Time for a TexShare ShoutOut

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

Logo for "TexShare ShoutOut"

Hondo Public Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bee Cave Public Library

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

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

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

Bastrop Public Library

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

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

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

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

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

Northeast Lakeview College Library

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

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

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!

Libraries reaching out to their patrons and communities: interviews with our home libraries

Microphone image
Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

As COVID-19 has closed the physical buildings of many libraries throughout Texas, library workers have been increasingly innovative in communicating with their patrons and communities. On Thursday April 23, you can 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.

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.

Special thanks to:

Tell us a little about the status of your library. Are you currently physically closed to the public?

Bee 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. 

Westbank 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 reaching out?

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 more.

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. 

Westbank 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 time.

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?

Bee 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 operations.

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 development.

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.

Westbank Community Library:

  • 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 hello.
  • 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? 

Bee 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.

Westbank 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?

Bee 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 and audiobooks😊.

How are you communicating with your communities? Please share!

Next week: New TSLAC Webinar on Library Communication Strategies under COVID-19

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.

When: Thursday, April 23, 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM CDT

Registration Link

CE: 1.5 hours

Hope you can join us!

Service in the Time of COVID-19 (coronavirus): Suggestions from Texas Library Workers, Plus Local, Statewide, and Federal Resources

(Please note, this is not a complete list, but serves as a snapshot of what’s happening across different library environments in Texas. Services and news are changing quickly.)

Services to Consider

  • Technology
    • Keep your Library’s WiFi on 24/7 if not already. Enables safe social distance and does not put library staff at risk. Purchase repeaters or extenders. [External link for more information]
    • Promote electronic resources via social media campaigns. Consider taking out ads to boost messages. 
    • Collect and promote low-cost internet service; find offers in your area: https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers.
    • Claim your library in Google searches and on Yelp, to keep your library hours current. Use this tutorial from WebJunction to do it. 
    • 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.
  • Services: 
    • 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.
  • Collections:
    • 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:

If your library is still open:

  • 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.  

Texas Statewide Resources

Need resources?

  • Tocker Foundation grant deadline: https://tocker.org/grant-application-process/. WiFi hotspots are eligible, though many companies are currently listing hotspots as backordered.
  • You might also consider low-cost refurbished computers and laptops from PCsForPeople and TechAnew (Texas).
  • Libraries that are considering the purchase of hotspots but are finding limited availability could consider purchasing mobile phones and using the hotspot feature.

Visit the Library Development and Networking COVID-19 page to stay up-to-date on services and programs in this quickly changing environment.

Need assistance? Staff in Library Development and Networking are still here for you! Contact us directly or email our shared email address at ld@tsl.texas.gov and your message will be connected with the right person. We’ll get through this!

New Census Data Dissemination Platform

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:

….and so much more!

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!

Stay in touch with the Texas State Library

Happy New Year! In an effort to remain in close communication with our libraries throughout Texas, we want to send a friendly reminder of the following places you can communicate with us!

  • Library Developments blog. (You’re here!) This blog provides updates on grants, trainings, and other library topics. You can read and subscribe to the blog here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/librarydevelopments/
  • 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.
  • Summer Reading Program newsletter is devoted to news about summer reading deadlines and updates. Sign up here to receive this newsletter: https://state.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=69c455552a9e9f277c0f335a3&id=76209ce48d
  • 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!

Questions? Comments? Feel free to email us at ld@tsl.texas.gov.

* The information you submit on these forms is Public Information. Please read our Web Policies and Disclaimers. In addition, the information being entered may be subject to interception via common Internet tools. Business email addresses are not considered confidential under the Texas Public Information Act. To help ensure your privacy, always enter your business email address rather than your personal email address when such an address is requested.