TeenTober Interview with Bastrop Public Library’s Young Adult Librarian

YALSA TeenTober graphic logo. What will you discover at the library? Visit www.ala.org/yalsa/teentober.
YALSA’s TeenTober is an initiative that aims to celebrate teens and promote year-round teen services.

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)has recently created #TeenTober, a teen initiative that aims to celebrate teens and promote year-round teen services. We would like to celebrate #TeenTober by highlighting Bastrop Public Library’s Young Adult Librarian, Bethany Dietrich.

Photo of Bethany Dietrich, the Young Adult Librarian at Bastrop Public Library in Bastrop, Texas.

Meet Bethany Dietrich!
Bethany Dietrich is the Young Adult Librarian at Bastrop Public Library in Bastrop, Texas, where she wears many hats: adult and YA collections, teen programming, social media manager, and more. She contributes on NoveList and is a new blogger for Teens Services Underground. She loves spreadsheets and spends too much time reading according to others and the perfect amount according to herself.

How did you become a young adult librarian? Did you always know you wanted to be a young adult librarian?

I wanted to be a librarian when I was a fourth-grader, which was right before Y2K. I remember my dad saying, “No, don’t be a librarian. Technology and the internet are going to make libraries obsolete.” I was like, “Okay, you’re a smart guy. You know what you’re talking about.” So, I kind of abandoned that idea, and I went into teaching because I knew there would always be a need for teachers. I taught 10th grade English for three years, and then I went out to Washington state, and I ran a church camp for a year and a half. That’s where I honed my programming skills, which required me to think outside of the box, and design for what people want while working within parameters like safety, financial issues, and time constraints. When I lived at the camp, I didn’t have the internet at my house, so I would go into town and use the internet at the library. That experience gave me the opportunity to see what libraries in the 21st century look like and how they had changed and adapted. During that time, I saw a career therapist who helped me figure out what I needed to be fulfilled in a job. We narrowed down all the options with her help, and I decided I would go to graduate school to become a librarian. I went to the University of North Texas got my masters, and after that, I got a job in Bastrop as the Young Adult librarian.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, how did you develop your young adult programming? Were you responding to any community needs?

Pre-COVID, my program met weekly, and we still meet weekly during COVID. I’m a really big believer in giving people what they want, and not being shy about asking them what they want. I tried developing a teen advisory board, and that was a big bust. The teens who were semi-interested in being involved with the teen advisory board were typically volunteers and were not the teens coming to my weekly program. I’ve been cultivating and coaching regular teens on how to provide helpful programming recommendations to me. My teens generally walk over from the high school after school on Thursdays, and that would give us a little bit of an awkward time because some people are here, some people aren’t here yet, some people are here ready to get going.

Photo of teens at the Bastrop Public Library creating Mug Meals.
In February, teens at the Bastrop Public Library created “Mug Meals” and learned how to feed themselves using just a few ingredients.

I had to figure out what to do to fill this awkward time. Often, we would watch YouTube videos, which helped inform me of what they’re watching on YouTube. I found that what they’re watching on YouTube is not what I’m watching on YouTube. I’m like, “Yay Vlogbrothers,” and they’re like, “yeah, check out this Minecraft dude.” After a while, they started to show me things like The Try Guys from BuzzFeed, and they would show me videos where they would ask each other trivia questions, and if they got it wrong, they would smash a disgusting balloon full of disgusting stuff. They started to ask if they could do similar activities in the library. I was like, “Well, I really liked this idea, but no, we can’t fill balloons with hot sauce, because that’s dangerous, but we could fill it with ketchup.” I started to coach my teens and helped them identify things that we could do safely, that was within our budget, and within our time constraints. In the beginning, they would show me YouTube videos, and then I would talk it through with them, and now I’ve coached them to email me the YouTube videos and their recommendations on how to adjust to fit our needs. Now during COVID, they have been sending me TikTok videos.

COVID has shifted how many of us work today, how has the pandemic impacted your work? What has been the most challenging thing that you have faced?

