2021 Texas Great Read Selection Marfa for the Perplexed Available Statewide as a Free e-Book

The Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has chosen Marfa for the Perplexed by Lonn Taylor as the Texas Great Read for 2021. Every year, the Library of Congress asks each state Center for the Book to select a title that represents the state’s literary landscape to highlight at the National Book Festival. The event showcases the importance of books and reading. In 2021, the 21st Library of Congress National Book Festival will take place virtually September 17-26. 

Texas Center for the Book invites Texans to read Marfa for the Perplexed and to take part in a statewide book club by using the hashtag #TXGreatRead on social media. For more information on the 2021 Texas Great Read program, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/greatreadtexas

In celebration of its selection as the 2021 Texas Great Read, Marfa for the Perplexed is now available to Texas residents as a freely accessible e-book thanks to E-Read Texas, TSLAC’s statewide public library e-book program at www.tsl.texas.gov/greatread2021ebook

About the Book

Marfa for the Perplexed is literary nonfiction, essays, and Texas history all rolled into one. Readers meet artists, priests, ranchers, movie stars, chili aficionados, and more in the rugged borderlands of the Big Bend country. This compilation brings people and historical events of Marfa, Alpine, Fort Davis, Presidio County, Mexico, and the surrounding area to life. The book became very popular and during one interview when asked what surprised him most when researching the stories in the book, Lonn confessed that he had not realized “how deep the scars left by a century of segregation and suspicion between Anglo and Hispanic residents were, or how hard younger members of both groups are working to heal them.”

About the Author

Lonn Wood Taylor’s career took him to many different locations around the country before he resettled in the Big Bend area. He was Director and Curator at the Winedale Historical Complex in Central Texas, Curator at the Dallas Historical Society, and Deputy Director of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. In 1984 he went to Washington, DC, as the Historian and Director of public programs for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Described by the Washington Post as a “lively presence during his 18 years at the museum on the National Mall,” Lonn had a major role in preparing several of the museum’s permanent exhibits. One of his most renowned projects involved the history of the Star Spangled Banner which resulted in the book, The Star Spangled Banner: The Making of An American Icon. On the 200th anniversary of the battle that generated the anthem, Lonn was invited to appear on The Colbert Report, and, just in case Stephen Colbert asked, he memorized all four verses of Francis Scott Key’s song. His last work, Child of the Sun, a memoir of his childhood in the Philippines was published posthumously after his death in 2019.

In addition to Marfa for the Perplexed, the E-Read Texas collection currently includes more than 7,000 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. These titles are available to any resident of Texas via geolocation at https://e-readtx.biblioboard.com/home. Public libraries participating in the full E-Read Texas program can also access the entire collection of e-books via SimplyE, a free library app supported by the Amigos Library Consortia. Individuals are encouraged to visit their local library’s website to learn more about available digital resources.

Established in 1987, the Center for the Book seeks to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries. The Center builds partnerships with library professionals, educators, authors, publishers and booksellers who provide support to our shared mission of promoting a love of literature throughout the Lone Star State. The Texas Center for the Book is under the direction of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission at the Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas.

Personal Finance E-Books Added to E-Read Texas Collection

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission added over 100 personal finance e-books to its E-Read Texas Unlimited collection following receipt of a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

The additional resources will help ensure that Texas residents have the information they need when making critical money decisions as they repair, rebuild, and clean up following severe storms over the winter. Filing claims, accessing government resources, managing lump-sum payments from insurance companies, and meeting immediate expenses when income might be disrupted are just a few of the money challenges that residents in disaster areas must navigate.

This expanded personal finance e-book collection is made possible by a $20,000 grant from the FINRA Foundation. The E-Read Texas program, launched in 2019, provides an easy-to-use platform to access e-books provided by TSLAC alongside materials purchased by local libraries. The e-books purchased with the FINRA grant are available to all Texans and can be accessed at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/personalfinance. The website is geofenced so that any user located in Texas can access these materials with no login or password required. These resources are provided without simultaneous user restrictions, so individuals can access the e-books immediately with no holds or waitlists.

About the FINRA Foundation
For nearly 15 years, the FINRA Foundation has provided funding, staff training, and programs to build the capacity of public libraries to address the financial education needs of people nationwide. Much of this has been accomplished in partnership with the American Library Association through a program known as Smart investing@your library®.

Of particular concern following major disasters is the threat of financial fraud. FINRA Foundation research estimates consumer financial fraud costs Americans more than $50 billion a year. Since its establishment in 2005, the National Center for Disaster Fraud, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, has logged more than 100,000 disaster-related complaints from all 50 states. Financial fraud magnifies the challenges and costs for people recovering from the trauma inflicted by disasters. The FINRA Foundation has issued an alert with guidance to help residents protect themselves from fraudulent schemes (www.saveandinvest.org/disaster-fraud-Texas).

The FINRA Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give Americans the knowledge, skills, and tools to make sound financial decisions throughout life. For more information about FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit finrafoundation.org.

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.