Yes, We’re Open: Talking with the Nueces County Keach Family Library

Nueces County Keach Family Library staff on the front steps of the library.

We have received many questions regarding how libraries throughout the state of Texas are providing services to the public. To help answer these questions, we are continuing a blog post series titled Yes, We’re Open, which will interview library directors and workers throughout the state to provide snapshots in library response. In this third installment of the series, we interviewed Ida Gonzalez-Garza , Director of the Nueces County Keach Family Library in Robstown, Texas.

In Part 1 of this series, we interviewed Marisol Vidales, Director of the Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library in Mercedes. In Part 2, we spoke with Michael Hardrick, director of the Forest Hill Public Library.

In what ways is your library open to the public?

Our librarians and staff are providing virtual online services to our patrons via Facebook Video (Live). We also created Facebook groups for our Summer Reading Program and Family Place families to provide LIVE videos and important information, as well as the Nueces County Public Libraries YouTube page. Our staff has been providing our patrons an online calendar of events for all our virtual programming. Our services and activities include:

  1. Virtual arts and crafts activities
  2. Virtual Storytime
  3. Kahoot!TM online trivia
  4. Virtual Sensory Storytime
  5. “Goodnight” Storytime
  6. Virtual escape room
  7. Nintendo Switch Mario Kart tournaments
  8. Mr. Kippy’s Storytime
  9. Science and Discover online program
  10. Bookmark contests in July and August 
  11. Curbside services – books and audiovisual materials for patrons and free books giveaway 
  12. Conducting inventories at two libraries and weeding library collections
  13. Online book display– Patrons can place these books on hold for curbside delivery 
  14. Book A Librarian – Virtually. Ask a Librarian for help finding books, movies, audiovisual materials; basic technology questions; research guidance for business and finance; legal resources; and more
  15. Nueces County Public Libraries Monthly Newsletter
  16. Free Wi-Fi at both county libraries, accessible from the libraries’ parking lot
  17. Promoting Nueces County Online “Art Gallery”. Patrons are submitting artwork and promote on our library website to the community.
  18. Summer Reading Program virtual: We use READsquared (online reading program) and have great success with our numbers. During this time our librarians’ and staff held virtual events, missions on READsquared, writing prompts on READsquared they submitted to our librarians to request codes, and Zoom programs such as Austin Reptile Show (Registration Required) and held live videos on our Facebook Group with Magician John O’Bryant.
  19. We are promoting our ONLINE database resources. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we decided to utilize our book and audio-visual materials budget to subscribe to new online database resources. Our county judge is knowledgeable in the services that libraries are providing and the technology we have to offer and wanted us to subscribe to more online databases, making them available to our patrons.
  20. Sesame Street – Ebooks
  21. World Book online (distance learning) Pre-School to High School databases (FY2020)
  22. Hoopla Digital Resources
  23. RB DIGITAL / Hoonuit, Universal Class and Transparent Language (FY2020)
  24. Libby Overdrive
  25. SimplyE
  26. KHAN Academy – 1,800 video tutorials, math, science, history, finance, and test prep.
  27. Ebsco Flipster Online Magazine Subscription
  28. Proquest Ancestry (FY 2020)
  29. READsquared  – Reading program to promote children, teen, and adult programming.
  30. TexShare Databases
Flier advertising that curbside services are available now.

How have your library’s policies and procedures changed?

We did NOT have a pandemic policy in place, so we created one and then revised twice with changes that we did not expect. But I have been fortunate that we have supportive county governing authority and our emergency management department has also been very supportive during this pandemic. Of course, I have a very young staff who have been adaptive to the changes and are trying to cope with the strain of the challenges in the workplace.

How have you adapted your library space?

The first thing that we did was request plexiglass for our circulation desks. We didn’t have any problems getting this request filled for our libraries. I have also submitted a capital outlay request for permanent glass to be installed at the main branch and small branch areas for aesthetic pleasing purposes, but I know that this is going to be an expensive request. Due to time and funding, I chose to ask for this separately for next year’s budget. The plexiglass is a little flimsy, and it may secure enough to last the whole year. We received distance markers for the floor and our public works department has provided signage for the patrons to see that it is mandatory to wear face masks on premises. We have also moved our furniture and we will NOT be providing seating for patrons to sit and lounge in Phase I-III. We will NOT allow patrons to search for books in the stacks either. We will have all these areas inaccessible to the patrons.  We are using our multi-purpose room to quarantine our books. Our library staff enters the library after picking up the books from the book drop boxes, and they immediately quarantine the materials. We have also removed all our chairs for our seating areas so that when we open to the general public, they do not stay. We do not have any idea when this is going to happen. We still have a high rate of COVID-19 cases being reported and many deaths. We will be ready when this happens. We keep getting messages from patrons who want to know when we are going to open, and we tell them that we don’t know.