We switched over to Discord pretty early and have been meeting virtually since early April. It was slow going at first because my kids are not on social media. When I asked how they heard about our Discord server, they would say, “I heard from someone’s mom” or “I saw it on Facebook,” and then eventually, kids were texting their friends. That was how we were able to spread the word about Discord. We still don’t have a ton of people; I probably average four to six kids every week. Since school started and they’re allowed to go in-person, my participation numbers have continued to drop. In fact, I’ve had zero the past three weeks. They don’t want to hang online because they can (finally!) hang out with each other in-person, even if they can’t do it at the library in a library program. That said, there is still some asynchronous participation in the text channels. I’ll keep showing up at our regular time, and I’ll be ready for them when they’re ready to come back. We mostly play games and talk.

Photo of teen creating a hokey stick using recycled cardboard.
In January during Teen Thursdays at the Bastrop Public Library, teens created the hockey sticks using recycled cardboard to play Balloon Hockey.

Challenges are seeing my kids feeling the pinch to their mental health. I want to support mental health wellness, but I’m not a trained person in that regard. I have the Mental Health First Aid certification, but I’m by no means an expert. I’ve seen several therapists and feel more comfortable than many other people talking about it, but I don’t want to tell the kid the wrong thing. The legality of mental health work does make me cautious. I’ve been participating in a School Library Journal and University of Maryland iSchool co-design study, which is based on how teen librarians and libraries, in general, can help support public services and helping their communities. I’ve been toying around with how I can implement more of that into my virtual programming. However, because of the pull on my time from doing curbside, and all these other circulation duties that I don’t usually have, it’s been tough to find the time and the energy that I would like to spend on doing that.

Photo of teens playing balloon hockey.
Teens playing Balloon Hockey at the Bastrop Public Library using balloons as a hockey pucks and teen made recycled cardboard hockey sticks.

Were you using Discord before the pandemic and was there a steep learning curve?

Somebody posted about Discord in one of the Facebook groups that I’m on, and I knew my brother had been using Discord for years. I worked with him and let him know about all the security and privacy things that I needed, and he helped me set it up. It was because of that first person who posted it in one of my Facebook groups that helped me think that I could do it. I’m very careful about who I allow to join our server. I do post the invite links on our teen Instagram, but as I said, not many of our teens are on our Instagram. It’s mostly other teen librarians who follow us. I don’t put any hashtags and don’t use geotags. To get into the server, you have to be following us to see that post. I also posted it on Facebook a couple of times, but again, our community is small. I ask some screening questions and privately chat with the person if I haven’t directly invited them or talked to them about joining it. My first Teen Services Underground (TSU) article was how to set-up up a Discord server.

With so much uncertainty about the fall, how do you plan to approach your programming, and do you have any upcoming programs you would like to highlight?

I am just swamped with all my other responsibilities. We are a small library, and I wear many hats other than just teen programming and teen collection development. I do all the adult collection development and social media managing, as well as a few other things. I don’t have the capacity to really put together any sort of programming other than Jackbox games. I have trivia in my back pocket that I pull out when Jackbox goes down, which happened once. Since we did Jackbox games all summer, they’ve gotten pretty tired of it. Three weeks ago, one of my teens suggested the popular app Among Us, so we’ll play that the next time enough participants attend unless something else has caught their eye by then.

I would like to do more along the lines of what I’m learning in the School Library Journal and the University of Maryland iSchool study. I read an article that talked about some ways to support teens’ mental health and talked about using a gratitude wall. I did add a new text channel in our Discord and put a challenge out to everybody to tell one thing that they’re happy about, or that made them happy that day or grateful for, and then to continue posting something every day. Hopefully, even if it’s just that little bit of positivity, that will have a larger effect on them. My teens also asked for an Art Stuff channel, where they post what they’ve drawn/created. It is way more popular than the Happy Stuff channel, but we do get several posts a week in Happy Stuff. Whether they’re posting in Happy Stuff, Art Stuff, or the general chat channel, I love seeing them being supportive of one another.

Logo from YALSA's TeenTober. What will you discover at the library?
To learn more about TeenTober, visit YALSA’s TeenTober’s webpage at www.ala.org/yalsa/teentober.

