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.
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:
Humanities Texas invites Texas cultural and educational institutions that suffered losses or damages to humanities collections as a result of the February 2021 winter storm, or incurred costs related to resuming humanities programming that was postponed or cancelled as a result of the storm, to apply for fast-track Recovery Grants.
Please join us for a TSLAC update and discussion on the future outlook for Texas libraries.
Learn about statewide efforts to support communities during this time and hear about upcoming opportunities, budget considerations, and how libraries can look to the future. Your questions and thoughts are most welcome!
Program details are below. We hope to see you later this week!
TSLAC Update – Current status and future outlook for TSLAC and Texas libraries When: Fri, November 20, 10am – 11am (CST)
State Librarian Mark Smith, Assistant State Librarian Gloria Meraz, and the members of the Library Development and Networking team will discuss the current state of library issues, programs, and opportunities.
Attendance at the LIVE program qualifies for 1 hour of Texas State Library Continuing Education credit (CPE eligible for Texas educators). Printed certificates will not be issued. A follow-up email will be sent within 5 days of the event to individuals who attended the live Webinar. Attendees are advised to save and/or print the follow-up email as it will serve as proof of attendance for CE purposes.
This webinar will be recorded; however for maximum benefit, including the ability to ask questions in real time, we strongly encourage you to attend the live session. If you use assistive technology and the format of any material related to this training event interferes with your ability to access the information, please email LD@tsl.texas.gov. To enable us to respond in a manner most helpful to you, please indicate the nature of your accessibility issue, the preferred format in which to receive the material, the date and title of the training event, and your contact information.
Celebrate the freedom to read! Banned Books week takes place September 27 – October 3, 2020. The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has announced this year’s Banned Books Week theme – Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read. ALA suggests ways for libraries to participate in #BannedBooksWeek through literary actions, and it offers links to images and resources. Librarians have asked that we take a moment to highlight a few of Library Development and Networking staff members’ personal favorite reads that have been challenged.
The Hate U Give by Angie Tomas
Selected by Mark Smith, State Librarian, and Jennifer Peters, Director of Library Development and Networking
Mark Smith, State Librarian: One of my favorite books that has been recently challenged is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is such an insightful and authentic exploration of the complexity of race in our society. For me this book provided perspectives that I have not seen in any other book. The main character is a Black teenager who lives in a lower income Black neighborhood but goes to school at an affluent, predominantly white school and so is torn between the values and conflicts of these two worlds. It strikes me as so misguided that at a time when we need to build compassion and understanding between people, there are those who would seek to keep this book from young readers.
Jennifer Peters, Director of Library Development and Networking: I have many favorite banned books, but the one that seems most relevant to me right now is Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give, which shines a spotlight on a police-involved shooting and its impact on a family and community. Starr Carter, an African American teenager who code-switches between her largely white prep school by day and her close-knit family and working-class neighborhood by night, is the only civilian witness in the death of a childhood friend. In the aftermath, Starr is pulled in many directions as she processes a traumatic experience that leads to local protests. I believe the book is more nuanced than its “anti-cop” detractors would have you believe. I was particularly touched by Starr’s discussions with her family as she processes her experience. As with any sixteen-year-old, she hasn’t got it all figured out just yet, and the book reflects her uncertainty and evolving feelings as events around her take on a life of their own.
Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
Valicia Greenwood, Library Data Coordinator: When I was a librarian in a K-8 school, I used to keep a print-out of the Top 100 Banned Books, in small print like the one attached, on one of the shelf ends. I have spent many long and wonderful hours reading books on that list and wanted to share! Okay, it was maybe not the best idea: I had many requests to purchase books that were not entirely age-appropriate!
