Summer Meals at Libraries Update

If you weren’t able to attend the webinar Feeding Your Community: Summer Meals at Libraries webinar, co-produced by the Collaborative Summer Library Program and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the recording is available here:

The USDA has extended temporary waivers that permit SFSP sites to provide grab-and-go meals/snacks and allow parents to pick meals up for their children. Other waivers are also in place to facilitate food distribution under social distancing guidelines. The need will be exceptionally great this year, and some previous SFSP sites may be unavailable for various reasons related to the public health emergency.

If your library is already an SFSP site, work with your current sponsor. If you want to become an SFSP site: contact your local school district, an SFSP sponsor in your area, or your state’s SFSP administering agency. For Texas specific resources, visit the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website; they have developed a COVID-19 FAQ page. You can also view resources on the Texas State Library’s Summer Lunch at the Library page.

In addition, the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) offers Libraries and Summer Food, a thorough, clear how-to guide for libraries: (please note this guide assumes ordinary circumstances and has not been revised for the current public health emergency).

Share Summer Reading Challenges with your Library and Community

Summer challenge board

We know that with the current pandemic crisis, summer reading plans have been upended, altered, and in some cases canceled as a result of library closures. In response, we have created summer activity challenges that you can distribute to your communities and patrons. These challenges are meant to be completed by children and teens in their homes, with families and loved ones, to both combat summer slide and provide activity ideas for families.

The challenges are provided to you in both editable and PDF versions on a shared Google Drive. You can also access it on the Children and Youth Services page. We have assigned Creative Commons licenses to the challenges so that you can edit the resources to fit the needs of your library and community. To edit the editable version, open up the document you would like to edit, click on “File” and select “Make a Copy.” You can then edit your copy to better serve the needs of your community.

The activities included can be distributed digitally (on your website, via email or newsletters, or on social media). They can also be printed by your libraries and distributed in the mail, via community partners, or at your libraries (if you are physically open). If you do not have community partners with which you currently work, you may want to contact local grocery stores or even your local post office to see if they would be interested in assisting with distribution. Please note that these challenges were not designed to be used as Bingo games. Bingo is strictly regulated in Texas and requires obtaining a license from the Texas Lottery Commission. For information on the Bingo Enabling Act in Texas, please visit the Texas Lottery Commission‘s website at

To learn more about these resources, please join us on Wednesday, May 6 at 2 p.m. for our webinar Looking to Summer: Resources for K-12 and Public Libraries. Please direct any questions about the challenges to Kyla Hunt at or Laura Tadena at

Have a wonderful summer!

Upcoming Webinar – Looking to the Summer: Resources for K-12 and Public Libraries

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.”

You can register for this event here:

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.

Join us!

A Powerful Voice for Poetry: An Interview with National Student Poet Camila Sanmiguel

Each year, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers collaborate to choose five students to serve for one year as National Student Poets through the National Student Poets Program. Charged with inspiring other young people to achieve excellence in their own creative endeavors, these literary ambassadors are linked with audiences and organizations in their assigned regions and provided opportunities to promote the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success.

The Texas State Library & Archives Commission was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Camila Sanmiguel from Laredo, Texas. Camila is the 2017 National Student Poet for the Southwest U.S. and was eager to share her experience with us.

I: Tell us about your journey to poetry. How did you begin writing?

C: I found my way to poetry through a desire for change. Poetry is a form of literary activism that carries beauty and poignancy, building bridges and connecting those who read it, calling for empathy and unity and action and emotion. It gave me a platform to empower myself and those that are overlooked, to reach people and help close deep divides using advocacy and poetry, calling for action or even just thought – but I have learned that sparking thought is enough.

I: Can you tell us a little about the National Student Poet Program and how you got involved?

C: The National Student Poets Program is the highest honor in the country for youth poets, in which five nationally-recognized students are selected to serve a yearlong literary ambassadorship, each in one of five regions of the country. The program is made possible by the U.S. Library of Congress (where we were appointed last year by Dr. Carla Hayden), the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Academy of American Poets.

My peers and I were selected from a pool of National Medalists in poetry in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards through a multi-layered adjudication process with panels of judges including former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.

I: Tell us about your experience as a National Student Poet and the kinds of outreach events, activities, and workshops you have had the opportunity to facilitate.

C: As the National Student Poet for the Southwest, I have strived to promote poetry as a form of healing and expression in multicultural groups of first- and second-generation immigrant youth, working with the Child Advocates at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights in San Antonio and with the Refugee Services of Texas in Dallas to reach groups of people that can benefit from poetry.

For National Poetry Month, I held readings and workshops around my region, the Southwest. I had the great honor of reading at the Phoenix Art Museum alongside the incredible poets Ada Limon and Eloisa Amezcua, reading and holding workshops for students at Albuquerque prep schools, and using poetry to work with middle-school students at a reservation for Pueblo Native American reservation, among other audiences I had the privilege to reach in these states.

I: Do you have any suggestions for how public and school librarians can help develop an appreciation for poetry in youth?