Thank you, Bethany, for sharing your story and your work with us. Although this year might look a little different, libraries across Texas and the US are celebrating #TeenTober by highlighting their teen collection and programming. To learn more, visit YALSA’s TeenTober’s webpage at www.ala.org/yalsa/teentober. How is your library celebrating #TeenTober? Share in the comment sections.

Library Development and Networking staff highlight their favorite banned books!

Celebrate the freedom to read! Banned Books week takes place September 27 – October 3, 2020. The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has announced this year’s Banned Books Week theme  – Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read. ALA suggests ways for libraries to participate in #BannedBooksWeek through literary actions, and it offers links to images and resources. Librarians have asked that we take a moment to highlight a few of Library Development and Networking staff members’ personal favorite reads that have been challenged.

The Hate U Give by Angie Tomas

Selected by Mark Smith, State Librarian, and Jennifer Peters, Director of Library Development and Networking

The book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Mark Smith’s favorite banned book, The Hate U Give.

Mark Smith, State Librarian: One of my favorite books that has been recently challenged is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is such an insightful and authentic exploration of the complexity of race in our society. For me this book provided perspectives that I have not seen in any other book. The main character is a Black teenager who lives in a lower income Black neighborhood but goes to school at an affluent, predominantly white school and so is torn between the values and conflicts of these two worlds. It strikes me as so misguided that at a time when we need to build compassion and understanding between people, there are those who would seek to keep this book from young readers.

Jennifer Peters holds The Hate U Give.
Jennifer Peters shares her favorite banned book, The Hate U Give.

Jennifer Peters, Director of Library Development and Networking: I have many favorite banned books, but the one that seems most relevant to me right now is Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give, which shines a spotlight on a police-involved shooting and its impact on a family and community. Starr Carter, an African American teenager who code-switches between her largely white prep school by day and her close-knit family and working-class neighborhood by night, is the only civilian witness in the death of a childhood friend. In the aftermath, Starr is pulled in many directions as she processes a traumatic experience that leads to local protests. I believe the book is more nuanced than its “anti-cop” detractors would have you believe. I was particularly touched by Starr’s discussions with her family as she processes her experience. As with any sixteen-year-old, she hasn’t got it all figured out just yet, and the book reflects her uncertainty and evolving feelings as events around her take on a life of their own.

Valicia Greenwood reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Valicia Greenwood shares her favorite banned book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling

Valicia Greenwood, Library Data Coordinator: When I was a librarian in a K-8 school, I used to keep a print-out of the Top 100 Banned Books, in small print like the one attached, on one of the shelf ends.  I have spent many long and wonderful hours reading books on that list and wanted to share!  Okay, it was maybe not the best idea:  I had many requests to purchase books that were not entirely age-appropriate! 

The Harry Potter series was first sold in the US the summer my oldest son turned 11. My children loved the fact that, as a librarian, I could order and receive four copies whenever the next book came out in the summer. The oldest and his three siblings would shut their doors and escape to that magical world, and I would get some peace for a few days!  I read the volumes as well, wishing I was not such a muggle, but could learn the magic arts, too.  We even threw a Harry Potter birthday party for my third child, complete with a sorting hat, potions class and a game of Quidditch! Attendees wore cloaks and hats and had a great time entering into the fun!  I am proud and pleased to see that Harry Potter topped the list of banned books between 2000-2009. Collectively, I believe these books challenge our ideas and help us expand our mind beyond its normal boundaries, and they are some of my favorite reads, no question.

Ann Griffith takes a photo of herself and the book, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.
Ann Griffith shares her favorite banned book. Did you know The Story of Ferdinand was a banned book?

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Ann Griffith, Electronic Resources Coordinator: My selection is the classic children’s book The Story of Ferdinand, written by Munro Leaf with illustrations by Robert Lawson. Like many, I like that the main character is calm and kind and remains true to his unique nature. I also admire Lawson’s witty etchings. Leaf published his book in 1936, a time of increasing global unrest. Ferdinand the pacifist bull was viewed by some as a subversive political metaphor.  Adolf Hitler called the book “degenerate democratic propaganda,” then banned and burned it in Nazi Germany.  Ferdinand was banned in Spain from the 1930s until after the death of the country’s dictator, General Franco, in 1974. Munro Leaf, surprised by the international controversy over a book he “thought was for children,” called it “propaganda for laughter only.”  It has never been out of print.

