Texas State Library and Archives Commission
June 4, 2021
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission met on Friday, June 4, 2021, at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, 1201 Brazos Street, Austin, Texas.
Martha Wong, Chair
F. Lynwood Givens
Arthur T. Mann
Bradley S. Tegeler
David C. Garza
Mark Smith, Director and Librarian
Gloria Meraz, Assistant State Librarian
Donna Osborne, Chief Operations and Fiscal Officer
Sarah Swanson, General Counsel
Tracy Kuhn Lash, Executive Assistant
Michael Ford, Director, Information Technology Services
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
Danielle Plumer, Statewide Resource Sharing Coordinator, LDN
Liz Philippi, School Program Coordinator, LDN
Susan Mann, Hillsboro Public Library
Frank de la Teja, Texas Historical Foundation
John Meadows, Texas Historical Foundation
Gene Crane, Texas Historical Foundation
Jessica Gaddis, Texas Historical Foundation
Shirley Robinson, Executive Director, Texas Library Association
Vanessa Ashcraft, Director of Instructional Support, Jarrell ISD
- Welcome and introductions.
Chairman Wong called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.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 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. She noted that five commissioners are present in person, a sixth, Commissioner Garza is joining via videoconference, and that Larry G. Holt is not present as he is no longer on the commission having been appointed to another agency. Chairman Wong said the meeting was posted on the Texas Register on May 27, 2021, 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.
Roll Call for members and establishment of a quorum.
Chairman Wong conducted a roll call vote and established that a quorum was present.
Minutes of April 9, 2021 Commission meeting.
Commissioner Mann moved approval of the April 9, 2021 commission meeting minutes and Commissioner Tegeler seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Shirley Robinson provided an update on Texas Library Association activities and said the TLA Annual Conference was held virtually in 2021 with over 4,000 attending but in April 2022 the conference will be in person in Fort Worth with the theme Recover, Rebalance, and Reconnect. TLA is very proud of its partnership with TSLAC particularly in these trying times and that TLA is proud to help TSLAC obtain more funds for library services as they did in the just-ended legislative session. She noted that in spite of TLA’s advocacy efforts the omnibus broadband bill HB5 was passed without mention of libraries but TLA will continue to advocate and work for libraries in the rollout of broadband. Ms. Robinson also congratulated Mark Smith on his upcoming retirement and thanked him for his leadership and support of Texas libraries. TLA is prepared to participate in hiring a new Director and Librarian as appropriate and that the strong partnership between TLA and TSLAC is invaluable to Texas libraries. The association looks forward to continuing this partnership. Chairman Wong thanked Ms. Robinson and TLA for their continued support to the commission and for the big part they played in advocating for TSLAC during the legislative session.
Because a member of the public was having technical difficulties, Chairman Wong said she would return to Public Comment later in the meeting.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures. No conflicts were disclosed by the commissioners.
Election of Vice Chair.
Chairman Wong said the commission now has a vacancy for Vice Chair with Commissioner Holt’s departure and said she would like to recommend Commissioner Givens for the position. Commissioner Tocker moved to elect Commissioner Givens as Vice Chair. Commissioner Tegeler seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously with Commissioner Givens not voting. Vice Chair Givens said it is always an honor to be a part of TSLAC and expressed great admiration for the staff, the work they do, and the agency’s partners. He thanked the commission for the opportunity to serve.
Review and approve acceptance of gifts and grants.
Donna Osborne presented a gift of $500 from Dorothy Ledum to the Talking Book Program and Jelain Chubb requested approval to accept a grant of $5,000 from the Texas Historical Foundation. The grant will be used to create a reference tool for conducting legal research in the Texas Court of Appeals (3rd). These records include several hundred cubic feet of case files, dating from 1891 through 1923. She said published opinions for these early years often do not include the case file numbers and require additional time and effort for both researchers and staff to identify and locate the correct case file for use. Members of the Texas Historical Foundation presented the check to the commission. Vice Chair Givens moved to accept the $500 gift and the $5,000 grant. Commissioner Tocker seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Review and approve contracts, contract renewals and amendments.
