Deadline Approaching for TSLAC CARES Grant Program

The deadline to apply for the TSLAC CARES Grant Program is approaching soon! The first round of funding is closing on Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Please be sure to submit your completed applications and all required documents by the deadline.

The goal of the TSLAC CARES Grant Program is to:

  • Fund the expansion of digital access in areas of Texas where such access is lacking, including the purchase of internet-enabled devices and provisions for technical support services in response to the disruption of schooling and other community services during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Fund efforts that prevent, prepare for, and respond to situations arising from the COVID-19 emergency.

Funding is provided by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). TSLAC will conduct at least two grant cycles utilizing CARES Act funds with approximately $250,000 expected to be available for Cycle 1. Funding can be utilized retroactively to cover expenses incurred beginning April 21, 2020. Please note that expenses incurred before April 21, 2020 are not eligible for reimbursement.

Questions?
Please visit our TSLAC CARES Grant Program webpage for more application and more information. If you have questions or need assistance with the application process, please contact Grants Administrator at grants@tsl.texas.gov.

TSLAC CARES Grant Program is accepting applications!

On Friday, May 8, 2020, TSLAC Grants Administrator and Erica McCormick, TSLAC Program Coordinator, provided a webinar to cover the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) CARES Grant Program. In this webinar, our TSLAC staff provided a funding overview, as well as important details about the grant program and award information. They also answered questions from attendees and provided instructions on how to apply for the grant.

If you missed this webinar, don’t worry! Visit the TSLAC archived webinars page to access the recording and accompanying slides. Please note that registration is required to access this free recording.

About the TSLAC CARES Grant Program

TSLAC CARES Grant Program will fund community needs identified by Texas libraries in areas of digital access and inclusion. Funding can go towards 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 project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to TSLAC under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

TSLAC CARES Grant program is OPEN and accepting applications for the first cycle of funding. Completed applications and all required documents must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central Time, Sunday, May 31, 2020.

To learn more about the TSLAC CARES Grant Program, please visit www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/cares and if you have questions about the TSLAC CARES Grant Program or need assistance with the application process, please contact Grants Administrator at grants@tsl.texas.gov.

Communicating the Value of Library Workers in a Library Temporarily Closed to the Public

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Say it again louder for those in the back: Library workers are more than the people who check out your books. Libraries are important, and this message has been expressed in Mark Smith’s recent blog post, “The importance of libraries during and after coronavirus.”

With many libraries shuttering their doors or modifying services to assist in social distancing, we have heard from directors and other library workers concerned about how to best communicate the value of their library workers if they are not currently physically public facing. We know that it is important at this time to be able to articulate to both the public and to libraries’ governing authorities what library workers are doing to benefit communities.

What are libraries doing now?

First, we want to outline four clear ways that library workers illustrate their value even with library doors closed. Be mindful to log the hours of all of the work that goes into library services; this both gives library staff a sense of accomplishment and provides an easy way to show all of the work your staff is currently doing.

Library workers are community connectors

Libraries help bring their communities together. This doesn’t stop when the physical space is temporarily not being used. Our recent blog post by Library Technology Consultant Henry Stokes, “HHH: Virtual Branch,” provides some valuable programming ideas drawn from what libraries are doing with their community while their physical locations are closed. As Henry states, “the virtual branch is still the people.” Some additional interesting examples of programming can be found on the website of the Lewisville Public Library.

Library workers help find information

Virtually, too!

The public is used to going to the library for community and government information. Whether it’s to find tax forms, census information, or mental health or shelter resources, public library workers are used to connecting their community to the resources they need. In this time of social distancing, libraries can provide information regarding many (if not most) of these services online or via telephone. Patrons may be in immediate need of finding information on requesting aid or unemployment benefits; now is the time to assist patrons in finding this information and partnering with the offices that provide this aid.

Library workers are curating information and maintaining online resources

A relatively easy way to provide information to patrons is curating information and maintaining an accurate list of online resources. Look at resources outside of traditional library resources for information related to government aid and unemployment information. Some resources related to Texas-specific services that you may want to highlight include:

These resources, and more, are included on our Texas Statewide Resources section of our COVID-19 Information and Resources for Librarians page.

Some great Texas library examples for online curations include pages from the McAllen Public Library and the Georgetown Public Library.

Library workers make sure you still have a reading escape

Libraries are used to providing online resources, and now is the time to leverage these for the entertainment and stress release of your patrons. In addition to the e-reading and other digital services that your library usually offers, many publishers and e-resources are providing free access in this time of crisis. Make a one-stop shop for your patrons where they can easily find these resources.

Some libraries, such as the Cedar Park Public Library, are also promoting temporary online library cards for those who do not have current cards; this may be a solution worth investigating.

What can we do going forward?

Do a skill inventory

Does your library staff have special skills? Even if the skill doesn’t have anything to do with traditional library work, it may be a skill that could be useful to your community. Conduct an informal inventory of special skills that your library staff may be able to share and develop with members of the community or other library staff.

Not sure what a skills inventory looks like? Here are some example worksheets about the process:

Do a connection inventory

Now is the time to connect with outside, local organizations and find a way you can partner with them. What connections does your library staff have to outside organizations that can help the community? Encourage your staff to communicate what organizations they talk with, volunteer with, or have other connections with. Organizations to work with could include the Texas Workforce Commission, your local unemployment office, local schools, local animal shelters, and other government institutions.

“Show up” in the community where people weren’t expecting you

This doesn’t have to mean showing up in person! Be a virtual resource that your child’s school sends out. Partner with local businesses organizations to provide direct information assistance. Reach out to nonprofits and other organizations to see if they need their services featured on your website. Organizations that you assist in these times will be interested in partnering with you in the future.

Build the skills of your library staff

Finally, be sure that you can show your governing authorities that your library staff is working to build skills that will help serve your community in these new times. Identify potential needs in your local community, and locate training opportunities that meet these needs. Provide opportunities during the workday and incentives for completing continuing education hours. And again, be sure to hold on to those completion certificates!

What is your library staff doing?

What duties are your library staff performing during the COVID-19 crisis? Share in the comments; we’d love to hear!