Libraries Saving America: The TSLAC Road Trip to San Angelo

This week the Texas State Library and Archives Commission will hold its regularly scheduled meeting at the beautiful new Stephens (Tom Green County) Central Library in San Angelo. Each fall, the commission meets in a different location around the state. Last year, the commission met at the Lamar University Library in Beaumont, and two years ago in Rio Grande City, home of the Starr County Library.

Our commission—a seven member governing board comprised of citizens from across the state appointed by the Governor—likes to meet in different locations so that members can observe library operations first hand, and meet and be accessible to local and state officials, the public, librarians and library supporters.

By meeting in San Angelo, the Commission will have the opportunity to visit not only the Stephens library, but the Porter Henderson Library at Angelo State library, the West Texas Collection archives, and the San Angelo Data Center.

While in San Angelo, the commission will present a ceremonial grant check to the Tom Green County Library for $80,000 for two creative projects. Of this amount, $75,000 will fund STEAM Central, an innovative technology program that will create a new makerspace area in the library where young people can come to explore, experiment, and learn vital science, technology, engineering, arts and math skills that will help them be competitive in our high-tech economy.

In conjunction with our meeting in San Angelo, Jaclyn Owusu, Public Awareness Coordinator in our Talking Book Program, will be meeting with various individuals and organizations to spread the word about the books and information that make available free of charge to Texans who cannot read standard print due to a visual or physical disability.

In advance of our visit, the San Angelo Standard-Times ran an article last week that I wrote to call attention to the important role that libraries play in our society. I made the case that in our deeply divided country where there is little agreement anything, Americans are in agreement that libraries are a key resource for early learning, workforce, technology, and much more. While Americans are mistrustful of government, they trust the information they receive from libraries. And at a time when Americans are tribal and wary of one another, they are comfortable coming together to interact with one another in the safe environment of the library.

In this way, I have argued, that libraries may be in a unique position to help heal the deep divisions in our society and help connect people with each other and the resources they need for their individual goals, and to develop strong, vibrant, resilient communities.

Can libraries save America? The answer is yes and the effort is already afoot in San Angelo and hundreds of other communities across Texas and the nation. We need to acknowledge it and get to work. Our country needs us.

“Find Country’s Answers in the Library,” San Angelo Standard-Times.

October is Archives Month–Let’s Celebrate!

October is Archives Month and there is a lot going on.

Last week the Austin City Council held a ceremony to proclaim that October is Archives Month, celebrating the value of archival collections to preserving and making available the records of our shared heritage. We were glad to have members of our Texas Historical Resources Advisory Board on hand to attend the event. The THRAB is comprised with experts from across Texas who advise the State Archivist, Jelain Chubb, on matters relating the archival collections of TSLAC and in other archives across the state.

2016-aris-archives-month-poster-proof-08-08Each year, TSLAC produces an Archives Month poster to share with other libraries and archives across Texas and the nation. This year’s poster (pictured at left)—“Archives Have the Answers! You Provide the Questions”—celebrates the important role that archives and libraries play in making historical records available to researchers and the general public. These collections are a source of information that Texans use every day to “unlock stories of the past,” including genealogies, social narratives, and community history.

On Sunday, October 16, TSLAC will again be attending the Austin Archives Bazaar to be held from 2 to 6:00 p.m. at Saengerrunde Hall, 1607 San Jacinto Boulevard in Austin. The event provides an opportunity for attendees to learn about the many resources and services to be found at Austin-area archives. Similar events are held in other cities in Texas and across the country during Texas and American Archives Month.

And at TSLAC, we continue to seek ways to extend the value of our collections and make them more accessible to the public. Our project, the Texas Digital Archive, launched early this year, continues to grow and expand, with ever increasing collections of digital archival materials added every week. Over the coming months and years, the Texas Digital Archive will continue to grow and become an ever-more useful repository of the digital archives of Texas state government. We hope you will visit the TDA today to see what is new and continue to return to see what is added.

We urge you to celebrate Texas Archives Month by visiting our agency to start your genealogy research, carry on your research, or even just visit our fascinating lobby exhibit on the history of Texas parks and their creation by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Or visit an archive near you to discover the wonderful range of information and services available in Texas archives.

For more events during Texas Archives Month and ways you can celebrate, visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/thrab/archivesmonth.html

Please visit the Texas Digital Archive at: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/texasdigitalarchive

For more on American Archives Month, visit https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2016/10/01/the-national-archives-celebrates-american-archives-month/