What services are you providing to vulnerable populations?

Our libraries are in the rural northwest and south, so we don’t have any homeless population at this time. Our service population is small, but we still communicate with all our school districts and offer our services to them. We have been trying to partner with our county community senior services department that delivers homebound meals to the elderly population, but it has been challenging. We are providing services to rural school districts that do not have the technology for their students. Our county judge had purchased iPads for the libraries to use while providing STEM technology training, and she asked us to allow the students in these rural areas to check them out the latter part of the spring semester. We may have to loan these out at the beginning of the school year to the schools that do not have any iPads.

How are you helping your staff during this time?

Nueces County is COVID-19 testing all of our staff for free, and they are also providing counseling. Our human resources department is very supportive, and they have sent us emails telling us to contact them if anyone needs help coping or referrals. The county is providing incentives to keep up morale, and try to keep a low-stress environment. 

Not all of our staff can work from home because of their job duties, and, since we are still technically open and trying to fill book requests, some of our staff has to stay in the library and work. The Keach Family Library librarians are working from home one or two days out of the week. All our other staff stays here at the library working.

Describe your decision-making process.

Our service population is 31,530, but the rural counties that do not have libraries may receive a free library card with restrictions. Our governing authority has never questioned our decision to allow people from other counties to use our libraries without assessing a service fee. The county judge and commissioners decided to close our libraries. We stayed working at the libraries, conducting inventory of all our materials at both libraries. Our libraries have been closed since March when the pandemic started. We are providing curbside services and virtual Storytime and arts and crafts for patrons. At the end of June, I contacted the emergency management department and asked if we could re-open for enhanced services and they said, “NO.” The numbers at that time were barely going up. At this time, we may be closing in a few weeks and going back to Phase 1 due to a HUGE increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Nueces County. I am very fortunate to have great support from our Commissioners Court administration and our County Judge.

How did you communicate with your governing authority?

I have a great communication with our County Judge and Commissioners, and they listen to our concerns. We receive directives regarding closures and re-opening stages from the Commissioners Court. We also have an emergency management department that is under the directive of the county judge, offering guidance to our department.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Nueces County Keach Family library Summer Reading winners sitting outside in front of yard signs that say “a library champion lives here.”

Accreditation and the Pandemic: The 2020 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, an FAQ

We acknowledge the hard work that public libraries did under very trying circumstances to submit their Annual Reports for 2019. Five hundred and forty libraries completed their reports, only three fewer than last year. We know that this was a challenge for many of you, and we appreciate your efforts to provide this important information to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). As State Librarian and Director Mark Smith published recently, we feel your pain; we are all in this together.

Having anxiety about potential loss of accreditation due to circumstances beyond your control is understandable. We recognize that this year’s circumstances are extraordinary and will require a considered approach to both reporting and accreditation. There are legal requirements relating to accreditation that our agency must follow. It is our intention to bring together our agency leadership and in-house counsel to review these requirements and determine the best way to proceed.

We do not have all the answers yet but hope to have a plan that we can share with you by the end of the summer. We have your concerns in mind and will be working on providing some concrete information as soon as we can. Be assured that we will work on a broad solution to help libraries the best way possible.

There have been many questions about the 2020 Annual Report and accreditation. Here is where we stand on those issues at present: If this FAQ does not answer your question, contact us at accreditation@tsl.texas.gov.

Q:  Our expenditures this year will not meet the library’s maintenance of effort (MOE). How can the library stay accredited?

A:  This issue is in discussion with staff here at TSLAC. Rules for accreditation are in Texas Administrative Code, so we must weigh in with in-house counsel as well as our commission. We hope to develop solutions and guidance over the next few months, including review by the Library Systems Act (LSA) Advisory Board in the fall.

Q:  We are facing budget cuts for the coming fiscal year or years, due to loss of tax revenue during the pandemic. How can the library stay accredited?

