TSLAC ARPA Grant Applications Open September 3

Cartoon style colorful graphic with people using various tech tools in the background. Foreground text reads: "TSLAC ARPA Grants, $1.8 Million in emergency pandemic funding"

Mark your calendars! As we mentioned last week in our announcement of the upcoming ARPA Grants Programs Webinar (Next Wednesday, September 1 from 2:00 p.m.), TSLAC will begin accepting applications on Friday, September 3 for three new grant programs made possible by emergency pandemic funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Available funds total at least $1.8 million and are awarded to TSLAC by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under ARPA. Texas libraries are encouraged to apply through TSLAC’s online grants management program by October 1. Most awarded projects will run Dec. 2021 – Aug. 2022.

TSLAC ARPA grants are designed to help communities respond directly and immediately to the pandemic as well as to related economic and community needs through equitable approaches. The Texas Supports Libraries Grant Program will make it possible for libraries to expand their services and resources and help provide equitable access to information and technology. The Texas Telehealth Grant Program will provide libraries with the equipment and resources needed to facilitate a telehealth project at their facilities. The Texas Digital Navigators Grant Program will help libraries develop and implement a unique Digital Navigator program to help close the digital divide in their communities.

Full award, eligibility and application information, as well as webinar registration, can be found on TSLAC’s ARPA Grants web site at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/arpa.

The Texas Supports Libraries Grant Program ($750,000) will enable Texas libraries to reach residents through digital inclusion efforts, particularly in support of education, health and workforce development. Spending priorities include services that meet the needs of communities, including costs such as personnel, technology, training, materials, supplies, equipment and associated indirect costs, as well as resources and services improving literacy, furthering formal and informal learning and supporting workforce development.

The Texas Digital Navigators Grant Program ($800,000) funds libraries to develop and implement a unique Digital Navigator program with the help of a trusted community partner to close the digital divide in their area in a measurable way. Selected libraries will be provided with full funding for navigators (individuals trained to work one-on-one with the public) and devices, digital equity training from national experts and support in collecting and communicating the results of their project to other library staff stakeholders and funders. This project affords local libraries with a powerful means to increase digital inclusion.

The Texas Telehealth Grant Program ($250,000) provides funding for equipment and resources needed to support a library telehealth project. Telehealth uses Internet networks and computers to facilitate visits between health care providers and library patrons when they can’t be in the same place at the same time. Using now more widely available videoconferencing technology, telehealth enables communities to receive health care more quickly and affordably. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the need for this service, as has the often-insufficient broadband access in many residents’ homes.

Read Across Texas E-book Access Available in May and June

A couple of weeks ago, State Librarian Mark Smith announced the 2021 Read Across Texas program. 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 three of the four book selections for free online, from May 3- June 25, 2021. The three books that will be available are: Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here by Nancy Wayson Dinan, All of a Sudden and Forever by Chris Barton, and We Fed an Island by José Andrés.

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 will be available with links to the full text of the three available e-books, and can be accessed via the Read Across Texas website. The website also contains discussion guides and other supplemental resources. Participating libraries are encouraged to register for the program.

Read Across Texas: Recovery

Cross-posted from The Director’s Report, blog of TSLAC Director and State Librarian Mark Smith.

Read Across Texas title banner showing cartoon-style orange van driving down desert road, with books strapped to the top

This week, we at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission are excited to be launching our third Read Across Texas statewide reading program presented by our Texas Center for the Book. This year’s theme of Recovery provides an opportunity to use one or more of our four suggested books to spark challenging, probing, and renewing conversations about profound experiences, both shared and individual. We envision these conversations as a way for libraries to be at the center of important community dialogue about common concerns and values.

If “Recovery” sounds like a broad theme, that is intentional. We hope that communities will approach the theme as inclusive of many different aspects, from personal recovery from tragic or challenging individual circumstances, to recovery on a broad societal level. Some communities might explore recovery from a natural disaster, while others might consider recovery from traumatic events at the national or state levels. After a year like no other in our memory, engaging in a discussion of recovery seemed appropriate. We hope these conversations may provide a context to help individuals, families, and communities to find paths back to normalcy, stability, and relative tranquility.

