TSLAC adapting to the coronavirus crisis

For the last few days, along with the rest of society, TSLAC has been running to keep up with the rapidly changing conditions during the developing response to the coronavirus epidemic.

Last week, TSLAC closed all facilities to the public and most staff began working from home, though we maintained some staff working in the De Zavala headquarters building in the Capitol complex in Austin. Today, the City of Austin ordered all residents to stay at home unless travel was absolutely essential. Consequently, beginning tomorrow, March 25, we are further reducing staff in our two Austin facilities to the minimum needed to maintain services online and by e-mail. Our State Records Center is a designated essential service so a minimal number of staff will rotate on site to meet requests for records deliveries to state agencies. All other services will be delivered online or by phone.

For an up-to-date report of services available during this emergency period, as well as resources for libraries and archives, please refer to the excellent Plan for Services During COVID-19 maintained by Assistant State Librarian Gloria Meraz and the TSLAC Communications Team with input from all divisions of the agency.

As you may have heard, many libraries across the state of Texas have closed during the current crisis. In some states, the Governor or the State Library have issued statements urging libraries to close. This has not been the case in Texas. The Governor has not ordered statewide closures and TSLAC does not take a position on whether a library should cease services to the public. The Texas Library Association, however, has issued a statement urging libraries to close for the health of employees and the public.

Even closed, libraries provide a huge wealth of materials to the public that can be accessed 24-7. These online resources are of key importance in finding information or even just relieving the stress of long hours spent at home. We urge you to visit your library’s website to discover the fun, interesting, and informative materials they offer online such as e-books, movies, audiobooks, and e-resources available from the library, many of which are provided via our TexShare program. And for those of you interested in Texas history, we urge you to explore online TSLAC archival resources and the vast collection in the Texas Digital Archive.

To all our patrons, clients, and partners, we wish you health and safety. We look forward to continuing to serve you as we can during this emergency period and to seeing you in person in a few weeks.

Links in this article:

TSLAC Plan of Service during COVID-19: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/services

TLA Statement regarding closure of libraries: https://txla.org/news/tla-recommends-closure-of-texas-libraries/

TSLAC Archives & Manuscripts page: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/index.html

Texas Digital Archive: https://tsl.access.preservica.com/

TSLAC prepares for COVID-19

Like all other public agencies, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has been preparing for the advancing coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic. Along with other state and local agencies, we have been making our best judgments about what steps we should take to maintain services while also doing our part to break the cycle of transmission of the disease and minimize risk of exposure by our staff and our clienteles.

Last week we took the step of cancelling all in-person TSLAC workshops, presentations, and tours. This week, starting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, TSLAC will close until further notice all public services desks at our headquarters Lorenzo de Zavala building in Austin, and at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, Texas.

Further, we will be directing staff to telework when possible, maintaining a minimal rotating staff in our facilities, though agency services will be available to the public via phone and e-mail, and contacts are provided below. (Please note also that the State Records Center is deemed an essential service by the State and in our agency Continuity of Operations Plan and will, therefore, be fully operational regardless of any called closures by the state. We will maintain deliveries of requested records to state agencies unless specifically directed not to do so by state leadership.)

We are reviewing our staff schedule to comply with direction received on Friday from the Office of the Governor to cancel all non-essential travel and meetings. Most meetings will be conducted remotely. Most conferences that TSLAC staff would have traveled to have been cancelled such as the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, The Texas Conference on Digital Libraries, the Annual Best Practices gathering, National Library Legislative Day, and the Western Council of State Library Agencies.

We also continue to provide information to our various client groups about the virus. Last week, our Library Developments blog carried an outstanding list of resources with information and official guidance for use by libraries and other clients across the state. You can access that blog post at this link: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/librarydevelopments/2020/03/12/resources-for-workplace-preparedness/

Soon we will have a link on the front page of our website that collects information and recommended sites in one location.

Even though our physical doors may be temporarily closed to the public, our virtual doors are open to serve. Please note the following ways to reach us:

  • Customers needing assistance with the archives, genealogy, or other reference services are encouraged to contact us by phone or e-mail. Our reference contacts are located at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/reference.
  • Libraries needing assistance can continue to call upon our staff in the Library Development and Networking Division. Our LDN contact page is located at this link: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/directory
  • Readers using our Talking Book Program can continue to call as they normally have. And if you would like to register for the service, you can visit this page: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/tbp/application/index.html or call 1-800-252-9605.
  • State and local agencies using our records storage and imaging services can continue to contact us as normal, and access accounts via TexLinx as always. Questions directed at our Records Management Assistance team can be directed to 512-463-7610 or by e-mail to slrminfo@tsl.texas.gov

Thank you for your patience during this difficult period. We know that you and your families are also coping with these strange times. If we can be of assistance in connecting you with the information you need to better manage through the crisis, please reach out to us. We wish you all safety and good health.