Free CE and Training This Week – Feb. 23-26

Weekly listing sourced primarily from Wyoming State Library Training Calendar with free training online, and free Texas workshops, updated as new events are added. See what’s happening on the CE calendar. Confirm the date and time when you register, or follow links for archive information. Events listed in Central Time


Tuesday, Feb. 23 (12-1 p.m.)
Partnering with your institution’s Senior Research Officer: An in-depth review by Ithaka S+R (Ex Libris)

Does your library partner with the university’s research office? Does the Senior Research Officer (SRO) know what services the library offers to support the research enterprise? Expand your understanding of current roles and priorities of the SRO. Hear insights and join the discussion on how libraries can better align research support services in collaboration with their SRO’s evolving strategic directions.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.choice360.org/media/webinars/


Tuesday, Feb. 23 (12-1:30 p.m.)

Nothing for Us, Without Us: Getting Started with Culturally Responsive Evaluation (Research Institute for Public Libraries [RIPL])

Public libraries serve increasingly diverse stakeholders, each with unique interests, needs, and strengths. Using the tools from community engagement and culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE), you can help create a welcoming space where community members see their culture, values, and lived experiences reflected in the library programing and collections; and an environment where they are excited to contribute to transparent and collaborative program evaluations.

For more information and to register, visit: https://ripl.lrs.org/ripl-data-boot-camp/


Tuesday, Feb. 23 (1-2 p.m.)
Overcoming Zoom Fatigue (InSync Training)

The heavy adoption of virtual training isn’t going away because it is the only approach that allows everyone (wherever they are) to participate in their organizational training, and we should all plan to make it more effective so that organizational training goals can be met without forcing someone to sit at a screen viewing and listening for 8 hours.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.insynctraining.com/virtually-there-series/


Tuesday, Feb. 23 (2-3 p.m.)
Advance Virtual Skills You Need (Training Magazine Network)

OK, so now you are an expert in using ZOOM, Adobe Connect, and other software and tools. You are even adept in designing polls, using chat, implementing breakouts and creating PowerPoint slides.  Although these are excellent skills, oftentimes, many presenters, trainers, subject matter experts and leaders overlook that all their virtual sessions and webinars are meant to persuade learners and their audience. Does your audience trust you? Do they feel confident to follow your ideas? Do learners feel your ideas are practical? Does your audience feel you are socially approachable? Your skills and knowledge in these areas can make or break your presentations or webinars.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.trainingmagnetwork.com/calendar


Tuesday, Feb. 23 (2-4:30 p.m.)
Unpacking Racial Literacy: Part 2 (Montana State Library)

Racial Equity is the key in identifying all the ways in which we can build strong learning partnerships and  ensure equitable outcomes for students. Dr. Brandon-Felder is committed to transforming institutional practices one system at a time. Part 2: Naming and Framing Oppression

For more information and to register, visit: https://mslservices.mt.gov/ASPeN/Events/


Tuesday, Feb. 23 (3-4 p.m.)
How to Keep Reading Social during Hybrid Learning (OverDrive)

Please join Bridget Crossman, Stacey Rattner, Kristin Fraga Sierra, and Melissa Thom in a roundtable conversation discussing the importance of and ideas for keeping reading social at all levels during hybrid learning. From classroom activities to community events, participants will leave with a laundry list of ideas that are bound to be a hit for readers.

For more information and to register, visit: https://tinyurl.com/yybmdcbu


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (10-11 a.m.)
5 Secrets of Email Marketing Geniuses (Firespring)

There is more power and leverage in one email subscriber than 100 Facebook likes or 50 Twitter followers if email marketing is done right. Problem is, 9 out of 10 nonprofits don’t do it right. In this educational session, Jay will share the secrets of email marketing geniuses.

For more information and to register, visit: https://firespring.com/webinars/


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (10-11 a.m.)
Pretty Sweet Tech – How to Make Green Screen Videos Using Free and Low-Cost Tools (Nebraska Library Commission)

Green screen videos can take you anywhere in the world without leaving the library. In this session you will learn how to use free and low-cost tools to shoot and edit green screen videos in your library. I can’t detail everything in an hour, but you will get a very nice overview of how everything works. I will also shoot and edit a short clip live and in real time!

