CTLS Newsletter October 2015

CTLSLogo2012Connecting Texas
Libraries Statewide

No. 151

Bringing You the Latest in Texas Libraries

October 2015

In This Issue:

Fall Membership Meeting Recap

by Laurie Mahaffey

Thanks to everyone who came to our annual Fall Membership meeting at the Temple Public Library on September 25! We are grateful to our hostess, Leigh Gardner, and her staff for making all the arrangements. The morning featured an informative talk by the Director and Librarian of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Mark Smith.

He thanked everyone who helped persuade the state legislature to loosen the purse strings and enable the state library to recoup some of the losses from previous legislative sessions. We honored the late Dr. Robert Tocker, former chair of the Tocker Foundation Board and a great supporter of Texas libraries for decades. Attending from the Foundation were Darryl Tocker and Karin Gerstenhaber.

Kim Lehman was honored for her years of service to CTLS as she leaves to pursue other options. Kim has been a bright spot on the CTLS team and her talents will be missed. The final honoree was our volunteer accountant, Sandy Parks, who was not in attendance. We are so grateful for all she does for us.

The afternoon workshop introduced participants to the new crop of electronic items that CTLS has purchased. These are part of the CTLS loanables collection, which member libraries can borrow to host their own staff training on the latest gadgets. Assistant Executive Director Paul Waak, outgoing Youth Services Specialist Kim Lehman, and Youth Services Specialist Katelyn Patterson assisted the attendees with learning how these work so that the library staff members will know more than their patrons. Just contact the CTLS office to borrow these!

October is an exciting month as we begin the training for the 2 grants CTLS received this year from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission with funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services. The 3-D Printer grant is administered by Paul Waak and the ‘Bots and Books grant by Katelyn Patterson. We are grateful to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for these grants and hope that they spark interest and enthusiasm in the libraries.

Don’t forget the Texas Library Association District meetings. We hope you will attend! It is time well spent, networking with your peers and learning new things. Meet with vendors and see new products! Learn about TLA initiatives and hear from our own Susan Mann of Hillsboro, current TLA president. Current ALA (American Library Association) president Julie Todaro of Austin Community College will also speak at the District 3 meeting later this week.

Library Tech Reviews – Children’s Tablets, Part 3

by Paul Waak

The previous two articles were a side-by-side review of tablets for young children with a focus on their technical aspects. This review focuses instead on the product lines of each company and takes into account software and overall suitability. Certain features and issues (such as usage statistics) are glossed over in this review because they were previously covered in more detail.

Two general observations deserve to be mentioned at the start.

First, children’s tablets have matured to the point that they are suitable replacements for dedicated children’s desktop computers. They provide the same level of durability, equivalent learning software, and are considerably more cost effective. Generally speaking, a library could purchase a dozen children’s tablets for the price of one children’s desktop. That more than covers for losses, damage, etc. It also makes the average cost roughly equivalent to 2-3 library edition audiobooks or 6-8 hardback books.

The second observation is that none of them have explicit ADA features. Public libraries are not typically required to provide blind access for public computers, but tablets seem to be held to a different standard by some people. This should not be considered an obstacle, but it is a conversation to prepare for. These tablets are not providing textbooks or other mandatory educational material. They are instead a natural part of the desktop to laptop to tablet path of computer development and should be thought of as a public computer, not as an electronic book.

LeapFrog® LeapPad Product Line

[LeapPad models 2/Glo, 3, and XDi Ultra]

The LeapPad product line is in many ways the standard that others should be compared to. The tablets are responsive, the user interface is polished, and they impose standards on app quality. They also make an extra effort to be handedness neutral so the tablets are equally usable by left and right handed children. The operating system is QT based, a much simpler alternative to Android or Windows. This improves stability and helps make use and management more consistent from model to model. Their licensing is explicitly friendly to public library use. (This is not in the contract but their legal department will send you this in writing.) Many of the interactive books support three reading levels which makes them well suited for ESL family instruction.

VTech InnoTab® Product Line

[InnoTab models 3, 3S, and MAX]

The VTech product line costs the least of the three. Aside from the tablets being slightly cheaper they also have the most generous software policy. They allow downloaded content to be used on an unlimited number of devices. The content eventually becomes the most expensive part of a tablet collection so this policy makes a big difference. The 3 and 3S models are QT based and the result is similar to, albeit slower than, the LeapTab product line. The MAX model is based on Android instead of QT. In some ways this helps make it more useful for older children than its LeapPad XDi counterpart. It also introduces compatibility problems with the other models so expect to manage the apps for MAX tablets separately from the others. The apps themselves are similarly educational and engaging compared to LeapPad. They do show a wider variety of polish than the LeapPad apps.

Fuhunabi Product Line

[nabi models Jr S, Dreamtab, and XD]

The Fuhu nabi product line is entirely Android based and shows the platform’s typical strengths and weaknesses. The base interface is appealing and polished. The included apps are fun and engaging but also the most heavily commercialized of the three. The usage terms vary depending on the 3rd party contract for each app. There is also plenty of content that requires an annual subscription and cannot be hidden from the public. The XD model does not have a child mode and instead provides full access. This makes the XD model a general purpose tablet with some preinstalled apps. This lack of a child mode has monetary repercussions. Warranty registration for a nabi tablet includes putting a credit card on file. This card can be removed later but mistakes do happen. The Jr and Dreamtab models allow patrons to build a wish list of apps for the parent / library to purchase using the card on file. The XD model allows patrons to use the card to purchase content without any password or other protection.