The Harry Potter series was first sold in the US the summer my oldest son turned 11. My children loved the fact that, as a librarian, I could order and receive four copies whenever the next book came out in the summer. The oldest and his three siblings would shut their doors and escape to that magical world, and I would get some peace for a few days! I read the volumes as well, wishing I was not such a muggle, but could learn the magic arts, too. We even threw a Harry Potter birthday party for my third child, complete with a sorting hat, potions class and a game of Quidditch! Attendees wore cloaks and hats and had a great time entering into the fun! I am proud and pleased to see that Harry Potter topped the list of banned books between 2000-2009. Collectively, I believe these books challenge our ideas and help us expand our mind beyond its normal boundaries, and they are some of my favorite reads, no question.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Ann Griffith, Electronic Resources Coordinator: My selection is the classic children’s book The Story of Ferdinand, written by Munro Leaf with illustrations by Robert Lawson. Like many, I like that the main character is calm and kind and remains true to his unique nature. I also admire Lawson’s witty etchings. Leaf published his book in 1936, a time of increasing global unrest. Ferdinand the pacifist bull was viewed by some as a subversive political metaphor. Adolf Hitler called the book “degenerate democratic propaganda,” then banned and burned it in Nazi Germany. Ferdinand was banned in Spain from the 1930s until after the death of the country’s dictator, General Franco, in 1974. Munro Leaf, surprised by the international controversy over a book he “thought was for children,” called it “propaganda for laughter only.” It has never been out of print.
Kate Reagor, Resource Sharing Support Specialist: My son is getting started early on banned books with the Captain Underpants series! Both of the main characters, like my son (and the author!), have ADHD, and it makes him so happy to see himself represented in a positive light. Some perceive the series as encouraging disruptive behavior, but its main impact on him so far has been to encourage him to draw his own comics. The last book in the series was banned because when the two boys time travel to find their future “old” selves (they’re, like, 30!), one of them happens to have a husband. Nathaniel didn’t care about that, but he did have lots of ideas for how he would use a time machine!
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Laura Tadena, Equity and Inclusion Consultant: One of my favorite banned books from my childhood is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. This horror series became the most challenged book of the 90’s because of the controversial material. People challenged this book because they claimed it had terrifying illustrations and was “too mature” for the intended audience. Fortunately for me, these books were available in my middle school library and was the reason I fell in love with reading. I remember being drawn to the scary covers and then reading and re-reading them all weekend. When I was a school librarian, scary books were the most requested items in my school library, and I was more than happy to add these to my collection.
Banned Books Week is offered every year to recognize the ongoing commitment to protecting everyone’s right to read. We celebrate the invaluable– and often brave–work of librarians and communities as they support reading and readers, especially in challenging times. For more information about Banned Book Week, please visit the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books Week webpage. What is your favorite banned book? Let us know in the comments!
The 2020-2021 school year is shaping up to be uniquely challenging. Some students will be in the classroom, and some will be at home and exploring online learning. Public and school libraries will need to work closely with each other and with families to ensure all students are able to equitably continue their education. During this webinar, we will explore TexShare and TexQuest databases, as well as additional resources, to help assist families both at home and in their classrooms.
We will be hearing from Kyla Hunt, Youth Services Consultant; Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant; Liz Philippi, School Program Coordinator; and Russlene Waukechon, Networked Information Coordinator.
This webinar will be recorded; however, for maximum benefit, including the ability to ask questions in real time, we strongly encourage you to attend the live session.
Copyright and Creative Commons resources for patrons, students, and library workers
More than ever, libraries need resources for free, including copyrighted images and other online content. In this webinar, we will be exploring resources to help you find information on copyright issues involving remote learning and other services, as well as online repositories of content you can use with patrons and students.
We will also be taking a deep dive into Creative Commons, which allows content creators to create licenses to share their creations with the world while holding on to their copyright. They also provide searching tools for students, teachers and the public to find content to use for free.
In this session, Kyla Hunt, Youth Services Consultant with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and Liz Philippi, TSLAC’s School Program Coordinator, will explore ways to locate Creative Commons licensed materials and to promote their use in your library. Please note that the presenters are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice.
This webinar will be recorded; however, for maximum benefit, including the ability to ask questions in real time, we strongly encourage you to attend the live session.
[Interested in learning more about how libraries are ensuring patrons still get their needs met through library technology in the age of COVID-19? Sign up for an interactive discussion facilitated by TSLAC on August 18, 2-3:30 p.m. CDT: “Texas Technology Chat – Library Technology for Contactless Service” (1.5 hr CE credit). Register here.]
