Virtual Storytime Resources

We have received many questions regarding best practices when conducting virtual storytimes. While we cannot provide legal advice, we have curated a few virtual storytime resources for libraries’ ease of access.

Getting Started with Virtual Storytimes (WebJunction): An archived webinar presented by Renee Grassi, Youth Services Manager, Dakota County Library (MN)

Jbrary: Storytime Online Resources: Created by Lindsey Krabbenhoft and Dana Horrocks, two children’s librarians, this site features YouTube  playlists and a compilation of online storytime resources.

Online StoryTime & Coronavirus (Programming Librarian): This post from the Programming Librarian was posted by ALA’s Public Program’s Office. This should not be taken as legal advice, but may offer one perspective.

Public Libraries Accreditation and Statistics: This page from the Texas State Library will offer up to date information on accreditation and statistics.

School Library Journal’s COVID-19 Publisher Information Directory: This resource outlines permissions granted during COVID-19 by publisher; please check dates of availability in the listing, as they are updated periodically.

Virtual Storytime and Copyright: Resources: A blog post from the Texas State Library on copyright resources regarding virtual storytime.

Virtual Storytime Resources Guide (Association for LIbrary Services to Children): This guide was developed by the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL), the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), and others.

Program Statistics for the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report

Definition of Library Program: A program is any planned event which introduces the group attending to any of the activities or which directly provides information to participants. Programs may cover use of the library, library services, or library tours. Programs may also provide cultural, recreational, or educational information, often designed to meet a specific social need. Examples of these types of programs include film showings, lectures, story hours, literacy, English as a second language, citizenship classes, and book discussions.
Counting Programs and Attendance: Live virtual programming that meets the definition of programs can be reported in total number of library programs, number of children’s programs, number of young adult programs and number of adult programs; as well as related total. For attendance, report unique or peak views.  
If you have other questions about how or what to report, contact State Data Coordinator Valicia Greenwood at

First Edition of #TXBookChat Featuring Bethany Hegedus “Living a Life for the Books”

Join us for a special conversation with Bethany Hegedus, author and owner of The Writing Barn. Ms. Hegedus will be interviewed by Rebekah Manley, Coordinator for the Texas Center for the Book, in a program entitled Living a Life for the Books. Ms. Hegedus has published biographies on Gandhi, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou, and Jimmy Carter and is well known in writing circles.

When: Thursday, July 9, at 11:00 a.m CDT.   Eventbrite Registration here.

The #TXBookChat series offers brief discussions and programs with authors, librarians, and literary professionals. These informal “coffee chats” last about 30 minutes and offer a quick look into different aspects of the state’s literary world. The #TXBookChat series seeks to bring together diverse voices and perspectives.

Woman smiling with title Living a Life for the Books

 Upcoming Live Events:

Thursday, July 9, 2020, 11 a.m. CDT

Living a Life for the Books: Bethany Hegedus

Free Online Event  

Thursday, August 6, 2020, 11 a.m. CDT

Write NOW Session: Claire Campbell

Free Online Event  

Thursday, August 20, 2020, 11 a.m. CDT

How to Draw From History: Developing Characters Today with Don Tate

Free Online Event  

Yes, We’re Open: Talking with the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library

We have received many questions regarding how libraries throughout the state of Texas are providing services to the public. To help answer these questions, we are starting a blog post series titled Yes, We’re Open, which will interview library directors and workers throughout the state to provide snapshots in library response. In this first installment of the series, we interviewed Marisol Vidales at the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library in Mercedes, TX.

Marisol Vidales, woman smiling
Marisol Vidales

In what ways is your library open to the public?

We are currently open at 50% capacity and providing the majority of our services which include circulation of materials, scanning, copying, faxing, and computer use. The library also runs its own café so we have opened that as well. The only two things we have been unable to provide is in person programming and meeting room use. We don’t want to encourage gatherings and so we have held those services back. We also have continued to offer curbside pickup for our café and circulation for those patrons who prefer that. We know cases are rising in the state and we can understand our patrons’ concern with coming into the library.

How have your library’s policies and procedures changed?

The main change is in how we handle material. When we receive items through the mail or book drop we handle everything with gloves. We set aside the mail and newspapers for 24 hours before making them available to the public. We also set aside books and DVD’s for 72 hours before shelving the items and of course prior to shelving them we sanitize the outside of the material. Even within the library we ask patrons to use the indoor book drop when returning items. Due to items not being checked in immediately we have also become more generous with our checkout limit and we take the patron’s word that they returned the items. We also enacted automatic renewals so patrons have even more time with our materials and less of a possibility of incurring fines. It is a very difficult time financially for the majority of the world and we don’t want to add to that burden.

