“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.”
As patrons of community libraries ourselves, members of the Continuing Education and Consulting team have been on the receiving end of many of these messages! Last week, I had the chance to interview library workers from some of our home libraries to discuss how they are communicating with their patrons.
Tell us a little about the status of your library. Are you currently
physically closed to the public?
Cave Public Library: Bee Cave Public Library is closed to the public and
all staff are working at home.
Cedar Park Public Library: Our
library has been closed to the public since March 17, but we are still able to
have limited staff in the building for core services. A large number of staff
are working remotely.
Lake Travis Community Library: We
are currently closed to the public with no set date to reopen. Staff are
working remotely from home and are available by email. We have a message
system, Gabbie, which allows our patrons to contact us through text messaging.
We are also taking advantage of our social media channels, specifically
Facebook and Instagram to answer questions and comments.
Community Library: Westbank Libraries are closed to
the public, and our staff are all working from home. We are planning to
implement reserve and pickup as soon as Travis County lessens stay-home
restrictions and we feel it is safe enough to do. We are anticipating a very
different sort of summer!
How are you reaching out to your patrons remotely? How often are you
Bee Cave Public Library: We are continuing our usual forms of outreach and have added a few new ones. We’ve sent out our newsletter at the usual time of the month, filled with tips for finding free resources online that publishers and others are making available, ideas for activities to do with the kids, reminders about resources we always offer like TumbleBooks, Mango Language,. OverDrive, etc. Our storytime specialist is filming a short video each Friday with songs from Storytime, or activities like how to make shaker eggs, and sharing it on Facebook. We had already planned a social media campaign for April reprising our December #ReadAloneBeeCave (a spoof of the movie Home Alone). Now with the stay-at-home orders in place, we’re encouraging a different activity each week with our patrons. Last week was sending in photos of where/what you are reading, this week it’s been “shelfies” with people sending in photos of their bookshelf, including some adorable ones of toddlers sitting amidst a pile a board books! People seem more eager than ever to connect with their favorite library staff, so it’s been really fun to see their photos from home, and we’ve shared photos of our staff at their homes as well. Our book club is planning a Zoom call/meeting for next month.
Cedar Park Public Library: Since being closed, we have
significantly increased our messaging, both via email blasts, social media, and
our websites. For social media, we have multiple posts every day. For our
emails, we use Savannah, which allows us to use targeted marketing to reach
specific sub-groups of our users. We limit to 3 email campaigns a week for each
sub-group. Our social media engagement and email opens are high, and email
unsubscribes are pretty low. For emails and social media, we put out a variety
of topics like library news updates, fun or entertaining content, storytimes
and songs, links to instructional videos we’ve made, tips from our vendors
(like hoopla’s Bonus Borrows), photo challenges, author mini-interviews, and
Lake Travis Community Library:
Before closing we sent a bimonthly newsletter by email, now we send that
newsletter out each week. As we adjust to working remotely we have made rapid
changes to the way we serve our patrons so it feels essential to get
information out as quickly as we can. We have also developed a YouTube page of
resource videos made by staff and we continuing to reach out to patrons through
our other social media channels.
Community Library: Our newsletter is now going out
once per week to share information people can act on related to the community,
the virus, and new library services. We want people to know we are still here
and still helping, and we try to share calming perspectives during a stressful
We are offering quite a few programs now through Zoom, with more added each week. We are also answering questions through email and text, helping people over Zoom, and posting lots of new content on Facebook and Youtube.
Are you offering any special services to your patrons during this time?
Cave Public Library: We are not offering curbside pickup or anything like
at this time, but are exploring the idea for when we gradually begin resuming
Cedar Park Public Library: We
set up a way for Cedar Park residents to register for a card online; they’ll
simply need to finish registering in person within a month after we open again.
