ALA/Public Library Association News

Last month the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), launched new survey and a newly-released portal in which to complete it and view results. This supports PLA’S ongoing efforts to provide public libraries with tools for data-driven leadership.

By now, libraries may have received invitations to participate in the 2021 Public Library Staff and Diversity Survey. PLA has invited all public libraries to complete this survey to help understand public library staff roles, hiring and retention practices, and equity, diversity, and inclusion work. The survey was developed by PLA’s Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Committee in response to field-wide discussions and demand for actionable data about evolving staff roles and diversity and inclusion efforts.

Access the survey through PLA’s new data tool, Benchmark: Library Metrics and Trends. This tool, which replaces the Public Library Data Service (PLDS), reduces redundancy in data collection and capture, and allows libraries to use peer comparisons to better understand library performance. It complements the results of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Public Library Survey data. Log-in credentials can be obtained by emailing

According to the website,

All public libraries have free access that allows them to:

View a summary page with selected metrics and visualizations for the library, its primary peer group, and all libraries nationwide.

See the library’s responses submitted to past PLA and PLDS surveys.

View and complete open surveys.

Manage the library’s contact information and contact preferences to ensure your library receives invitations to participate in future surveys.

Access resources about the data, the surveys, and how to use Benchmark.

Additional features can be accessed by subscribers to the tool. Public library subscriptions cost $400 annually, with discounts available for PLA members and survey participants.

More information about the development and benefits of the Benchmark tool can be found in this press release from ALA.

As a state agency, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) does not promote or discourage participation in this survey or tool. Libraries are encouraged to take advantage of whatever sources of research, data, and information that assist their marketing and advocacy efforts.

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:

For more information, please see:

ALA 2019: Reflections and Highlights

In June, staff members from Library Development and Networking here at the Texas State Library had the wonderful opportunity to attend the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington D.C. To spread the knowledge we gained by attending, we wanted to take a moment and highlight the sessions that we found the most enlightening and valuable.

Youth Services Consultant

The program that resonated most with me this year was Empowering Digital Citizens: Public Programming to Fight Fake News. The presenter was engaging and the program was interactive and fun. She began the presentation with a game in which we had to choose the fake news story out of a series of three sample stories. She went on to explain that 85% of us have been taken in by fake news and it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on ways to identify it and avoid it. We were provided with the acronym ESCAPE which stands for the following:

E: Evidence-do the facts hold up?

S: Source-who made this and can I trust them?

C: Context-what’s the big picture?

A: Audience-who is the intended audience?

P: Purpose-why was this made?

E: Execution-how is this information presented?

By asking ourselves these questions when faced with a potentially fake news story, we have a better chance of discerning if what we are looking at is true, fake, or biased news. For more information about fake news and access to this presentation, please visit The presenter explained that all resources on the site are free and available for use in classrooms and at library programs.

Erica McCormick, Grants Administrator

One of the benefits of attending ALA is that it is very enlightening in terms of library programming. Our grant programs support library programming of all kinds, so being able to hear in person and learn from libraries throughout the country about their programming is a great opportunity. Yes, you can read abstract articles on programming, but there is something different about hearing in person the successes and challenges of meeting community needs with effective programming. The sessions I chose to attend allowed me to explore the different types of programming I could potentially see in future grant proposals, such as health outreach, board games as a learning vehicle, programming targeting those experiencing homelessness or the opioid epidemic, as well as popular programming ideas for any type of library. Each library community has different needs and wants. These ALA sessions helped inform me on how TSLAC can best support the programming efforts of our constituents through grants.

Kyla Hunt, Library Management Consultant

One of the most valuable sessions I attended this year was the Social Workers in Public Libraries: Lessons Learned panel. This session featured a panel of public library social workers from across the country, sharing their experiences and answering questions from the audience. Attending this program highlighted for me the increase in social workers in libraries since social workers started appearing in libraries about ten years ago. The practice of having a social worker on staff was started by the San Francisco Public Library around 2009-2010, and has grown throughout the country to include examples in Texas such as the Georgetown Public Library.

This session emphasized that there are many ways that social workers can approach the needs of a library’s community. If you’re interested in learning more about social work in public libraries, the Public Library Association (PLA) is hosting an online Social Work in Public Libraries Virtual Forum Series; registration information can be found here:  

Liz Philippi, School Program Coordinator

Every year the American Association of School Librarians (a division of ALA) puts together a list of the best apps and websites for librarians and educators. The link to the Best Apps and the Best Websites can be found on the AASL website but are also linked here. Both have some excellent resources that can be used with children of all ages. Next year the two lists will be combined into one called the Best Tools for Teaching and Learning. A few of the stand out apps were; Tynker, Wakelet, EarthViewer, and Figment AR  most are free. A few of the stand out websites were; Empatico, Genially, Brush Ninja, and Storyline Online.