How have you adapted your library space?

Library building
Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library

To ensure we are providing the recommended 6-foot distance we have removed a lot of our furniture or placed caution tape on the areas that are not available. The few fabric couches we have we moved to our meeting room because we find those more difficult to sanitize. Essentially, our newly remodeled meeting room has become our storage area for all our excess furniture. We also have less computers available for the public due to the 6-foot guideline. We adapted by using our online catalogs as computers as well and providing laptops for check out within the library. We have also marked our book stacks with entrance and exit signs. While we encourage patrons to ask us for the items they want we have not blocked access to the stacks. We also removed all toys, games, and colors from our Children’s Department.

What services are you providing to vulnerable populations?

The curbside service is one of the services we have available for everyone but we highly encourage vulnerable populations to use it. We find the items for the patron, check them out over the phone, and place them in the trunk of their car when they arrive so it is a contactless experience. We also recommend that vulnerable populations use our audio and electronic books through RB Digital so they don’t even have to leave their home. The Hidalgo County Library System was recently given $75,000 by the county so we can continue to expand the collection which has become increasingly important in a time like this. As far as services for children we have been holding a virtual story and craft time through Facebook Live. We have story time twice a week and the craft activity once a week. We want to be able to provide something fun and distracting for them and to keep the connection to the library going even when they can’t visit in person. For those patrons who do not have access to the internet at home we are offering our public computers with no time limits. We realize that some patrons may be job searching, filing for unemployment, or applying for assistance so we don’t want to time anyone. We also offer anyone who does not have a physical address an e-card so they can use our computers. We have made our wi-fi available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in our library parking lot.  I wish we were able to offer more such as wi-fi hot spots, bookmobiles, senior hours, removing all fines, etc.  but either due to budget constraints or policy we have been unable to offer that. I strongly advocate that whatever you have in your power to do to help vulnerable populations at this time whether psychically or financially don’t hesitate. Our communities need the help of libraries more than ever before.  

How are you helping your staff during reopening?

Mary Jane Hernandez and Isabel Mendoza

With the staff the main thing has been providing protection. Prior to reopening I looked into providing acrylic shields or sneeze guards for every circulation desk. Unfortunately, the cost was over $3,000 so the initial purchase was not approved. Having developed an excellent relationship with my Public Works Department we brainstormed on ways to make the shields in-house. Thankfully, we were able to make some out of clear vinyl and wood frames. We now have them in every area where the staff are dealing with the public and we were able to have them in place by the time we opened which was May 4. I also wanted staff to be comfortable in dealing with patrons out on the floor so we invested in face shields for everyone to provide that extra protection. We also have gloves, disposable masks, and hand sanitizer available for all the staff. Plus, every morning we are doing temperature checks with a touchless thermometer. All these precautions help keep us safe and lower the risk.

As far as mental and emotional support we have been meeting every Friday to address any concerns and any updates with regards to COVID-19. Our first meeting was prior to us opening and we implemented remote desktop on all our public computers so staff can assist patrons with computer questions while complying to social distancing. We also did a lot of role playing that day regarding patrons who may refuse to wear a mask or not comply with social distance. As things evolve we make sure to discuss it and have a clear message we want to portray.

Describe your decision-making process. How do you communicate with your governing authority?

I work for a fairly small municipality. We have a population of about 16,500. With that being said it is fairly easy to speak directly with our City Manager. Often, I propose changes or ask questions simply by email or text messages, which is great because it’s a faster response. If something I am proposing is more complicated then I do have to provide documentation such as memos with statistics to substantiate my request. Obviously, certain things are not within the city manager’s control such as direct changes to our policy manual or anything over $5,000 in cost. In those instances, I do run everything by my City Manager first to get his approval and suggestions. If it’s dealing with policy, it does have to go by my Library Board and then City Commission. If it’s funding then it has to go to City Commission.

Resources for a library’s physical space during COVID-19

Libraries throughout the state of Texas provide invaluable services to their patrons both in and out of their buildings through analog and virtual means. Many libraries in Texas are currently going through the process of reopening their physical locations following COVID-19 related closures. As we have received many questions regarding reopening strategies, we wanted to take a moment to share the following resources that may be helpful when planning or continuing the process of reopening your library’s physical location.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Reopening Libraries: Resource Guide Created in May 2020, this guide provides a series of questions to consider with the library’s governing authority when considering reopening the library’s physical space.

Library reopening plans: early June A compilation of Texas library responses to the Texas State Library regarding reopening plans in June 2020. Libraries are identified by population size.

Reopening Under COVID-19: A Space Planning Approach (Public Library Association) A space planning guide published by the Public Library Association complete with specific idea and considerations when reopening the library’s physical space. The guide was written by David Vinjamuri and Joe Huberty.

