This was a busy but very exciting week. I started the week attending the four-day TALL Texans leadership retreat near Lake Dallas in north Texas. I was grateful to Ted Wanner at the Texas Library Association for inviting me to be a mentor at this year’s TALL Texans. This was the second time I had served as a mentor at TALL Texans, but the last time was in 1997. The experience was just as fulfilling as I remembered. Maureen Sullivan and Jack Siggins are still the amazing presenters they have always been and the other 5 mentors were outstanding. But the most amazing thing were the attendees: 24 of the best and brightest individuals from across Texas public, school and academic libraries. I found the quality of the conversations, the inquiry, and the commitment of these librarians to be indicative of a very high quality of talent working in the library profession across our state. And I applaud the Texas Library Association for their ongoing commitment to cultivating leadership to ensure the longterm success of Texas libraries.
On Thursday and Friday of this week, I attended the annual conference of the National Association of Government Archivists and Records Administrators conference here in Austin. TSLAC was a gold sponsor of this event and many of our staff participated in local arrangements, program planning, and in presenting at the conference, led by our State Archivist, Jelain Chubb. As in so many other aspects of our society, the work of contemporary archivists and records managers has changed enormously in the electronic age. We are now in an era of digital archives and records managed on local servers as well as in the cloud, accessed via sophisticated discovery systems on handheld and desktop devices with overlays for mapping and other complex data uses. These new developments point to an exciting future of use of these resources by researchers, historians, government and the general public. Several of our staff participated in programs on topics such as the acquisition of the records of Gov. Perry and the digitization of decades of Texas Senate audio tapes. We are meeting the new world of archives and records with a staff that now includes a several who hold the Digital Archiving Specialist certification from the Society of American Archivists. And with the new resources appropriated in the last legislative session, we are now poised to begin building the Texas Digital Archive to preserve, protect, and make available the electronic archives of state agencies.
I ended my week yesterday in San Antonio with the opening of the new Ricardo Romo BiblioTech operated by Bexar County. This is the second library branch opened by Bexar County that features no books, but rather only resources in digital formats. The library makes available state of the art computers for public use as well as e-books circulated on tablets and a children’s room in which both children and adults can explore interactive resources. On hand for the opening were many local dignitaries, including the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, State Senator Jose Menendez, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff (who has masterminded the creation of these BiblioTechs), and the library’s namesake, UTSA President Ricardo Romo. It is always gratifying to see a new library open, but it is particularly exciting to see so many officials from the federal, state, county, and city level present to speak on the importance of libraries to early literacy, technology access, digital literacy, economic and workforce development and lifelong learning. Thanks to the partnership between the City and the County and the vast resources of the San Antonio Public Library, residents have access to a rich array of library services. We wish Bexar County much success with its new BiblioTech and look forward to the opening of the third facility on the East Side in a few months.