Summer Reading Tips and Tricks

In a few short weeks the school year will end and the lazy, hazy days of summer begin. Remember to take time this summer to encourage children to continue reading and learning. The summer slide in cognitive ability is real, and now more than ever we need to try and continue to stimulate the minds of children. There are many ways to do this; encourage reading of all kinds (print books, e-books , audio books, graphic novels, manga, anime, and even comic books), talk to children when doing everyday tasks (cooking, grocery shopping, house cleaning, and even screen time), and, finally, go to the library, museums, parks, and the many free events that happen during the summer months.

Logo for E-read Texas for Kids

One great resource for summer reading is E-Read Texas for Kids. E-Read Texas for Kids includes a collection of more than 600 e-books from Teacher Created Materials, including the TIME for Kids series. The majority of the titles are juvenile nonfiction for grade levels K-8, and cover subjects such as science, mathematics, sports, history, and art, in both English and Spanish. The site also includes juvenile fiction and craft and hobby books for kids. The website is geofenced so that any user located in Texas can access it, with no login nor password required! And there are no simultaneous user restrictions, so that means there are no holds and no waitlists.

Here is a list of other summer reading and learning ideas and resources:


Read Across Texas 2021: Free E-Books and Registration Call

Logo for Read Across Texas Recovery

The Texas Center for the Book (TCFB) invites libraries, community nonprofits, and readers statewide to join in its 2021 reading campaign, Read Across Texas: Recovery. This year, thanks to the E-Read Texas partnership with Biblioboard, access to the e-book versions of We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a TimeAll of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing after the Oklahoma City Bombing; and Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here will be available to all Texas residents in May and June by visiting www.tsl.texas.gov/readacrosstexasebooks.

Libraries and organizations across Texas are invited to participate by using books to open dialogue and explore what “recovery” could mean within their communities. Visit the Read Across Texas website to register your library’s program, download discussion resources, and access free e-books for your program and your patrons in May and June. We hope libraries and organizations will register their participation for the good of the program. Each library or organization that registers will be entered to win a $100 BookPeople gift card. After your program, please share photos and stories. Please be sure to share photos and posts on social media (Facebook: Texas Center for the Book, Twitter: @TSLAC #ReadAcrossTexas).

The TCFB will also host a free, online author event on May 19. Libraries and organizations statewide can access an online step-by-step facilitator toolkit that includes materials such as a Read Across Texas how-to guide, additional recommended titles, digital resources and links to recovery specific discussion questions. The toolkit along with the program registration form and details are available at tsl.texas.gov/readacrosstexas.

Read Across Texas: Recovery offers libraries a broad canvas for convening individuals and groups to explore the unique questions, challenges and solidarity that can occur in communities throughout the state. During a period of extreme difficulties, isolation and loss, the TCFB recognizes the importance of sharing our stories to build understanding and support. Literature can be one of the many routes to recovery. This year’s campaign features four book selections that will give communities a platform to engage in challenging, insightful and transformative conversations.


banner for Things You Would Know

Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here  by Nancy Wayson Dinan considers questions of history and empathy and brings a pre-apocalyptic landscape both foreign and familiar to shockingly vivid life. This title will be available for Texans in e-book format in May and June.


Banner for All of a Sudden and Forever

All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing after the Oklahoma City Bombing by Chris Barton, illustrated by Nicole Xu, considers tragedy, hope and healing and was released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. This title will be available for Texans in e-book format in May and June.


Banner for We Fed an Island

We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by José Andrés with Richard Wolfe describes how a network of community kitchens activated real change in the face of disasters both natural and man-made, offering suggestions for how to address a crisis like this in the future. This title will be available for Texans in e-book format in May and June.


Book cover for What Unites Us

What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner documents Rather’s witness to historical change, offering a map to trace where we have been and what might be a way forward to heal division.


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

E-Read Texas launches site for children

E-Read Texas recently launched a new site specifically for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade. E-Read Texas for Kids can be accessed at https://e-readtxkids.biblioboard.com/home.

The site is geofenced so that any user located in Texas can access it, with no login nor password required. There’s no need to “check-out” the books—just click and access. And there are no simultaneous user restrictions, so that means there are no holds and no waitlists.

