Thursday, January 26, 2012

Additional Information Provided by the GED Unit at Texas Education Agency

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) no longer provides direct GED services such as locating testing centers, providing test scores, or mailing copies of GED certificates. TEA is no longer accepting telephone calls or written communication about GED from individual test takers, employers, institutions of higher education, or the general public. All direct customer service is now provided by the local GED testing centers.

To Locate a GED Testing Center

To find a local GED testing center near you, please consult the online testing center locator or call 1-800-626-9433 (1-800-62-MYGED) to find your local testing center.

For additional assistance, please use the following resources:

  • To Learn About the GED For general information about the GED, please visit the American Council on Education’s GED Testing Service website.
  • To Obtain, Verify, or Validate GED Certificates and Scores All test takers, employers/potential employers, and postsecondary institutions may print a PDF containing a GED certificate and accompanying test scores. To print a certificate, the user needs to have either the test taker’s date of birth and name, or date of birth and Social Security Number. A credit card or electronic transfer from a checking account is required to pay the $5.00 charge. If you encounter technical difficulties downloading the certificate, call the TexGov help desk at 1-800-399-2969.
  • To Resolve Problems with Accessing Certificates and Scores To report and resolve problems, including problems with certificates and test scores, do NOT contact TEA – instead contact your local testing center.

source: GED Unit Texas Education Agency

Texas cities rank poorly in literacy ratings

North Texas cities ranked poorly in an annual study of literacy rates.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram cites an annual study of literacy resources done by Central Connecticut State University, which looks at key indicators of literacy. The study rates 75 cities, and only one Texas city (Austin) scored in the top third. Plano came in at 46, Dallas at 51, and Fort Worth at 54. Three other Texas cities were among the bottom 10.

TEA GED Press Release

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is pleased to announce the launch of its new automated system for ordering General Education Development (GED) certificates. GED test takers and certificate holders can now immediately download and print their official GED certificates - complete with test scores - by visiting GED certificates can only be obtained through this website. Both the old style certificate and the new Certificate of High School Equivalency are to be recognized, however, TEA will only be issuing the new certificate for examinees.

Additionally, in order to increase the level of customer service provided to GED customers, the agency is implementing an improved, decentralized process. While TEA will continue to serve as the state administrator for GED, the local GED testing centers across the state will now be providing direct customer service, responding to, and supporting GED customers. Local GED testing centers will serve as the primary information resource for all GED inquiries.

To learn more about obtaining a GED, locating a local GED testing center, or any other GED-related information, and to order GED certificates online, go to Please note that orders for GED certificates can only be placed online at this website.

For GED customers who do not have access to a computer, please direct them to call 1-800-62-MYGED (1-800-626-9433) to find their local GED testing center. Please note that TEA staff will no longer receive or respond to telephone inquiries regarding GED.

Print books still strong

A recent report from the Pew Research Center announced that the number of Americans owning a tablet computer or an ebook reader jumped from 18% in December to 29% in January.

While this is indeed a striking number, I'd like to point out the converse - prior to January, 82% of Americans did not own one of these devices, and as of January, 71% still do not. It might be too early to start moving a large percentage of your collection to the virtual shelves.

This week an article at cites a Bowker study on book sales, reporting that the growth in ebook sales in 2011 was well below what had been predicted, and a relatively small number of "power buyers" are driving a large percentage of sales -- more so than in the print book marketplace. According to this study, 74% of book buyers have never bought an ebook, including 14% of those buyers who actually own an ereader or tablet but do not choose to read it for reading ebooks.

It is interesting to watch the adoption of new technology, but the old technology has a lot of staying power. What do these statistics look like in your library's community?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Public Library Annual Reports - Just Do It!

TSLAC just released the Public Library Annual Report Form for fiscal year 2011. Completing the annual report is important for maintaining your library's accreditation.

With the recent budget changes, we have heard some librarians questioning the value of completing the report. NTLP encourages all Texas Public Libraries to complete the annual report, both for the sake of staying accredited and in order to add to the growing body of statistics that relate public library usage to community economic trends.

At we have two new articles explaining why your annual report matters. Paul Waak's article Why Do We Have Annual Library Statistics? explains how the data is being used to create statistical proof that good libraries lead to better economic conditions in their communities. Carolyn Brewer's article Is Accreditation Really Important for Public Libraries? discusses the purposes of accreditation and how it is seen by your city, county, and state funders.

At NTLP we would like to see TSLAC, TLA and other interested stakeholders revisit the Texas library standards and update them to meet the current challenges and opportunities with technology and trends. Public library accreditation remains meaningful, even when not tied to state funding.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Libraries and ebooks discussed in Washington Post

A Washington Post article on January 13, 2012 described problems libraries have stocking their virtual shelves with digital content, including the restrictions placed by publishers on library access to many ebook titles.

Going to the library used to be like going to "Wal-Mart: Everything you need and want is there," but with ebooks everything has changed, the article noted.

