TSLAC’s Strategic Goals

The members of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission met last week in a two-day strategic planning session. Every other year, all state agencies are required to create an Agency Strategic Plan. Even though this is a biennial requirement of state government, we take the process very seriously. It is an opportunity for our Commission and staff to discuss strategic direction for the agency, how we can continue to effectively discharge our mandates, and how we can better serve our customers. It is also an opportunity to hear from our customers and client groups about how we can better align our agency activities with their aspirations. The goals set by the Commission in this process provide the foundation on which we build not only our strategic plan but also our Legislative Appropriations Request for the next biennium. So these decisions have definite long-term impacts.

As they did two years ago, our commission arrived at a set of operational goals for the agency, as follows:

  • To articulate and advance the value of Texas libraries as essential to our communities and state.
  • To recruit and retain the knowledge-based workforce necessary to discharge the agency’s duties.
  • To safeguard, preserve, and provide access to informational and historical assets such as the Regional Historical Resources Depositories and the Talking Book Program.
  • To acquire the technology necessary to effectively, securely, and efficiently manage agency resources.
  • To secure the state’s official records by addressing the immediate need for additional archival storage and provide for the growth of Texas records.
  • To support efforts to ensure digital inclusion for Texas.
  • Continue to refine our response to the informational needs of the increasingly diverse Texas population.
  • Continue to develop the Texas digital archive as a vital information resource for all Texans.

These objectives are in the Commission’s priority order. The first goal speaks to a frequently heard request from libraries across the state to help describe to state and local decision makers and the public the value of libraries. The goal also speaks to the ways in which our library development projects attempt to add value to local library services as well. The second goal arises out of an ongoing challenge in our agency to recruit and retain the most talented staff possible to effectively carry out our mandated services. We have a wonderful staff, but our salaries are not fully competitive. We received partial funding for our request for equity adjustments for staff in the last session and we are grateful for that advancement, but our salaries continue to lag behind both other state agencies and the general marketplace.

The sixth bullet refers to our ongoing efforts to provide broad access to shared digital resources, but also our intensifying efforts to address the lack of broadband access for libraries across the state. Whether the broadband is not available or not affordable, the effect is that the lack of this important access in many parts of the state is a barrier to education and economic development. Libraries can and should be part of the solution to community access to broadband.

Next Tuesday, March 1, at 10 a.m., I am going to be presenting a webinar on our strategic planning process. I hope you can join us and send your comments and suggestions. You can visit this link to sign up for the webinar. We will also soon announce an online survey for you to also provide your input. And finally, you can always feel free to e-mail me your thoughts and suggestions at: msmith@tsl.texas.gov.

Big day for TSLAC programming

Unlike a public library that may have constant and overlapping programs for the public, our mandates and the nature of our facilities make programs for us more infrequent. However, we have been offering more outreach and activity lately and as it turns out, we have two major events scheduled for tomorrow.


TSLAC Outreach and Education Coordinator Ashley Stevens (left) speaking with a Time Warner reporter this week.

At the Zavala Building tomorrow, we have a program–which at this point is full–Black Family History Day from 12 to 3 p.m.–in which members of our Archives team guide attendees through local genealogical resources and how to research family history. Our very creative and energetic Coordinator or Outreach and Education programs, Ashley Stevens organized and has been actively promoting the event. She was even featured on Time-Warner News Channel speaking about the program. You can see that video here.

Meanwhile, at 2 p.m. at the ZACH Theatre in Austin, TSLAC will be sponsoring the kick-off of Lone Star Día, our statewide celebration of the 20th anniversary of Children’s Day, Book Day / El día de los niños, El día de los libros. The ZACH Theater is performing the play “Tomás and the lonestar_bannerLibrary Lady,” a play based on a book of the same title by author Pat Mora who also happens to be the founder of Children’s Day, Book Day. Ms. Mora will be on hand at the play–along with a number of Texas teachers, library leaders and lots of children and families–to greet the crowd and say a few words about her work, the origin of Día and the importance of books and reading. Thanks to a generous donation by the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas, we will be providing free copies of Tomás and the Library Lady to everyone attending the program. Throughout this spring we will be encouraging Texas libraries to observe this wonderful celebration that emphasizes the power of books and reading to change young lives. This project is being presented by our Texas Center for the Book, coordinated by Rebekah Manley with much planning and support from our Youth Services Consultant Christine McNew.

Unfortunately, both of these programs are full, however, we look forward to continuing to present as programming to help ensure that Texans of all ages have access to the information resources they need to live productive, informed lives.