Overall, the VTech InnoTab® products provide the best value for public libraries and the LeapFrog® LeapPad provide the most polished user experience and best legal coverage. The Fuhu™ nabi products initially show the most promise but the drawbacks are so significant I cannot recommend them for use in libraries except when a specific need makes them appropriate.

Bots & Books Taking Off

by Katelyn Patterson

Our second year of Bots & Books is taking off! Regional trainings for our participating libraries will be taking place over the next few weeks. We are getting a lot of questions about how to become involved in Bots & Books. CTLS is going to apply for a 3rd year and we are taking requests to be included during the FY17 grant year now! It is our hope to have the decision made by the end of the year so we can be ready to begin the application process as soon as possible next spring. Trainings are conducted in regions where multiple libraries can attend. So if you are interested, reach out to other libraries around you to see if they would also want to participate. Then you can each contact me to let me know you officially want to participate and we will include as many as possible.

Participation in the grant includes all of the equipment (robotics kits, computers, and spare parts). This is helpful for those wanting to provide this kind of programming whose budgets won’t allow that big initial purchase. For those who are interested in doing robotics who can afford to purchase equipment on their own, CTLS can provide a workshop at your library on getting started. Your library would need to have the equipment purchased and acquired before the workshop. We are talking about offering this workshop in the spring.

So if you want to be included in year three of the grant when we apply OR if you would like to purchase the equipment on your own and would like us to do a workshop, please let me know as soon as possible.

Happy building! BleepBlorp!


Shopper’s Corner

by Sammie Simpson, Vendor Program Manager
Claudia Stofenmacher
from VIP Learning joins us to talk about their popular instructional videos:

“Located in Los Angeles and serving all the US and the rest of the world, VIP Learning produces Educational Instructional videos in DVD and Online format, In English, Spanish and Portuguese.  As educators, we understand the strategic importance that a well developed instructional video has in providing a sound and enriching learning experience. The step by step methodology applied to the production of our videos allow libraries to offer motivating, entertaining and content rich audiovisual materials, helping their patrons to develop lifelong skills, and promoting their presence in the school and library ́s facilities.  Our programs can be part of your library as a tool to create new job skills and improve in that way the well-being of the community!

  • We have trained individuals for more than 56 years all over Latin America, U.S. and Europe.
  • We have more than 700 hours of instructional video already produced, and we produce no less than 20 new hours of instructional videos (new material and updates of existing materials) every month.
  • Our extraordinary experience with past and present students and users is expressed in hundreds of testimonials that show that our materials do what they are supposed to: train effectively and efficiently.
  • There is no need for a higher education background to learn with our videos. The users have to have an elementary school (primary school).
  • Level Classification: Occupational / Instructional / Educational.
  • We can produce customized programs if such a need would arise, since we employ full time instructors and filming and editing crews.
  • We are very grateful to know that our instructional videos can be of help in assisting schools and libraries achieve their educational objectives.

Our programs include the following areas:

– Agriculture
– Apparel and fashion design
– Arts and crafts
– Automotive repair
– Beauty (hairstyling, make up, body aesthetics, cosmetology)
– Culinary arts
– Education
– Electricity and electronics
– Health (oriental medicine)
– Languages
– Refrigeration and A/C
– Welding

We continue to add quality programs as each production is completed.”

Thanks Claudia for telling us more about VIP Learning!


CTLS welcomes School Outfitters to the Commercial Partnership Program.

Since 1998, School Outfitters has been supplying quality library and school furniture. They sell book carts, book returns, library chairs, circulation desks, display stands, shelving, tables, study carrels, equipment and supplies, plus a wide selection of common area seating and media center furniture. They offer convenient online shopping and expert customer support, and will work with your budget and deadlines.

Please visit the vendor discount page for more information and use your member library login to view the confidential offer, www.ctls.net/discounts. If you have misplaced your member library login information or have trouble viewing the offer, contact the CTLS office.

Special thanks to Michelle Slonaker from the Chico Public Library for recommending School Outfitters for the Commercial Partnership Program. If you have a vendor you would like to see become part of the CPP, email anytime, ssimpson@ctls.net.


YouthShare: News You Can Use

by Katelyn Patterson

Teen Read Week, Star Wars Reads Day, Halloween programming ideas and more!

Teen Read Week

October is a big month for bookish and library celebrations. We wrapped up the ever-controversial Banned Books Week and can now jump into Teen Read Week.

From the Teen Read Week website:

Teen Read Week™ is a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). It began in 1998 and is held annually in October the same week as Columbus Day. Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users.  Join the conversation on Twitter with #TRW15

Get Away @ your library Theme

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) encourages libraries to use the Get Away theme during Teen Read Week™, October 18 – 24, 2015, to spotlight all the great resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun of it. An annual celebration, this year’s theme encourages libraries to help teens escape from the day to day grind of school, homework, family responsibilities, part time jobs and so on by picking up something to read.  Interpret the theme in ways that highlight a variety of resources in your collection—fantasy novels, sci-fi, beach reads, travel books, tales of adventure and escape, and more!

