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.

Communicating the Value of Library Workers in a Library Temporarily Closed to the Public

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Say it again louder for those in the back: Library workers are more than the people who check out your books. Libraries are important, and this message has been expressed in Mark Smith’s recent blog post, “The importance of libraries during and after coronavirus.”

With many libraries shuttering their doors or modifying services to assist in social distancing, we have heard from directors and other library workers concerned about how to best communicate the value of their library workers if they are not currently physically public facing. We know that it is important at this time to be able to articulate to both the public and to libraries’ governing authorities what library workers are doing to benefit communities.

What are libraries doing now?

First, we want to outline four clear ways that library workers illustrate their value even with library doors closed. Be mindful to log the hours of all of the work that goes into library services; this both gives library staff a sense of accomplishment and provides an easy way to show all of the work your staff is currently doing.

Library workers are community connectors

Libraries help bring their communities together. This doesn’t stop when the physical space is temporarily not being used. Our recent blog post by Library Technology Consultant Henry Stokes, “HHH: Virtual Branch,” provides some valuable programming ideas drawn from what libraries are doing with their community while their physical locations are closed. As Henry states, “the virtual branch is still the people.” Some additional interesting examples of programming can be found on the website of the Lewisville Public Library.

Library workers help find information

Virtually, too!

The public is used to going to the library for community and government information. Whether it’s to find tax forms, census information, or mental health or shelter resources, public library workers are used to connecting their community to the resources they need. In this time of social distancing, libraries can provide information regarding many (if not most) of these services online or via telephone. Patrons may be in immediate need of finding information on requesting aid or unemployment benefits; now is the time to assist patrons in finding this information and partnering with the offices that provide this aid.

Library workers are curating information and maintaining online resources

A relatively easy way to provide information to patrons is curating information and maintaining an accurate list of online resources. Look at resources outside of traditional library resources for information related to government aid and unemployment information. Some resources related to Texas-specific services that you may want to highlight include:

These resources, and more, are included on our Texas Statewide Resources section of our COVID-19 Information and Resources for Librarians page.

Some great Texas library examples for online curations include pages from the McAllen Public Library and the Georgetown Public Library.

Library workers make sure you still have a reading escape

Libraries are used to providing online resources, and now is the time to leverage these for the entertainment and stress release of your patrons. In addition to the e-reading and other digital services that your library usually offers, many publishers and e-resources are providing free access in this time of crisis. Make a one-stop shop for your patrons where they can easily find these resources.

Some libraries, such as the Cedar Park Public Library, are also promoting temporary online library cards for those who do not have current cards; this may be a solution worth investigating.

What can we do going forward?

Do a skill inventory

Does your library staff have special skills? Even if the skill doesn’t have anything to do with traditional library work, it may be a skill that could be useful to your community. Conduct an informal inventory of special skills that your library staff may be able to share and develop with members of the community or other library staff.

Not sure what a skills inventory looks like? Here are some example worksheets about the process:

Do a connection inventory

Now is the time to connect with outside, local organizations and find a way you can partner with them. What connections does your library staff have to outside organizations that can help the community? Encourage your staff to communicate what organizations they talk with, volunteer with, or have other connections with. Organizations to work with could include the Texas Workforce Commission, your local unemployment office, local schools, local animal shelters, and other government institutions.

“Show up” in the community where people weren’t expecting you

This doesn’t have to mean showing up in person! Be a virtual resource that your child’s school sends out. Partner with local businesses organizations to provide direct information assistance. Reach out to nonprofits and other organizations to see if they need their services featured on your website. Organizations that you assist in these times will be interested in partnering with you in the future.

Build the skills of your library staff

Finally, be sure that you can show your governing authorities that your library staff is working to build skills that will help serve your community in these new times. Identify potential needs in your local community, and locate training opportunities that meet these needs. Provide opportunities during the workday and incentives for completing continuing education hours. And again, be sure to hold on to those completion certificates!

What is your library staff doing?

What duties are your library staff performing during the COVID-19 crisis? Share in the comments; we’d love to hear!

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!

GLBT Book Month 2019

The American Library Association has recognized June as GLBT Book Month since 2015 — “a nationwide celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”

In recognition of GLBT Book Month, we’ve gathered some resources that libraries might find helpful when striving to ensure that everyone in their community feels safe, welcome and included.

Texas Library Exhibits/Observances/Resources:

National Library Exhibits/Observances/Resources:

Support Resources:

Literary Resources:

Do you have any GLBT Book Month displays, activities or resource pages you would like to share? Tell us in the comments section.

Close the Homework Gap with a local Wi-Fi Map

The Homework Gap”

If you haven’t heard the phrase before, it refers to the fact that so many school-age children must now rely on Internet access to complete their homework. Even though access is provided within the school grounds, once the school day ends, homework can’t be completed by students with no Internet at home. There’s literally a disconnect between what’s expected and what they are actually capable of. These students are seriously disadvantaged and fall dangerously behind.  To illustrate this growing problem, watch this entertaining video:

The best solution for schools and public libraries is to check out Wi-Fi hotspots (See our post for more info). If you’re a school district, you can also put Wi-Fi on your school buses or even install Wi-Fi kiosks throughout your community.

But sometimes checking out hotspots is either not feasible (due to funding or network availability), or it is feasible, but demand is too high with many students left out and unable to take advantage of the service.  That’s why schools are trying out an additional solution: Community Wi-Fi maps and decals.

Maps & Decals

The homework gap can be further closed by leveraging the existing free Wi-Fi in the area.  Schools can reach out and partner with local businesses who become powerful allies, offering to share their Wi-Fi so students can complete their schoolwork. Or if the businesses don’t have Wi-Fi to share, schools can provide them hotspots to use for maximum benefit.  Maybe not every student without access at home can check out their own personal hotspot. But with this solution, they can go to places in town with a school-purchased hotspot or already free Wi-Fi in place. 

