We are excited to be attending the annual Texas Library Association 2018 Annual Conference next week in Dallas. TSLAC is sponsoring and/or presenting a number of programs at the conference. We hope those of you attending will join us for these important topics:

Tuesday, April 3

Texas State Library and Archives Commission meeting, 9 am – 1 pm, Omni Hotel, Greenville Room, Level 2

Wednesday, April 4

Show Me the Money! Tips for Winning State & National Grants, 10:00 – 11:00 am, Room C155
Lending Mobile WiFi Hotspots in Rural Communities, 10 – 11 am, Room C 147
School Administrators Conference, 10:30 am – 2:00 pm
Digital Inclusion: Libraries, Access, and Equity, 1:45 – 2:45 pm, Room C154
Introducing the New Texas School Library Program Standards, 3 – 4 pm, Room C 146
Buying in Bulk: The Value of Consortia, 4:15 – 5:15 pm, Room A 302/303

Thursday, April 5

Stranger than Fiction: Adult Nonfiction Readers Advisory, 8:30 – 9:30 am, Room C 148
Two for One: Dual Credit & Early College High School Programs, 8:30 – 9:30 am, Room A 305
The 60x30TX Initiative: Roles for Libraries, 9:45 – 10:45 am, Room A 305
Extend Your Storytelling with Art and Creativity, 11:00 – 12:00 pm, Room C2
Weeding the Library Collection, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, Room C3
Connect Your Community with Broadband, 1:30 – 2:30 pm, Room A 305
TexShare & TexQuest Updates, 1:30 – 2:30 pm, Room C2
Libraries Engaging Families, 2:45 – 3:45 pm, Room C 155

Friday, April 6

How Books Change Lives (Letters About Literature contest), 9:15 – 11:30 am, Ballroom A2
Building an Educated Community with OERs, 10:30 – 11:30 am, Room C147
Community Coalition Building Where Everyone Leads, 10:30 – 11:30 am, Room C 154
Engaging with the New Adult Now and in the Future, 10:30 – 11:30 am, Room A 302/303
Support the Team with Your Winning Storytelling/Writing Activities! 10:30 – 11:30 am, Room A 308

Libraries Connecting Texas

Last Thursday was the deadline for E-Rate applicants to submit their Form 471 to ensure their participation in this federal telecommunications discount program. And thanks to a $1 million appropriation from the Texas Legislature and a lot of hard work by our project partner, E-Rate Central, and TSLAC staff, primarily Technology Consultant Henry Stokes, we may have several dozen new libraries participate in that program. Taking advantage of assistance from E-Rate Central in submitting applications and our subsidies to cover the non-discounted portion of their higher rates in 2019, we have 75 additional libraries that will be participating in E-Rate in Texas. That is a jump of statewide participation from 23% to 36% and overall Internet speeds for these libraries will more than double, and for many will increase by many times. And we will bring in over half a million dollars in federal discounts to Texas.

Why is this important? Because access to high-speed Internet is increasingly recognized by elected officials and policy makers as an essential component of education, economic development, and community sustainability. This is especially important in rural areas of the state. Take for example, the town of Honey Grove, Texas, where residents depend on broadband connectivity at the Bertha Voyer Library to provide GED training, search and apply for jobs, access health information, or get a tax form. Until recently, even with E-Rate, the library’s access consisted of only two T-3 lines delivering 3 megabits per second and at a cost of nearly $900 after discount. Under Libraries Connecting Texas, access at the library will improve to 50 megabits per second. Bertha Voyer Library Director Pattie Mayfield has commented on the challenge of rural connections in her customarily eloquent and direct manner:

“Internet connectivity in small, rural towns is outrageously priced and even at best slow and often cumbersome. Until the AT&T’s and Verizon’s are forced to provide the same type and quality of service at the same affordable price offered in urban settings – internet connectivity in small rural libraries must remain a concern of policy and lawmakers. Cutting off services such as this will be one more blow to rural populations – those who grow the food and work with the land and provide for all those who can’t provide for themselves and do so while barely making ends meet. People who choose to work hard and are the heartland of America have been forgotten long enough!”