Jennifer Peters requested approval for renewal of a contract not to exceed $347,025 with Amigos Library Services to continue hosting and configuring SimplyE, the open-source e-book app for libraries who participate in the agency’s e-Read Texas online book offerings. The new contract period (September 1, 2021 through August 31, 2022) will include continued hosting for the current participating libraries as well as adding up to 120 additional libraries. Commissioner Mann moved to approve the contract and Commissioner Tocker seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Jennifer Peters requested approval to extend a contract with Webjunction to continue providing an online training module for librarians from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022 at a cost of $15,450. Ms. Peters said the module is very popular with the state’s librarians and that during the pandemic usage increased 700 percent. Commissioner Tocker moved to approve the contract and Commissioner Mann seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Peters requested approval to extend a contract with the Urban Libraries Council for the Edge Initiative for a final year from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022 in the amount of $80,000. Commissioner Tocker moved to approve the extension and Commissioner Tegeler seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor of the contract extension and the motion passed unanimously.
Craig Kelso requested approval to replace a 21-year-old box truck which is experiencing numerous mechanical issues and to also to purchase two fleet vans to replace two aged vans in the amount of $135,000 with Caldwell County Chevrolet. Commissioner Tocker moved to approve the request and Commissioner Mann seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Kelso requested approval to purchase disaster recovery equipment to treat wet paper, photographs and oxidizing microfilm. Commissioner Tocker moved to approve the request and Commissioner Tegeler seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
At this point in the meeting, Chairman Wong returned to Agenda Item 4 Public Comment and welcomed Vanessa Ashcraft to the meeting. Ms. Ashcraft told the commission of the great value TexQuest resources provide her school district. She herself grew up in a small town with no library, traveling to another town for library visits which is what she said students in her district would have to do if the district did not have TexQuest. She said she is a staunch supporter of the TexQuest program which provides online resources that students can access in school and outside of school on their smart phones. Student usage in her district has grown from an initial 900 students to 2,700. Because reference books are expensive and are frequently outdated soon after publication, it is not sustainable to purchase print materials, she said, noting that TexQuest online resources are updated sometimes daily. The curated, up-to-date reliable resources are invaluable for her students who cannot get such reliable information doing a Google search, she said. She said she hopes the commission understands the importance of TexQuest to public schools. Chairman Wong thanked Ms. Ashcraft for the information and her service as a teacher and librarian.
Report on e-resource procedures and practices.
Mark Smith provided a written report on the electronic databases contained in the TexQuest program for K-12 students noting that the timing of Ms. Ashcraft’s comments was perfect leading into this agenda item. He reminded the commission that staff had previously reported on HB 1811 by Rep. Swanson which gave the State Board of Education the authority to set content control on these resources. He said there was also a rider placed on the agency’s budget that would have required vendors to have certain protocols in place. Although the bill and rider did not pass, staff expect such efforts to continue by the bill sponsor and also because there are some national groups making efforts to raise awareness of what they believe is material in the databases that is harmful to minors. Staff do not believe that is the case, he said, although staff acknowledge that it is possible that an occasional item can be present. There are a number of protocols in place to deal with any such rare occurrence, he said. The TexQuest program has five levels of control to protect students from age-inappropriate materials, ranging from curation by the vendors, protocols that exist within the products, and the fact that school districts have full control and the ability to tailor the way in which they present these materials no matter what grade level. He provided further information on the database vendors detailing the internal controls and curation that each vendor has in place to protect students and then invited Liz Phillipi, TexQuest Program Coordinator, to further explain TexQuest resources and their controls.
Ms. Phillipi said that the TexQuest databases provide authoritative and curated information about a wide variety of topics that all support the classroom curriculum and TEKS. TexQuest resources allow students to gather information without using internet search engines which can turn up inaccurate and inappropriate results. Google admits that its “safe search” option is not always effective at preventing explicit results, she said. She said that four of the six TexQuest vendors use built-in filters to block inappropriate content and the remaining two, Encyclopaedia Britannica and Teaching Books, research, create, and curate all their content to ensure appropriate information. Filters can help protect students from explicit materials, but human review and curation is the gold standard for protection, she said. Ms. Philippi said there are groups around the country that claim that there are inappropriate materials in these online resources but staff have not been able to replicate all of their examples and in fact, some examples clearly come from resources that are not in TexQuest.
Ms. Phillipi said that school districts can only control the content when students access the databases on campus but TSLAC works with vendors on their controls when students access the materials outside of campus. Although vendors have never refused a request to remove content, the next contract period will include a requirement that TSLAC be allowed to remove any inappropriate material to give schools increased confidence in the resources, she said. School districts are required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to filter internet content that children have access to in libraries and schools and have content filters in place that block inappropriate images and content at schools. TSLAC has tested these filters and verified that they work with the TexQuest resources, she said. TSLAC is working with vendors to give individual districts more ability to control their content.