To continue sharing updates from libraries, we are starting a blog post series titled Yes We’re Open, which will include interviews with library directors and workers throughout the state to provide snapshots of library response. We will begin this blog post series soon, so stay tuned!

We feel your pain: From The Director’s Report

The following post is from State Librarian Mark Smith’s blog, The Director’s Report.

It is a hard time to be library worker.

When much of society went home to shelter in place in mid-March, most library staff did the same. By late March, most Texas libraries were closed. TSLAC closed its public reading rooms on Tuesday, March 17.

Since then, libraries have struggled with multiple challenges in their valiant efforts to serve the public. Many instituted curbside pick-ups, others ramped up their online offerings, while others boosted their wifi signals, even taking wifi into the communities or onto vehicles. Some libraries circulated devices or wifi hotspots and many offered virtual story hours, summer reading programs, and other online programming.

The public have used these services fully, especially remote access to online services while they too are home, often with children who they are trying to keep entertained and tracking to reading and learning.

These services have proven the value of the library as an essential service, even when closed to walk-in patrons. But this effort has taken its toll on library workers. Library directors and their staffs had to pivot literally overnight to new ways of providing services under emergency conditions. For many, the demand increased dramatically. Those who remained open, or in some way interacting with the public, had to scramble to find the PPE necessary to keep staff and the public safe.

On April 27, Governor Abbott declared that libraries and museums could open at 25 percent capacity. He emphasized that his guidance would be permissive for city and county libraries but required for state libraries. That order began the process of many libraries returning to some on-site services. That movement has left many libraries with dilemmas regarding how far to push face coverings. Librarians in some locations face a choice of hostility from customers who feel face coverings limit their individual liberties and legitimate worries about keeping staff and the public safe from the virus.

On May 4, TSLAC began accepting researchers in the Archives reading room at the downtown Austin Lorenzo De Zavala Building and at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty. TSLAC is the only library operated by the state that has opened to visitors and throughout May and June staff have served a succession of researchers in the reading room. TSLAC strongly encourages – but cannot require – the use of face coverings by patrons. To-date, all researchers coming to the De Zavala building have been willing to wear masks and observe our safety and distancing protocols as a matter of mutual consideration and respect between the public and our staff.

Even as library staffs continue to cope through the crisis, the next hurdle looms: budget reductions. We fully expect that the economic impact of the virus on cities, counties, and the state will be huge. TSLAC, along with all other agencies, has been asked to make a five percent reduction to the current biennium with further reductions all but certain for the future. Being as essential to Texans – as libraries are in both good and difficult times – should ensure that they are the last cut, but we all know that it doesn’t work out that way. Assistant State Librarian Gloria Meraz is currently at work on a document that will provide strategies for library directors and managers facing the looming specter of funding reductions.

TSLAC feels the pain of local library managers and workers who have valiantly and selflessly served their communities throughout the Coronavirus epidemic. We are struggling with the same challenges that you all are, both in terms of maintaining public service while also preparing ourselves for inevitable budget cuts.

It is a challenging time to be in public service. But we will get through this together and we will survive. I am confident that while we may take more than our share of the impact of societal crises and funding reductions, the public has an enduring need for what libraries offer: a stable and beloved social institution, open to all on equal terms, providing authoritative access to life-saving, life-affirming information.

Please let me know how the Texas State Library and Archives Commission can help your library as we navigate together through these difficult times.

Resources for libraries:

Library Developments Blog:

COVID-19 Information and Resources for Library Workers:

Resources for records managers:

The Texas Record Blog:

General resources:

TSLAC Plan for Services during the COVID-19 Health Situation:

Youth Services Reading Lists and Resources: Racial Equity and Inclusion

In response to requests from libraries looking for resources and reading materials regarding racism, equity and inclusion, here are a few curated lists including resources for families and youth librarians to help get your library started.

2020 COVID-19 Anti-Asian Racism Resources (Sarah Park Dahlen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Master of Library and Information Science Program at St. Catherine University)

Anti-Racism Reading Lists and Resources (Oklahoma Department of Libraries)

Black Joy Booklist for Children and Young Adults (The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

Booklists and Resources Addressing Race and Social Justice (Vermont State Library)

Cooke, N. A. (2020, May 30). Anti-Racism Resources for all ages. [A project of the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair at the University of South Carolina].

Diverse Book Finder (sponsored by Bates/IMLS)

Generations Book Club: Community and Culture (The Brown Bookshelf)

Race and Racism: Selected Books for PreK-Grade 12 (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Recommended reading about racism in the United States (Texas Book Festival)

Resource and Book list from Embrace Race

Social Justice Books (Teaching for Change)

We are Kid Lit Collective

Where to Find Diverse Books (We Need Diverse Books)

Has your library developed a reading list or resource? Let us know!