For more information and to register, visit: http://www.nlc.state.ne.us/scripts/calendar/eventlist.asp?Mode=ALL


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (12-1 p.m.)
How to be a Great Board Chair (Propel Nonprofits)

The board chair is the highest officer of the nonprofit board of directors. This webinar prepares the board chair for governance and leadership responsibilities. We’ll cover how to design effective board meetings, attend to board development, partner with the CEO/ED, and lead as an ambassador of the organization.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.propelnonprofits.org/upcoming-trainings/


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (12-1:30 p.m.)
Copyright 101 (Lyrasis)

This 90 minute introductory course will provide an overview of the origin and purpose of U.S. copyright law and how it promotes creativity, teaching, learning, and research in ways that have become an integral part of everyday life. This session will introduce copyright concepts most relevant to those working in libraries, archives, museums, and community cultural heritage organizations.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.lyrasis.org/services/Pages/Classes.aspx


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (1-2 p.m.)
Drive-In Storytime (Colorado State Library)

Do you miss providing in-person storytimes? Do you want to be able to provide memorable in-person programming? Now you can! Learn how to offer Drive-In Storytimes using radio transmitters while patrons relax in the comfort of their car!

For more information and to register, visit: https://cslinsession.cvlsites.org/


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (1-2 p.m.)
Media Literacy for Adults: Architecture of the Internet (Programming Librarian)

Many of us use the internet every day but are unfamiliar to the ways the internet works, including why certain content ends up in our search engine results. There is a largely invisible system at work that tailors and personalizes your online content. In this webinar, Natasha Casey of Blackburn College will discuss cookies, algorithms, and a variety of other parts of the internet that track your online presence. How can we talk about these things with library patrons?

For more information and to register, visit: https://programminglibrarian.org/learn


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (2-3 p.m.)
NLM’s History of Medicine Division: A Research Collection of Rare Medical Materials (Network of the National Library of Medicine)

The National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) History of Medicine Division has one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical material related to health and disease. These holdings, in both digital and physical formats, span ten centuries, and come from nearly every part of the globe. In this session you will learn how the History of Medicine Division approaches acquisition and conservation; discover hidden treasures in the collection and get to know how to access this vast resource. Most importantly, you will see how such collections remain relevant in a world concerned with data science, health care to diverse groups, and reacting to pandemics.

For more information and to register, visit: https://bit.ly/3t1ZlAI


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (4-5 p.m.)
Feelings Are Not Facts: How to Raise Conspiracy-Resistant Students (edWeb.net)

As educators, we are expected to teach facts as truth. This is immeasurably harder when students rely on confirmation bias rather than sound research practices to find fact-based truth. In this edWebinar, Jacquelyn Whiting and Michelle Luhtala, coauthors of News Literacy: The Keys to Combating Fake News (2018), will share new lessons that teach 6-12 grade learners to become fact-based truth finders.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.edweb.net/emergingtech


Wednesday, Feb. 24 (6-7 p.m.)
2021 YALSA Nonfiction Nominated Titles Booktalk (YALSA)

Join us for this special opportunity to learn more about the titles that were nominated for the 2021 Nonfiction Award via a booktalk with the Nonfiction Committee.

For more information and to register, visit: https://tinyurl.com/y2q3vw7v


Thursday, Feb. 25 (11-11:30 a.m.)
TexShare Vendor Training: EBSCO Resources for Women’s History Month

In this 30-minute session led by Training Specialist Jason High, we will review the EBSCO resources available to Texas libraries on Women’s History Month. You will learn about resources with relevant content such as Explora for Public Libraries, eBook collections, databases like MasterFILE Complete and Academic Search Complete, and Literary Reference Center. You will learn how to access and make the most of these resources in support of Women’s History Month library programming. Whether you are new to these resources or just want to learn some helpful tips and tricks, there is something for everyone.

For more information and to register, visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEpd-moqjgjGdQbWUgTWn6kSAAsXSNFSB5t


Thursday, Feb. 25 (12-1 p.m.)
National Library of Medicine Resources for Citizen Scientists (National Network of Libraries of Medicine)

In this class, participants can expect to learn how to support citizen science in their communities and ways that libraries can easily participate. Participants will learn about citizen science library program models, free National Library of Medicine resources to incorporate into citizen science library programs, and sources of funding to explore for buying testing kits or supporting community research efforts. Citizen science library programs are perfect for all ages, and all types of libraries. Nor prior scientific knowledge is required, simply a willingness to participate!