Ms. Phillipi described the TexQuest content in the databases which are selected through a process that includes school librarians from across Texas. She said TSLAC constantly works with vendors to improve the resources and provides training and support for all schools. She said TexQuest is regarded as a model program not just in the U.S. but also internationally and now serves 5.1 million students, most of which are in public schools. TexQuest provides the smallest school district with the same resources as the larger districts, leveling the playing field for students across the state, she said.
Director Smith said staff are not seeking any commission action on this item but are providing the information so that the commission is aware of the issue. Vice Chair Givens said many libraries do not have the resources to monitor the databases and neither does TSLAC. He said he believes all Texans desire that our young people grow up to be honest, moral, and upright citizens and toward that end he thinks a report should be prepared on what the filtering process is – what should be filtered, can be filtered, and what cannot be filtered – and suggested referring this to the commission’s Libraries and Talking Book Committee as a topic of discussion. He said he appreciates what staff have done to bring this to the commission’s attention and believes that such a report should be brought to the commission. He also stressed that he feels that the issue is the standards of what is inappropriate for each age and that such standards should be determined and made public.
Commissioner Tocker asked if there is a procedure in place for anyone to notify the agency of any such items. Director Smith said the TexQuest Collection Development Policy includes such a procedure and Commissioner Tocker said he would like to see that procedure communicated to the users.
Chairman Wong suggested that the committee could provide a report for librarians and the legislature as a proactive action rather than a reactive one. Donna Osborne said that staff have had extensive conversations regarding this topic as they move forward to procure resources through the bidding process and invited Danielle Plumer to comment. Ms. Plumer said she hesitates to give deep details regarding a solicitation because of state rules but said this is a very important issue and that staff have worked extensively with vendors over the past three years to not just remove items but to actually improve the products and their filters. She said TSLAC does not license products that are aimed at adult audiences but will be requiring more proactive work by our vendors to ensure the safety of our students.
Commissioner Tegeler recommended reaching out to Rep. Swanson’s staff to discuss what they are seeing so that everyone is talking about the same thing and use them as a resource and a reference to determine the genesis of the bill.
Vice Chair Givens moved to have the Libraries and Talking Book Committee investigate what should be filtered, meaning establish a standard or show the standard the commission is using, what should not be filtered, what can be filtered, and how participating libraries would be able to do that and then make all of that information available to our library partners and to the legislature if the commission decides to do that. Commissioner Tegeler seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously. Chairman Wong thanked Vice Chair Givens and staff for bringing up this issue so commissioners can better understand this issue.
Report of the Libraries and Talking Book Committee.
Commissioner Tocker reported that the Libraries and Talking Book Committee met on April 28 via Zoom and took up the issue of the proposed allocation of ARPA funds, procurement of electronic resources, and received a report from the Talking Book Program on use of gift funds. The committee reviewed and discussed the ARPA funds allocation, noting that there had been communication with legislative committees which are not providing additional directions pertaining to expenditure of the funds. Commissioner Tocker also reported on the testimony of three librarians who appeared before the committee and who discussed their use of federal CARES Act funds provided by TSLAC grants. He said the committee also received an immense amount of detailed information on the complicated procurement process for purchasing electronic resources. Commissioner Tocker said the committee recommends for commission approval the allocation and programs as modified for immediate implementation of ARPA funds. Commissioner Mann seconded. Mark Smith explained that staff had changed allocation of $1 million to be dedicated to library training programs. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Report on Legislative Session.
Gloria Meraz said the legislative session which just ended was successful for the agency notably for the addition of $3.75 million in funds for libraries and five additional FTEs for libraries and archival processing to the TSLAC budget. She said that a year ago staff was unsure of budget prospects but decided to pursue additional funds for libraries given the critical role they have played in their communities during the pandemic. She said the additional funds include $1.5 million for workforce development, $1 million additional for TexShare, $1 million to support technology deployment for libraries, and $275,000 for two archival positions to address the archives backlog. She said during the session the Texas Library Association was with TSLAC every step of the way as were other groups who advocated about the value of these services. The agency’s first exceptional item request for funds for architectural fees for expansion of the State Records Center was not funded but the legislature directed TSLAC to work with the Texas Facilities Commission to identify potential land acquisition for archival storage. She said this indicates that the legislature had questions about this issue but that they understand the need to look at it. ASL Meraz also provided a list of key bills the agency monitored during the session and noted HB 1917 by Senator Lucio passed and directs Health and Human Services to promote Talking Book services, SB 1177 which is a follow-up on Sunset recommendations for certain state agencies including TSLAC to look at joint curatorial facilities, and HB 4202 which increases TexShare access to colleges. She also noted that a bill for the planning for the semi-sesquicentennial passed and TSLAC is part of that group that will convene to begin planning that celebration. Chairman Wong said the commission appreciates the agency leadership and work during the session and thanked Commissioners Tegeler and Garza for their assistance also. No action required on the report.
