Yesterday we had the pleasure of presenting our 2016-2017 Legislative Appropriations Request to the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Senator Jane Nelson. Before starting our testimony, we shared with the Committee a document from our archival collection. The item we took was a page from the Senate budget bill from the fourth Texas Legislature of 1852. I took the opportunity to make the point that this is a piece of history preserved for generations because of the vision and leadership of legislators over 100 years ago and that we are seeking the same protection and preservation now for documents in electronic format for our proposed Texas Digital Archive. The senators seemed to enjoy seeing the document.
In addition to resources to establish the Texas Digital Archive, we are also asking for expansion of TexShare and TexQuest databases, funds for market salary adjustments for our staff, approval and funding for two additional government information analysts to assist state and local government in records management and preservation, funding to implement the CAPPS financial system in the agency, and resources to train and assist local libraries in implementing strategies to support workforce and economic development in their communities.
But what made yesterday a spectacular day for us was the outpouring of support the committee heard for our programs from a wide range of individuals. We had a number of very eloquent librarians present speaking about the importance of the TexShare and TexQuest databases to their customers and the cost-savings that they achieve with those resources. We had private citizens speaking about the importance of establishing the Texas Digital Archive to safeguard digital records of enduring value. We had Jim Allison from the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas speaking in favor of the need for government information analysts to assist local government in the preservation of records. We had Darrell Newsome, City Manager of Wolfforth, speaking about the importance of libraries in support of workforce in his community. And one speaker actually drew a round of applause: Kyle Whipple, a student from the Chairwoman’s home town of Flower Mound, who spoke of how he uses the TexShare/TexQuest resources to prep for debating tournaments. (Kyle mentioned that he intended to go into a career in politics–no one doubted that and Chairwoman Nelson asked that he please wait a few years.)
It was an outstanding and affirming day for our agency and the cause of libraries and archives in the Texas Legislature. We appreciated the attention paid by the committee. One senator told us as he left the room, “you changed minds here today.”
I want to thank the following individuals for their testimony yesterday: James Allison, Chris Custer, Sharon Gullett, Traci Jenson, Jim Johnson, Donna Kearley, Anne Keene, Jennifer LaBoon, Leah Mann, Darrell Newsome, Danielle Plummer, Jeanne Standley, Robin Stout, and Kyle Whipple. We greatly appreciate your support.