Welcome New TSLAC Commissioners

Senator Brian Birdwell (l), swearing in new TSLAC Commissioner Arthur Mann of Hillsboro.

We were very excited to learn last Friday that Governor Abbott has made four appointments to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Commissioner Lynwood Givens of Plano was reappointed to a second term on the Commission. The governor also appointed three new individuals: David Garza of Brownsville, Arthur Mann of Hillsboro, and Darryl Tocker of Austin.

Commissioner Mann is the administrator of the Hillsboro Economic Development Corporation and is known to many in the Texas library community as the husband of former TLA President, library advocate, and Hillsboro Library Director Susan Mann. Commissioner Tocker is the executive director of the Tocker Foundation, which has long been a driving force in the development of small community libraries across Texas. Commissioner Garza is a law partner at Garza & Garza, LLP, has served for over 20 years on various state boards, and is a devoted fan of Texas history and a user of TSLAC information services.

Our excitement over these excellent appointments is tempered by the departure of Commissioner Sharon Carr of Katy. Commissioner Carr has served since 2005 and, as a former school library administrator, was often a valuable subject matter expert regarding library operations on our commission. We thank Commissioner Carr for her dedicated service to our agency, her leadership, and wise counsel over the past 13 years.

We journeyed to Hillsboro Wednesday afternoon for Commissioner Mann’s swearing in by Senator Brian Birdwell. Senator Birdwell welcomed our new commissioner and reminded him that he is appointed to serve the people of Texas, not the agency. It is an important point and we as TSLAC staff look forward to receiving the benefit of that valuable leadership from our new and returning commissioners.

The full press release on the TSLAC appointments can be found at: https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-appoints-four-to-texas-state-library-and-archives-commission

In memory of Peter Rogers, TSLAC mural artist

We received sad news this week that our friend, New Mexico artist Peter Rogers, who in 1964 painted the mural titled “Texas Moves Toward Statehood” in the lobby of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, died on May 28.

Peter Rogers, left, in 1964, painting “Texas Moves Toward Statehood,” and in July 2014.

Peter Rogers returned to TSLAC 50 years later in the summer of 2014 to revisit his mural, to meet current staff, and to recount the history of painting the mural. He dispelled a number of colorful stories about the mural while relating others that we had not heard before. Over the course of a day of meetings with staff, an oral history interview, and a public lecture on July 31, 2014, Peter Rogers left a personal impression as indelible and eloquent as the painting he left on the lobby wall in 1964.

Peter Rogers was born in England in 1933. In 1963 he met his wife, Carol Hurd, in Spain. Carol is the daughter of well-known American artist Peter Hurd who was married to the daughter of another great American artist, N.C. Wyeth. Peter Hurd had received a commission from the State of Texas to paint the mural in our lobby, but he passed the commission on to his new son-in-law in 1963. Relying on a standard Texas history book — Lon Tinkle’s 13 Days to Glory — and working at the kitchen table of his parents’ home in Sussex, England, Peter Rogers created a sweeping and dramatic panorama of Texas history from the days of the conquistadors to the 20th century.

Peter Rogers speaking at TSLAC, July 31, 2014.

While visiting with TSLAC staff, Peter dispelled some myths such as that the eyes of Sam Houston are painted so as to follow you as you walk through the lobby, or that he had painted his wife (the pioneer woman with the baby) and himself (the fallen Alamo defender) into the mural. All false, said Peter, and mostly the product of the “fertile imagination” of one Mrs. Golden who presided over the lobby in the building’s early years.

Peter also related a particularly vivid story that did in fact happen. Having intentionally left Mirabeau B. Lamar out of the mural, he found himself besieged by the Daughters of the

Peter Rogers signing prints of his mural with Archivist Rebecca Romanchuk.

Republic of Texas, one of whom appeared at the foot of his scaffold and pleaded tearfully to restore Lamar to his rightful place beside Anson Jones, third of the presidents of the Republic. “How could I not put him in,” said the artist and Lamar was eventually included.

Much of Peter Rogers’ later artwork was quite different from the mural, but it is the mural for which we and many Texans will remember him. To have Peter visit us and tell the story of the mural was to have a nearly mythological figure appear in our midst. He was a unique, fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyable gentleman. We will cherish our meeting with him and the part of him that will permanently remain central to the experience of all who work in or visit our building.

The obituary of Peter Rogers in the Santa Fe New Mexican: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/english-painter-became-part-of-new-mexico-tradition/article_da238d1f-fa24-5f15-a793-7d37236a9ff6.html

Planning season at TSLAC

The commission and staff at TSLAC are well into the planning and budgeting season. This week we are submitting our Agency Strategic Plan for 2019-2023, which provides the basis of our Legislative Appropriations Request for 2020-2021. We met with our commission on Monday to discuss our plan for that budget request.

While we know it will be a challenging budget cycle, we have ongoing agency needs that we need to articulate. At present we are seeing several critical needs that will likely become exceptional item requests–state budget speak for additional funding requests– to the Legislature:

  • Archives and records storage – We are quickly running out of space to store state records and archives, a situation accelerated by a combination of factors. To address the need in the short-term, we need an estimated $4.4 million, but to provide a more long-term solution (up to 25 years), we need an anticipated $26.4 million. It’s a big ask, but Texas is a big state and its citizens depend on open access to government information.
  • Access to E-Resources – Based on our conversations with the statewide library community, the need for current, authoritative information in digital formats — especially E-Books — is still the most important statewide need and one that TSLAC is uniquely qualified to serve in a cost-effective way. We anticipate asking approximately $4.6 million to access to E-resources for users of public, academic and K-12 libraries across the state.
  • Taking TSLAC to Texas communities – We are developing a proposal to conduct a statewide outreach of agency services to communities across the state. As part of this project, we are working on plans for a TSLAC-mobile that will be serve as a training site, best-practice demonstration, information technology showcase, and tour of our services. And in times of crisis, it could be equipped to serve as a disaster recovery unit to be deployed to libraries and other locations damaged by hurricanes and other natural disasters.
  • Other agency needs – We anticipate other requests to address agency needs such as salary increases so that we can continue to recruit and retain great staff (we have made some progress, but 75% of our staff remain below the median of their state salary range); cybersecurity to ensure the safety of the state’s information and resources under our custody; and staff to assist with the growing boom in Public Information Act requests of which TSLAC by its nature has an inordinately high number.

Many thanks to all our stakeholders for your ongoing input on our planning and budget request. We look forward to working with our constituent groups of librarians, archivists, researchers, state and local government, and persons with disabilities to ensure that we have the resources to fulfill our mission to ensure that Texans have access to the information they need to lead informed, productive lives.