by Michael Avila
Public Information Specialist
Library Resource Sharing
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Libraries that are part of North Texas Regional Library System receive automatic membership into TexShare, Texas' largest library consortium. The services from TexShare, administered by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, encourage the sharing of resources between Texas libraries to offer a broader range of services for both members and library customers.
The two most high profile programs are the TexShare Card and the TexShare Databases. The TexShare Card allows registered users of participating TexShare libraries access to a much bigger collection of resources from public, academic, and special libraries all across the state. A patron's library card, in combination with the TexShare Card, is a ticket to a network of books and other materials that would previously have been unobtainable. For example, a customer of a smaller public library can travel to an academic library and check out a book from their collection that would previously only been available for circulation for students. Member libraries set their own individual lending policies for TexShare Card borrowers.
The TexShare Databases provide a wealth of online resources available 24 hours a day in the homes or offices of registered patrons of participating Texas libraries. Students from public schools, colleges and universities can find articles, timelines, photos, and scholarly journals for their research and homework when the local collection may not reflect the schools' curriculum needs. They can cite the verifiable TexShare resources whereas in many cases other sources on the internet are very unreliable. Job seekers and investors can use the company profiles and business trends available in the business databases. Genealogists have access to census records and other information via HeritageQuest Online. Health information from trusted sources is also available. Libraries choose the method of linking to and accessing the TexShare Databases from their web sites. The lowest possible price for a subscription to these online resources was achieved because of the statewide consortial buying power of TexShare. More complete information on funding mechanisms is online at http://www.texshare.edu/generalinfo/about/database_funding.html
Check the libraries and catalogs pages at http://www.texshare.edu/generalinfo/about/programs.html to see which Texas libraries participate in TexShare Card and/or the TexShare Database programs. NTRLS serves libraries in part of the state's largest metropolitan area, as well as libraries in largely rural areas, and TexShare provides customers within the service area the same level of resources regardless of location.
Other TexShare services focus on Communications, Education, ILL/Courier, the Library of Texas search engine, TexTreasures grants, and, in partnership with the Texas Education Agency and Education Service Center 20, K-12 library databases. More information on all of these services can be found at the TexShare web site at http://www.texshare.edu
The TexShare Advisory Board and TexShare working groups are responsible for providing input from member libraries on TexShare programs, and advising on the policies and operations of each program. The Advisory Board includes representatives from community colleges, private universities, publicly-funded academic institutions, public libraries, as well as two representatives of the general public. The working groups are composed of librarians from academic and public libraries and are chosen to represent the various constituent groups within TexShare, as well as geographic diversity. Strategic partners provide unique and specific resource sharing expertise to TexShare.Current strategic partners are the Amigos Library Services and Education Service Center, Region 20.
NTRLS libraries are able to take advantage of free training and outreach materials relating to TexShare programs. Vendor provided webinars and face-to-face training on the databases are offered regularly. Subscribe to the RSS feed of the TexZine blog at http://www.texshare.edu/newsletter/texzine/ to keep up-to-date on training opportunities, features, tips and news about the TexShare Databases. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has contracted out with a trainer to provide online and in-person training during the next fiscal year. Details will be posted on TexZine and the TexShare site as they become available. As a member driven organization, TexShare relies on libraries to help spread the word about what is available to libraries and their customers. To help with outreach, a page is available at http://www.texshare.edu/outreach_materials.html with links to videos, screensavers, radio transcripts, handouts, open house materials, and a communication plan workbook.