Texas is known for many things: our State Fair with a seemingly infinite variety of fried foods; famous and infamous politicians; the Alamo; cowboys, rodeos, tumbleweeds, and any other assortment of ideas conjured up by images of the south. As in many other states, budget cuts to Texas libraries have also become a well-known reality.
Yet, in spite of reduced funds and staffing, libraries and librarians in Texas continue to persevere with a variety of innovative programs and initiatives focused on serving the needs of the state’s diverse population. This first edition of “Library RoundUp” highlights several noteworthy programs around Texas that make a positive impact in the communities they serve.
Badgerdog Writing Programs, Austin Public Library Friends Foundation
Austin is home to the unique Badgerdog writing programs for adults and children. Created by the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation (APLFF), the program brings writers of all ages together with professional writers “to examine the techniques of literary artists and experiment with language to communicate experience and meaning.” All workshops follow a simple READ, WRITE, SHARE formula and take place in libraries, school classrooms, and other settings. Cecily Sailer, of APLFF, says that participants “find space to create, to explore their own voices, [and] be heard. After many of these workshops conclude, the participants continue to meet and write together. They make writing a permanent part of their lives.”
BiblioTech, Bexar County Digital Library
BiblioTech in San Antonio’s Bexar County was created as the first completely digital public library in the United States. The library’s mission is to “provide all Bexar County residents the opportunity to access technology and its applications for the purposes of enhancing education and literacy, promoting reading as recreation and equipping [the] community with necessary tools to thrive as citizens of the 21st century.”
BiblioTech offers e-books from the 3M Cloud Library and Overdrive as well as foreign language courses through Mango Languages. Technology training in a variety of programs is also available through Atomic Training. The facility is also a stand-out of library building design. Check out the facility and browse the library’s digital holdings.
Houston Hip Hop Collections, University of Houston Special Collections Library
As one of the first archival collections to document hip hop, the Houston Hip Hop Collections housed at the University of Houston Special Collections Library brings pop culture together with academia. The collection was established by archivist Julie Grob as a way to document the importance of hip hop artists and music in Houston and to preserve the genre’s cultural record. A large part of the collection is devoted to 1500 vinyl records that were once owned by DJ Screw as well as unique photographs, promotional materials, and other artifacts.
Texas Cultures Online, Portal to Texas History
Texas Cultures Online at the Portal to Texas History is a digital collection spanning seventeen institutions around Texas. The collection showcases the variety and diversity of cultures through materials from the 19th and 20th centuries. Photographs from the Danish Heritage Preservation Society, the John J. Herrera Papers from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, and ephemera from the Mexic-Arte Museum are just a small sampling of the vast amount of amazing materials currently available.
[Portrait of Boy on Rocking Horse], Photograph, n.d.; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth176595/ : accessed January 16, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Museum of the Big Bend, Alpine, Texas.
About Claire Sewell
Claire Sewell (@clairesayswhat) is a cataloger at a public library in Houston, Texas. She enjoys the Dewey Decimal System, metadata, and cataloging graphic novels and fiction. Claire blogs at: booksyouveneverheardof.tumblr.com.
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