A:  Continue to submit the Annual Report. There may be indirect costs that can make up the difference. Alternatively, city- or county-wide cuts can form the basis of an appeal to the LSA Board.

Q:  Our library is closed for an indefinite time. Should we still submit an Annual Report?

A:  YES! The annual communication from your library to ours is vital for so many reasons. Outside of accreditation, the statistics we generate form a state- and nationwide picture of the role and value of libraries that should not be lost, even if our facilities are closed.

Q:  Our facility is not open to the public, but staff are working. Is the library open?

A:  Yes and… We expect to see fewer open hours on the 2020 report. Everyone is aware of the impact the pandemic has had on businesses, government, recreation, the economy, etc., so this will be reflected in the Annual Report. When reporting “hours open,” this is the number of hours the building is open to the public. You will have the opportunity to report the actual service hours–the hours that the staff has been answering questions, providing curbside delivery, cleaning, and weeding–at another place in the Report.

Q: How do we count library visits?

A:  Follow the current definition. These will be down since the library building is not open to the public. Curbside service will be reflected in the library’s circulation numbers, staff responses to questions will be reported in reference transactions, programs and attendance counts will be reported, as well.

Q:  All of our programs are now virtual. Will this be counted differently?

A:  Yes! For live programs that are held online count total or peak views. Recorded programs do not follow the existing definition but should be tracked and tallied for the library’s stakeholders. More information on this will be published on the Annual Report webpage, https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport.

Q:  We now leave our Wi-Fi on 24 hour and have expanded its range. How do we report this?

A:  Wi-Fi sessions must be tracked using software on the library’s router. More information on how to do this can be found here:  Count Your Wi-Fi Usage.

IMLS Releases 2017 Public Libraries Survey Data

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has published the dataset from the 2017 Public Libraries Survey. This provides a look at public library use, financial health, staffing, and resources from reporting year 2017.

Cover of 2017 Public Libraries Survey

For over 30 years, IMLS has published this information collected from over 9,000 public library systems representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories.

According to IMLS Director Crosby Kemper, “Libraries continue to connect with their communities and provide services that support the needs and interests of their patrons, including access to digital materials. We are pleased to share the latest version of IMLS’s annual survey, which shows that attendance at library events is up, indicating an understanding of what the community wants from their library.”

Highlights in this report:

  • There were over 1.3 billion visits to libraries by 55% of those who lived in an area serviced by a public library.
  • Programs and program attendance increased significantly over 2016. There were 5.6 million programs attended by 118 million children, young adults and adults.
  • Electronic resources continue to grow, and their popularity has increased. Public libraries offered over 463.5 million e-books to their patrons.

Texas State Library staff truly appreciate the librarians and library directors who contributed to these findings, through their submission of the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report.  This information is vital to policymakers, researchers, journalists and the general public, to help evaluate and plan for libraries now and in the future.

Yes, We’re Open: Talking with the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library

We have received many questions regarding how libraries throughout the state of Texas are providing services to the public. To help answer these questions, we are starting a blog post series titled Yes, We’re Open, which will interview library directors and workers throughout the state to provide snapshots in library response. In this first installment of the series, we interviewed Marisol Vidales at the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library in Mercedes, TX.

Marisol Vidales, woman smiling
Marisol Vidales

In what ways is your library open to the public?

We are currently open at 50% capacity and providing the majority of our services which include circulation of materials, scanning, copying, faxing, and computer use. The library also runs its own café so we have opened that as well. The only two things we have been unable to provide is in person programming and meeting room use. We don’t want to encourage gatherings and so we have held those services back. We also have continued to offer curbside pickup for our café and circulation for those patrons who prefer that. We know cases are rising in the state and we can understand our patrons’ concern with coming into the library.

How have your library’s policies and procedures changed?

The main change is in how we handle material. When we receive items through the mail or book drop we handle everything with gloves. We set aside the mail and newspapers for 24 hours before making them available to the public. We also set aside books and DVD’s for 72 hours before shelving the items and of course prior to shelving them we sanitize the outside of the material. Even within the library we ask patrons to use the indoor book drop when returning items. Due to items not being checked in immediately we have also become more generous with our checkout limit and we take the patron’s word that they returned the items. We also enacted automatic renewals so patrons have even more time with our materials and less of a possibility of incurring fines. It is a very difficult time financially for the majority of the world and we don’t want to add to that burden.

How have you adapted your library space?

