Category Archives: CTLS

Free and Low-cost e-Books

A lot of you have been asking about e-books, so I am re-posting this article from the August 2010 Newsletter:

So your patrons bought the Kindles and the Nooks and the iPhones and the iPod Touches, and now they want to know where they can get e-books that don’t cost $10 a pop. It’s a complicated landscape out there in terms of libraries providing popular e-books – a lot of infrastructure costs with OverDrive, copyright issues over multiple downloads for Amazon Kindle and the like, and oldish materials on our TexShare NetLibrary accounts that you can’t download anyway (I am only referring to the ebook subscription here, not the e-Audiobook subscription). How to guide your patrons to hours of free and compelling reading? Here are some suggestions:

•, there are thousands of public domain books and original books from new authors that you can read on any mobile device.
• – 33,000 public domain books that can be downloaded in multiple formats.
• – 16 try-for-free romance titles.
• – a small collection of sci-fi and fantasy titles from Random House.
• – free pulp, classics, and more.
• 414 extracts – tastes of books to let you know if you want to keep reading.
• – Sony and Google have paired up to provide this site that has a mix of free and purchaseable titles. I search for bargain-priced, then related subject, then by ranking in the left-hand area, then I sorted by price, and free comes up first.

A note on formats: eReaders support many formats. All support txt and pdf documents files as well as basic image files like gifs and jpgs. Other than these basic formats, compatibility varies. For Kindle, you can download free books in mobi format. For Nook, download books in epub format. With my iPhone (and iPod Touch and iPad), I can use the free app, Stanza that has access to all these sites listed above when you click on “get books”.

Looking for a breakdown of different e-readers? Check out
Happy e-reading!

Interlibrary Loan FAQ

Here are some questions we asked Sue Bennett at the Texas State Library and her answers regarding the upcoming (in the next year and a half to 2 years) Interlibrary Loan changes. Thanks to Angela at Bee Cave for starting this conversation, and thanks to Sue for answering these questions!

Q. What can libraries expect to need in terms of staff time?

A. The implementation process takes approximately 20 hours of staff time over the period.

This is going to depend on the number of interlibrary loans a library processes. According to Alpine Public Library that only has one staff person that processes interlibrary loans, they spend less time than previously due to less paperwork.

Q. What is the implementation timeline for CTLS libraries? I know that Austin Public Library will probably change over first, but just a rough sketch of when it will begin affecting small libraries around Austin would be great — a year and a half? Just an estimate.

A. We plan to implement libraries by system areas and are currently working libraries in the NETLS and NTLP areas. Libraries begin implementation about every 6 months in groups of 30-50 libraries. If we have openings, we invite libraries in other areas. A rough sketch for CTLS would be around a year and half to two years.

Q. What will the costs be for small libraries? (what has the cost looked like for small libraries that have rolled out the changes?)

A. The cost for new ILL program libraries will incur is with delivery. TSLAC does offer a reimbursement for net lenders and subsidies for the courier.

TSLAC covers the cost for the following:

· Texas Group Catalog used for searching

· Navigator to process interlibrary loans

· Batchloading project to add catalog records to OCLC

· CatExpress or an ongoing batchload to keep holdings up to date.

Q. What are the consequences to Loan Star money and/or TexShare status if a library does not participate?

A. Libraries who are System members are a part of TexShare. Library Development determines if a library qualifies to be a System member or receive Loan Star funds and you will need to contact Deborah Littrell.

Q. What will their relationship to the ILL Austin center and Austin Public Library be like after the changes, in terms of ILL?

A. As libraries move to the new ILL program, the ILL Centers will be phased out. Libraries will continue to be able to borrow items from Austin Public Library as they will be part of the Texas Group but libraries will not be sending their ILL requests to APL to submit their requests for them.

Q. When will there be training on the new system?

A. When libraries begin the implementation process, we begin with an overview of what will be involved throughout the process. Libraries add their records to OCLC by a batchload process and continue to update their holdings through either CatExpress or ongoing batchloading. Training on how to send a batchload and using CatExpress is provided by webinar. Libraries also complete a questionnaire for OCLC on their library catalog and training is also provided for this process as well. Throughout the process, OCLC provides a biweekly question and answering session. Anyone who is having a problem with any portion of the process can contact any of the implementation team at OCLC or myself at any time. The main training for how patrons submit requests and how staff process requests is done just prior to the library going live with the new program.