Originally, before the pandemic, new contactless technologies such as self-service kiosks and patron print management tools were developed for use in libraries for two main reasons:
Make staff more efficient at their job
Provide extra convenience for patrons
Depending on a library’s size or situation, implementing these features could be seen as merely perks, even unnecessary frills. They were often just nice add-ons, ways to make the library feel more modern and state-of-the-art.
It wasn’t too hard to level criticism at these particular contactless services back then. They could be considered barriers to connection between the library and the community it served. Using them meant patrons had little to no interaction with staff, thought to be the heart of the library. The concern was patrons might lose that personal touch that should go with library services, and the library itself would become more remote and distant. Soulless, automated machines would serve as the face of the library, replacing the crucial community-building work of friendly, caring, and human staff. Beyond the thinking in this regard, there was the added expense and staff training sometimes needed to implement this new technology. And for many, it was seen as an unnecessary reliance on new technology to perform library services that had traditionally been done by hand (and quite well, thank you) for as long as libraries have been around.
And then the pandemic happened.
We’re seeing now that there is suddenly a new purpose to these contactless technologies: safety! No longer are they nice perks; they’re necessary and potentially life-saving.
One can now add the following reasons to implement:
Prevent close social interaction with staff
Prevent patrons from waiting in line or being forced to gather in small spaces with other patrons
Allow patrons to minimize time in the library as much as possible
Efficiency (reason # 1) is even more important now if libraries are experiencing staff loss or volunteers being let go. With brand new safety measures and pandemic-related services to be performed, staff have less time to handle the basic services of circulation, public access computer management, printing, etc. To list just a few of the added tasks: clean surfaces repeatedly, fill curbside orders, present virtual programs, assist patrons phoning in to make appointments to come into the building, etc., etc.
One big change is there often needs to be less public access computers due to spacing requirements, ensuring patrons stay six feet apart. Having less computers means more demand, so a library needs a new system in place, if there wasn’t one already, that sets reservations and enforces time limits –or needs to include more portable computers like laptops and tablets so patrons can use these devices throughout the space to stay socially distant from one another.
To sum up: self-service used to mean efficiency and convenience. Now self-service equals safety.
Decades ago, with the emergence of computers and networks, libraries had a significant phase of automation to convert their card catalogs to OPACs and ILSs. Now we are entering the Second Age of Automation. It’s not only the catalogs, but every library service that needs to become automated to make it contactless and safe.
To help guide you through this new technological age we’re living in now, Digital Inclusion Consultant Cindy Fisher and I (with the help of our new Continuing Education Support Specialist Tomas Mendez —thanks, Tomas!) have put together a list of products for contactless services.
Reference, patron assistance, information/research help
Third party virtual programming software (by subject)
General building safety
Here are a few of the innovative highlights from the grid that may not have occurred to some:
To make curbside more efficient for staff and convenient for patrons, deploy 24/7 smart lockers outside of the library building for patrons to retrieve their holds.
If a staff member can’t position themselves next to a patron’s computer nor physically take control of their mouse and keyboard to assist them, screen mirroring software can be employed, even on the staff member’s personal tablet held at least six feet away.
For a scenario with the least amount of contact possible within the building, patrons can bring their own device to the library and use an app to not only scan the desired materials for check-outthemselves, but even automatically desensitize the RFID labels/detection strips via the same app before exiting.
With the complete loss of in-house programming, employ third-party, resource-rich online software to help conduct them virtually. This could be for social gaming, crafting, coding, to name a few. There are also services to provide live one-on-one job search coaching and homework tutoring for your patrons at their homes.
If you’d like to discuss the topic of library tech for contactless service further, please join our free interactive discussion webinar on August 18, 2-3:30 p.m. (all library types and sizes welcome!). We hope to see you there!
In early February 2020, I had the privilege of attending the TCEA Convention in Austin. This is a conference put on by Texas educational professionals, teachers, trainers, media specialists, and school librarians all of whom love to employ technology in fun and innovative ways for their students. You can really feel the love there. TCEA presenters and attendees don’t employ tech because their boss or school district said they should, but rather because they unabashedly enjoy new technology and want to share their enthusiasm with their students, knowing that modelling that joy and getting it into young people’s hands are the keys to their future success. These are my kinds of folks.