This type of card will get the user access to all of our digital borrowing
resources, as well as the databases we have. Expired cards can be renewed over the
phone. Due dates and account expiration dates are being moved out as we have
updates. We’ve also started offering virtual programs via Webex to maintain
face-to-face contact with the community. We have storytimes for families with
little ones, a craft club for adults, and book discussions, with more ideas in
Lake Travis Community Library: We
are! We are so excited about our new online library card sign up process.
Patrons can now fill out a form online to receive a library account
number. This allows our patrons to access our electronic resources like our
OverDrive digital library collection with ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines. We
feel very fortunate that that ProQuest has provided remote access to Ancestry
Library Edition for our patrons. And we also are promoting Tumblebook’s
(currently) free online ebook and audiobook collection.
Another service that I would consider special is our new online Zoom meeting platform for hosting book clubs, tech help, cooking, crafting, and more! We have rapidly discovered that we can offer so much to our patrons via video/audio communication. Librarian Raj Kamat now holds a weekly Tech Help Q&A session where patrons can ask any tech related question that they have. Many questions are focused on how to manage and troubleshoot Zoom. Each online session includes a host and moderator so that there is always a staff member who can assist with the chat and other functions. Librarian Karen Ballinger recently hosted a successful origami craft class, which worked well because patrons just needed to find a few pieces of paper to participate.
Are you reaching out to your community outside of your patronage?
Bee Cave Public Library: We have been very actively engaged with our local business community. The Bee Cave Chamber of Commerce wanted to partner with our City and Economic Development Corporation to offer assistance to small businesses affected by COVID-19, and suggested the library staff be put in charge of creating a small business assistance center. Within a very short period of time and with a lot of help, we created the Bee Cave Small Business Assistance Center. The intent is for us to act as a clearinghouse for information and connect business owners with resources, mentors, banks, etc. as we are able.
Library staff also
worked on special projects for the City Manager identifying through our
databases including Reference USA all of the businesses operating in our city
limits, as well as creating social media feeds for the City similar to the ones
the library was already operating for ourselves. We also were tasked with
keeping the city website updated with announcements regarding the crisis, and
collating and publishing lists of restaurants still operating with takeout.
Cedar Park Public Library: We
have worked with the City, Chamber, and other partners to make sure our profile
is out there as a resource for the community. For example, we have a dedicated
button on the Chamber’s covid-19 resources page. All of our virtual programming
and social media posts are available to everyone.
Lake Travis Community Library: Now
that we have had some proven success with our online Zoom programming, we are
starting to publicize more widely, including an upcoming piece in our local
Lake Travis View newspaper. We’re also very fortunate to have online supporters
who have shared our information within other groups, such as local neighborhood
and school/parent Facebook groups.
We launched several new
digital resources in January, and we have had to increase our limits and
budgets for these as they are taking off.
Every week we are adding
new online programs, including storytimes, book clubs, Qi Gong, Sheng Zhen,
genealogy, writing, speaker presentations, and meditation. Our quilting and
knitting groups are also meeting via Zoom.
Next week we will begin
offering Zoom “desk hours” twice a day so people can drop in to ask a question.
And on Mondays we will have a volunteer hour so our many volunteers can say
We are regularly updating
multiple curated information pages on our website (Coronavirus Information,
Helpful Resources, What’s Open?, and Fun Things to Do While at Home) making
useful links easy to find.
We now have online library
card sign up.
How are you identifying the current needs of your patrons and community?
Cave Public Library: We haven’t undertaken any formal surveys, but have
been in contact via email and through social media with many of our regulars.
Cedar Park Public Library: A
lot of our good ideas have come from other libraries! We also listen to our
users’ requests and suggestions for services and programs. Since digital usage
has increased, we re-allocated some smaller print funds over to digital in
order to boost our ability to provide the only thing people can check out now!
We are also collaborating with Central Texas area libraries about
best practices and opportunities for how to adapt our Summer Reading Club
program into the virtual world.
Lake Travis Community Library: We
are gathering information from our newsletter to see which programs are
generating the most interest. We are keeping statistics on program attendance.