C: The way poetry is taught in most public schools is, in my opinion, not the best, and promotes the rigid idea of poetry as antiquated or esoteric. This creates the unfortunate problem in which many students go through school believing poetry can’t be for them to enjoy, write, connect with, or even understand.

An important step for me in my childhood was reading Latinx literature, moving from Sandra Cisneros’s vignettes – which delivered short, powerful messages about the tragedy of being a young Latina – to eventually finding gripping work from Francisco X. Alarcon and Juan Felipe Herrera, then finding a groove of poetry about heritage that I treasured. Even if students don’t identify with a certain culture, finding contemporary poets who write on subjects they can connect with and appreciate is critical to enabling their own voices.

Ada Limon, who I had the immense honor of reading with during National Poetry Month, wrote a book called Bright Dead Things, which is among my favorites and speaks on a spectrum of subjects from grief and sacrifice, to empowerment and love, using themes as varied as death, want, need, home, and racehorses. The great thing about this kind of poetry is that anyone can fall in love with it. Current U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith is another wonderful poet I feel should be shared with young people.

One good method for disseminating good poetry among young people is through methods like one used by the Poetry Coalition, circulating postcards with Smith’s poem “Flores Woman” in efforts to facilitate Americans interacting with poetry and potentially discovering something meaningful to them.

I: As your year as a National Student Poet comes to a close, what’s next for you?

C: I’ll end my year of service by reading at Carnegie Hall in New York for the National Ceremony of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards – I’ll also be attending the Aspen Ideas Festival with my fellow poets, and this fall we’ll be at the appointment ceremony of the next Class of National Student Poets at the Library of Congress.

After that, I’ll be attending Harvard University in the fall, studying History and Literature. This summer I’ll be interning at federal court like I did last summer; I hope to attend law school after graduating from college.

To learn more about Camila’s experience and message, please join us for a Facebook Live interview with her on Thursday, May 24th @ 10:30am (Central Time). Camila will read some of her work and we will have the opportunity to take a deeper look at the experiences that have shaped her poetry and her journey.

Come with your questions and don’t miss this chance to hear a powerful youth voice!

Facebook Live Interview with Camila Sanmiguel

2019 TSLAC competitive grant cycle is now open

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has opened its 2019 competitive grants cycle. Applications are due March 8, 2018.

The agency expects $1.7 million to be available in federal funds from the U. S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support programs running from September 2018-August 2019. More than $2.1 million in federal funds was awarded for 68 grants for the FY 2018 grant period, which ends August 31, 2018. Lists of current and past subrecipients are available on TSLAC’s website.

Eligible Texas public and academic libraries can apply for up to six projects with maximum grant awards ranging from $10,000 to $75,000. While they are not eligible to apply directly, other entities, such as nonprofit and community organizations and school districts can partner with eligible libraries. Collaborative projects, as well as those focusing on community engagement, are strongly encouraged.

The following grant programs are now accepting applications:

Texas Reads — To promote reading and literacy in local communities through public libraries (up to $10,000 per award)

Impact — To encourage libraries to create or expand innovative programming and services in three  focus areas — Business/Workforce Development and Digital Literacy, Family and Early Childhood Literacy, and E-content Access and Delivery  (up to $10,000 per award)

Special Projects — To expand library services to all members of the library’s community, including developing programs for populations with special needs (up to $75,000 per award)

TexTreasures — To make special or unique collections more accessible to library users and researchers across Texas and beyond (Basic: up to $7,500; Original: up to $25,000 for single applicants, up to $35,000 for collaborative projects)

Program guidelines are available on the TSLAC website. For more information, contact Erica McCormick, TSLAC’s competitive grants administrator, at, 512-463-5527 or 800-252-9386 (toll-free for Texas).

TSLAC recommends that potential applicants attend and/or view the following webinars:
• 2019 Funding Opportunities – TSLAC Competitive Grants – Wednesday, January 24, 2018; 1:30-2:30 p.m. (archived)
• Applying for TSLAC Grants: What You Need To Know for FY 2019 – Wednesday, January 31, 2018; 1:30-3 p.m.

Program changes
Those familiar with TSLAC grants will notice the absence of the Library Cooperation Grant. The Library Cooperation Grant will no longer accept applications for new projects as it winds down to make way for new grant programs. TSLAC will allow 2018 Library Cooperation grantees to apply for a second or third year of funding as allowed under the program.

TSLAC has also added a program under its competitive grant umbrella — the Family Place Libraries™ Project. Implemented at TSLAC in 2015, the Family Place Libraries™ Project has helped 57 Texas libraries develop Family Place Library spaces. Family Place Libraries™ promote a national model for transforming public libraries into welcoming, developmentally appropriate early learning environments for young children, their parents, and caregivers. The Family Place Libraries™ grant cycle runs on a different schedule from the other grant programs. For more information on upcoming application cycles or the program itself, please contact Bethany Wilson at, 512-463-4856, or 800-252-9386 (toll-free for Texas).