For more information and to register, visit: https://nnlm.gov/training/classes-by-availability-scheduled


Thursday, Feb. 25 (1-1:30 p.m.)
TexShare Vendor Webinar: Create a Gale Scavenger Hunt

Engage users with a fun and informative scavenger hunt.  In this workshop, you will learn the key objectives to building a Gale scavenger hunt, explore content within Gale In Context resources, and receive a template to create your own unique scavenger hunt.

For more information and to register, visit: https://cengage.zoom.us/webinar/register/9816098573326/WN_ATsVtd89QhOlRTZwgADMuQ


Thursday, Feb. 25 (1-2 p.m.)
Gush Over Graphic Novels (Brodart & Random House Children’s Books)

We’ll see you at the Graphic Novel Webinar, featuring authors Trung Le Nguyen and Jennifer L. Holm, illustrator Savanna Ganucheau, and RH Graphic Publishing Director Gina Gagliano. Librarian Kat Kan will be moderating.

For more information and to register, visit: https://tinyurl.com/y39amhsb


Thursday, Feb. 25 (1-2 p.m.)
Using Government Art Sources for Chemistry, Geosciences, and Environmental Studies Library Research (Federal Depository Library Program)

This webinar will demonstrate how to integrate freely available online art collections from the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior, and the Princeton University Art Museum into library instruction and research consultations for chemistry, geosciences, and environmental studies.

For more information and to register, visit: https://www.fdlp.gov/about-the-fdlp/fdlp-events-calendar


Thursday, Feb. 25 (2-3 p.m.)
Align, Don’t Hustle: Syncing Your Fundraising Career With Your Personal Values (Bloomerang)

Have you considered changing your fundraising career in this current climate of uncertainty and unrest? It is time to own your narrative. Join this webinar to learn how to identify the ideal organization with values that align with your fundamental beliefs and lifestyle.

For more information and to register, visit: https://bloomerang.co/resources/webinars/


Thursday, Feb. 25 (6-7 p.m.)
William C. Morris Celebration (YALSA)

Join us as we celebrate the winners and finalists of our Morris Award virtually.

For more information and to register, visit: https://tinyurl.com/yxpfwsdj

Zoom in to Office Hours for the 2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report!

Reminder: The 2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report must be submitted on or before Friday, April 30, 2021, for the library to be eligible for accreditation. Revisions and changes will be accepted up until July 31, after the report form has been locked online.

OFFICE HOUR DATES
Thursdays
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM CST
February 11
February 25
March 11
March 25
April 15
April 29
Request Zoom link:
accreditation@tsl.texas.gov

Based on emails received so far, the closures and economic downturns of the past year have created some confusion about what to report for hours, programs, and services. Additionally, maintaining library accreditation based on last year’s performance is causing some anxiety.

Get your questions answered and the information you need to submit your library’s report accurately and on time! Anyone interested in any aspect of the 2020 Annual Report is invited to join, either to ask questions or just listen. You can join by computer or phone, no video required.

Using a Zoom link available by request, drop in at any point and talk with Valicia Greenwood, Library Data Coordinator. She will provide information on topics such as, but not limited to:

  • Accreditation criteria and concerns
  • Continuing education resources
  • Financials
  • Hours open for service
  • Operating vs. capital expenditures
  • Reporting grants
  • Reporting digital (downloadable) material
  • Reporting programs and attendance
  • Special section related to COVD-19 health crisis

If you are not available on Thursday afternoons, send your questions to accreditation@tsl.texas.gov. Answers will be provided promptly, typically within one business day.

2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report: Data Collection Portal Open

Texas LibPAS, https://tx.countingopinions.com/, the data collection portal for the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, is now open for reporting local fiscal year 2020 information. Public libraries are encouraged to submit their information by March 31, to allow staff time to review the reports and work through accreditation issues.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission participates in a national public library data collection system and the data is used for the creation of a composite report on the public libraries of the United States and for state-to-state comparisons by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Additionally, this report is used to accredit public libraries in Texas.

