The History of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

The Texas State Library and Historical Commission was created in 1909 and is now known as the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. See the list of Texas State Librarians from our About Texas page.

1835: A settler at the Consultation in San Felipe proposes a library for the new Republic government. No action is taken due to the threat of Mexican invasion.

1839: Republic of Texas President Mirabeau Lamar signs into law an act establishing a "national library." The library's first acquisition is a 13-volume Edinburgh Encyclopedia. The Republic moves its archives - maintained separately from the library - to the new capital, Austin, from Houston.

1842: Citing renewed fears of Mexican invasion, Republic President Sam Houston orders the Republics's archives moved to Washington-on-the-Brazos. Austin citizens, led by innkeeper Mrs. Angelina Eberly, stop the wagon train carrying the records at cannon-point in the "Archives War." A marker outside today's Lorenzo de Zavala Building commemorates the event.

1876: Control of the archives moves from the Secretary of State's office to the Department of Insurance, Statistics and History - locale of O. Henry's short story "A Departmental Affair."

1881: The Capitol fire destroys most of the State Library's small collection. The new Capitol includes more spacious quarters for the State Library. These are now home to the Legislative Reference Library.

1895: The U.S. and Texas governments first agree to exchange government documents.

1909: The Texas Library and Historical Commission is created. It directs the State Library, aids and encourages public libraries, and collects materials related to Texas history. For the first time, the State Library and Archives are contained in one agency.

c.1920: The State Library first distributes embossed books for the blind.

1931: The Library of Congress establishes the National Library Service for blind adults; the State Library is one of the first participants. Today's Talking Book Program serves more than 25,000 Texans.

1947: The State of Texas establishes its first records management program.

1955: The federal Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) is passed, creating a federally funded grant program for local libraries. Funds for Texas are administered by the State Library.

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1959: The Texas Historical Commission is created. The State Library's name would not be altered to reflect this change until the 1970s.

1961: The State Archives and Library Building is completed. Previously, the state stored its archives in offices, basements and Quonset huts. Championed by Gov. Price Daniel - later to serve on the Library and Archives Commission - the building was funded by money provided by the Department of Public Safety. The 95,000-square-foot building contains five main floors and seven stack floors.

1962: The State Archives and Library Building is formally dedicated.

1963: Legislation passed in Washington and Austin creates both the U.S. Documents and Texas Documents depository programs. The Texas State Documents Depository Law is codified in 1987 and amended in 1995.

1964: Noted Western artist Peter Hurd is commissioned to paint the 55-foot mural,Texas Moves Toward Statehood, in the lobby of the Archives and Library Building. The work is actually executed by Hurd's son-in-law, English artist Peter Rogers. The original design of the work was altered after public protest to include a portrait of Mirabeau Lamar.

1969: The Texas Library Systems Act becomes law. The State Library creates 10 regional library systems, through which it distributes state and federal funds to help public libraries improve their services and collections. In the same year, the Legislative Reference Library is separated from the State Library and moved into the legislative branch.

1971: The Regional Historical Resource Depository Act establishes a network of local libraries to preserve city, county and other local records.

1972: The State Records Center is built in northwest Austin. This warehouse now stores more than 200,000 cubic feet of records and is headquarters to the State and Local Records Management Division. The building was greatly expanded in 1988.

1973: The State Archives and Library Building is renamed Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building to honor Lorenzo de Zavala - first vice president of the Republic of Texas, translator between Sam Houston and Santa Anna, and designer of the first Republic of Texas flag.

1977: The Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, a unit of the State Archives, is built in Liberty to serve Southeast Texas. Gov. Price Daniel and his wife Jean donated the land; Mrs. Daniel, a direct descendant of Sam Houston, also provided materials from the Houston family for the Center's collections.

1989: The Local Government Records Act is passed. Under its terms, the State Library develops standards and assists records management programs for Texas' approximately 8,800 local governments and county offices.

