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Notes from Executive Director Scott Garrison – August 2023

Our staff and external partners are working to transition Text and Learn for Kindergarten (TALK), a text messaging system for parents of children ages 0-6, from a completely grant-funded service to an MCLS subscription-based service for libraries beginning Sept. 1, 2023. Read on for some TALK transition details we covered in recent webinars with current TALK libraries in Indiana and Michigan.  

If your library uses TALK currently, please let us know as soon as possible if you plan to continue using the service after Sept. 1 so we can plan accordingly. 

Learn more about TALK’s history at the TALK website. TALK is available today to public libraries throughout Indiana and Michigan with a community of any size. It has been completely free of charge to libraries to date, and MCLS will offer it for an affordable cost beginning in September to support the costs of running and continuing to develop it. We will also begin offering TALK to libraries nationwide over the next 12 months. 

Available in both English and Spanish, TALK sends text messages to parents of pre-K children encouraging them to read, write, talk, sing, and play with their little ones to promote early learning. Libraries that offer TALK in their community can also use the system to promote programs such as story time. Offering TALK to a library’s community involves two components: a TALK subscription for the library so parents can sign up to participate and receive text messages, and “blocks” of text messages that are easy for libraries to track via TALK’s library portal. TALK keeps track of how many messages parents have received from a library’s block. Text messages never expire as long as a library maintains its TALK subscription – a TALK library can use up messages in a block and buy more blocks as needed. 

Our partners at Ypsilanti District Library (YDL) began developing TALK for Michigan libraries with LSTA funds from the Library of Michigan. Later, they received an IMLS grant to continue development with support from MCLS staff and expand the service to Indiana. During the grant period, libraries have been able to use TALK at no charge. Effective Sept. 1, 2023, libraries that use TALK will pay a small subscription fee annually (prorated through June 30, 2024) based on their service population, as follows: 

MCLS member library  MCLS non-member library 
$50 per 10,000 residents a library serves 

(minimum $50/year) 

$60 per 10,000 residents a library serves 

(minimum $60/year) 

Text message blocks come in three sizes: 1,000, 2,500, or 5,000 messages each. IMLS grant funds provide 5,000-message text blocks to any TALK library in Indiana or Michigan through July 31, 2024. During this final year of grant fundingYDL and MCLS are offering a free block voucher program (while supplies last) based on a library’s service population:

Service population  Number of text message block vouchers 
0 – 9,999  1 block of 5,000 
10,000 – 49,999  2 blocks of 5,000 
50,000 – 99,999  3 blocks of 5,000 
100,000 +   4 blocks of 5,000 

TALK sends each subscribing parent approximately 147 text messages per child per year. Each block size serves an approximate number of children as follows: 

Block size  Messages/child/year   Number of children served/year 
5,000  147  34 
2,500  147  17 
1,000  147  6 

We recommend that libraries estimate the number of children they plan to reach through TALK. 

Following the IMLS grant period next July, MCLS will offer text message blocks at the following prices: 

Block size  Price per block 
5,000 messages  $62 
2,500 messages  $34 
1,000 messages  $16 

We have a handy TALK cost calculator libraries can use to determine their total cost. We also have example pricing for a smaller and larger library as follows: 

Our goal is to keep TALK affordable for libraries.   

To recap, TALK began as a grant-funded service with no cost to libraries. This fiscal year, MCLS will begin offering TALK at a prorated subscription price with text block vouchers. Beginning July 1, 2024 (or whenever a library’s text message blocks are used up), TALK will require subscription and paid text message blocks at an affordable price.   

Along with our partners at (YDL), the Library of Michigan, IMLS, and the Indiana State Library, we’re really proud of TALK and the positive impact it has for children ages 0-6 and their families. Our staff have added features to the system to make it better for libraries, and we plan to add new marketing materials soon (see TALK Marketing Office Hour events below). If your library has used TALK with local parents, we hope you’ve found it helpful to support young children’s development and to draw more attention to what you can do for children and their families. Please email any questions you have about TALK to   

As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas about what MCLS can do for your library, at