Library building
Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library

To ensure we are providing the recommended 6-foot distance we have removed a lot of our furniture or placed caution tape on the areas that are not available. The few fabric couches we have we moved to our meeting room because we find those more difficult to sanitize. Essentially, our newly remodeled meeting room has become our storage area for all our excess furniture. We also have less computers available for the public due to the 6-foot guideline. We adapted by using our online catalogs as computers as well and providing laptops for check out within the library. We have also marked our book stacks with entrance and exit signs. While we encourage patrons to ask us for the items they want we have not blocked access to the stacks. We also removed all toys, games, and colors from our Children’s Department.

What services are you providing to vulnerable populations?

The curbside service is one of the services we have available for everyone but we highly encourage vulnerable populations to use it. We find the items for the patron, check them out over the phone, and place them in the trunk of their car when they arrive so it is a contactless experience. We also recommend that vulnerable populations use our audio and electronic books through RB Digital so they don’t even have to leave their home. The Hidalgo County Library System was recently given $75,000 by the county so we can continue to expand the collection which has become increasingly important in a time like this. As far as services for children we have been holding a virtual story and craft time through Facebook Live. We have story time twice a week and the craft activity once a week. We want to be able to provide something fun and distracting for them and to keep the connection to the library going even when they can’t visit in person. For those patrons who do not have access to the internet at home we are offering our public computers with no time limits. We realize that some patrons may be job searching, filing for unemployment, or applying for assistance so we don’t want to time anyone. We also offer anyone who does not have a physical address an e-card so they can use our computers. We have made our wi-fi available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in our library parking lot.  I wish we were able to offer more such as wi-fi hot spots, bookmobiles, senior hours, removing all fines, etc.  but either due to budget constraints or policy we have been unable to offer that. I strongly advocate that whatever you have in your power to do to help vulnerable populations at this time whether psychically or financially don’t hesitate. Our communities need the help of libraries more than ever before.  

How are you helping your staff during reopening?

Mary Jane Hernandez and Isabel Mendoza

With the staff the main thing has been providing protection. Prior to reopening I looked into providing acrylic shields or sneeze guards for every circulation desk. Unfortunately, the cost was over $3,000 so the initial purchase was not approved. Having developed an excellent relationship with my Public Works Department we brainstormed on ways to make the shields in-house. Thankfully, we were able to make some out of clear vinyl and wood frames. We now have them in every area where the staff are dealing with the public and we were able to have them in place by the time we opened which was May 4. I also wanted staff to be comfortable in dealing with patrons out on the floor so we invested in face shields for everyone to provide that extra protection. We also have gloves, disposable masks, and hand sanitizer available for all the staff. Plus, every morning we are doing temperature checks with a touchless thermometer. All these precautions help keep us safe and lower the risk.

As far as mental and emotional support we have been meeting every Friday to address any concerns and any updates with regards to COVID-19. Our first meeting was prior to us opening and we implemented remote desktop on all our public computers so staff can assist patrons with computer questions while complying to social distancing. We also did a lot of role playing that day regarding patrons who may refuse to wear a mask or not comply with social distance. As things evolve we make sure to discuss it and have a clear message we want to portray.

Describe your decision-making process. How do you communicate with your governing authority?

I work for a fairly small municipality. We have a population of about 16,500. With that being said it is fairly easy to speak directly with our City Manager. Often, I propose changes or ask questions simply by email or text messages, which is great because it’s a faster response. If something I am proposing is more complicated then I do have to provide documentation such as memos with statistics to substantiate my request. Obviously, certain things are not within the city manager’s control such as direct changes to our policy manual or anything over $5,000 in cost. In those instances, I do run everything by my City Manager first to get his approval and suggestions. If it’s dealing with policy, it does have to go by my Library Board and then City Commission. If it’s funding then it has to go to City Commission.

Resources for a library’s physical space during COVID-19

Libraries throughout the state of Texas provide invaluable services to their patrons both in and out of their buildings through analog and virtual means. Many libraries in Texas are currently going through the process of reopening their physical locations following COVID-19 related closures. As we have received many questions regarding reopening strategies, we wanted to take a moment to share the following resources that may be helpful when planning or continuing the process of reopening your library’s physical location.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Reopening Libraries: Resource Guide https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ld/ldn/COVID/TSLAC_Return_to_Work_Libraries_Resources_2020.pdf Created in May 2020, this guide provides a series of questions to consider with the library’s governing authority when considering reopening the library’s physical space.