Report of the Director and Librarian.
In addition to providing a written report to the commission, Mark Smith stated that the agency is moving forward with the Department of Public Safety for security audits for all agency buildings and procedures and processes. He said there will be a significant upgrade to building security at the Zavala Building as soon as possible for more physical security. Also the fence approved by the commission in 2019 for the State Records Center is scheduled to be installed in the coming weeks. Installation was delayed because of the pandemic, he said. Donna Osborne said she anticipates presenting the DPS plans at the August commission meeting. Director Smith also thanked the commission for allowing him to serve as the Director and Librarian, the most interesting, challenging, fun, and ridiculously great job that a person could have. More importantly he said in the three months left in his tenure before retirement he will be doing what he can for a smooth transition and stands ready to assist the commission in any way he can.
In response to a question from Commissioner Mann, Director Smith said there has been little activity related to the city installing a bridge on the easement the agency granted at the south end of the State Records Center property. Commissioner Mann requested a tour of the new storage location on Promontory Point at the next meeting.
Review and approve request for loan of the Meusebach-Comanche Treaty to the Fredericksburg 175th Anniversary Committee for display at the National Museum of the Pacific War, Fredericksburg, Texas.
Jelain Chubb said TSLAC had received a request from the 175th Anniversary Committee to loan the Meusebach-Comanche Treaty for exhibition at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg on May 7 and 8, 2022 as part of the culmination of its year-long celebration to commemorate its founding and she recommended approval. She noted that this document is one of the documents in the Archives requiring commission approval to lend. She said the museum has satisfied all the agency’s requirements for exhibiting the document. Commissioner Tegeler moved approval and Commissioner Tocker seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Authorization to post in the Texas Register adoption of rule review, 13 TAC Chapter 6, State Records.
Craig Kelso requested authorization to post in the Texas Register adoption of rule review, 13 TAC Chapter 6, State Records. Commissioner Mann moved to approve and Vice Chair Givens seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Authorization to post in the Texas Register adoption of amendments to 13 TAC Chapter 8, TexShare Library Consortium, §8.1, Definitions.
Jennifer Peters requested approval to post in the Texas Register adoption of amendments to 13 TAC Chapter 8, TexShare Library Consortium, §8.1, Definitions. Vice Chair Givens moved to approve and Commissioner Tocker seconded. Chairman Wong requested a show of hands for those in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Authorization to post in the Texas Register proposed amendments to Chapter 8, TexShare Library Consortium, §8.1, Definitions, and §8.3, Consortium Membership and Affiliated Membership.
Jennifer Peters requested approval to post in the Texas Register proposed amendments Chapter 8, TexShare Library Consortium, §8.1, Definitions, and §8.3, Consortium Membership and Affiliated Membership. Commissioner Mann moved to approve and Commissioner Tegeler seconded. Chairman Wong requested a show of hands for those in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Report on agency expenditures summary.
Donna Osborne presented a written report on agency expenditures and responded to questions from the commission. No action required.
Future commission meeting dates.
The commission set February 17 and 18, 2022 for a regular commission meeting and a strategic planning session.
Executive Session under the Open Meetings Act, Government Code, Chapter 551: 551.071 Consultation with and advice from legal counsel regarding any item on this agenda, pending or contemplated litigation, or other legal matters and 551.074 Deliberate on the search for and appointment of a Director and Librarian.
At 12:41 p.m. Chairman Wong called the commission into executive session.
Action items from Executive Session.
At 2:20 pm Chairman Wong reconvened the commission into open session and said that there will be one action item arising from the executive session, the appointment of a subcommittee to manage and direct the search for a Director and Librarian. Commissioner Tegler moved to establish the subcommittee consisting of Commissioner Tocker as chair, Chairman Wong, and Vice Chair Givens as committee members. Commissioner Mann seconded. Chairman Wong asked for a show of hands in favor. Motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Tegeler moved to adjourn the meeting and Commissioner Tocker seconded. Motion passed unanimously and Chairman Wong adjourned the meeting at 2:22 p.m.