This week the Texas State Library and Archives Commission will hold its regularly scheduled meeting at the beautiful new Stephens (Tom Green County) Central Library in San Angelo. Each fall, the commission meets in a different location around the state. Last year, the commission met at the Lamar University Library in Beaumont, and two years ago in Rio Grande City, home of the Starr County Library.
Our commission—a seven member governing board comprised of citizens from across the state appointed by the Governor—likes to meet in different locations so that members can observe library operations first hand, and meet and be accessible to local and state officials, the public, librarians and library supporters.
By meeting in San Angelo, the Commission will have the opportunity to visit not only the Stephens library, but the Porter Henderson Library at Angelo State library, the West Texas Collection archives, and the San Angelo Data Center.
While in San Angelo, the commission will present a ceremonial grant check to the Tom Green County Library for $80,000 for two creative projects. Of this amount, $75,000 will fund STEAM Central, an innovative technology program that will create a new makerspace area in the library where young people can come to explore, experiment, and learn vital science, technology, engineering, arts and math skills that will help them be competitive in our high-tech economy.
In conjunction with our meeting in San Angelo, Jaclyn Owusu, Public Awareness Coordinator in our Talking Book Program, will be meeting with various individuals and organizations to spread the word about the books and information that make available free of charge to Texans who cannot read standard print due to a visual or physical disability.
In advance of our visit, the San Angelo Standard-Times ran an article last week that I wrote to call attention to the important role that libraries play in our society. I made the case that in our deeply divided country where there is little agreement anything, Americans are in agreement that libraries are a key resource for early learning, workforce, technology, and much more. While Americans are mistrustful of government, they trust the information they receive from libraries. And at a time when Americans are tribal and wary of one another, they are comfortable coming together to interact with one another in the safe environment of the library.
In this way, I have argued, that libraries may be in a unique position to help heal the deep divisions in our society and help connect people with each other and the resources they need for their individual goals, and to develop strong, vibrant, resilient communities.
Can libraries save America? The answer is yes and the effort is already afoot in San Angelo and hundreds of other communities across Texas and the nation. We need to acknowledge it and get to work. Our country needs us.