OCLC is very responsive to the needs of the libraries throughout the implementation process and after the libraries go live with the new program. They take time to walk through step by step with any library that is needing help. After a library goes live, they can contact the implementation team with any questions and after a time of being live, will contact OCLC’s support team.

As I mentioned earlier, we will be providing a demonstration of the new ILL program in the fall so libraries can get an overview of the program.

The implementation team knows that many of these libraries have not dealt with OCLC and work very hard to make the implementation process as smooth as possible for them.

Bang for your community’s buck – revised ROI

Hello, CTLS members. In your membership mailout in September, you received a Return on Investment page we generated from the 2009 Annual Report you handed in to the State Library last March/April. The math gremlins (a.k.a. the mail merge field codes) caused a glitch that is now fixed in the  Revised ROI for 2009. Your libraries are listed by city (so Wells Branch, you’re at the top with Austin). We hope that this is a good document to get you thinking about all the value you add to your communities so that you can communicate that value to decision-makers.  And don’t feel limited by what’s included here — there are services and programs in your libraries that aren’t asked on the Annual Report that provide wonderful value. Please let me know if you have any questions about the revised ROI.

FAQ – Unattended Children

Have you wondered how other libraries in central Texas do business? We’re starting a new series of posts, pulled from our ctls-l discussion list, to provide your peers’ answers to policy and program questions.


What do you do about unattended children in your library? Is it even a problem at your library? Is it something that needs to be written into the library policy? If so, is there an age cut-off?


  1. We have a written policy that children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.  While we don’t check ID at the door or anything, if a parent asks if they can leave their child or if the child is just dropped off or comes in by themselves and  is not exhibiting acceptable behavior we have something to back us up.
  2. We really didn’t want to write a policy, but had a very bad summer in 2009.  We had young kids (5 yr, 8 yr) being dropped off  at the library during the summer ALL DAY without meals or adults.  Bad, very bad.  And some parents would just send their small children off to the Children’s Area while they were glued to computer screens, ignoring their children’s bad behavior and crying.  There were a lot of complaints (one letter of complaint was published in the local newspaper) and I got quizzed by City Council.  When we wrote our Unattended Children policy, City Council approved unanimously. Continue reading FAQ – Unattended Children

Sweating the small stuff…

Have you guys seen this TED talk? Ad-man Rory Sutherland discusses how modest solutions can often have a greater impact than the big expensive ideas and strategies. He emphasizes incentives for behavior change instead of trying to twist people’s arms. He also says that because people in power often have big budgets, they then deploy big budget solutions because they need to spend the money. So he wants to see a group of people with a lot of power but not that much money (oh, does that sound like some of our library budgets recently?). Very funny guy, take a look if you’ve got 12 minutes…

New resources to prepare for hurricane season

from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

June 1 marks the beginning of Hurricane Season. Is your community prepared? The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has added new resources to its Web page, Tools and Resources to Help Communities Prepare for Hurricane Season,to help communities prepare for and respond to hurricane events and other natural disasters. Visit AHRQ for information on more public health emergency preparedness tools and resources.

FAQ – Fax Service for Patrons

Have you wondered how other libraries in central Texas do business? We’re starting a new series of posts, pulled from our ctls-l discussion list, to provide your peers’ answers to policy and program questions.


Does your library offer faxing service to patrons? How much do you charge?


