Free Webinar: The Library’s Role in Connecting Texans to Internet Access

County map of Texas depicting different percentages of broadband availability. Data collected and mapped by ConnectedTexas.

Almost one million Texans do not have access to high-speed internet access in their homes, but what role do libraries and library workers play in ensuring home connectivity? 

On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. (Central), join Mark Smith, State Librarian and Director of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and Eddy Smith, Executive Director of the Abilene Library Consortium and Texas Library Association representative to the Governor’s Broadband Development Council, for a free webinar. They will discuss the current landscape of internet access in Texas. You’ll learn why Texans do not have equitable access to high-speed internet (broadband), what potential solutions—including funding—may exist to level the playing field, and how libraries and library workers can play a role in ensuring a future of statewide connectivity.

Registration for this webinar can be found on our Continuing Education webinars page.

Help Us Build a Map of Free WiFi in Texas

Map of texas with WiFi points; description of joint project between TSLAC, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and Texas Legal Services Center.

Texans need WiFi access and we need your help building an authoritative map of free WiFi locations in Texas!  

If your library offers freely accessible WiFi that individuals can connect to outside as well as inside of the building, we encourage you to fill out the below form. The information you provide will populate a map that will be shared publicly with Texans needing free WiFi access. 

Fill out this short form to add your organization to the map: https://arcg.is/0TOPvu0
*If you have multiple branches for your library location, please fill out the form for each branch.
*Please provide as much specific information about each individual location as possible, including library hours and places where WiFi is easily reachable. Fill out the form as if you were someone who had never visited your library before.
*Help us avoid duplicate submissions by checking to see if your location has already been added. View the live map here

The interactive tool provides Texans with the following information for each WiFi hotspot:

  • Instructions on how to access the WiFi network map
  • WiFi hours of operation
  • Additional nearby services
  • Options to view the map in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, as well as a mobile-friendly version

The form will take less than 5 minutes to complete. We ask that you fill out the form promptly so that we can get the information to those who need it. Together, we can help connect Texans to the internet during a highly sensitive time. 

This is a joint project of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas Legal Services Center / TexasLawHelp.com, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. For more information or for questions, please email the project team at TexasWifiMap@tlsc1.org. If you have library-specific questions, feel free to contact me at cfisher@tsl.texas.gov.

For more information on how libraries can support digital inclusion initiatives like this one, visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/tech/digitalinclusion.

TSLAC CARES Grant Program is accepting applications!

On Friday, May 8, 2020, Bethany Wilson, 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 Bethany Wilson, Grants Administrator at bwilson@tsl.texas.gov.

Introducing Edge 2.0 – An Updated Tool to Help you Assess, Manage, and Communicate the Need for Your Library’s Technology!

Technology inspires both enthusiasm and anxiety. It brings convenience and frustration. And it encourages opportunities for innovation and failure.  The constant juggling of expectations is as exciting as it is stressful. It follows that decision making about library technology means juggling all of these emotions too.  That’s why TSLAC is really excited to announce that Edge 2.0 is launching on Monday, February 11th!

This nationally renowned tool is designed to assist you in balancing these competing priorities and emotions. If you aren’t already familiar with Edge, it is an online assessment (not a test!) that helps library leaders like you make data informed decisions to align your technology resources to community priorities.  This tool is free for all accredited Texas public libraries. In addition, Texas is one of the first states to roll out the new Edge platform state-wide.

The Edge team spent the last year revising the system to ensure that Edge addresses the evolving role of libraries and the needs and priorities of the communities they serve.  Highlights of Edge 2.0 include:

  • An updated Assessment expanding the scope from a focus on public access technology to a broader focus on the libraries’ role in digital literacy and digital inclusion to support the technology needs of your patrons and community.
  • New customizable Peer Comparison Reports that allow libraries to compare results to libraries serving similar populations, with similar sized budgets, libraries in their state and libraries in their region to help identify opportunities to better serve their community needs and priorities.
  • A new Edge platform that improves the user experience by providing a more dynamic, simplified, and interactive interface.

What you Need to Know About Edge 2.0

For more information about Edge review before their new website goes live go to https://www.tsl.texas.gov/edge or contact TSLAC Edge program manager Cindy Fisher at cfisher@tsl.texas.gov or (512) 463-4855 or 800-252-9386 (Toll-free in Texas).