Celebrating the Texas Library and Archives Foundation

National Friends of Libraries Week Spotlight: Texas Library and Archives Foundation
This is National Friends of Libraries Week, October 17-24, 2020, and in honor of the occasion, I would like to acknowledge the great work of our own Texas Library and Archives Foundation (TxLAF) at http://www.txlaf.org/ TxLAF is a statewide nonprofit organization chartered to support the work of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Originally enabled by state law in the late 1990s and formed as the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas, the group recently went through a major reorganization under the leadership of President Andrea Lapsley of Houston to recharter as a Foundation.
The mission of the Texas Library and Archives Foundation is “to support the interests of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in order to collectively promote learning, literacy, and the preservation of Texas History. TxLAF realizes this mission by investing in Texas libraries through literary awareness events, grants, school programs, and book festivals celebrating continued education and our state’s rich documentary heritage. They support special archival exhibits here at the State Library and Archives, which holds millions of historic artifacts, both in Austin and at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty— from rare maps and films to historic letters. TxLAF also provides opportunities to volunteer for statewide literary events and fundraisers, uniting people who share a love of learning in their communities.
During 2020 alone, TxLAF has accomplished the following:

  • Re-chartered from being a membership organization to a foundation, including new branding and creating an entirely new website—that launched today!
  • Forty libraries received mini grants to participate in Lone Star Día, a statewide celebration of Children’s Day/Book Day and the power of books and reading to change young lives.
  • More than 1,300 students in grades 4 to 12 across the state wrote letters about books that touched their lives in the annual Letters About Literature Texas contest
  • Two Texas scholars received $2,000 TSLAC Research Fellowships in Texas History in partnership with the Texas State Historical Association.
  • The Edouard Foundation received the Texas Library Association Benefactor Award for their support of TxLAF’s programs.
  • Books to the Border received the Texas Center for the Book Literacy Award.
  • A grant awarded by the Summerlee Foundation will create five new Texas Literary Landmarks starting in 2021 and doubling the current number of landmarks in Texas.

TSLAC staff and commission are very grateful to the support and encouragement of the Texas Library and Archives Foundation. Join me, along with TSLAC staff, patrons, customers, and friends, in expressing our warmest thanks to TxLAF for their ongoing vision and work in support of Texas libraries and archives!

And, of course, donations to the TxLAF in any amount are very welcome—look for that big new “Give Now” button on their new website.

Remembering Dr. David B. Gracy

Last weekend brought the sad news of the passing of Dr. David Gracy, former Texas State Archivist. Dr. Gracy was a highly respected archivist and historian, educator, author, and tireless defender of intellectual freedom and access to information.

Dr. Gracy served as State Archivist of Texas from 1977 until 1986 when he became a full professor at the University of Texas Graduate School of Library and Information Science. In that position, Dr. Gracy taught and mentored hundreds of future archivists and information professionals including a number of current TSLAC staff. Dr. Gracy was a nationally recognized scholar and leader in the field of archives. He served as the president of both the Society of American Archivists and the Academy of Certified Archivists and was a fellow and active member of the Texas Historical Association.

Dr. Gracy wrote extensively. One of his books, The State Library and Archives of Texas: A History, 1835-1962, was published by the University of Texas Press in 2010 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of TSLAC. Dr. Gracy’s last book was about his ancestor G.W. Littlefield, Austin banker, UT Regent, and, briefly, on TSLAC’s first commission.

In Dr. Gracy’s final year, he graciously accepted our request to speak at our TSLAC in-service day held last November 8, 2019. The topic of Dr. Gracy’s speech was–as it ever was–the importance of preserving access to public records and he spoke forcefully for the role that archives play in ensuring transparency of government. Concerned about a recent directive to relocate records from TSLAC to another agency, Dr. Gracy said, “Essential to a democratic government is transparency–the ability for citizens to monitor the actions taken in their behalf by government leaders.” He went on to say, “Archives are information as accurate, factual, truthful in historical context as we Americans, we Texans, we human beings have.” 

Dr. David Gracy was a giant in the world of archives, preservation, and history. We were highly honored to have known him, work with him, and call him friend and teacher. We will greatly miss his leadership, constant support, and immense expertise and extend our sincere condolences to his family and his many friends and colleagues. 

Links in this post:

Austin American-Statesman obituary of Dr. David B. Gracy: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/statesman/obituary.aspx?n=david-bergen-gracy&pid=196877146

“Nor Is This All: The Spirit of the Texas State Library and Archives.” Speech to TSLAC staff: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/exec/Gracy%20Talk–LEO%202019.pdf