  1. We charge 25 cents per page for local faxes and 50 cents per page for long distance. We do not accept faxes for the public.
  2. We offer fax service – $1 per page (sending or receiving).
  3. Our pay phone was removed, so we just decided to let people make local calls and local faxes from the same phone at the reference desk for free.
  4. We have fax service and charge 1.00 per page on outgoing and incoming. If there are 6 pages or more, starting with the 6th page we charge .50 for the rest. So if they fax 5 pgs we charge 5.00. If they fax 7 pages we charge 6.00.
  5. Over 9 years ago, we charged $1.00 to send & $.25 to receive. Ink & paper were involved in receiving. But it took staff longer to send & most of the faxes were long distance, so I justified the 1.00 toward those costs. TPLS was instrumental in getting fax machines in all the system libraries, & in the small towns the library was often the only “fax in town”. This is one of those services the library can recover costs, but not make a profit.
  6. We charge 50 cents per page regardless of local or long distance to send and receive. Very popular. We were getting so many request, we thought it would be a good service to add.
  7. We charge $2.00 per page to send a fax(we don’t charge for our cover sheet)
    and $1.00 per page to receive a fax.
  8. We charge $1 for local and $2 for long distance per page. We require a cover sheet. We do not accept faxes except by efax. We have waived the fees for hurricane victims that needed to submit paperwork. We have nearby places but not everyone likes to use them so we continue to provide this service. We have provided international long distance in the past at $5 per page as it requires more staff time and long distance fees are higher.
  9. We’ve had fax services for about 8 years now. This is a very useful service for our community, everyone loves the convenience. We are now getting our 3rd fax machine.We charge $1 per page for every page; local and long distance. We do not receive faxes for people.
  10. Yes, we do charge for faxes. The charge is $2.00 for the first page, and $1.00 thereafter.

from the ctls-l archives, circa 2008

TANG Tech Tips

Republished from the April 2010 Newsletter:

Creating a desktop shortcut to your Apollo Catalog

You can use Firefox to create a shortcut on your computer’s desktop to any page you’ve visited, including your Apollo Catalog:

  1. Resize the Firefox window so you can see both your computer’s desktop and the Firefox window on the same screen.
  2. Click on the site icon next to the Location bar, i.e. where the web address (URL) is shown.
  3. While still holding the mouse button down, move the pointer to the desktop, then release the mouse button. The shortcut will be created.

New CTLS workforce website!

Continue reading TANG Tech Tips

TANG Tech Tips – December 2009 to March 2010

Republished from our newsletter — here’s a December to March archive of Holly’s Tech Tips:

December 2009

Getting discounts for AVG Anti-Virus Software

OK, first off, if you are currently using AVG Free, you will need to upgrade your AVG to 9.0.  Here is the page for that.  It is a little hard to see where the free version is, but the download is at the bottom, on the left.  There is also a how-to here. But you really shouldn’t be using AVG Free for anti-virus control in your library — it is only for home use. AVG does give discounts for libraries, and here is the information for getting discounts.

I do not know how cheap AVG is going to be with discounts, so you will want to also look at TechSoup to see the prices for Symantec, etc.  For instance, a 10 user license for Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 10.2 is only $50 on TechSoup.  If your library is not already set up to receive discounts on, I can help you through the registration process.

My favorite site of the month –

I’ve discovered a really fun resource for information on all things tech:

I suggest you subscribe to this site, so you can get downloads only subscribers can access, such as the Laptop Buying Guide for 2009.  With a subscription you also get regular reminders of their articles, how-to’s, reviews, etc.  They are big proponents of open source software (such as my favorite, OpenOffice) – but remember to check that these are OK for use in your library.  Some products are only for home use (such as AVG Free.)  Two goodies from MakeUseOf:

More websites for fun and learning

January 2010

I need more memory!!!

Many of you have realized that your PCs are SLOW.  There can be many reasons for this but a common problem that is pretty easy to fix is that there is not enough memory on your PC. Upgrading the memory in your computer is the fastest way to better performance in Windows.   I’d recommend at least 1GB of RAM, but don’t bother going over 3GB if you are using 32-bit XP or Vista because Windows won’t be able to use all of it.  More about 32-bit vs 64-bit in a future Tech Tip.

Continue reading TANG Tech Tips – December 2009 to March 2010

Children’s Collection Development…

The Marble Falls Public Library recently asked me to talk to them about collection development for children – especially what I learned at the April 24, 2010 state library workshop on the same topic.  To get ready, I asked our members how they managed their own children’s collection.

You guys never fail to impress me.  We got almost 50 responses, with over half coming from small libraries.  What are your colleagues’ best ideas for keeping up with what to buy for kids? The answers can be found in the CTLS Best Children’s Selection Resources 2010.