Accredited libraries can participate in statewide interlibrary loan and E-rate – the federal telecommunications discount program. They are also eligible to apply for the agency’s competitive grants and other funding opportunities and to participate in the TexShare Card and TexShare Database programs.

Libraries that submit a report may be eligible to participate in E-Read Texas, and to order Summer Reading Program materials at no cost.

Emails were sent in the first week of January reminding library directors of their Texas LibPAS log-in information. If you have not received the email, or you have questions about the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, please contact Valicia Greenwood by email.

Are you new to completing this report? Register for the webinar, What is New and A Review of the 2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, that will be held on Thursday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m. Those registered will receive a link to the recording once the webinar is over.

If you have concerns about accreditation, or questions about what to report, email accreditation@@tsl.texas.gov, or refer to the Annual Report webpage, https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport.

TSLAC FY 2022 Competitive Grant Opportunities

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is pleased to announce the FY 2022 TSLAC Competitive Grant programs. The FY 2022 TSLAC grant offerings include Texas Reads, TexTreasures, Special Projects, and Regional ILS Collaborative grants. Please visit our grants webpage at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/grants to read the Notice of Funding Opportunities and watch short videos detailing the specifics for each program.

FY 2022 TSLAC Competitive Grants open for application in GMS on Friday, February 1, 2021. Please use this time to peruse the new website, read the Notice of Funding Opportunities and FAQ, and begin collecting information for your application.

Please also consider joining us for Applying for TSLAC Competitive Grants: What You Need To Know for FY 2022 on Friday, December 4, 2020 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Register for the webinar here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2792842409032381708. If you are unable to attend the webinar, please register anyway and you will be sent a link to the recorded session.

New Training Videos for the Annual Report Available!

Texas participates in a nationwide public library data survey, and also accredits libraries through an annual report. The data collection period for local fiscal year 2020 is coming up in early January. 

A four-part series on Preparing for the 2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report is now ready for viewing on the Annual Report webpage, https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport. Rather than hosting a one-hour webinar, these are short explorations of different topics, accompanied by a handout:

Part 1:  Basic Information all Texas Public Library Directors Should Know (video-9:56) (slides
Part 2:  Financial Sections of the Annual Report (video-12:09) (slides)
Part 3:  Tracking and Reporting Services and Technology (video-9:58) (slides)
Part 4:  Texas Public Library Accreditation (video-15:12) (slides)

These presentations can be watched in any order, or you can just watch the one(s) in which you have the most interest. However, if you are interested in obtaining continuing education credit for these, you will need to watch all four as a course in our online learning environment.

In addition to the trainings, we have several information links on the website to ensure the ease and success of the library’s annual report submission:

As always, if you have questions or need any additional assistance, please contact staff at accreditation@tsl.texas.gov.  We continue to telecommute, so email is the best contact.

New Public Library Accreditation Rule Passed by Archives Commission

In the upcoming Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, we expect to see fewer open hours, visits, programs, etc., from local libraries, as well as lower expenditures. With the pandemic shutting down libraries and local budgets decreasing, many are concerned about a loss of public library accreditation based on current rules.

At its fall meeting on November 9, 2020, the agency commission reviewed and passed an emergency rule relating to public emergencies. The new emergency rule, which is now in effect, allows TSLAC to waive one or more accreditation criteria if a library shows good cause, such as a pandemic, as to why it was unable to meet the criteria.

It will be important for the library to submit their 2020 Annual Report in advance of the April 30 due date if at all possible, and to offer detailed explanations, including dates and financial impact of the pandemic health crisis on its operation and community.

In addition to the emergency rule, which will be in effect for 120 days with the option for a 60-day extension, TSLAC has set in motion the process to formally adopt and incorporate this rule into the administrative rules for the minimum standards of public library accreditation, 13 TAC §1.71- §1.86. The text of the emergency and proposed rule is as follows,

§1.87. Emergency Waiver of Accreditation Criteria.

One or more accreditation criteria in this subchapter may be waived if a library shows good cause for failure to meet the criteria. For purposes of this subchapter, good cause means a public health emergency, including, but not limited to a pandemic or epidemic; a natural or man-made disaster, including, but not limited to a tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire, explosion, or chemical spill; or other extraordinary hardship which is beyond the control of the library as determined by the agency.