Here is a link to read more about the controversial history behind The Store of Ferdinand.

Kate Reagor holds a Captain Underpants doll and her son Nathaniel holds a Captain Underpants book.
Kate Reagor and Nathaniel share their favorite banned book series, Captain Underpants.

Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

Kate Reagor, Resource Sharing Support Specialist: My son is getting started early on banned books with the Captain Underpants series! Both of the main characters, like my son (and the author!), have ADHD, and it makes him so happy to see himself represented in a positive light. Some perceive the series as encouraging disruptive behavior, but its main impact on him so far has been to encourage him to draw his own comics. The last book in the series was banned because when the two boys time travel to find their future “old” selves (they’re, like, 30!), one of them happens to have a husband. Nathaniel didn’t care about that, but he did have lots of ideas for how he would use a time machine!

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Laura Tadena, Equity and Inclusion Consultant: One of my favorite banned books from my childhood is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. This horror series became the most challenged book of the 90’s because of the controversial material. People challenged this book because they claimed it had terrifying illustrations and was “too mature” for the intended audience. Fortunately for me, these books were available in my middle school library and was the reason I fell in love with reading. I remember being drawn to the scary covers and then reading and re-reading them all weekend. When I was a school librarian, scary books were the most requested items in my school library, and I was more than happy to add these to my collection.

Banned Books Week is offered every year to recognize the ongoing commitment to protecting everyone’s right to read. We celebrate the invaluable– and often brave–work of librarians and communities as they support reading and readers, especially in challenging times. For more information about Banned Book Week, please visit the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books Week webpage.  What is your favorite banned book? Let us know in the comments!

Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read. Logo of ALA.org/bbooks.}

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy #HispanicHeritageMonth! This week, marks the beginning of a month-long celebration (September 15-October 14) to honor and recognize our Hispanic communities’ rich culture and history.

Join our friends at the Latino Caucus Round Table (LCRT) of The Texas Library Association to virtually celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this year. The have put together diverse and vibrant events taking place from September to October.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrate Differences Emplower Voicers. Image provided by the Latino Caucus Round Table, TLA.

What is your library doing to celebrate #HispanicHeritageMonth? Please share in the comments below.

Feedback on Training Needs Sought through Survey on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Topics

The Continuing Education and Consulting Team at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is gathering information on current practices and issues surrounding accessibility, inclusion, equity, diversity, mental health, and social justice topics in Texas public libraries. We will be developing training opportunities and resources library staff can use. Please help us inform our next year of training by completing our TSLAC Training Survey Related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Topics. Your input is valued and greatly appreciated.

Here is a direct link to the survey: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/5799978/Public-Library-EDI-Training-Needs-Survey

The survey closes on Friday, October 9, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. CDT. All library staff are invited to take the survey; please share this survey within your Texas library networks.

If you have questions, please contact Laura Tadena, TSLAC’s Equity and Inclusion Consultant, at ltadena@tsl.texas.gov.

Census Highlight: Rio Grande City Public Library and Norma Gomez Fultz

Amidst a global pandemic, Norma Gomez Fultz at the Rio Grande City Public Library (RGCPL) has continued to push for a complete count in the 2020 census. With the census only 79 days away, we want to acknowledge how RGCPL has embraced the challenges that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and share our interview with Gomez Fultz. In this interview, Norma shares with us some of the work that RGCPL is doing around the 2020 census.

Tell us about yourself and how your journey at the Rio Grande Public Library.
My name is Norma Gomez Fultz, and I was born and raised in Rio Grande City. I left for a brief period, at the time there was not a public library is our county. In 1990, Starr County Public Library was established, and I became the first Assistant Library Director. In 2005, the City of Rio Grande City took over the county’s public library, which is when I became the Director of the Rio Grande City Public Library. We have grown from having to stamp due date slips to being a fully automated library.

I Count, Rio Grande City Billboard.
Rio Grande City Public Library was able to secure a local billboard at the center of town to promote the 2020 Census.

