The Texas State Library and Archives Commission met last week and among the several items they discussed was the agency’s funding request for the 2018-2019 biennium. By all accounts, the next session is going to be tough. Energy revenues are down and we have indications that funds will be tight. However, despite gains in the last two sessions, TSLAC’s state general revenue funding is still 23% below what it was five years ago (in 2010-2011) and meanwhile the needs of the agency and of library and archives users statewide have not decreased. During the spring, in a variety of forums, we heard those needs expressed loud and clear many times.
So for those reasons, the Commission prioritized a set of recommendations that support their own operational goals and respond to the needs of the public, state government, and the libraries and local governments we serve. The Commission approved the following items in this order (amounts are approximate pending further discussion by the Commission and are for the biennium):
- Strengthening agency computer and physical security – $1,621,714 – Because we must safeguard the tremendous online and physical assets of the agency, including the archival historical record of the state.
- Affordable e-resources for education, workforce, and lifelong learning – $8,000,000 – Because we can leverage statewide buying power to provide affordable, cost-effective access to e-book content for students, job-seekers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and lifelong learners through thousands of public, academic, and school libraries across Texas.
- Recruiting and retaining an agency workforce to deliver mandated services – $500,000 – Because delivering the valued services of our agency depends upon hiring and keeping qualified and educated persons whose information skills are in high demand in our information economy.
- Greater transparency of state and local government – $241,800 – Because the public deserves transparency in the operations of state and local government and our agency cannot ensure that transparency without sufficient trained staff to provide records management guidance and training for 157 state agencies and over 10,000 units of local government.
- Broadband access for Texas communities – $1,000,000 – Because the economic and educational progress of Texas depends upon the availability of high-speed Internet and public libraries could provide that access through affordable, E-rate-supported broadband access.
We look forward to taking these items forward to our elected representatives beginning now and extending through the next session. We look forward to telling our leaders how TSLAC can help Texans have access to the information they need to be informed, productive citizens.