E-Read Texas for Kids includes a collection of more than 600 titles from Teacher Created Materials, including the TIME for Kids series. The majority of the titles comprise juvenile nonfiction, including science, mathematics, sports, history, and art, in both English and Spanish. The site also includes juvenile fiction and craft and hobby books for kids. Because these books allow unlimited simultaneous users, they are the perfect fit for winter break reading! Encourage your children to indulge in some fun break time reading about animals, crafts, and a variety of interesting topics. This is a great time to introduce kids to e-books and keep them reading during the long break from school. Please consider contacting your local school library person to coordinate this effort to get kids reading.

E-Read Texas is an online program that makes electronic books freely available through the SimplyE app, which is easily downloadable at no cost through an app store. The program was created to support digital content for public libraries serving communities with populations of fewer than 100,000 people. For more information about E-Read Texas, including titles available and library eligibility, visit the website at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/ebooks

2020 Texas Great Read Selection Butterfly Yellow Available Statewide as a Free e-Book

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 the 2020 Texas Great Read, Thanhhà Lại’s award-winning young adult novel Butterfly Yellow, free online through E-Read Texas, from Nov. 16 – Jan. 16. 

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 has been set up for Butterfly Yellow and can be accessed via the Texas Great Read web page by clicking on the “Read the Book” link.

In addition to the full text of the Butterfly Yellow e-book, readers and teachers across Texas will be able to access multimedia support materials, including interviews with the author, teaching guides, and other resources from Teaching Books/Book Connections. Libraries looking to promote the availability of the e-book to their patrons can visit the Texas Great Read webpage to download promotional graphics and blurbs to help in marketing.

Public libraries that participate in E-Read Texas can also access the Butterfly Yellow e-book through their SimplyE app, along with thousands of other e-books. E-Read Texas is a recently launched statewide e-book program made available to eligible public libraries in Texas. The collection currently includes more than 6,000 high-quality e-books from top publishers. While many of the e-books in the collection have limits on the number of simultaneous users, more than half the e-books are available for simultaneous use with no wait lists or holds. To learn more about E-Read Texas, please visit the E-Read Texas webpage, or contact Karen McElfresh.

A linkable graphic that has the text "Texas Great Read" and shows the book cover and the logos of the partnering organizations.

About the Book

In the final days of the Việt Nam War, Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms—and Hằng is left behind in the war-torn country.

Six years later, Hằng has made the brutal journey from Việt Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her.

Hằng is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, their family, or Việt Nam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels greater than ever, Hằng has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.

About the Author

Thanhhà Lại is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside Out & Back Again, her debut novel in verse, winner of the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor, and Listen, Slowly, honored with inclusion on numerous “book of the year” lists. Lại was born in Viêt Nam and lives in New York with her family. Lại is also the founder of Viet Kids Inc., a non-profit that changes the lives of Vietnamese students through the purchase of bicycles, tuition, uniforms, and rice. For information about Lại and her work, visit www.thanhhalai.com.

Resource Guides: Long Range Planning, Library Policies, and Beyond!

The Continuing Education and Consulting group at the Texas State Library provides training and consulting for library workers throughout Texas. This includes our webinar, youth services, and technology programs. It also includes the Small Library Management Training Program which will be back on the road in 2020.

To better provide the information that you need when you need it, we provide a variety of online resource guides that you can access any time, any day.

If you have specific questions, please email ld@tsl.texas.gov or reach us directly via our directory.

National Friends of the Libraries Week: Resources and Training from United for Libraries

It’s National Friends of the Libraries week! This is a great time to remind you of the Friends resources available through United for Libraries.

United for Libraries is a Division of the American Library Association. They have partnered with many state libraries including the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to provide access to a variety of resources. To access the United for Libraries resources, go to http://www.ala.org/united/states. If you are at an accredited Texas library and are in need of the login/password, please email ld@tsl.texas.gov.

Featured resources include:

  • Access to live and recorded webinars.
  • Newsletters, including The Voice for America’s Libraries.
  • Publications, including downloadable books, Fact Sheets for Friends & Foundations, Library Board Practical Guides and Toolkits for Friends Groups & Foundations.
  • Discussion Forums where you can seek advice from others on topics such as Friends, Trustees and Foundations.
  • Trustee Academy Courses – these resources include a training entitled Working Effectively with Your Library Director, which “covers the role of the Board, the role of the library director and how to communicate effectively with each other.”

Is your library celebrating National Friends of the Libraries Week? How do you honor your library’s Friends group? Let us know in the comments!