At TCEA, there were a lot of great presentations from these tech-savvy teaching superstars, ones that showcased the newest, most buzzworthy educational tools, tips, and tricks. I think my favorite program of the whole conference though wasn’t about a new piece of software or fancy gadget. It didn’t talk about VR, AR, AI, or any other two-letter acronym. It was held in a small room, not heavily attended, on one of the first days of the conference and first thing in the morning. It described an idea out of Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas called Humanitronics, and I think it’s one of the most clever ideas for STEAM programing I’ve ever heard of. One day soon I hope we can be at a place where more schools and libraries can duplicate or draw inspiration from it.
Today’s highlight: Humanitronics
When I walked into the conference room that morning at TCEA, this is what I saw at the front:
Puppets. Propped up within a tiny decorated stage. Then a switch was flicked, and they were turned on.
The puppets began to move on their own, their mouths opening and closing in sync to the recorded voices of middle school kids acting out a skit featuring famous historical persons they’d researched in their seventh grade Humanities class. The students weren’t even there. They basically made robots perform their school assignment for them. Definitely a cool trick, but it’s what went into its creation that is, as I would soon learn, where the real magic resides.
And this magic has been dubbed, “Humanitronics”. As presenter Abbie Cornelius, computer science teacher and STEAM specialist at Trinity Valley School, explained:
This is, of course, a bit of word play referring to animatronics. If you’re not familiar with the term, perhaps you recognize this little guy, who happened to have captured many folks’ hearts right at the time I attended TCEA:
It’s Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian tv series. This immensely popular creature was created and performed using mostly animatronics puppetry. Although modern special effects in television and film rely heavily these days on computer generated imagery and less on practical effects, the art of animatronics is far from dead – as Baby Yoda’s adorable charms can attest. You can also find animatronics at theme parks such as Disneyland with their ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride, for example. And there are animatronics programs in higher ed., as well as classes taught in K-12 schools.
But Humanitronics is something special. The original visionary for the project was Dr. Paul Dietz, a former Disney Imagineer and Microsoft Researcher. He brought the project to Trinity Valley School in 2014, conducting a hands-on summer workshop for high school students. In collaboration with computer science teacher, Dr. Ginger Alford, the high school team traveled to Maker Faires in both Seattle and New York presenting their first animatronics project. The project continued to develop in other forms, but the original animatronics kits sat idle and unused, collecting dust in a closet at the school. This is when Middle School STEAM teacher Abbie Cornelius noticed something.
For the last several years, the seventh grade humanities teachers, Dan Betsill and Tina Harper, were teaching literature and history through a final class project where their students would script conversations between the characters they learned about. They’d then perform the skits as a puppet show using miniature sets they designed and decorated themselves. It was a great idea, giving students a chance to be creative and combine several humanities disciplines, such as playwriting, performance, and art.
Cornelius saw she could take it to the next level. She could leverage this existing humanities project and combine it with the animatronics kits. And thus, Humanitronics was born!
Teaming up with the humanities teachers, as well as Dr. Ginger Alford, SMU professor of computer science, Cornelius crafted a year-long program for seventh graders to continue their humanities puppet show project but now with integrated STEM skills.
(Normally, we see folks finding ways to put the A (Art) into the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) to make STEAM – but this is the reverse: adding the STEM to the Art.)
Besides what they are already getting in their humanities classes studying history and literature, in Humanitronics, they learn script writing and voice acting. They next learn how to use audio recording equipment and editing software, then metalwork and basic engineering and design skills while they fashion their puppet frames.
They learn about wiring and circuitry (electrical engineering) to control the servo motors in their animatronics.
They design, build, and decorate their sets,learning woodworking andinterior design
They get experience with coding and robotics as they record their lip-synced puppetry performance within their set.
Among many roles, they get to be performers, engineers, and writers. Every student tries all of the skills, with the chance to engage deeper with the ones that most interest them.
Fun Fact: They took the students to the local Benbrook Public Library to use their laser cutters – I love that!