Help Needed on List of Lists: An Index of Diversity Book Lists for Adults Project

Rachel Ivy Clarke, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies and Sayward Schoonmaker, MLIS, Syracuse University are asking public libraries across the United States to contribute to their indexing project, List of Lists: An Index of Diversity Book Lists for Adults.

You can contribute your library’s diversity books lists, LibGuides or similar resources publicly available online between 2016 and present using their Google form link. They would like responses by September 1, 2019.

Google form:  

This project aims to advance the good work of diversity book lists by collecting and indexing lists into a faceted-search website where librarians and library users can search for lists organized around particular components of diversity. They are seeking reading lists that cover a wide range of diversities: indigeneity, LGBTQ+, race and ethnicity, religion, gender, aging, disability, social and economic conditions such as incarceration, immigration, and diverse family structures. 

You can indicate in the Google form if you want to be notified when the project is complete, and they will share the index with you!

The project is funded by the American Library Association’s Carnegie-Whitney Grant (

Thank you in advance for considering and contributing to this project.

If you have any questions, please contact them at the emails below.

Sayward Schoonmaker, MLIS, Syracuse University,

Rachel Ivy Clarke, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies,

ALA Midwinter 2019 Highlights

In January, staff from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission had the opportunity to attend ALA Midwinter 2019 in Seattle. We wanted to share a few highlights. Enjoy!

Jennifer Peters, Director of Library Development & Networking

This is my second visit to ALA Midwinter. Midwinter is less overwhelming than ALA Annual, and offers good opportunities to connect with other state library staff. This enables us to share information, ask for guidance, and find out what other Library Development programs are up to. Interestingly, every state library does things a little differently. Not every state library is an independent agency; some are part of a larger state organization like a Department of Education. Some states offer online databases; others do not, or offer only a handful. Similarly, some states offer competitive grants, while others choose to direct all of their funding into statewide programs. It’s interesting to see the variety. Because of our size, Texas is able to offer more programs than some other states; on the flip side, Library Development teams in smaller states are able to develop much closer relationships with the smaller number of librarians they serve. 

There aren’t as many professional development opportunities at Midwinter as there are at ALA Annual, or even at TLA! I sat through a few sessions, but mainly attended meetings of state library staff. I was fortunate to hear two keynote speakers and they were the highlights of my Midwinter experience. The first was Eric Klinenberg, author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. The second was Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. Both were extremely thought-provoking, a little unsettling at times, but ultimately had strong implications for libraries and the people we serve.

Katherine Adelberg, Manager, Continuing Education and Consulting

Spending time with other State Library staff, and meeting Texas librarians were the highlights of Midwinter. No matter which session or meeting I attended, there was almost always another Texan in the room. I had some fantastic conversations, and came away more impressed than ever at how active Texas librarians are at the national level.

I attended some great sessions, too. The most inspiring session featured advice from a panel of library leaders, including the Washington State Librarian and the directors of the Chicago, Seattle, Sonoma County, and King County Library Systems. One particularly memorable exchange involved a discussion of how libraries are about experiences, and those experiences include waiting for the elevator, paying a fine, etc. There was also a great discussion of risk-taking in leadership, and knowing whether you prefer leading from the front, or from the middle.

The most practical session I attended was an open forum on legal issues in public libraries, with a lawyer in attendance. Among the issues discussed were first amendment audits (these have happened in several cities and libraries in Texas), recording video in the library, service animals, participation waivers related to virtual reality, and access to libraries before and after staff hours. This guide to recording laws from the Texas State Law Library may be helpful.

Liz Philippi, School Program Coordinator

What a great conference and luckily, we were there a couple of weeks before Seattle’s record snowfall! Most of my highlights from this conference were attending sessions on Computational Thinking (this a critical thinking skill, not just coding!) and OER (Open Educational Resources).

The session on computational thinking centered around the “Libraries Ready to Code” initiative which involved both public and school libraries. The most interesting thing about this session was when the presenter asked the audience whether computational thinking should be part of a state’s curriculum standards. The responses generally agreed with me – a resounding YES! Teaching computational thinking from an early age through curriculum integration (not using computers) is foundational for our students today. So be on the lookout for more programs, information, and buzz about computational thinking.

The session on OER started by defining what OER is and the variations it can take. Then they talked about why we need OER and finally where do we go to develop good OER practices. The website OER Commons is a great place to start and if you do go there make sure you check out the “Groups” and “Hubs” sections there is a lot of great stuff there. Finally attending the AASL meetings was a highlight as always. Talking to librarians all over the US always reminds me of how great you all are!