The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) recently awarded funding to the Schertz Public Library under the TSLAC CARES Grant program. TSLAC received the funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support libraries in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Congress provided the federal agency a total of $50 million in the CARES Act to distribute to states and territories.
Schertz Public Library was selected to receive a grant in the amount of $24,702. The funding will be used by the library to expand virtual programming efforts, provide additional digital services to the public, and provide technical support to both staff and patrons. Thirty-seven other libraries across the state have also received grants through this program.
While the Library building has been closed to foot traffic since the beginning of the pandemic, services have remained available to the public. In-person programs were converted to virtual programs, library cards continued to be issued, materials, both digital and physical, continued to be checked out, printing service has been available, and most recently, computers have been available for public use. Services may look a little different from what everyone is used to, but they have been provided in several creative ways over the past few months.
The rapid switch from a mostly-face-to-face service environment to a mostly online service environment brought a few issues to light. First, because most of the library’s service takes place face-to-face, technology efforts are focused on equipment that delivers service in-person. We have only basic equipment and tools to provide virtual programming, and no equipment that allows us to teach or trouble-shoot computer issues from a distance. Second, the shift to reliance on online services increased the burden on our e-book platforms and highlighted the need for additional online resources to meet the needs of recreational users, adult learners, and job seekers. Third, we know that delivery of services in the foreseeable future will most likely be a blend of remote and in-person delivery. We applied for the grant to help us address these issues. The award was announced in August. All funds are to be expended between October, 2020 and July 2021.
The Library will use the grant to provide new digital content and services, to purchase equipment to provide virtual programming, and equipment to provide a safe environment for both staff and customers. Look for the following in the upcoming months:
All of these projects are made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and Texas State Library and Archives Commission (Grant #LS-246193-OLS-20).* (2021)
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the many ways libraries are more essential than ever in meeting local needs to stay connected and informed,” said Mark Smith, TSLAC Director and State Librarian. “We are grateful to the IMLS and the federal government for providing this assistance to libraries across Texas as they support their communities in these challenging times.”
ABOUT THE TEXAS STATE LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES COMMISSION
Formed in 1909, TSLAC is committed to giving Texans access to information and programs to improve their lives and communities. TSLAC provides historical and genealogical search assistance, federal and state government documents, electronic research, and library services to all Texans, including those who are unable to read standard print material because of physical or reading disabilities. For more information, visit www.tsl.texas.gov.