Why completing the 2020 census is essential to Rio Grande City and Starr County?
Rio Grande City is in Starr County. This area has a large immigrant population, both documented and undocumented, from Mexico as well as Central America and South America. Historically, our region has been undercounted, so informing and encouraging everyone in our area, they will understand why the census matters. It will help to determine the federal resources we are eligible to receive for Rio Grande City schools, roads, housing, hospitals, public safety, and other vital programs. Additionally, participation in the 2020 Census will determine how many members of Congress we can elect to fight for our interests and help to guide our state to draw voting districts.

How has COVID-19 impacted your library programming and outreach, especially around the census?
When we took the lead in the Census 2020 efforts, we had a great marketing plan and timeline. We were able to hire three people to form our Census team. Included in our programing were neighborhood block parties and advertisements on local billboards and local radio live remotes. Due to COVID-19, our efforts have shifted. We are now going to food distribution sites to pass out information. We also have partnered with Rio Grande City police, fire, public works, and other departments that will participate in some of our census programmings.

Partnerships are essential to the success of any library programming and outreach services, can you tell us about any partnerships that your library has developed to get the word out about the 2020 census? Were these partnerships your library had in place or were they recently developed?
We are on the Rio Grande City Complete Count Committee, which is comprised of a broad spectrum of government and community leaders from advocacy, education, business, healthcare, faith-based, and elected officials. We also on the Starr County Complete Count Committee, comprised of local mayors, city and county officials, education, healthcare, and others. We have formed some new partnerships and strengthened others. For example, the County of Starr did not receive a Census 2020 grant, so we have shared resources with them to distribute throughout the county.

Despite the challenges the Rio Grande City Public Library has currently been facing, can you share some things that your library has done to promote the 2020 census?
We have promoted the census on local radio and television stations, newspapers, and billboards. We have purchased marketing incentives such as pens, pencils, hand-held fans, bracelets, and koozies. We also have passed out fliers in English and Spanish and created a Spanish Informational Census Video (video will open in a new tab).

Looking forward, are there any upcoming events, programs, or services that you are excited to share with us?
We are organizing Census Reminder Parades throughout varies Rio Grande City neighborhoods. Joining us on these parades will be the Rio Grande City police, fire, public works, water, library, EDC, and other departments. We will also have a RGCCISD school bus, a Starr County Hospital vehicle, a Metro bus, the Sheriff’s Department, and more. We have added a dedicated Census Hotline number for anyone to call with questions or concerns and we will be purchasing hot spots, so our Census team is not limited to the library or city hall.

RGC Census Parade Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!

RGC CENSUS 2020 NEIGHBORHOOD PARADE: LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!Let’s get everyone counted! Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. We want to show you what this looks like for Rio Grande City! This parade features a lineup of vehicles from different local agencies and city departments that would be supported through census funding which directly goes back into expanding services for our community.The parade starts at 2:20PM EVERY FRIDAY!TOMORROW’S PARADE will start at Alberto & Celia Barrera Elementary (1400 N. Lopez St.)We understand it’s been a difficult few months for everyone, especially the kids, having to stay home this summer due to the coronavirus so we wanted to make some noise and have some fun! We hope to see you there! It's also a great time to teach our kids how the Census helps our local community!Rio Grande City CENSUS Helpline: 956-317-1585Fill out the CENSUS online: https://2020census.gov/RGC Economic Development Corporation Rio Grande City Public Library

Posted by City of Rio Grande City, Texas on Thursday, July 30, 2020
Rio Grande City’s 2020 Census Neighborhood Parade occurs every Friday at 2:20 PM. The parade includes a lineup of vehicles from different local agencies and city departments that would be supported through census funding which directly goes back into expanding services for our community.

Thank you, Norma, for taking the time to participate in this interview and for the incredible work that the Rio Grande City Public Library is doing.

The last day to complete the census is on October 31, 2020, so there is still time to ensure a complete and accurate count. You can stay up to date with a map of self-response rates across the U.S. and Texas by using the links below:

For more information and resources, visit our TSLAC Census 2020 webpage at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/census2020 or 2020census.gov. If you have any questions related to the 2020 Census, contact Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant, at ltadena@tsl.texas.gov.

What is Juneteenth?