The Teen Read Week website offers great resources from planning checklists to publicity to book and media lists. There is a Pinterest board for collecting activities on the Get Away theme. YALSA was able to provide $1,000 grants thanks to the Dollar General Literacy Fund to libraries who proposed innovative literacy-focused Teen Read Week activities. Check their site for when to apply for 2016 grants.

I know some CTLS members have gotten Teen Week Read grants in the past. Do you have any plans to use these resources to celebrate Teen Read Week?

The Yarn, A New Bookish Podcast

Travis Jonker and Colby Sharp recently launched a new podcast closely examining one book from many different angles. In a nod to the hugely popular podcast Serial, each episode looks at an upcoming middle grade book from Jennifer Holm called Sunny Side Up from the perspective of the different individuals that worked on the book. They have released the episodes in quick succession, Netflix-style.

It is amazing how many people put so much work into one book. This podcast offers a really great look into the creative process and the publishing industry. Check it out… if you haven’t already!

Star Wars Reads Day

The 4th Annual Star Wars Reads Day takes place on October 10th. The official Star Wars website has resources for activities and publicity. Brightly also has some great printables and activities. This would be a great time to showcase your BB-8 Sphero robot!


Are You Ready For Halloween?

It is crazy to think that Halloween is already upon us! Have you got your program ideas already? If you haven’t here are a few resources to check out! School Library Journal put together some spooky Halloween program ideas for kids, tweens, and teens. I particularly like the ghostly pictures using the Fuse app.

This is a reprint from a few years ago, but the wonderful Kim Lehman put together a great list of tried-and-true activities, fingerplays, songs, and riddles that you could easily insert into storytime to help celebrate the day.

Finally, there is a plethora of spooktacular science activities so take this opportunity to insert some STEM into Halloween! Everything from oozing pumpkins, homemade fake blood, and polymer bead eyeballs!

What’s Happening Around the State

Comings and Goings

Herman Totten, founding dean of UNT’s College of Information, is retiring after 38 years in the library profession.

Job Postings

Assistant Library Director, Pflugerville Public Library
Managing Librarian, Austin Public Library
Center for the Book Coordinator, Texas State Library & Archives
Youth Services Librarian, Fort Bend County Libraries
Director of Library Services, Kyle Public Library
Library Assistant, Boerne Public Library
Local History/Reference Librarian, Moore Memorial Public Library, Texas City, TX

For a great collection of library job postings all around Texas, check out  I Need A Library Job.

Events and News

Public Library Scholarships Available for TLA 2016 Conference
CTLS Board Approves Long Range Plan
Midland County Public Library Hosts Author Marc Brown
Genealogy Roadshow Coming to Houston This Fall
Literary Event Celebrates Authors at the Llano Library
Ribbon Cutting for the Midland County Public Library’s New Bookmobile
Hutto Public Library Celebrates Banned Books Week!
Harker Heights & Barnes and Noble Team Up for Super Saturday
Westbank Reopens After Renovation
Dyslexia app by Plano students now available

Please share with us what your library is up to so we can brag about our wonderful members!

Upcoming CE opportunities

A slew of free STEM webinars for educators from NASA
Free Online Learning Opportunities for Children’s Librarians from InfoPeople
FREE YALSA webinar as part of Teen Read Week
Programming in Scratch EdX Course Archived and Available for Free



CTLS Calendar


9th : TLA District 3 meeting – Art Institute of Austin
12th : Bots & Books Central Texas Training, Round Rock Public Library16th : Southeast Texas Library Group Meeting, Orange Public Library
CTLS 3D Lab Training (2nd Workshop), Alpine Public Library17th-18th : 20th Anniversary Texas Book Festival, Austin, TX18th-24th : Teen Reads Week, YALSA18th-24th : National Friends of Libraries Week, United for Libraries19th : CTLS Bots & Books West Texas Training, Tom Green County Library System23rd : Adult Programming Discussion, Pflugerville Public Library


6th : CTLS Performers’ Showcase, Georgetown Public Library

13th : CTLS 3D Lab Training (3rd Workshop), Alpine Public Library

16th : CTLS Bots & Books Southeast Texas Training, Pasadena Public Library

26th-27th : CTLS Office Closed, Thanksgiving Holiday


1st :  Small Country Libraries, Eldorado

CTLS Board of Directors

Larry Ringer

Gretchen Pruett
Vice Chair

Alice Nixon

Nicki Stohr

Eileen Altmiller
Karen Ellis
Larry Koeninger
Jean Phipps
Kelly Skovbjerg

Laurie Mahaffey
Executive Director

CTLS Staff Directory

Laurie Mahaffey
Executive Director

Paul Waak
Assistant Executive Director

Katelyn Patterson
Youth Services, Website, Social Media, Newsletter

Samantha Simpson
Vendor Program Manager

Central Texas Library System, Inc.