TSLAC reaffirms its longstanding commitment to equality and opposing racism (Mark Smith’s “The Director’s Report”)

Last week, Texas State Library and Archives Commission Director Mark Smith shared his blog post titled TSLAC reaffirms its longstanding commitment to equality and opposing racism.” We wanted to share his blog post with our readers, along with the following statement from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

The staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission are dedicated to honoring our responsibility as public servants to maintain the highest standards of professionalism and respect for all people. Libraries and archives have a long history of working to provide equitable access to resources and services for all communities and to safeguard the primary history of important events. The imperative to build on this work continues and is infused with a renewed sense of urgency. We recognize that as witnesses to this historic moment in our national narrative, we are all also participants. We, as individuals, stand in solidarity with all persons seeking justice and an end to racism or any practice that undermines the inherent worth of any human life.

Virtual Storytime and Copyright: Resources

We have received many questions recently about virtual and online storytimes. As we cannot provide legal advice, we wanted to curate a few resources that may be helpful during this time. If you need legal advice, we would highly recommend that you reach out to your library, city or county’s legal counsel if available.

Virtual Storytime Information

Copyright and Creative Commons Information

  • U.S. Copyright Office https://copyright.gov/ The website of the U.S. Copyright Office provides a a plethora of resources on copyright law.
  • Creative Commons: Helping Patrons and Students Find and License Online Content https://onlinetraining.tsl.texas.gov/course/view.php?id=354 In this archived webinar, the Texas State Library’s Kyla Hunt and Liz Philippi explore ways to locate Creative Commons licensed materials and to promote the usage of Creative Commons in your library.

We hope you find this information useful; for further reading, you may also want to view our previous blog post, Copyright and Fair Use Resources.   

Have a safe and healthy summer!

Texas State Library and Archives Commission publishes Reopening Libraries: Resource Guide

In response to the Governor’s recent Executive Order GA-18, Texas State Library and Archives Commission staff have prepared a Resource Guide for libraries considering a return to work. As the Governor’s Report to Open Texas makes clear, libraries must work closely with their local government to determine how to proceed. The resources in the guide include:

  • Sample reopening plans – potential templates for developing a plan that works for your community.
  • Questions and issues to consider with your governing authority – provides a starting point for discussions with your governing authority or local government.
  • Materials and resource list – resources on communications and other needs.
  • General resources for reopening business – includes OSHA guidelines and information about disinfecting materials.

Here’s a direct link to the Resource Guide: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ld/ldn/COVID/TSLAC_Return_to_Work_Libraries_Resources_2020.pdf

Thank you all for the work you are doing for your community, your staff and coworkers, and yourselves during this crisis. Please contact us at LD@tsl.texas.gov if there is anything we can do to help.

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!


Spread the word – not the germs!

The Texas State Library has received inquiries about resources and tips in preparing your libraries for CoViD-19 (the novel Coronavirus). We all want to keep our patrons and ourselves healthy. In addition to staying calm, providing reliable information to your colleagues and your community is an important aspect of addressing concerns over the CoViD-19 (the Coronavirus).

Here are some resources to assist and share:

Applications Open for Library of the Future Award; Deadline is Feb. 1

Passing on for our friends at ALA/Information Today, Inc.

The 2020 application process for the ALA/Information Today, Inc. Library of the Future Award is open. 

This award honors an individual library, library consortium, a group of librarians, or support organization for innovative planning for, applications of, or development of patron training programs about information technology in a library setting.

Criteria for application should include the benefit to clients served; benefit to the technology information community; impact on library operations; public relations value; and the impact on the perception of the library or librarian in the work setting and to the specialized and/or general public.

The annual award consists of $1,200 and a 24k gold-framed citation of achievement.

Please complete the online application, along with attachments of supporting documentation, by Feb. 1st, 2020: http://www.ala.org/tools/alainformation-today-inc-library-future-award-application.

For more information, please see: http://www.ala.org/tools/alainformation-today-inc-library-future-award-application.

Best of 2019: Books, podcasts, and more!

As we near the end of 2019, we wanted to share some of the books, podcasts and other media that staff here at the Library Development and Network Division loved this year! Here’s to a great 2020!

Jennifer Peters, Director of Library Development & Networking

I’ve been making my way through numerous mystery series this year. I’m particularly fond of gritty police procedurals set in the U.K. My favorite in 2019 was Adrian McKinty’s “Troubles” series, set in Northern Ireland between 1981-1988. How do the police solve crimes in the country where paramilitary violence is the norm? What does it feel like to live in a warzone? Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy is a Roman Catholic in the predominately Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and is thus mistrusted by everyone. He’s a complex, flawed, and completely believable protagonist. Real events and people from the period are incorporated into the plotlines, making for atmospheric and educational reading. The first in the series is The Cold Cold Ground. Thanks to Austin Public Library for an extensive collection of full mystery sets for readers like me.

Valicia Greenwood, Library Statistics Specialist

With politics so prevalent these days, I can suggest two books I have read this year, which truly give one a feel for the people behind the news stories:  Becoming, by Michelle Obama; and The Education of an Idealist, by Samantha Power. These are both memoirs by strong and courageous women, who started out more-than-naïve, yet grew and adapted to the circumstances in which they found themselves. While there is much in their stories to admire, such as how they juggled their ideals and their time while growing a family, there is also much that astonished me about how things work in the federal government. Both are good reads!