We are also managing statistics in our OverDrive collection by age range,
genre, and format. And we are receiving some direct feedback from patrons and
volunteers on programs and features they would like to see as well.
Community Library: Our
outreach team is in contact with the schools, area businesses, the Chamber of
Commerce, and our local Representatives. They are attending virtual meetings to
learn what everyone is up to. They are working with school librarians to
develop reading lists.
They are also continuing community interviews, designed to learn more about all of the organizations in our area in order to identify networking possibilities. This was an outgrowth of Harwood conversations. They are also gathering information that we are able to share in our newsletters. This month they are interviewing folks from Foster Angels and a local radio station.
What work is your library doing to ensure inclusive services during this time?
Cave Public Library: Our library wifi is still accessible outside our
building, but that’s about it.
Cedar Park Public Library: We’ve
been relying on integrated inclusive services like YouTube’s closed captioning
to make sure our messaging is available to everyone. When posting updates on our
website, we’re mindful of creating content that functions well with assistive
readers. This reminds me: we need to put out some posts about the adaptive
fonts and styles available for digital reading! Libby and Hoopla offer a
dyslexic-friendly font, and all three platforms allow the user to change the
font size, background color, and margins.
Lake Travis Community Library: We
are heavily focused on technology help right now, as this is the biggest
barrier to participating in our programs and services. We have an amazing team
of Tech Coach volunteers who are writing a weekly Tech Coach Corner column
addressing the most common and challenging technology issues. They have
provided a direct email address to answer questions and have offered one-on-one
help over the phone, by email, or by video chat. We also host our weekly Tech
Help session on Zoom to help as well. In programming we choosing activities
that require materials that are likely accessible at home, take the origami
class for example, or our upcoming cooking class to make a peanut
butter and jelly sandwich!
Westbank Community Library: Our
Outside of the Box Children speaker series is continuing; the most recent talk
was about engaging kids who are on the autistic spectrum through play. Our
Education Conversations group offers parents an opportunity to discuss
challenges they are facing (this month we are talking about screen time). A
number of our staff have started weekly ASL lessons, which we hope to be
offering to the community soon. Our digital collections are diverse in content,
particularly Kanopy. And we are also promoting our digital foreign language
materials and planning a program for conversation in other languages.
More than anything, we are finding that our online programs are
attracting people that normally can’t come to the library for programs, many
because of mobility issues, and some because of scheduling issues or family
responsibilities. Online programs allow people to hear at a comfortable level,
and the software gives every participant an equal space (though they can turn
off their video if it makes them uncomfortable). We are also teaching a lot of
our seniors to use ereaders, and they are happily discovering custom size print
How are you
communicating with your communities? Please share!
Don’t miss next week’s webinar from TSLAC to learn more about library communication strategies under COVID-19, plus the current news on policy initiatives, funding, and available resources.
REGISTER now for a free TSLAC webinar coming up next week on Thursday, April 23, 2-3:30 pm CDT!
Webinar: “Texas Libraries: Planning and Communicating the Library Message and Services under COVID-19“
Join Texas State Librarian Mark Smith and Assistant State Librarian Gloria Meraz for a discussion on strategies for planning and communicating the work of libraries during the current health crisis. Learn more about communications strategies you can implement today (see the resource PDF: “Planning for Libraries: Communications during COVID-19”) and find out about current state and national policy initiatives and funding related to the coronavirus. Also, members of the Library Development team will share some of the newest resources available to you.
If your library has old laptops that do not currently circulate, consider checking them out either to patrons or places where the digital divide will be felt the most, such as senior centers, nursing homes, shelters, housing authorities, etc.
Re-evaluate what is needed to obtain library cards; can patrons receive and sign-up for cards and be confirmed electronically?
Share (or devise) a local guide to resources (like this one), as well as pointing out national reputable sources.
Take this opportunity to promote the Census, since everyone is home. You can answer the Census via phone, and it’s available in 50+ languages. Visit our Census webpage to find TX resources.