From the Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World

“The holiday known as Juneteenth, so called because it is celebrated annually on June 19, is the oldest commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Recognized as Emancipation Day among African Americans, it marks the anniversary of the official freeing of slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865, in Galveston. Just as the Fourth of July celebrates liberty for all American people, for descendants of former slaves, Juneteenth symbolizes the attainment of freedom. Honoring the legacy of struggle and perseverance on the part of African Americans throughout their enslavement, Juneteenth also serves as a day of reflection on African American progress.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and a regiment of Union soldiers arrived in Galveston. Gathering a crowd of slaves and slave owners, Granger read General Order No. 3, which officially declared the emancipation of Texan slaves. Despite widespread rumors of liberation, this declaration of freedom came nearly two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, giving freedom to all slaves who resided in states in rebellion against the Union.”


In Rodriguez, J. P., & Ackerson, W. (2015). Encyclopedia of emancipation and abolition in the Transatlantic world.

The General Orders, No. 3 reads:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Image of the General Orders, No. 3 Text , General Orders, No. 3. U.S. House, 54th Congress, 1st Session (H. Doc. 369, Part 2). “General Order Number 3,” 1896. U.S. Documents Collection. Y 1.1/2: SERIAL 3437
General Orders, No. 3. U.S. House, 54th Congress, 1st Session (H. Doc. 369, Part 2). “General Order Number 3,” 1896. U.S. Documents Collection. Y 1.1/2: SERIAL 3437

You can read the entire Juneteenth article on the Texas State Library’s website. You can also find out more at the Juneteenth article in the Handbook of Texas.

Did your library host a Juneteenth celebration this year? Feel free to share in the comments!

June is Rainbow Book Month!

It is June, which means it is also Pride Month, when we remember the 1969 Stonewall riots. In celebration of Pride Month, the American Library Association (ALA) designates June as Rainbow Book Month, previously GLBT Book Month. Rainbow Book month is a nationwide initiative designed to celebrates the literature that honors the lives and experiences of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, genderqueer, queer, intersex, agender, and asexual community.

In honor of Rainbow Book Month, we have collected a few resources to help your libraries expand and create inclusive and welcoming programming and services. Intentionally prioritizing inclusivity can help us make a lasting change and develop lifelong lovers of our Texas libraries.

Book Lists

Archives

Recommended Websites

Archived Webinars

Tool Kits and Training Curriculum

Health Resources

Hotlines and Crisis Lines

Demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusivity and join hundreds of libraries across the nation in a national celebration of authors and books that reflect the LGBTQIA+ experience. For more information and resources, visit ALA’s Rainbow Book Month webpage.

Deadline Approaching for TSLAC CARES Grant Program

The deadline to apply for the TSLAC CARES Grant Program is approaching soon! The first round of funding is closing on Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Please be sure to submit your completed applications and all required documents by the deadline.

The goal of the TSLAC CARES Grant Program is to:

  • Fund the expansion of digital access in areas of Texas where such access is lacking, including the purchase of internet-enabled devices and provisions for technical support services in response to the disruption of schooling and other community services during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Fund efforts that prevent, prepare for, and respond to situations arising from the COVID-19 emergency.

Funding is provided by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). TSLAC will conduct at least two grant cycles utilizing CARES Act funds with approximately $250,000 expected to be available for Cycle 1. Funding can be utilized retroactively to cover expenses incurred beginning April 21, 2020. Please note that expenses incurred before April 21, 2020 are not eligible for reimbursement.

Questions?
Please visit our TSLAC CARES Grant Program webpage for more application and more information. If you have questions or need assistance with the application process, please contact Bethany Wilson, Grants Administrator at bwilson@tsl.texas.gov.

It is not too late to complete the 2020 census!

Texas’ 2020 U.S. Census completion percentage is 53.5% as of today, which is behind the national average of 59%. The 2020 census will have a major impact on our communities, and the data that is collected will be used to fund essential services, including early childhood education, free and low-cost school meals, highways, and other critical programs that support our communities. It only takes ten minutes to make a difference, so let us work together to ensure that Texans receives a fair count.