Library reopening plans: early June https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Bpo352zUEB8E69v-kcqGmGAfk35FoQPWY3ngGzmp4a8/edit#heading=h.dnn1qwey9xav A compilation of Texas library responses to the Texas State Library regarding reopening plans in June 2020. Libraries are identified by population size.

Reopening Under COVID-19: A Space Planning Approach (Public Library Association) https://ala.informz.net/ala/data/images/PL_Reopening%20Under%20COVID%2019.pdf A space planning guide published by the Public Library Association complete with specific idea and considerations when reopening the library’s physical space. The guide was written by David Vinjamuri and Joe Huberty.

To continue sharing updates from libraries, we are starting a blog post series titled Yes We’re Open, which will include interviews with library directors and workers throughout the state to provide snapshots of library response. We will begin this blog post series soon, so stay tuned!

We feel your pain: From The Director’s Report

The following post is from State Librarian Mark Smith’s blog, The Director’s Report.

It is a hard time to be library worker.

When much of society went home to shelter in place in mid-March, most library staff did the same. By late March, most Texas libraries were closed. TSLAC closed its public reading rooms on Tuesday, March 17.

Since then, libraries have struggled with multiple challenges in their valiant efforts to serve the public. Many instituted curbside pick-ups, others ramped up their online offerings, while others boosted their wifi signals, even taking wifi into the communities or onto vehicles. Some libraries circulated devices or wifi hotspots and many offered virtual story hours, summer reading programs, and other online programming.

The public have used these services fully, especially remote access to online services while they too are home, often with children who they are trying to keep entertained and tracking to reading and learning.

These services have proven the value of the library as an essential service, even when closed to walk-in patrons. But this effort has taken its toll on library workers. Library directors and their staffs had to pivot literally overnight to new ways of providing services under emergency conditions. For many, the demand increased dramatically. Those who remained open, or in some way interacting with the public, had to scramble to find the PPE necessary to keep staff and the public safe.

On April 27, Governor Abbott declared that libraries and museums could open at 25 percent capacity. He emphasized that his guidance would be permissive for city and county libraries but required for state libraries. That order began the process of many libraries returning to some on-site services. That movement has left many libraries with dilemmas regarding how far to push face coverings. Librarians in some locations face a choice of hostility from customers who feel face coverings limit their individual liberties and legitimate worries about keeping staff and the public safe from the virus.

On May 4, TSLAC began accepting researchers in the Archives reading room at the downtown Austin Lorenzo De Zavala Building and at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty. TSLAC is the only library operated by the state that has opened to visitors and throughout May and June staff have served a succession of researchers in the reading room. TSLAC strongly encourages – but cannot require – the use of face coverings by patrons. To-date, all researchers coming to the De Zavala building have been willing to wear masks and observe our safety and distancing protocols as a matter of mutual consideration and respect between the public and our staff.

Even as library staffs continue to cope through the crisis, the next hurdle looms: budget reductions. We fully expect that the economic impact of the virus on cities, counties, and the state will be huge. TSLAC, along with all other agencies, has been asked to make a five percent reduction to the current biennium with further reductions all but certain for the future. Being as essential to Texans – as libraries are in both good and difficult times – should ensure that they are the last cut, but we all know that it doesn’t work out that way. Assistant State Librarian Gloria Meraz is currently at work on a document that will provide strategies for library directors and managers facing the looming specter of funding reductions.

TSLAC feels the pain of local library managers and workers who have valiantly and selflessly served their communities throughout the Coronavirus epidemic. We are struggling with the same challenges that you all are, both in terms of maintaining public service while also preparing ourselves for inevitable budget cuts.

It is a challenging time to be in public service. But we will get through this together and we will survive. I am confident that while we may take more than our share of the impact of societal crises and funding reductions, the public has an enduring need for what libraries offer: a stable and beloved social institution, open to all on equal terms, providing authoritative access to life-saving, life-affirming information.

Please let me know how the Texas State Library and Archives Commission can help your library as we navigate together through these difficult times.

Resources for libraries:

Library Developments Blog: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/librarydevelopments/

COVID-19 Information and Resources for Library Workers: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/covid-19

Resources for records managers:

The Texas Record Blog: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/blog/

General resources:

TSLAC Plan for Services during the COVID-19 Health Situation: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/services

It is not too late to complete the 2020 census!