Extend due dates, suspend fines;
Many ILSs are sending out specific information on how to change item records for special scenarios. Contact your ILS vendor if you need assistance.
Quarantine returned items per the latest medical guidelines or at least note that these items were received.
Make accessible large print collections for seniors (CTLS has a circulating collection, but circulation is currently paused). Promote information on how to enlarge print on eReaders or other devices.
For library staff:
Identify projects for staff to work on from home.
Ensure they have digital literacy skills and the software/hardware and bandwidth to do so.
If staff have low digital literacy skills, use this as professional development time to work through online digital literacy tutorials:
Provide FAQ for telecommuting, specifying how to use different tools, ensuring staff have software/hardware that is needed, and the institution has enough licenses for all who need them. For example, use Quick Steps to Prepare a Remote Work Policy.
List of potential software/hardware that staff will need for telecommuting: strong internet connection (test your bandwidth here ); computer, laptop, tablet; headphones with mic or access to phone; webcam; access to some sort of telecommuting software:
The State Library does not have authority to order library closures or openings. The decision to close your library remains a local one, and libraries should look for guidance from their city. However, libraries should consider Governor Abbott’s executive orders limiting person-to-person contact (and continue to check back for new orders and updates from the Office of the Governor). In addition, current research is still in its infancy about the period of time that the virus can exist on materials. Libraries should consider speaking to an attorney to discuss potential liability and risks from lending materials.
Need assistance? Staff in Library Development and Networking are still here for you! Contact us directly or email our shared email address at email@example.com and your message will be connected with the right person. We’ll get through this!
Anyone who uses US Census data needs to be aware that big changes have occurred in the way the Census distributes information. This is timely: the new platform is up and running prior to the input of the decennial US Census.
American Fact Finder, the primary statistics and information
search engine for the US Census, is being retired after 20 years. It will remain as an archive until March 31,
2020, when data.census.gov takes over
that function. This site centralizes
data access to allow for a more rapid response to customers.
In addition, Census has created quick tutorials and webinars, called Data Gems, to not only introduce this new platform, but show how to use it for a variety of applications:
This site is still a work in progress and seeking customer feedback. They are developing new functionalities in searching and printing options based on this information.
Data.Census.Gov offers a wealth of information that can be used for supporting grant proposals, municipal development planning, planning for library services, or any presentation which needs demographic or economic data. Check it out soon!
The Director’s Report. Insights and observations written by Mark Smith, Librarian and Director of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Read all about the commitment and hard work it takes for our agency to provide a wide variety of services to the citizens of Texas. You can read and subscribe to the blog here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/director/
Texas Public Library Monthly E-Newsletter. Join our list and you’ll get a monthly rundown of continuing education programs, grant opportunities, relevant deadlines and other news from the Library Development & Networking Division. Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/RNguz
The Small Library Management (SLM) program Facebook group. In this group, members will be able to get SLM news, ask their colleagues for professional insight, and network in a digital area. To join, sign into Facebook and search for the “Small Library Management Program (Texas)” group and request to join. You can also access by going here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/slmtx/
Texas Libraries in the News weekly newsletter. In this weekly email, you will receive a curation of news articles about libraries throughout the state of Texas. Sign up here if you would like to receive this weekly email: http://eepurl.com/cYqm_P
Texas Youth and Children’s Services Newsletter is a way to provide you all with updates and announcements about training, grants, national initiatives related to youth services, etc. Sign up here to receive the newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cZmcqv.
TexShare-Users list is intended for general discussion regarding TexShare services and operations. The list is open to Texas librarians and library staff, and is used to make announcements about the program and give pertinent updates about TexShare resources to TexShare member libraries. Sign up here: http://lists.state.tx.us/mailman/listinfo/texshare-users
Funding Opportunities for Texas Libraries newsletter is where you can be updated on new Texas grants and other funding opportunities. Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/c0Ro1D
ILL – There will be a new list coming to focus on interlibrary loan news, so stay tuned!
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