1994: The Texas State Electronic Library, the first major component of the State Library's Project Link, opens for business, giving the State Library a presence on the Internet.

1995: The Texas Legislature allocates funding to create the State Library's Internet Assistance Grant and Print Access for Texans programs. Also during this session, as part of the agency's sunset review, the State Documents Depository Program is expanded to include electronic as well as paper publications.

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1996: The Library Services and Technology Act replaced the Federal Library Services and Construction Act.

Texas Book Festival was created to raise funds for public libraries and to encourage reading in Texas.

1997: Legislature created library tax districts as a mechanism to establish and fund public libraries.

Legislature enacted new state records preservation and management law.

1997: Legislature transferred responsibility for the TexShare academic library resource-sharing consortium to TSLAC.

1999: Legislature added public libraries to the TexShare library resource-sharing consortium.

2001: Legislature funded the Loan Star Libraries Program of direct aid to Texas public libraries.

Libraries of clinical medicine added to the TexShare library resource-sharing consortium.

2003: Legislature increased number of Commissioners to seven.

Federal Library Services and Technology Act reauthorized.

2005: Legislature authorized public school libraries to participate in TexShare group purchasing programs.

Legislature added a second library district law permitting funding by sales or property tax.

Legislature authorized $15.5 million for the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building renovation.

2007: Sunset bill reauthorized agency for 12 years.

Legislature authorized TSLAC to support collaborative efforts to provide Internet access to digitized cultural resources.

2008: Renovation of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building began.

Friends of Libraries & Archives of Texas, the agency’s nonprofit support group, kicked off a capital campaign to supplement renovation funds for the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building.

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2009: Legislature revised Library Systems Act to facilitate development of multi-type library systems.

Legislature allowed the agency to use rule-making authority to expand membership in the TexShare consortium.

Legislature revised the definition of a "state record" to include government records from the pre-statehood period.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission celebrated 100 years serving the state of Texas.

The Talking Book Program began distributing the National Library Service’s digital talking book machine and offering digital download services to patrons; the new machine was the first major change in equipment since cassette machines were first distributed in the late 1960s.

The Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building was designated a national Literary Landmark by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations; it was the fourth building in Texas to receive the designation.

2010: Renovation of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building was completed and the building rededicated on November 12.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission awarded $7.96 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

2011: Legislature eliminated all funding for the Loan Star Libraries Program of support for the state’s public libraries.  Agency budget was reduced by 64 percent, and 23.6 FTE positions were lost.

2012: The Talking Book Program received the Library of the Year award from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at a ceremony in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission received the Broadband Hero award for its initiative, ideas, and efforts to support and encourage the implementation of broadband services for all Texans.

2013: TSLAC authorized to provide electronic information databases to K-12 public schools (TexQuest).

2014: TSLAC initiates an electronic archives program to begin process of taking responsibility for the digital and paper records of Governor Rick Perry.

2015: Legislature added $7.6 million to agency budget, including funding to create the Texas Digital Archive and an additional $6 million for TexShare and TexQuest shared digital access programs.

Texas Center for the Book moved to TSLAC from Dallas Public Library. In 1984, the Library of Congress launched the Center for the Book program with affiliates in each state to sponsor programs that highlight each state’s literary heritage and call attention to the importance of books, reading, literacy, and libraries.

2016: TSLAC launches the public access portal to the Texas Digital Archive. Collections available include the records of Governor Rick Perry’s administration as well as over 20,000 digitized prints and photographs.

2017: TSLAC receives one-time appropriation of $1 million to support broadband access in com­munities throughout the State via Texas public libraries. Start of Sunset Review.

2019: TSLAC is reauthorized for another 12 years and gains authority to advertise services and sell replicas of archival materials.

2020: TSLAC launches first-ever advertising campaigns for the Talking Book Program and its library electronic resources.

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Page last modified: November 3, 2020