Of course, this isn't news to librarians, but in the past many of the library-going public hasn't been aware of the barriers a library faces in offering ebooks to its patrons. Maybe the word is finally getting out. This makes (at least) the third mainstream media article on the subject in less than a month. In late December 2011 published a good article on how to check out ebooks from the library, with details on the complicated landscape of licensing restrictions, formats, and DRM. On December 24, 2011, just as many consumers were about to receive new ereaders for Christmas, the New York Times documented the ebook tug of war between publishers and libraries.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Earning Social Currency

Kim Young is a savvy entrepreneur who has spent over a quarter of a century helping craft connections and grow partnerships among businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, communities and their customers, supporters and residents. One of my goals is to have her provide training for NTLP library personnel and supporters.

In this article she not only explains the meaning and value of social currency but also demonstrates her typical style of packing lots of relevant information into a really small amount of the reader's - or listener's - time.

So read the article and then ask yourself ... just how much social currency does your library or supporters group have?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

DUOLINGO - translating the web..........

Luis von Ahn is very entertaining and informative - you will enjoy this talk!

After re-purposing CAPTCHA so each human-typed response helps digitize books, Luis von Ahn wondered how else to use small contributions by many on the Internet for greater good. At TEDxCMU, he shares how his ambitious new project, Duolingo, will help millions learn a new language while translating the Web quickly and accurately -- all for free.
Luis von Ahn: Massive-scale online collaboration | Video on

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Worth mentioning – January 11, 2012

Articles that have caught my eye recently -

An eBook is not a Book by Nate Hill on the PLA Blog
“mapping the basic constraints of physical media onto digital media is no wiser an enterprise than making gold from graphite”

Getting serious about SOPA – what librarians need to do by Jessamyn West on
“we need to do a few things: understand how this bill is supposed to work, be clear in our opposition to it as a profession, work with other people to inform and educate others so that people can make their own informed choices”

Publishers vs. Libraries: An E-Book Tug of War from the New York Times on 12/24/2011.
“Worried that people will click to borrow an e-book from a library rather than click to buy it, almost all major publishers in the United States now block libraries’ access to the e-book form of either all of their titles or their most recently published ones.”

Friday, January 06, 2012

New Year's Update from NTLP

As the calendar turns over to 2012, NTLP is already several months into our fiscal year 2012, a transition year for us. After 40 years of being funded by the Texas State Library as a regional library system, now NTLP is continuing to support library development as a member-supported nonprofit corporation.

In November and December 2011, NTLP Executive Director Carolyn Brewer and the NTLP staff conducted more than a dozen local meetings of library directors across North Texas to discuss the changing state of regional library support in Texas. We collected a lot of creative ideas for services libraries would like to see from a regional support organization like ours, and you will see some of them implemented in the near future.

January sees NTLP returning to the Continuing Education scene by sponsoring group viewing opportunities for webinars provided by Grantstation, Amigos and others. By attending the group sessions, librarians can participate in the online training classes at a reduced rate and also have an opportunity for face-fo-face networking with peers. These group sessions are discounted or free for staff from NTLP partner libraries. See for upcoming events.

NTLP is currently in the process of reviewing bids for library materials contracts. Once finalized, the new contracts and other negotiated vendor discounts will be available to NTLP partner libraries. Watch for announcements on the NTLP website,

For information about becoming an NTLP partner library, see

Public Information Act Change

As the Public Information Act consultant at NTLP, I attend annually the Open Government Conference provided by the Office of the Texas Attorney General. One of the points made at last month's conference is, in my opinion, very important for many Texas libraries.

The 82nd Legislature amended Texas Government Code 552.117 to indicate that each (current and former) employee or official of a governmental body may choose whether to allow public access to his/her own home address, home telephone number, emergency contact information, or Social Security number or information which reveals whether the person has family members provided he/she states, to the governmental body, that choice in writing by certain deadlines. (See 552.117 for deadlines relative to former employees and officials.)

Because we were told that, for current employees and current elected officials, the confidentiality would take effect as soon as the person submitted the request, I'm encouraging all library directors to see that staff and Board Members know right away that the option exists. To help in that effort, I've designed two forms for collecting (updating?) that information and getting signatures from those who wish to have their information treated as confidential.

One form collects information from Board members, and the other collects information from employees. Both are designed to be printed, double-sided, on the library's letterhead, and both were produced with in large print in order to comply with the 16 pt. accessibility standard. (OK, I have to admit that I cheated somewhat in order to assure that all of the information would appear on a single sheet of paper. Let me know if you need it produced in full compliance, and I'll create a legal-sized document for you.)

The Board Member form also collects information which may help maintain a balanced board. The section just above that gathers information needed for the webpage and, often just by the staff or other Board members (such as the birthdates). The voter registration number is on there for the benefit of Boards whose bylaws require that all Board members be registered voters and/or live within the library's community.

Please note that 552.117 covers only employees of government bodies and officials of those bodies. To use either form with anyone who doesn't fall into one of those categories would be misleading since the code generally does not apply beyond the public sector.