We heard similar comments last week at a community forum on broadband convened by the Glasshouse Policy Institute. Community leaders and residents alike voiced their frustration at the lack of availability and affordability of broadband service in rural areas. State Representative Doc Anderson gave generously of his time to discuss the matter with the community and to consider constructive ways the state can support progress in Broadband.

In other news, like the rest of the statewide library community, we are looking forward to participating in the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Dallas next week. Many TSLAC staff will be presenting topics and greeting the public at our booth (# 2406) in the exhibit hall. On Tuesday, our commission will be meeting at 9 a.m. at the Omni Hotel, the agenda to include consideration of contracts for TexShare and TexQuest online information services.

We look forward to seeing many of our library colleagues next week in Dallas.

Archivists’ choice

This week we presented a special program at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to celebrate the opening of our new lobby exhibit, Archives a la Carte. In putting this exhibit together, State Archivist Jelain Chubb had the idea to ask each of our archivists to select two items from the collection that they found particularly interesting and that they would like to curate as part of the exhibit.

From left to right, TSLAC Archives and Information Services staff Tonia Wood, Tiffany Criswell, Mackenzie Ryan, Maria Barker, and Angela Kent.

I loved the idea immediately. Our vision for the archives is that they become better known to researchers and the general public as the vast treasure that they truly are. Who better than the archivists to point us to the best stories, the hidden gems, the episodes that make up the varied and complex history that is Texas?

But our professional archivists took this project to an even more interesting outcome. To their knowledge of the collection, they added their own experience and perspective and judgement, their compassion, sometimes their own family stories, to create a truly multi-faceted examination of Texas history.

The result is an exhibit that includes very well-known treasures such as the famous Journeay violin – by legend fashioned from the wood of Santa Ana’s chair and played for the hapless survivors of the benighted Mier Expedition of 1842 and the original 1839 drawing of the Texas Flag and seal by Peter Krag.

Assistant State Archivist Laura Saegart (center) describes a historic map of Austin and a wanted poster for Clyde Barrow to visitors to TSLAC.

And there are also documents of the notable events in Texas history, such as the photograph of Governor Preston Smith presenting Texas Medals of Honor to Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldin, Jr. Or the poignant dinner program to welcome President John F. Kennedy to Austin on November 22, 1963.

But perhaps most fascinating of all are the artifacts of ordinary people caught up in the big events of history, such as studio portrait of the famed fugitive Gregorio Cortez, whose 10-day run from the Texas Rangers in 1901 sparked a famous ballad. Or the photos of Jewish immigrants arriving in Galveston Island. Or the passport of African-American Freewoman and Texas Revolution heroine Emily West.

What our archivists have helped us to see is that the story of Texas, as reflected in its primary source material, is more immediate and more personal than we guessed – and more powerful. This is the value of an educated, experienced, and talented staff, and it is not something that is available for free on the Internet.

The following are the Archives and Information Services staff who worked on this exhibit:

  • State Archivist Jelain Chubb
  • Assistant State Archivist Laura Saegart
  • Senior Reference Archivist Tonia Wood
  • Head Reference Librarian Angela Kent
  • Conservator Sarah Norris
  • Archivists Caitlin Burhans, Tiffany Criswell, Halley Grogan, Anna Reznik, Rebecca Romanchuk, and Jessica Tucker
  • Reference Archivists Richard Gilreath and Caroline Jones
  • Reference Librarians Sandra Bailey, Taylor Fox, and Mackenzie Ryan
  • Cataloguer Naomi Frantes
  • Digital Archivists Mark Myers and Brian Thomas
  • Library Assistants Stephanie Andrews, Maria Barker, and Andrew Glass
  • Research Assistant Sergio Velasco

Assistant State Librarian Gloria Meraz expertly managed all phases of the development of the exhibit and the program. The lobby exhibit also features a case describing the history and impact of TSLAC’s Talking Book Program curated by TBP Public Awareness Coordinator Jacklyn Owusu.

I hope you have a chance to visit our agency and see this exhibit in the coming months.