Great Read" and shows the book cover and the logos of the partnering organizations.

About the Book

In the final days of the Việt Nam War, Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms—and Hằng is left behind in the war-torn country.

Six years later, Hằng has made the brutal journey from Việt Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her.

Hằng is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, their family, or Việt Nam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels greater than ever, Hằng has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.

About the Author

Thanhhà Lại is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside Out & Back Again, her debut novel in verse, winner of the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor, and Listen, Slowly, honored with inclusion on numerous “book of the year” lists. Lại was born in Viêt Nam and lives in New York with her family. Lại is also the founder of Viet Kids Inc., a non-profit that changes the lives of Vietnamese students through the purchase of bicycles, tuition, uniforms, and rice. For information about Lại and her work, visit www.thanhhalai.com.