Tomas Mendez, Office Services Coordinator

I really enjoyed The Ballad of Black Tom. The Ballad of Black Tom is a short horror novella by Victor LaValle set in 1920s Harlem that will have you turning the pages so fast that you’ll be sad when it’s over and will leave you with so many questions that you’ll be filled with eerie confusion. African American author Victor LaValle aims to cast a critical and satirical eye on H.P. Lovecraft’s popular but xenophobic and racist writings in this amazing book. LaValle tells the story of a mysterious hustler and musician by the name of Tommy Tester, who deals in strange artifacts sold to even stranger clients. Tommy is pushed to his limits by racism and police brutality, to the point where he takes matters into his own hands (with a little help from a powerful ancient terror).

Kyla Hunt, Library Management Consultant

My kids are curious, and my older (who is 7 years old) asks a *lot* of questions. Partly because of this, we have been listening to the podcast “But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids” from Vermont Public Radio. This podcast has been wonderful – the host reads questions submitted by kids from around the world, getting experts who take the questions seriously. The show never talks down to kids, and provides more details than I have for many of the questions my daughter asks.

Ann Griffith, Electronic Resources Coordinator

The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors by David George Haskell

This lyrical, layman-friendly book by biology professor David Haskell focuses on twelve trees he has visited across the world.  The living trees include a ceibo, fir, pine, ash, pear, sabal palm, cottonwood, olive, and bonsai pine.  Haskell also profiles a hazel nut tree which lived over 10,000 years ago and now exists only as charcoal fragments found in an ancient human settlement.  Each tree is examined through a prism of senses, notably sound and sight.  Haskell creates word pictures that include a tree’s setting, details about nearby flora and fauna, how the trees interact to their environments through time, and how humans interact with the trees through time.  Haskell lays out trees’ important roles in nature’s interconnectedness and to the human species with scientific precision and a poetic prose.  

Henry Stokes, Library Technology Consultant

I never thought of myself as a fan of the true crime genre as I’m often squeamish and have a healthy aversion to hearing about real life serial killers.  That changed this year because somehow during 2019 I listened to twenty-seven (27!) different true crime podcast series. It got to the point where I couldn’t drive my commute or wash dishes in the evenings without hearing about the efforts to bring truth and justice to a murder, abduction, missing person, or other unsolved crime.

If you are like me and like a good true crime podcast, here are my top five favorites heard in 2019. Most of these also happen to have a connection to technology, social issues, and librarianship in some way.

1) “Bear Brook” – Newly invented DNA matching tech and good old-fashioned genealogy research combine to solve a 35 year old cold case of three unidentified murder victims and no other physical evidence. This one blew my mind with the almost magical way the truth was eventually determined.

2) The Ballad of Billy Balls” – A woman lost her rock n’ roll soulmate in a 1982 New York shooting, but the details of his killing remained a mystery. That is until her son undertook a touching, funny, and often surprising journey to investigate what really happened.

3) “The Dropout” – While on a road trip between trainings, Cindy Fisher and I played this podcast series about the recent tech world charlatan, Elizabeth Holmes. While listening, I kept thinking of the strange parallels Holmes had with the Fox sisters who launched the 19th Century Spiritualism movement – particularly the way they were both blindly believed by their powerful male admirers. To me, testing 200 diseases from 1 drop of blood within a tiny mystery box to revolutionize healthcare is not that far off from the notions that seances are real and the dead can talk. Both seemed scientifically possible in their time. Both were just wishful thinking about our own mortality, and both were later revealed to be tricks (the Fox sisters used their clicking toes to fake ghost sounds). It reminded me that, in this age of deepfake videos and the dissemination of false information, libraries are powerhouse purveyors of the skills people need to discern a hoax, flimflam, or bamboozlement.

4) Missing & Murdered Finding Cleo” – This eye-opening look at the horrific impact of the Canadian Indian residential school system is not easy or light listening, but it’s beautifully done, compassionate, and very moving. Normally true crime stories have a murderous person to catch, but what if it’s a system that perpetuates the crimes? One of my favorite parts of this series is when a fateful visit to a library plays a pivotal role in finding the missing girl.

5) “White Lies” – A community has to reckon with its racism as a pair of journalists explore what really happened with an unsolved murder at the center of the civil rights movement. What records are left around to document the truth when many would like it to be buried?

Truth-be-told, I’m not sure 27 true crime stories playing continuously in my ears was great for my psyche, despite how thought-provoking many of them were. So for 2020, I’m switching to podcasts that are comedic, uplifting, and positive for a while. One I recommend already is Victoriocity – a charming detective comedy radio play with a full cast of performers set in a steampunk Victorian setting. If you like the wit of Douglas Addams, Terry Pratchett, and Monty Python, it’s a must listen.

IMPACT Libraries Recruiting for Interviews

Sharing for our friends at IMPACT Libraries. Please refer all questions about this to them at impact@umd.edu. You can see their full post here.

“We are currently conducting research on Computational Thinking (CT) programming for youth ages 11-18 in libraries and other informal learning spaces such as community centers. We are working to develop a bank of assessment tools that can be used to measure the success of CT programming. If you have hosted a CT program at your institution or are planning to offer a program in the near future, we would like to interview you to learn more about your experiences in CT programming and what CT assessment tools we can create to enhance the impact of your programs.

If you would like to sign up for a virtual interview, please complete the form found here.

All participants will receive $25 Amazon gift card for participating. 

Have questions? Contact the research team at impact@umd.edu.”