Free Educational and Planning Materials for Libraries

We wanted to take a moment to share a few resources that may come in useful at your libraries!


From the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has financial education materials available at no cost to libraries.

They have produced a new planning tool that can help libraries plan and/or present financial education events for their patrons. The Plan Ahead Events Calendar, a free downloadable document, shows major financial awareness events such as Disaster Awareness Month (Sept.),  Family Caregivers Month (Nov.), National Financial Capability Month (April), etc.  Free kits are available that correspond to each month’s event and include 25 copies of financial education and promotion tools related to that month’s financial theme. Order the kits to help your library present financial education events for your patrons all year long.


From the U.S. Census Bureau Newsroom

The U.S. Census Bureau Newsroom has a couple of idea and information generators available.

Profile America’s Stats for Stories provides links to stories highlighting the Census Bureau’s newsworthy statistics relating to current events, observances, holidays, and anniversaries. The story ideas are intended to assist the media in story mining and producing content for their respective audiences.

Profile America’s Facts for Features similarly provides statistics related to observances and holidays not covered by Stats for Stories.

Introducing E-Read Texas!

E-Read Texas logoThe Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is launching a new program, E-Read Texas, to bring electronic books to Texans served by small community libraries in all parts of the state. The E-Read Texas program will provide library e-books and an e-reader application that will make it possible for all Texans served by public libraries to access e-books.

“We are very happy to be able to offer Texans access to these high-demand materials through their public libraries,” said Mark Smith, Director and Texas State Librarian. “We recognize the great need in communities across the state for diverse reading materials and are excited to partner with local libraries to provide cost-effective and user-friendly access to those resources.”

TSLAC estimates that roughly a third of public libraries serving communities of fewer than 10,000 residents currently do not offer e-books to their patrons. TSLAC requested an exceptional item for the 2020-2021 biennium that would have provided $4.2 million in funding from the Legislature for affordable e-books. Although this request was not funded, TSLAC will use existing federal funds to begin the E-Read Texas program.

The E-Read Texas program will have multiple phases. In the first phase, beginning July 2019, TSLAC will partner with Amigos Library Services to implement SimplyE, an open source e-book app, for smaller public libraries. SimplyE was developed by the New York Public Library in partnership with other major libraries in the nation in response to challenges patrons face in accessing e-books. Amigos Library Services, headquartered in Dallas, has implemented SimplyE for the Brazoria County Library System and Houston Public Library, among others, and is one of four recognized SimplyE implementors in the nation.

SimplyE logo The SimplyE app is available for mobile devices running iOS and Android. It offers a “three-click” approach to e-books: patrons browse the e-book bookshelf, click to select a title, click again to check it out, and click to open and read it. Existing library e-books from OverDrive, RBDigital, Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca and other vendors can be made available within the SimplyE app. Amigos will work with libraries and their vendors to simplify the setup process.

Initially, TSLAC and Amigos will implement SimplyE only for libraries that use the Apollo integrated library system from Biblionix. Biblionix, based in Austin, designed the Apollo system specifically for smaller public libraries. Ultimately, the project will be expanded to small libraries that use other integrated library systems.

Digital Public Library of America logoTo assist libraries that have little or no e-book content, TSLAC also plans to purchase e-books that libraries can lend to their patrons. Beginning in September 2019, the E-Read Texas collection will offer adult leisure reading e-books that can be accessed using the SimplyE application. The Digital Public Library of America, a national nonprofit, will provide both free and licensed books through its DPLA Exchange marketplace. The collection will be chosen to include titles that will be popular with patrons, with enough copies to keep hold lists short.

“We are excited for the readers of the Lone Star State to be able to access quality e-books and audio books, said DPLA Executive Director John Bracken. “We look forward to working with our partners at The Texas State Library and Archives Commission to maximize Texans’ access to a diverse and broad collection of digital books.”

A working group of Texas public librarians will provide assistance in developing TSLAC’s collection development policy and selecting titles. Over time, the E-Read collection will grow based on patron usage and feedback from Texas libraries.

Participation in the TexShare Databases program is not required for participation in the E-Read Texas program, and there is no participation fee. Larger public libraries and academic and school libraries may choose to provide SimplyE to their patrons through Amigos or another implementor without TSLAC support. The E-Read Texas collection will be available for all TexShare and TexQuest member libraries regardless of size.