The proposed rule will be published in the Texas Register for public comment in the coming weeks.

If your library falls into this category, we will work with you to resolve the situation. Look here for more information in the months to come.

2019 Texas Public Library Statistics Available

We are truly grateful for the tremendous effort made by Texas public librarians this year in submitting their 2019 Annual Report! Amidst library closures and staff working remotely, reports were submitted on time and accurately. These statistics provide the best picture of library service and funding, which is vitally important for stakeholders to know!

Libraries which met the minimum criteria for accreditation will receive formal accreditation letters by email soon. Accredited libraries have access to statewide interlibrary loan (ILL), the federal telecommunications discount program E-rate, TexShare Database and TexShare Card programs, and any funding opportunities through this agency. Any library submitting an Annual Report will be able to order Summer Reading Program materials at no cost. 

Reports are now locked, and the data is publicly available on our website. The collected statistics from all libraries is available in downloadable Excel files. In addition, there are other statistics at your fingertips:

  • Individual Library Statistics and Comparison Charts for 2019. This workbook tool allows a library to view individual library information, as well as view it against averages within their population group and across the state. In addition, it can be compared to up to four other libraries, for a customized report. These are displayed as vertical bar graphs in an Excel workbook. We acknowledge the amazing team at Connecticut State Library for the original work.
  • Statewide and Individual Library Trend Charts for 2019. These Excel workbooks provide a look at the library’s activity for a variety of measures during 2014-2019. A statewide summary is also available.
  • Every  library has access to additional reports once they log in to the data collection portal, Texas LibPAS (https://tx.countingopinions.com/):
    • Annual statistics
    • Library Snapshot brochure
    • Two-Year Comparison Reports

For log-in information, or assistance in creating or customizing statistical reports, please contact Library Data Coordinator Valicia Greenwood (vgreenwood@tsl.texas.gov).

TSLAC CARES – Cycle 2 Opening for Application August 28, 2020

On Friday, August 28th from 10-11:30 am CST, join Bethany Wilson, TSLAC Grants Administrator, and Erica McCormick, TSLAC Program Coordinator, to learn about the TSLAC CARES grant program for libraries in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Register for the webinar here.  

The TSLAC CARES Grant Program funds community needs identified by Texas libraries in areas of digital access and inclusion to include programs, training, and tools necessary to increase community access to vital digital technologies and services. Additionally, funds may be utilized for library initiatives that support prevention, preparation, and response to the COVID-19 emergency. 

This reimbursement grant program will fund operating expenditures such as library supplies and materials, technology, furniture, and contractual services. All grant expenses must be designed to respond directly to the COVID-19 emergency. 

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) will begin accepting grant applications on August 28, 2020. Public and academic libraries in Texas who have identified community needs arising from or highlighted by the COVID-19 emergency are encouraged to apply. Please visit the TSLAC CARES webpage for more information about this funding opportunity.

We encourage you to bring your questions to the webinar on Friday, May 8th. We look forward to seeing you there. Contact Bethany Wilson, bwilson@tsl.texas.gov or Erica McCormick, emmcormick@tsl.texas.gov with questions.

Providing Socially Distanced Computer Help

Curious how other Texas libraries are providing technology assistance these days? Join Henry Stokes and Cindy Fisher for a facilitated interactive discussion on using technology to provide contactless library service in the age of COVID-19? Register here

The urgency of providing computer help in the aftermath of the pandemic has meant that many library staff are finding creative solutions that ensure their own safety while also providing essential connectivity for citizens to do vital activities like filing for unemployment, booking telemedicine appointments, taking online tests, or maintaining social connections with friends or family. 

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Sime, Library Services Supervisor of People at the City of Grand Prairie Public Libraries in Grand Prairie, Texas. Peter and his team developed a way to provide one-on-one technology assistance to customers using the library’s public computers while also ensuring that library staff are at a safe social distance. And, because we knew other libraries have similar questions, with the help of his communications office, he created a video demonstrating just how this service works. You’ll find that embedded below.

Peter and I also spoke about the realities of offering in-person technology help in the age of Covid-19, and how the pandemic helped them shift some of their pre-existing practices to ensure a more user-centered approach.