Texas’ 2020 U.S. Census completion percentage is 53.5% as of today, which is behind the national average of 59%. The 2020 census will have a major impact on our communities, and the data that is collected will be used to fund essential services, including early childhood education, free and low-cost school meals, highways, and other critical programs that support our communities. It only takes ten minutes to make a difference, so let us work together to ensure that Texans receives a fair count.

2020 Census and COVID-19

Despite the many challenges that we are facing due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the 2020 census is still underway. The Census Bureau has adjusted the 2020 census operational timeline, which will extend the self-response phase from July 31 to October 31, 2020. Additionally, the Census Bureau also announced that some Area Census Offices (ACO) will resume 2020 census field operations in select locations. For up to date information and press releases related to the 2020 census, visit the Census Bureau’s Newsroom.

One of the many challenges facing libraries across Texas is how to engage with the communities that we serve while following the recommended guidelines from our governing authorities on how to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We understand that every library is facing different circumstances, and how we respond to our communities is going to be case by case. Knowing that, here are a few resources that you can use to help ensure an accurate count of the 2020 census while staying safe!

  • Enhance your social media presence. Keep your website up to date and connect your users with census information. If you are looking for census social media ideas, follow #2020Census and #CountOnLibraries on Twitter. Many census groups are posting resources that your library can safely retweet from inside your library or home!
  • Utilize your curbside. If your library is providing curbside services, consider including census informational material or creating census family kits. You can download Dr. Seuss coloring and activity pages for the children in your community and include them in the kits or check out this list of 2020 census activities for pre-K through 12th graders.
  • Host a virtual event. Some libraries and census groups are hosting Facebook Live parties where they are answering questions and connecting attendees with resources. This could also be an excellent opportunity to invite local leaders to talk about the importance of the 2020 census. Visit the ALA 2020 census webpage for sample templates that can be adapted for virtual events.
  • Send a mailbox greeting. Send postcards or letters to your community and say hello while providing a friendly reminder to complete the 2020 census. You can focus your efforts by learning about your community’s response rates using these tools:
  • Pick up the phone. It is always nice to hear a friendly voice! Consider making calls to your senior communities, check-in with them, and remind them of the importance of the #2020Census! The senior population is growing, and an accurate count can help ensure our state has the federal funding for programs and services that support our special populations like our seniors.
  • Rethink your parking lot. Consider using your outside space as a place for patrons to complete the 2020 census. For example, reserve parking spots specifically for individuals to complete the census. Individuals can park in these spots to connect to the wifi or to ask questions about completing the forms. Flyers with instructions can also be provided on how to complete the census using the phone. Again, depending on your local governing authority, we encourage that libraries adhere to the social distancing guidelines and recommended safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here is a resource that provides helpful technology privacy tips for libraries to consider when setting up kiosks and assisting patrons with filling out the census (see pages 82-92) and be sure to with a local IT staff member or knowledgeable volunteer to implement these to keep your patron’s data safe.
  • Get the word out using signs and banners. Consider making signs for your communities and work with local partners to co-locate signs around town to encourage individuals to complete the census.
  • Use your resources. Connect with your local news and radio stations to promote the census. Invite elected officials to talk about the value of completing the census and help get the word out about the 2020 census while also promoting any upcoming programming your library is offering.

There is still plenty of time to complete the 2020 census, so let us work together to make sure that everyone counts!

For more information and resources, visit our TSLAC Census 2020 webpage at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/census2020.

2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report Portal Locks on April 30

Thank you and congratulations! to the two-thirds of Texas public librarians who have locked their Annual Report for 2019!  And if you are one of the nearly 50% who have submitted the signed Application for Accreditation, then give yourself an pat on the back!

This report does more than accredit Texas public libraries.  It provides the information that represents Texas libraries to the rest of the nation and beyond.  It allows stakeholders to have access to the data that tells every library’s story and to demonstrate the library’s value to the community.

However, there are still nearly 200 public libraries that need to get their report in by Thursday, April 30th!  For those of you who have completed the process, reach out to the library in the next town or county and make certain they have submitted everything that is needed.

Known issue:  question 3.9b will not always calculate and this will prevent report submission.  Valicia Greenwood can force the calculation on the back end.  Send an email to vgreenwood@tsl.texas.gov if you encounter this problem.  Other issues have been addressed here.

