By Taelor Duckworth
The Texas A&M University-Commerce Library has been awarded $74,997 for the 2014 fiscal year by the Texas State Libraries and Archives Commissions as a TSLAC Library Cooperation Grant to continue the university’s LEOtrain project.
LEOtrain was developed last summer to allow A&M-Commerce Libraries to deliver technical training to rural libraries in the surrounding community. Most of these libraries do not have the funds for technology training or the ability to travel long distances to receive such training. The project staff is able to actively engage in learning all of the newest and best technology using this program while providing surrounding libraries with the same technology and information. For the last several years, the Research and Instruction Department in the library has hosted a Technology Instruction Camp for educators to teach them low cost or freely available technologies for classroom use. Greg Mitchell, Director of Libraries, had the idea that this model could be applied to public libraries. Instead of librarians coming to campus to receive training, the campus comes to the public library. Gee Library applied for a Library Cooperation Grant from TSLAC, and it was awarded $57,724 for the 2013 fiscal year.
“It can be a real struggle for public libraries -- especially in rural areas -- to provide services in their communities,” said Mitchell. “Faced with limited funding and staffing, they are hard-pressed to offer the basics, let alone keep up with new technology. Yet many Texans depend on their local library for access to information.”
Each year, TSLAC awards thousands of dollars in grants to libraries which have innovative ideas that will impact their respective regions. Library Cooperation Grants “provide funds for programs that promote cooperative services for learning and access to information.” Following the grant from last summer, Andrew Smith was hired to serve as the Project Librarian, and Andrea Weddle, Head of Special Collections and Archives, was to serve as the Project Director. Smith travels to smaller libraries across Northeast Texas to provide free, customizable technology training to public librarians and community members. Due to the largely positive response to LEOtrain, the library applied for a second year of funding through TSLAC.
“Working on this grant project has been incredibly rewarding,” said Smith. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with a number of people — both library staff and patrons — throughout the Northeast Texas area who have little to no access to professional development opportunities, much less those that are delivered to them locally. I believe this project is having a significant impact in minimizing the so-called “digital divide” found in many of these rural communities, because once the library staff have learned about and incorporated some of these tools into practice, they can turn around and provide training to their patrons on these same topics.”
The library received notification that they were approved for the second grant just recently. These funds will allow the LEOtrain project to continue its ground-breaking work within the region.
For more information on LEOtrain, contact Andrew Smith at Andrew.Smith@tamuc.edu.