One coda to the successful program: After the recorded robot puppet shows were finished during the 2018 year, Cornelius and the team took the project out to the larger community. At the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the students played live performances, explained the process, and answered questions from museum guests. They even gave hands-on demos with the puppets, circuitry and servo motor programming.
Honestly, I can’t think of a more well-rounded STEAM project that exposes the students to so many practical disciplines. Humanitronics for the win!
Special thanks to Abbie Cornelius, who shared with me a promotional video of the project. It’s the source of the animated gifs included in this post.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has created a multitude of challenges for libraries preparing for the summer. To address some of these challenges, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday, May 6 at 2 p.m. titled “Looking to the Summer: Resources for K-12 and Public Libraries.”
During this online event, we will be providing an overview of TSLAC created resources for providing analog programming ideas to families, an update on Summer Reading materials from the Collaborative Summer Reading Program (CSLP) and hearing from our School Program Coordinator Liz Philippi on e-resources that could be valuable no matter what your library type. We will conclude with time for questions and discussion.
I’m excited to announce I’ll be presenting a free 1 hour webinar later this month about Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (XR) in libraries with my colleague Liz Philippi, School Program Coordinator at TSLAC. This is going to be a lot of fun, so I’ll hope you’ll join us. Scroll down to click that registration link at the bottom (or click right here!)
The Future in Your Face: Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality in Libraries
Thursday, October 24 2019, 10-11am CDT
Behind the scenes, in workshops all around the world, powerful wizards are fashioning new realities, tinkering with how we interact with content and our own visual environment, and offering new opportunities to enhance our day-to-day lives. These creators are set to unleash their worlds in a big way, literally making them materialize all around us. The writing’s on the (virtual) wall: The Future is about to get up in your face. Our communities need libraries to hold their hands and help them take the first, bold step into this new world. Join TSLAC’s School Program Coordinator Liz Philippi and Library Technology Consultant Henry Stokes of ‘Henry’s High-tech Highlights’ as they take you through the latest tech trends in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) with a focus on libraries. They’ll start with placing this emerging tech in context with other technologies throughout time, plot out for you the current AR/VR landscape, and describe various use cases they’ve collected. They’ll also outline the important roles libraries can play in the coming Wizarding World, including free to low cost ways to get started. All library types welcome!
As community centers and social connectors, and as providers
of trusted information, libraries can play an important role in helping their
communities heal after mass shootings. In this blog post we share a few resources
and documents that library staff may be interested in using when assisting
community members, co-workers and themselves.
ASPR TRACIE’s Post-Mass Shootings Programs and Resources Overview ASPR is the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. TRACIE is the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange operated by the ASPR. This document, recently updated in April 2019, contains both programs and resources that are available to communities affected by mass shootings. Please note: Spanish language resources on pages 6 and 7.
APA What Happens to the Survivors “Long term outcomes for survivors of mass shootings are improved with the help of community connections and continuing access to mental health support.” An excellent article that reiterates the importance of community-based events and community connection in healing after a mass shooting.
Colorín Colorado – 15 Tips for Talking with Children About Violence “These suggestions for parents and educators provide guidance on how to talk about school violence or mass violence in a community, discuss events in the news, and help children feel safe in their environment. These resources were originally compiled following the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The article has been updated as new resources are made available.” Please note: links to a downloadable tip sheet from the National Association of School Psychologists on how to talk to children about violence and safety, translated into multiple languages.
The Healing Library “The Healing Library is a series of kits designed to make a family’s journey of healing following a trauma easier to navigate and personalize. Designed with the intention of being lent out by libraries, the materials for these scalable kits are available for free to download and assemble yourself.” In the aftermath of a mass shooting, libraries may be interested in the kit, “The Death of a Loved One.”
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline: Incidents of Mass Violence A popular resource linked from several of the resources cited above, we include this link because it contains more detailed information about the Disaster Distress Helpline for those who might be deaf/hard of hearing and/or Spanish speakers. It also contains downloadable helpline brochures and wallet cards (see the links along the right side of the page).
Please contact us any time with questions about this or any
other topic at firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-800-252-9386,
or 512-463-5465. Libraries are the cornerstones of strong, resilient
communities, and TSLAC is committed to supporting the important work you all do