The conversations might be difficult, maybe at times uncomfortable, but that is part of the process and should be embraced rather than feared. The books offer the starting point for discovery. I have read all four works and was moved by the power of each one:

  • Things You Would Know If You Grew Up Around Here by Central Texas author Nancy Wayson Dinan is a beautifully complex and nuanced novel about an extended Texas family caught up in the devastating Memorial Day floods of 2015.
  • All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing after the Oklahoma City Bombing is a children’s picture book by Chris Barton with illustrations by Nicole Xu that explores how to talk to children compassionately about difficult and disturbing events of our time.
  • We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time is the spirited, joyous, and hopeful story of Chef José Andrés and a movement that triumphed over bureaucracy to provide meals and emotional nourishment to thousands of battered residents of that island in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
  • In his thoughtful book of essays, What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism, veteran news anchor and native Texan Dan Rather explores the democratic traditions that lie at the core of our American experience, a reminder of the enduring values of our nation and a path to recovering those values.

I hope you will consider participating in Read Across Texas: Recovery and use these inspiring books to start a process of civic dialogue in your community. Our Center for the Book Coordinator Rebekah Manley will be providing resources to help frame your local discussions and make this statewide read a success.

On March 25, I will be presenting the next #TXBookChat with Rebekah to discuss how to participate in Read Across Texas. Please join us for the inside scoop on how you can use this statewide read to put your library at the center of meaningful community discussions on the topic of Recovery. Click here to register for this great program: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJApcOGurDIqGNUTKfqkClHWbPMsJMwdVF8a 

Thank you for your work building strong Texas communities. I look forward to hearing your success stories as you participate in this unique program.

Mark Smith, State Librarian

Join TSLAC for the Spring 2021 #TXBookChat Virtual Series

Please join us for the #TXBookChat series. The Texas Center for the Book recently launched its third lineup of virtual literary events for spring 2021. This online program from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission launched in 2020. 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. #TXBookChat series seeks to bring together diverse voices and perspectives.

#TXBookChat continued on January 21, with a Graphic Novels for Today’s Readers session, and you may watch the recording here. There are three more conversations scheduled for the spring. All programs begin at 11:00 a.m. CST.

  • February 11 Love of Writing: Fueling Literary Dreams – Join author and Texas Center for the Book Coordinator Rebekah Manley in discussion about her debut book and the sparks that keep her writing dreams burning bright.
  • March 25 How to Participate in Read Across Texas – Get the inside scoop on how to participate in this year’s statewide community read on the theme of Recovery.
  • April 15 National Student Poet of the Southwest: Texan Ethan Wang – Join the 2020 National Student Poet of the Southwest for a poetry reading and discussion of his work.

“The Texas Center for the Book is so excited to reach even more book lovers in 2021,” said Coordinator Rebekah Manley. “Our book chats bring Texas authors, illustrators, librarians, and literacy advocates into readers’ homes, and we have some wonderful discussions planned for our third installment.”

The events take place on the Zoom platform, and registration is required. Visit www.tsl.texas.gov/txbookchat to learn more about upcoming events and reserve your spot.

Texas Center for the Book Seeks Literary Landmark Applications

Literary Landmark Roundup header - logo surronded by red lasso

There is one week left to enter into the Texas Center for the Book’s 2021 Literary Landmark Roundup! This is a project to increase the number of official Literary Landmark sites in Texas. The Center seeks nominations from libraries, historical associations, Chambers of Commerce, educational institutions, museums, and literary societies, among others. Nominations are being accepted online at www.tsl.texas.gov/literarylandmark through February 8, 2021.

Literary Landmarks are special places located across the country that attract tourists, book lovers, and history buffs to educate the public about the important literary works and history in their state. Made possible by funding from the Summerlee Foundation of Dallas, this special push for more Texas landmarks will provide funds to cover the application fee, which also includes cost of the foundry-made Literary Landmark plaque, and will assist local institutions in creating awareness of the site’s importance to the state’s literary heritage.

To apply to become one of five new Texas sites through the Literary Landmark Roundup, first identify a site in your community. A Literary Landmark is a location tied to a deceased literary figure, author(s), and/or their work. It could be a writer’s home or birthplace, a library where work was crafted or is housed, an author’s burial site, a special place where literary figures met and discoursed, or an establishment where an author worked or did research. Creative applications are encouraged.

The second step is collecting and submitting the information needed to nominate the site, including a location description, background material, a bibliography, named groups or individuals who will be responsible for the site, an outline of plans for a dedication ceremony (in person or virtual), and a publicity strategy. The deadline to apply online is Monday, February 8.

Five new Literary Landmark sites will be notified by March 15. These qualifying sites will receive funding and support to finalize their Literary Landmark. With assistance from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 2021 Literary Landmark Roundup recipients must submit their official application to United for Libraries, the national organization that administers the program, by May 1, 2021.

A list of Literary Landmarks by state can be found on the United for Libraries website.