Describe how patrons currently access the public computers? How does this differ pre-pandemic life?

The City of Grand Prairie has three libraries and at each location we have regulated computer access by limiting the number of computers that can be used at a time. We’ve done this by taking away existing furniture to ensure six feet of distance. In some cases, we provided more than six feet of distance because there may be multiple people sharing the same computer. We’ve recently added sneeze guards in between the computers and that has actually allowed us to add a few more computers back into the rotation. 

As we were planning to reopen, it was really important to us to make things as normal as possible because the last thing people need right now is more change. We wanted people to know it’s still their library and it still works the same way. They still use the same reservation system to reserve computers. We do have a 45 minute time limit on the computers, as we did before, but there isn’t a big waiting list for computers because most people have been very efficient with their time. 

We also added a way for customers to sign up for a computer using a future reservation one day ahead of time. This is to accommodate customers that need to have access to a computer for taking a test; these reservations are for two hours. The future reservations also ensure that people don’t have to stand around waiting for a computer to become available while in close proximity to others. We have limited the number of future reservations available to ensure that there are still computers available for walk-in customers. We are really busy from 12pm (when we first open) until about 3:00 p.m. A lot of the things we’ve learned and processes we’ve put into place, we want to keep after the pandemic subsides. Sometimes we’ve asked ourselves, “Why didn’t we do this before?”

You all are using specific software to help assist computer users. Tell me a little bit about it. How does this help you keep a safe distance?

One of our biggest challenges upon allowing people back into the library to use the computers was how we help people. Pre-pandemic, our staff had been great with helping people on the computers, talking through what they need and assisting them side-by-side, but that’s obviously not doable now. 

Our IT department uses TeamViewer to work on library staff computers remotely so we asked them if it could be configured on the public computers so library staff could assist customers remotely, and they did. They installed it on one staff computer at the main branch and another one at our Warmack branch, as well as our public computers.

The host computer is the library staff computer and this enables staff to access any of the public computers that the software is also installed on. In order for a customer to get help, they click on the TeamViewer icon on the public computer’s desktop, and it generates a code. In order for the staff member to access their computer, the patron has to give them permission and the code. Once the customer provides the code, we can then log into their computer and basically see the screen the customer is working on. We can move the mouse, we can type things in for them, and we can show them how to do things. 

All of our computers have a sign on top of the monitor advertising a live helpline, so the customer dials the number on their cell phone, and the library staff member is available to help both over the phone and through viewing their computer screen. 

Though the length of time varies, the average time that a customer needs help is between 8-10 minutes though we have helped people for upwards of 30 or 40 minutes.

What is the cost of the software?

The library pays for a specific license for each staff computer about $500 per license for one PC. However, there are set-ups where one license would enable three people to help at the same time. We didn’t go this route at the time because we didn’t have three people at main branch that we could dedicate to doing this at the same time as I needed staff on the floor to monitor and clean. 


Which staff are trained to use the software and how difficult is it to use?
It’s a very intuitive software. We have multiple people trained at our Warmack branch, so the service rotates. At Main, we have one person who mainly provides assistance. They are actually working from home using a laptop to remote into the PC at the library. It’s been a great way to provide work for those at home. 

If the helpline is busy, the calls automatically roll over to the reference desk. We have a floating staff person who helps clean the computers when customers leave, and this person will also provide assistance if they can from six feet away or they will let the customer know that if they can hang on for a few minutes, the helpline will be free again and they can try calling back. We can extend their time on the computer to ensure that person gets the help they need. Additionally, the library staff at Warmack branch could also log in to the main branch and assist customers if we had a large number of people needing help all at the same time.

How have patrons received this service and what kinds of assistance have you been providing?
It has been a really well received service; when people use it, they love it. We’re able to provide direct hands-on instruction, but no one’s in danger of getting sick.

One of the hurdles that we had to overcome early on was convincing folks that there was a real person on the other end of the phone, not an automated robot or a personal assistant like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. When some of our regular customers figured out that it was a library staff person they recognized, they used it more frequently. 