2020 Census and COVID-19

Despite the many challenges that we are facing due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the 2020 census is still underway. The Census Bureau has adjusted the 2020 census operational timeline, which will extend the self-response phase from July 31 to October 31, 2020. Additionally, the Census Bureau also announced that some Area Census Offices (ACO) will resume 2020 census field operations in select locations. For up to date information and press releases related to the 2020 census, visit the Census Bureau’s Newsroom.

One of the many challenges facing libraries across Texas is how to engage with the communities that we serve while following the recommended guidelines from our governing authorities on how to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We understand that every library is facing different circumstances, and how we respond to our communities is going to be case by case. Knowing that, here are a few resources that you can use to help ensure an accurate count of the 2020 census while staying safe!

  • Enhance your social media presence. Keep your website up to date and connect your users with census information. If you are looking for census social media ideas, follow #2020Census and #CountOnLibraries on Twitter. Many census groups are posting resources that your library can safely retweet from inside your library or home!
  • Utilize your curbside. If your library is providing curbside services, consider including census informational material or creating census family kits. You can download Dr. Seuss coloring and activity pages for the children in your community and include them in the kits or check out this list of 2020 census activities for pre-K through 12th graders.
  • Host a virtual event. Some libraries and census groups are hosting Facebook Live parties where they are answering questions and connecting attendees with resources. This could also be an excellent opportunity to invite local leaders to talk about the importance of the 2020 census. Visit the ALA 2020 census webpage for sample templates that can be adapted for virtual events.
  • Send a mailbox greeting. Send postcards or letters to your community and say hello while providing a friendly reminder to complete the 2020 census. You can focus your efforts by learning about your community’s response rates using these tools:
  • Pick up the phone. It is always nice to hear a friendly voice! Consider making calls to your senior communities, check-in with them, and remind them of the importance of the #2020Census! The senior population is growing, and an accurate count can help ensure our state has the federal funding for programs and services that support our special populations like our seniors.
  • Rethink your parking lot. Consider using your outside space as a place for patrons to complete the 2020 census. For example, reserve parking spots specifically for individuals to complete the census. Individuals can park in these spots to connect to the wifi or to ask questions about completing the forms. Flyers with instructions can also be provided on how to complete the census using the phone. Again, depending on your local governing authority, we encourage that libraries adhere to the social distancing guidelines and recommended safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here is a resource that provides helpful technology privacy tips for libraries to consider when setting up kiosks and assisting patrons with filling out the census (see pages 82-92) and be sure to with a local IT staff member or knowledgeable volunteer to implement these to keep your patron’s data safe.
  • Get the word out using signs and banners. Consider making signs for your communities and work with local partners to co-locate signs around town to encourage individuals to complete the census.
  • Use your resources. Connect with your local news and radio stations to promote the census. Invite elected officials to talk about the value of completing the census and help get the word out about the 2020 census while also promoting any upcoming programming your library is offering.

There is still plenty of time to complete the 2020 census, so let us work together to make sure that everyone counts!

For more information and resources, visit our TSLAC Census 2020 webpage at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/census2020.

TSLAC CARES Grant Program is accepting applications!

On Friday, May 8, 2020, Bethany Wilson, TSLAC Grants Administrator, and Erica McCormick, TSLAC Program Coordinator, provided a webinar to cover the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) CARES Grant Program. In this webinar, our TSLAC staff provided a funding overview, as well as important details about the grant program and award information. They also answered questions from attendees and provided instructions on how to apply for the grant.

If you missed this webinar, don’t worry! Visit the TSLAC archived webinars page to access the recording and accompanying slides. Please note that registration is required to access this free recording.

About the TSLAC CARES Grant Program

TSLAC CARES Grant Program will fund community needs identified by Texas libraries in areas of digital access and inclusion. Funding can go towards programs, training, and tools necessary to increase community access to vital digital technologies and services. Additionally, funds may be utilized for library initiatives that support prevention, preparation, and response to the COVID-19 emergency. 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.

TSLAC CARES Grant program is OPEN and accepting applications for the first cycle of funding. Completed applications and all required documents must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central Time, Sunday, May 31, 2020.

To learn more about the TSLAC CARES Grant Program, please visit www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/cares and if you have questions about the TSLAC CARES Grant Program or need assistance with the application process, please contact Bethany Wilson, Grants Administrator at bwilson@tsl.texas.gov.