Austin, TX – The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) today announced plans to provide access to personal finance e-books as part of its E-Read Texas program following receipt of a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
The additional resources will help ensure that Texas residents have the information they need when making critical money decisions as they repair, rebuild and clean up following severe storms over the winter.
“In times of crisis, people rely on libraries more than ever before,” said TSLAC Director and Librarian Mark Smith. “We want everyone to know that libraries can help Texans access accurate and timely information to help guide financial planning that will have lasting impact.”
Filing claims, accessing government resources, managing lump-sum payments from insurance companies, and meeting immediate expenses when income might be disrupted are just a few of the money challenges that residents in disaster areas must navigate.
FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh noted, “Many of us lack experience with these decisions. Nonetheless, we have to get it right the first time around or face long-term financial consequences. Fortunately, local public libraries have information that can help.”
This expanded personal finance e-book collection is made possible by a $20,000 grant from the FINRA Foundation. The E-Read Texas program, launched in 2019, provides an easy-to-use platform to access e-books provided by TSLAC alongside materials purchased by local libraries. The e-books purchased with the FINRA grant are available to all Texans and can be accessed at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/personalfinance. The website is geofenced so that any user located in Texas can access these materials with no login or password required. These resources are provided without simultaneous user restrictions, so individuals can access the e-books immediately with no holds or waitlists.
The personal finance collection represents the latest stage of a multi-year project aimed to bring more e-books to Texans via their public libraries. The program complements TSLAC’s TexShare and TexQuest programs that leverage statewide buying power to bring cost-effective access to e-resources to virtually every person in the state. Texans use e-resources provided by TSLAC over 140 million times each year.
For nearly 15 years, the FINRA Foundation has provided funding, staff training and programs to build the capacity of public libraries to address the financial education needs of people nationwide. Much of this has been accomplished in partnership with the American Library Association through a program known as Smart investing@your library®.
Of particular concern following major disasters is the threat of financial fraud. FINRA Foundation research estimates consumer financial fraud costs Americans more than $50 billion a year. Since its establishment in 2005, the National Center for Disaster Fraud, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, has logged more than 100,000 disaster-related complaints from all 50 states. Financial fraud magnifies the challenges and costs for people recovering from the trauma inflicted by disasters. The FINRA Foundation has issued an alert with guidance to help residents protect themselves from fraudulent schemes (www.saveandinvest.org/disaster-fraud-Texas).
Walsh observed, “Recovery follows disaster, but the path to recovery can be smooth or very bumpy. And financial fraud can be one of the biggest potholes along that road. Public libraries have information to help people avoid the financial potholes and bring the route to recovery into sharper focus.”
The FINRA Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give Americans the knowledge, skills, and tools to make sound financial decisions throughout life. For more information about FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit finrafoundation.org.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides Texans access to the information they need to be informed, productive citizens by preserving the archival record of Texas; enhancing the service capacity of public, academic and school libraries; assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records; and meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities. For more information, visit www.tsl.texas.gov.