Summer Meals at Libraries Update

If you weren’t able to attend the webinar Feeding Your Community: Summer Meals at Libraries webinar, co-produced by the Collaborative Summer Library Program and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the recording is available here:

The USDA has extended temporary waivers that permit SFSP sites to provide grab-and-go meals/snacks and allow parents to pick meals up for their children. Other waivers are also in place to facilitate food distribution under social distancing guidelines. The need will be exceptionally great this year, and some previous SFSP sites may be unavailable for various reasons related to the public health emergency.

If your library is already an SFSP site, work with your current sponsor. If you want to become an SFSP site: contact your local school district, an SFSP sponsor in your area, or your state’s SFSP administering agency. For Texas specific resources, visit the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website; they have developed a COVID-19 FAQ page. You can also view resources on the Texas State Library’s Summer Lunch at the Library page.

In addition, the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) offers Libraries and Summer Food, a thorough, clear how-to guide for libraries: (please note this guide assumes ordinary circumstances and has not been revised for the current public health emergency).

TSLAC reaffirms its longstanding commitment to equality and opposing racism (Mark Smith’s “The Director’s Report”)

Last week, Texas State Library and Archives Commission Director Mark Smith shared his blog post titled TSLAC reaffirms its longstanding commitment to equality and opposing racism.” We wanted to share his blog post with our readers, along with the following statement from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

The staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission are dedicated to honoring our responsibility as public servants to maintain the highest standards of professionalism and respect for all people. Libraries and archives have a long history of working to provide equitable access to resources and services for all communities and to safeguard the primary history of important events. The imperative to build on this work continues and is infused with a renewed sense of urgency. We recognize that as witnesses to this historic moment in our national narrative, we are all also participants. We, as individuals, stand in solidarity with all persons seeking justice and an end to racism or any practice that undermines the inherent worth of any human life.

Interlibrary Loan Lending Reimbursement Program and Statistics

As libraries have adjusted and reinvented their services over the last two months, interlibrary loan activity has been put on hold (pun intended!) across Texas and the country. While ILL lending has been suspended of late, TSLAC is still offering lending reimbursements through the FY 2020 ILL Lending Reimbursement Program for lends made during the eligible time period: August 1, 2019 – July 31, 2020. This non-competitive grant program is open in TSLAC’s Grant Management System portal and any Texas Navigator library that provides materials through ILL to fellow Texas Navigator libraries is eligible to participate. I am happy to provide you available statistics, you can also run a report of your library’s lending statistics by month from the Navigator Request Engine (NRE) by following these steps:

  1. Log in to your NRE account
  2. Select Reports from the menu on the left side of the screen
  3. Select Monthly ILL Statistics from the list of Reports
  4. Enter a start date of August 1, 2019 and an end date of current date, click Generate Report
  5. The Responder – Shipped column reflects the lends made to Navigator libraries that are eligible for reimbursement

If you have questions or concerns about participating, please contact me at  The deadline to submit the signed participation agreement form is July 24, 2020. The full timeline is:

July 24, 2020: Deadline to submit completed Grant Agreement/Application Certification form in GMS, signed by authorized legal entity signatory.
August 17, 2020: TSLAC will notify libraries of total eligible lends and award amounts and begin accepting Performance Certification forms through the online GMS portal.
August 31, 2020: Deadline to submit completed Performance Certification form in GMS, signed by Library Director.
September 2020: Reimbursement payments dispersed to legal entities (cities, counties, universities).

If this is a time for catching up on training or policy review/development at your library, you may wish to (re)visit the following resources related to interlibrary loan:

The ILL lending reimbursement  program is administered by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) and funded by the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Virtual Storytime and Copyright: Resources

We have received many questions recently about virtual and online storytimes. As we cannot provide legal advice, we wanted to curate a few resources that may be helpful during this time. If you need legal advice, we would highly recommend that you reach out to your library, city or county’s legal counsel if available.

Virtual Storytime Information

Copyright and Creative Commons Information

  • U.S. Copyright Office The website of the U.S. Copyright Office provides a a plethora of resources on copyright law.
  • Creative Commons: Helping Patrons and Students Find and License Online Content In this archived webinar, the Texas State Library’s Kyla Hunt and Liz Philippi explore ways to locate Creative Commons licensed materials and to promote the usage of Creative Commons in your library.

We hope you find this information useful; for further reading, you may also want to view our previous blog post, Copyright and Fair Use Resources.   

Have a safe and healthy summer!