The Texas State Library & Archives Commission (TSLAC) recently awarded $75,000.00 in funding to the Abilene Public Library under its Special Projects Grant program. Abilene Public Library will equip each of its three branches with a Mobile Lab, consisting of 20 laptop computers, to use for programs, computer classes, and in-house use so patrons of all ages will be able to learn new skills as well as hone their existing technology skills. The mobility of laptops, as opposed to PC workstation units, will allow for flexible and diverse programming at the library branches. The laptops will also afford staff the flexibility to provide outreach opportunities throughout the community.
We will begin these new programs in December 2018. These include a weekly Study Hall series for students to come to the South Branch and spend an afternoon utilizing the library's resources to complete their studies. Such will include setting up access to 20 laptops that could be used for researching educational content on the library's databases, searching for books on the catalog, using word processing programs to complete assignments, and more. Another program being hosted at the Main Library will be a Computers 101 course for adults to lean how to use computers. Utilizing the mobile lab, instruction will be given in a 4-part series where staff will lead participants through learning the parts of a computer, navigating the Internet, setting up an email address, and more.
College students will have the opportunity to utilize these mobile labs in a limited run College Cram Session series hosted after hours at the library. When many academic libraries will be closing early, the library will offer extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays to allow college students to come in, utilize our resources, study for final exams, and do so using our mobile laptops. Finally, tweens and teens will be able to benefit from the mobile labs by utilizing them in conjunction with a monthly coding club and tween technology series. Even more programming is to come, but the inclusion of these mobile computer labs will only strengthen staff's ability to increase technology instruction to a wider audience.
This project is just one of 59 made possible this year by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the TSLAC under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. "TSLAC is proud to see funds from our federal grants put to use to demonstrate the power of local libraries to bring innovative services to communities across the state of Texas," says TSLAC Director and Librarian Mark Smith.
TSLAC awards competitive grants annually, as funding allows. The Special Projects Grant program provides funds for programs that expand library services to all members of a library's community, including those populations with special needs. Abilene Public Library Director Lori Grumet says, "We are so excited about the opportunities to expand our services to new patrons, thanks to this grant. The possibilities are endless, and we look forward to developing many new programs to benefit the citizens of Abilene."
ABOUT THE TEXAS STATE LIBRARY AND SERVICES 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.
Contributed by Alyssa Crow, South Branch Manager