Libraries that submit an Annual Report are eligible to order Summer Reading Program materials at no cost, through this agency and CSLP.  Libraries that are accredited can benefit from the TexShare Card and TexShare Databases programs, from statewide interlibrary loan, from the competitive grants and other funding opportunities that come through this agency, and from E-rate, the federal telecommunications program that can provide up to a 90% discount for telecommunications.

Questions?  Submission Issues?  Accreditation concerns?  Visit the Annual Report webpage, or contact Valicia Greenwood by email.

Thank you, again, for your participation! Your library’s voice strengthens libraries everywhere.

It’s Census Day!

The 2020 Census is underway, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted the following operational dates. Here are a few quick facts about the changes:

  • The census self-response deadline has been extended until August 14, 2020.
  • Field operations have been delayed an additional two weeks until April 15.
  • The Census Bureau is still on track to deliver the Census on time to the President on December 31.

For the full list of operational changes to the 2020 Census, please view the U.S. Census Bureau: 2020 Census Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19 fact sheet.

So how is Texas doing?

As of today, only 29.7% of households in Texas have responded to the 2020 Census by phone, mail, or online. The census data is critical to our basis of democracy and is used to make informed decisions that affect our everyday lives. Census data is used to ensure that all our Texas communities are treated fairly and that funds are appropriately allocated according to population needs. In times like these, census data is even more essential because our public health experts, government officials, and first responders rely on population data to make critical decisions.

Find out how your communities are responding to the 2020 Census

You can stay up to date with a map of self-response rates across the U.S. and Texas by using the links below:

  • U.S. Census Bureau Self-Response by State. This map allows users to view the self-response rate from households that responded to the 2020 Census online, by mail, or by phone, and compare the state’s average to the national self-response average.
  • City University of New York (CUNY) Center for Urban Research. Use this map to follow that state’s census progress and compare the progress with the census from 2000 and 2010. The map provides the feature to search the self-response rates by address, ZIP Code, landmark, county, state, or legislative district.

Make it Count!

There is still time to complete the 2020 Census!

If you have any questions related to the 2020 Census, contact Laura Tadena, Inclusive Services Consultant.

It’s Time! Submit the 2019 Texas Public Libraries Annual Report!

As we all “spring forward,” it’s time for Texas public library directors to get all of the library statistics collected over the last local fiscal year and enter them into Texas LibPAS.  This report is due no later than Thursday, April 30, 2020, a due date which cannot be extended.  We recommend that libraries complete the report before the end of this month, to allow staff enough time to review the reports from over 550 Texas public libraries!

Log-in information was emailed to public library directors in early January.  If there has been a change in leadership at your library, or if the information is no longer available, contact us at your earliest convenience (information below).

Answers to Frequent Questions

The new question, 7.9:  Successful Retrieval of Electronic Information. This question intends to capture use of databases (also called electronic collections) that cannot be included in the item and circulation count easily. If the library has databases either on its own or through a consortium, report the usage statistics from the vendor.  Report only sessions or full text items that your patrons have viewed. Report “0” (zero) in 7.9 if your library has ONLY TexShare databases.  A database that is freely available in the public domain should not be included.

Edit check on question 3.11:  Total Operating Expenditures, which states,

The ratio of TOTAL OPERATING EXPENDITURES to TOTAL STAFF EXPENDITURES is higher/lower than expected. Please check for possible errors or explain why the correct data are out of range.”

This is an edit check we have carried from our federal report that pops up when staff expenditures exceed half to two-thirds of the total operating expenditures.  There is no judgement here:  it is a mathematical check.  To resolve it, please add a note explaining that staff and total operating expenditures have been checked and verified. 

Printing the report:  clicking on the word “Print” at the top of the page will pop up a dialogue box with the following choices:

  • Template – this is the entire workbook, with question definitions and responses.
  • Screen – this is just the questions and responses, much as what is seen on the screen.
  • Cancel – if you don’t want to print, click on this.

If you print the report before it is locked, you will see a watermark of the word “Draft” on every page.  That no longer appears once the report is locked, even though you can still print the report.

Much more information is found on the Annual Report webpage:  https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/annualreport, including

Don’t forget to submit the signed Application for Accreditation, once your report is locked.

Email (accreditation@tsl.texas.gov) or call (800-252-9386 or 512-463-5466) if additional clarification is needed. 

Your participation helps give a voice to libraries nationwide.  Thank you for all your time and effort!