2020 — A year of TSLAC in service to Texans

TSLAC Conservator Heather Hamilton preserving Texas history in the conservation lab.

Every year this time I like to review the work of our agency over the course of the last 12 months and I usually create a list of highlights organized by the goals of our Agency Strategic Plan. This year, as I created that list, I was more taken than ever by the commitment of our dedicated team to serving the needs of the people of Texas. In any year, this list would have been impressive, but in this year when we have risen to meet a much higher level of demand with a staff many of whom are working remotely, I have to say that I am especially proud of what our team has achieved. 

Records Center Specialist Nicholas Kisoso keeping records flowing to and from state agencies.

This is not an exhaustive list of all work of the agency. Much of the ongoing work is not reflected here, including the hundreds of thousands of titles delivered to patrons of the Talking Book Program, the dozens of competitive grants awarded, the thousands of librarians assisted, the many workshops for records managers and librarians, and the thousands of boxes of records received from and delivered to agencies. Thank you for taking a moment to let me share with you some of the highlights of our year at TSLAC.

Goal 1: To fully realize the statutory mandate to “take custody of, preserve, and make available. . .state records and other historical resources.”

  • The Archives Reading Room has been open to public since May 4, the only library operated by a state agency providing service during the pandemic
  • Staff completed a comprehensive new Archives Strategic Plan 
  • The Sam Houston Center has been open since May and the museum since September
  • The Texas Digital Archive has grown to 69 terabytes of digital materials available to the public

Goal 2: To ensure that all types of libraries have the tools, training, and resources needed to meet the informational, educational, and economic needs of the people they serve.

  • Awarded $1.6 million to 60 libraries in TSLAC CARES grants
  • Awarded $1.6 million to four libraries for Border Libraries facility development grants
  • Awarded second round of Library Technology Academy grants
  • A dozen libraries brought are first Texas public libraries to join the Lone Star Education and Research Network statewide high-speed Internet backbone
  • Texas Free Wifi Map provides guide to finding free wifi in hundreds of locations across Texas
  • Texas Library Status Report keeps Texans updated on library reopening across the state
  • Offered extensive resources for staff via a COVID 19 Resources page
  • Created access to thousands of E-books to Texas public libraries during the pandemic
  • Expanded E-Read Texas e-book program and resources to 100 libraries
  • Hosted resource sharing conference in August attended by hundreds of Texas librarians

Goal 3: To develop awareness and use of TSLAC services so that all Texans and state and local governments find the library and information resources they need to succeed in school, work, and life.

  • Hundreds of thousands of clicks of boosted Facebook content promoting the Talking Book Program and other projects

    TSLAC Audio Production Administrator Miles Lewis (left) and Lead Audio Technician Craig York in the Talking Book Program recording studio.

  • Launched #TXBookChat series, first ever TSLAC virtual programming
  • TBP staff successfully transitioned a majority of patrons to Duplication on Demand service
  • Created of the TSLAC Strategic Plan for 2021-2025
  • Completed Legislative Appropriations Request 2022-2023
  • Secured $10,000 grant to add five Literary Landmarks in Texas
  • Hosted all-virtual Texas Authors Celebration and two Texas Center for the Book Literacy Awards

Goal 4: To guarantee cybersecurity of agency electronic resources and systems

  • Complete redeployment of TSLAC staff to remote work in March
  • Installation of two-factor authentication required for all access, internal and remote
  • Completion of agency-wide training in cybersecurity measures

Goal 5: To make TSLAC a key partner among libraries, state agencies, and other organizations to facilitate access to information by the public and state government

  • Retrofit of the Promontory Point facility as our fourth TSLAC location
  • Adoption of revised State Records Retention Schedule
  • State Records Center open and serving state government throughout pandemic
  • Achieved record attendance at the 100% virtual 2020 E-Records Conference
  • Adopted new rules allowing more local control of local records by the Regional Historical Records Depositories
  • Coordinated plan to implement UELMA
  • Transferred all Texas legislative records to Legislative Reference Library

Internal administrative

  • Creation of a staff committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Restructured procurement processes to create contract coordinator
  • Re-establishment of TSLAC Advisory Committees in Administrative Code
  • Created new training manual and process for commission training
  • Supported Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas in their conversion to the Texas Library and Archives Foundation, including a new website and logo

It has been a long and challenging year, but libraries and archives across Texas have continued to demonstrate their value to their communities by providing access to books, information, technology, and programming that sustain individuals, families, and communities during times of crisis. TSLAC has been honored to be able to lead that work at the statewide level while also directly serving researchers, state government, and the general public throughout the pandemic. We look forward to another successful year in 2021.

From all of us here at TSLAC, we wish you Happy Holidays and a healthy, safe, and prosperous New Year. 

 

Texas Digital Archive is 5 years old

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Texas Digital Archive (TDA). In that five years, Texas has gone from being one of the few states without a digital repository for state government records to being a leader in this area of archival preservation.

The Texas Digital Archive was born with a special appropriation by the Texas Legislature in the 2015 session. Aside from an acute need (TSLAC staff had requested the project the two previous sessions), the impetus to act was the transfer to the Archives of the Governor Perry records. That records transfer in January 2015 included more than seven terabytes of data in electronic format. The project also launched with about 18 terabytes of digital audio files of recordings from Senate meetings. From that initial 25 terabytes of data, the Texas Digital Archive has grown to include 69 terabytes, representing over 5.4 million unique files. 

The intention of the TDA was always to contain archival records from all state agencies and all branches of government. In this way, the TDA will comprise a one-stop-shop for state government and researchers seeking access to Texas government records of permanent value to the state. The TDA now contains the records of a number of state agencies and contains records from all branches of government.

The TDA now contains the following notable collections:

  • Complete records from the Austin and Houston districts of the Texas Department of Transportation
  • State agency operating budgets and most recent LARs
  • Digitized records of all governors from Sam Houston to Richard Coke (1859-1877) and Governor Thomas Campbell (1907-1911).
  • Supreme Court case files for the years 1840 to 1892
The Texas Digital Archive page on www.tsl.texas.gov.

The Texas Digital Archive page at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/texasdigitalarchive

TSLAC Electronic Records Specialists Mark Myers and Brian Thomas are the lead TSLAC staff working on the TDA project. As the content of the TDA grows exponentially each year, Mark and Brian also work continuously with TSLAC’s contract partner, Preservica, to provide technical enhancements, including improved end-user interface. These improvements to the look and feel as well as the usability of the TDA will help the public move effectively navigate the millions of resources found on the site. 

TSLAC has had a robust digitization program for the last decade, generating more than 150,000 digital files, including historical photographs, audio recordings, reformatted film from Texas agencies, along with the thousands of paper documents now accessible online. All records in the TDA are unrestricted, and are thus available for public use, including for scholarly research, journalism, teaching using primary source documents, genealogy and family history, and creative arts purposes. Patrons may browse collections, perform keyword searches, and view and download records through the online portal.

In five short years, the Texas Digital Archive has grown to become a huge collection of resources related to the history and government of Texas. As the resource continues to grow, it will occupy an ever-greater role as a one-stop point of research for researchers as well as for libraries and archives across Texas. We encourage you to explore the TDA and learn about the rich array of resources that are available now and we urge you to watch as the content of the TDA continues to grow. 

Texas Digital Archive, https://www.tsl.texas.gov/texasdigitalarchive