It then behooves schools to make their students aware of these safe spaces in the community to utilize this approved Internet access.   Businesses are asked to display a decal, usually with the school’s branding, that signals to students it’s a good place for homework to be completed. 

Decal example
Example of Decal (Source)

Then, using existing free Google Maps tools, schools can pinpoint exactly where these approved Wi-Fi spots are in their communities. By embedding the map on their web pages, it becomes easily shareable via mobile device. Students can then navigate to the most convenient safe space when needed.

Texas is on the map for being one of a few states with school districts creating community Wi-Fi maps and decals, and even supplying businesses the Wi-Fi hotspots to make it happen and help close the Gap. 

Here are a few examples I found:

1) El Paso ISD (El Paso, TX)

Map: Free WiFi sites in the El Paso TX area

Screenshot of El Paso ISD web page showing WiFi map

2) Weatherford ISD (Weatherford, TX)

 Wi-Fi “HopSpots” Program (their mascot is a kangaroo – get it?)

Weatherford’s HopSpot Decal

3) San Marcos ISD (San Marcos, TX)

News article and video from 8/27/2018: San Marcos CISD students encouraged to use WiFi at local businesses



Video of news report
Decal for local businesses
Photo of decal being applied

OK, but what about Public Libraries?

Public libraries need to be part of this community partnership if they aren’t already!  They need to ensure they are included on any local Wi-Fi maps and are displaying the decals their school districts are creating. Or, if map and decals don’t exist, they should make them!

Public libraries should be the first place schools partner with to help address the homework gap problem. Not only do they provide free Internet as part of their mission, they also have supportive staff available to assist students.   

Photo of Marathon Public Library's Internet sign
Sign in front of Marathon Public Library (Marathon, TX)

(And one is never obligated to buy anything like in a coffee shop or fast food place.)

Further reading

Reports from the Field: The Future of Rural Symposium

This past November the Texas Tribune held a symposium focused on issues facing rural Texas called The Future of Rural Symposium. State representatives, mayors, superintendents, and leaders from non-profit organizations and corporations came together to discuss issues affecting the lives of rural Texans. While the symposium was physically held at Texas A&M University, the event was also live-streamed for free to ensure those living in rural Texas could participate. The Tribune encouraged people to hold Watch Parties as a way of creating community conversation around the issues discussed.

Working alongside organizers from the Texas Tribune and Educate Texas, TSLAC put out a call to public libraries across the State to host Watch Parties and a number of you answered the call!  Here are a few of the reflections from those of you that hosted watch parties:

Maggie Goodman, Johnson City Library

Turns out the Future of Rural Texas was on that cold, windy day, so we had eight people here, but we were really glad to have had the opportunity for the live event. We started at 11:15 and finished at 3:15, and watched 5 discussions.  We had really good conversations in between!

A couple of take-always were that all rural communities have the same problems, but the solutions are different for each one.  Also, what is good for larger cities is not always good for rural towns. Some panels were better than others. Our community wants the library to be a leader in community relations, listening to different groups to find solutions.

Many people afterward thanked us for having the symposium even if they weren’t here.  We have the website with the archived discussions on our website. We would really like to do this again.  Thanks for the opportunity.

Dianne Connery, Pottsboro Area Library

I’m glad you said no size audience was too small because ours was small!  Our audience included our board president, the city secretary (who is like deputy city manager), and me.

I sent individual invitations to city council members, mayor, city manager, our county commissioner, Texoma Council of Governments, and state representative. Texoma Council of Governments sent it out to one of their contact lists of people/organizations who might be interested. There was an article promoting it in the local newspaper, our website and social media.

Despite the turnout, it benefited the library in several ways.  First, the promotion/invitations sent the signal to government officials that the library is a leader in community planning.  It’s just another way to emphasize our role as a change maker.

The most direct benefit was that it was an opportunity to talk to the city secretary about what the future of Pottsboro (and the library) looks like.  I’ve learned how important relationship building is to the survival of the library, and this was a bonding opportunity to be closer to city decision makers.  Because there were only 3 of us, it became an informal chat session about problems and solutions, and how the library fits into that.

How does the Pottsboro Library fit into that?  During the Infrastructure session, internet connectivity was mentioned.  That is a challenge that our library has created solutions for, and we can do much more.  In the coming year, we will take the lead in organizing community involvement to find solutions that reach more people.  Stay tuned!

Andrea McAdams, Yoakum County Library Plains

It was a small gathering; generally, it was only the staff ducking in, but also the patrons needing the free restroom may have caught some glimpses!

I enjoyed the agenda being given ahead of time so I could target groups with an email of what time that talk of interest would be. We focused in on a lot of groups in our community, but none of them actually made it a point to come in and watch. It was a loss to them, but at least we tried!

From the hosting perspective, it would have been easier to have the stream continually instead of having to re-connect every session. Sometimes we forgot to go in at the appointed time to reload the page.

Events like this would be very helpful for rural communities such as ours. We are 15 minutes from the next state, but that symposium was hours of travel saved just by having it available to our community. I believe libraries hosting programs like this would aid smaller communities in feeling aware of what is going on around the state and giving us a pulse of how other towns work. (I appreciated the mayor of Marfa being on! That is a town similar in size to Plains, and I felt that we were kindred in many ways.)

Thank you for this effort and for getting the word out to communities. To be able to participate in an event like this free of charge gives us opportunities to partner all around Texas!

You can still view the archived panels and keynotes here and find supporting materials on how to hold your own Watch Party and Community Conversation here. (Scroll down past the article).

What issues facing rural Texas do you think are most pressing? Tell us in the comments!