Texas State Library and Archives Commission
July 20, 2020
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission met on Monday, July 20, 2020 via telephone and videoconference.
Martha Wong, Chair
Larry G. Holt, Vice Chair
David C. Garza
F. Lynwood Givens
Arthur T. Mann
Bradley S. Tegeler
Mark Smith, Director and Librarian
Gloria Meraz, Assistant State Librarian
Donna Osborne, Chief Operations and Fiscal Officer
Sarah Swanson, General Counsel
Jelain Chubb, Director, Archives and Information Services
Craig Kelso, Director, State and Local Records Management
Jennifer Peters, Director, Library Development and Networking
Sarah Jacobson, Director, Talking Book Program
Michael Ford, Director, Information Technology Services
Susan Floyd, Communications Officer
Tracy Kuhn Lash, Executive Assistant
Erica McCormick, Program Coordinator, LDN
Bethany Wilson, Grants Administrator, LDN
Misael Arroyo, Administrative Assistant, SLRM
Wendy Woodland, Texas Library Association
- Welcome and introductions.
Chairman Wong called the meeting to order at 1:03 p.m., welcomed everyone and stated that the meeting was being conducted via videoconference pursuant to the Governor's March 13, 2020 proclamation of a state of disaster affecting all counties in Texas due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Governor’s March 16, 2020 suspension of certain provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Chairman Wong said the meeting was posted on the Texas Register on July 9, 2020, and that notice indicated the meeting would be conducted via videoconference providing a weblink and phone number for the public to use to access, listen and participate in the meeting. She explained that all commissioners would leave their video on during the meeting but mute their audio when they are not speaking. Staff will only share video and audio when making a presentation or participating in a discussion. She said that all attendees will be muted unless specifically unmuted for allowing public comment.
Roll Call for members and establishment of a quorum.
Chairman Wong took a roll call of commissioners and established that a quorum was present.
There was no public comment.
Conflict of interest disclosures.
Darryl Tocker stated that he may have a potential conflict of interest for agenda item 6 since an applicant for a CARES grant shares office space with the Tocker Foundation and pays a nominal fee for that space noting that the applicant, however, Central Texas Library System, was not selected to receive a grant by the reviewing committee.
Review and approval of TSLAC Legislative Appropriations Request.
Mark Smith thanked the commission for being present at this special meeting and explained that although staff had fully expected to receive instructions for preparing the agency’s Legislative Appropriation Request for the FY2022-23 biennium and submit by early August, instructions have not yet been issued. Staff have attempted to prepare as much of the request as possible, he said even given all the unknowns.
He also said that he and ASL Gloria Meraz met with Commissioner Tegeler who provided valuable insights which have been incorporated into the draft submitted to the commission. Following Commissioner Tegeler’s suggestion, the exceptional item to fund State Records Center expansion was divided into two items – one a request for design and architectural fees and secondly, a request for construction of the expansion. The LAR as presented includes plans for a 20% reduction which were not changed from what was presented to the commission at its meeting on June 5, 2020, he said. If additional cuts are requested those would likely come from TexShare databases he said, but other reductions could include staffing.
He noted that the Comptroller this day predicted a $4.6 billion budget shortfall and that the Comptroller is confident the state has the ability to handle this shortfall. However, there is a great deal of uncertainty and that this estimate is based on the partial reopening of the economy this fall. Director Smith said that it is possible that the LAR may not be due until mid-August and that he would be happy to bring the LAR back for approval at the August 3, 2020 meeting, but requested commission approval at least in concept at this meeting.
Commissioner Givens said the LAR was very well written and suggested including information about how competitive and cost-effective the State Records Center fees are in order to strengthen the case to expand that facility. He also asked about the feasibility of asking for restoring budget cuts and whether if in the current climate there would be any possibility that reductions would be restored. Director Smith explained that the agency’s budget was reduced by 65% in the 2012 and 2013 biennium and although some recovery has been achieved, the agency’s budget is still down around 25% less and that he feels the agency has given more than its share and this is an opportunity to state that. Gloria Meraz said there is value in including the request as it creates a placeholder in the LAR so if there is a will to restore any funds it is less of a bookkeeping challenge.
Vice Chair Holt said the agency’s argument for fund restoration related to coronavirus pandemic response is persuasive and suggested including statistics in that item to strengthen the request.
Commissioner Mann moved approval of the LAR and Commissioner Garza seconded. Chairman Wong took a roll call vote and the motion passed unanimously.
Review and approval of TSLAC CARES Grants.
Jennifer Peters said Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020 and the agency received information on April 13 about the funds it would receive and by May 8th the agency had opened the grant application process for these federal funds to assist libraries with identified community needs arising from the COVID-19 emergency. She presented 38 grants for approval totaling $1.063 million. Staff will conduct a second smaller round of grants at a later date, she said.
Commissioner Tocker asked why more libraries did not apply for the grants and Ms. Peters responded that many librarians are not in a position to seek funds at this early stage of the pandemic as they were in the wake of Hurricane Harvey when TSLAC initiated a grant program for libraries. Some libraries were still closed when that grant program was released and were not in a position to apply which is why the agency conducts two rounds of grant awards, she explained.
Responding to a question from Chairman Wong regarding Sunset Commission concerns that a wider pool of libraries receive the grants, Ms. Peters said that of the 38 libraries recommended for CARES grant funding, eight libraries are new recipients and noted also that 20 of the recipients serve populations under 35,000.
Ms. Peters explained the grant scoring process in response to questions from Commissioner Givens who said he appreciated the process and found it fair. He asked if the libraries which are not selected receive feedback and she stated that scorers are encouraged to leave comments and these are sent to the libraries which are encouraged to apply for the second round of funding.
Responding to a question from Commissioner Garza, Ms. Peters said denied applicants may appeal. Commissioner Garza also asked how the grant program is publicized. Ms. Peters stated that staff share the program on the agency’s website, through the division’s blog for libraries, social media and a variety of means. Commissioner Garza and Chairman Wong stated that if staff are not notifying all libraries via email of the grant program that they do so in the future and to record such email notices.
Commissioner Tocker commented that a number of library advocates such as the Texas Library Association, library consortia and systems as well as the Tocker Foundation did share this information with their member libraries.
Commissioner Tocker moved to approve the recommended list and Commissioner Garza seconded. Chairman Wong conducted a roll call vote and the motion passed unanimously.
Vice Chair Holt moved to adjourn and Commissioner Tocker seconded.
Chairman Wong adjourned the meeting at 1:54 p.m.