We’ve been helping customers with so many different things like downloading and uploading resumes; many drivers license renewals and navigating the DMV website to find driving records, and even some job application websites. For those who are not computer familiar, these job application websites can be really daunting. It really helps to have someone walking you through it.

What have you learned throughout the process that would be helpful for other library staff interested in implementing this.

They’re kind of simple things, but we put the number to call on top of the monitor right at eye level. And I did not anticipate that we’d have to sell people on the service and to explain that the help being provided is a real person from the library. If you’re going to implement this, think about ways to address that ahead of time. We phrased the card at the top of the monitor with the following: “For direct library staff assistance, contact this number”. We think it helps customers really understand this is not a machine, it’s a staff person.

Big thanks to Peter Sime and the computer assistance team at City of Grand Prairie Public Libraries for sharing their expertise.

Do you have a technology assistance tip or service that you’d like to share with other Texas libraries? If so, contact Cindy Fisher, Digital Inclusion Consultant, at cfisher@tsl.texas.gov or share your comments below.

Accreditation and the Pandemic: The 2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, an FAQ

We acknowledge the hard work that public libraries did under very trying circumstances to submit their Annual Reports for 2019. Five hundred and forty libraries completed their reports, only three fewer than last year. We know that this was a challenge for many of you, and we appreciate your efforts to provide this important information to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). As State Librarian and Director Mark Smith published recently, we feel your pain; we are all in this together.

Having anxiety about potential loss of accreditation due to circumstances beyond your control is understandable. We recognize that this year’s circumstances are extraordinary and will require a considered approach to both reporting and accreditation. There are legal requirements relating to accreditation that our agency must follow. It is our intention to bring together our agency leadership and in-house counsel to review these requirements and determine the best way to proceed.

We do not have all the answers yet but hope to have a plan that we can share with you by the end of the summer. We have your concerns in mind and will be working on providing some concrete information as soon as we can. Be assured that we will work on a broad solution to help libraries the best way possible.

There have been many questions about the 2020 Annual Report and accreditation. Here is where we stand on those issues at present: If this FAQ does not answer your question, contact us at accreditation@tsl.texas.gov.

Q:  Our expenditures this year will not meet the library’s maintenance of effort (MOE). How can the library stay accredited?

A:  This issue is in discussion with staff here at TSLAC. Rules for accreditation are in Texas Administrative Code, so we must weigh in with in-house counsel as well as our commission. We hope to develop solutions and guidance over the next few months, including review by the Library Systems Act (LSA) Advisory Board in the fall.

Q:  We are facing budget cuts for the coming fiscal year or years, due to loss of tax revenue during the pandemic. How can the library stay accredited?

A:  Continue to submit the Annual Report. There may be indirect costs that can make up the difference. Alternatively, city- or county-wide cuts can form the basis of an appeal to the LSA Board.

Q:  Our library is closed for an indefinite time. Should we still submit an Annual Report?

A:  YES! The annual communication from your library to ours is vital for so many reasons. Outside of accreditation, the statistics we generate form a state- and nationwide picture of the role and value of libraries that should not be lost, even if our facilities are closed.

Q:  Our facility is not open to the public, but staff are working. Is the library open?

A:  Yes and… We expect to see fewer open hours on the 2020 report. Everyone is aware of the impact the pandemic has had on businesses, government, recreation, the economy, etc., so this will be reflected in the Annual Report. When reporting “hours open,” this is the number of hours the building is open to the public. You will have the opportunity to report the actual service hours–the hours that the staff has been answering questions, providing curbside delivery, cleaning, and weeding–at another place in the Report.

Q: How do we count library visits?

A:  Follow the current definition. These will be down since the library building is not open to the public. Curbside service will be reflected in the library’s circulation numbers, staff responses to questions will be reported in reference transactions, programs and attendance counts will be reported, as well.

Q:  All of our programs are now virtual. Will this be counted differently?

A:  Yes! For live programs that are held online count total or peak views. Recorded programs do not follow the existing definition but should be tracked and tallied for the library’s stakeholders. More information on this will be published on the Annual Report webpage, https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport.

Q:  We now leave our Wi-Fi on 24 hour and have expanded its range. How do we report this?

A:  Wi-Fi sessions must be tracked using software on the library’s router. More information on how to do this can be found here:  Count Your Wi-Fi Usage.