With thanks and in celebration of James Stewart

Many of us were saddened with the news last week that James Stewart, former director of the Victoria Public Library, TLA President, and TSLAC Commissioner, had died. Those of us who had the privilege to know James over many years, respected and appreciated him as a unique and powerful presence in Texas libraries, and the source of huge energy, creativity, and fun. Assistant State Librarian Gloria Meraz was responsible many years ago with organizing the TLA archives, which are now a part of the TSLAC collection. I asked Gloria to comment on one particular holding of that archive of which James was particularly proud.

Here is Gloria’s James story:

James Stewart knew a thing or two about having fun and supporting creative expression. In his long and significant career, James made Texas libraries and librarians all the better for his energy and skill. I have many great memories of James.

As many of you know, James and company created the Doo-Wop Interest Group (which is now the Intergalactic Dance Club Round Table) back in 1996 to “bring enlightenment and to restore pitch, harmony, and majesty to TLA.” The initial petition to create the interest group was written on a bar napkin – a prized archival document that James and Steve Brown protected like the Magna Carta. I, a young archivist at the time, was tasked with organizing TLA’s files. I received several helpful calls from said pair to ensure that that the serviette was appropriately preserved. After several assurances on my part that the thing was safe, I finally had to produce the document…napkin…to verify its safekeeping.

This round of good-natured back-and-forth was my introduction to an incredible librarian who supported me and the members of TLA. James enveloped me in the folds of the Doo-Wop trust and stood ready to help in any way he could. Thank you, James, for rushing up to Austin so many times to attend hearings or anything else TLA needed!

It is with great respect that I celebrate James and herein show proof that the Doo-Wop petition is safely preserved at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. There are many signatories – look to see all the names you recognize. I’ll note that two state librarians (current and former) must have also been at the bar that evening.

— Gloria Meraz

2017 TSLAC Accomplishments

As we near the end of another year, the TSLAC team is looking back on a strong year of accomplishments in meeting our agency mission to provide “Texans with the information they need to lead informed and productive lives.” Our Strategic Plan contains 8 specific goals for our agency as set by our Commission. Following is a summary of those goals and the services, new projects, and progress of our staff in addressing each of the goals.

Goal 1: To articulate and advance the value of Texas libraries as essential to our communities and state.

  • TexShare and TexQuest: In FY 2017, 119 million resources were accessed by users of TSLAC-provided online services in Texas.
  • Library staff training: in FY 2017, 42,013 librarians were trained and assisted through TSLAC webinars and training series such as Small Library Management and You Can Do IT.
  • Sharing expertise: Nearly one-third (31%) of webinars delivered last year featured Texas librarians presenting on best practices.
  • Competitive grants: TSLAC funded 73 grants to libraries totaling $2.1 million for innovative projects.
  • Interlibrary Loan: Libraries extended the reach of their collections by providing 162,822 items to patrons via TSLAC-sponsored ILL and courier systems.
  • Early literacy: 42 librarians from 21 libraries participated in the Family Place™ program in FY2017, receiving expert training in early childhood development and family engagement.
  • Public Library Accreditation: 515 Texas public libraries met TSLAC minimum criteria for public library accreditation in 2017 and 517 will be accredited in FY 2018.
  • EDGE: Over 200 libraries have used this tool to assess their technology capability and benchmark their programs against other libraries across the state and nationally.
  • Community Engagement: TSLAC promoted libraries through partnerships with the Texas Workforce Commission, Literacy Texas, Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning at Texas A&M, Humanities Institute at UT Austin, and the Texas Veterans Commission.
  • Digital literacy for Workforce development: TSLAC partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission to enhance the role of public libraries as a key provider of workforce skills.
  • Read Across Texas, The Veteran Experience: Over 60 Texas public libraries convened civic discussions around the experience of Texas veterans.
  • United for Libraries: TSLAC provided membership to all Texas public libraries to ensure library trustees and friends have access to materials for board development and management.
  • School Library Standards: Throughout 2017, TSLAC worked with librarians and educators across the state to draft and refine public K-12 library standards for Texas, the first revision since 2005.
  • Rebuilding Texas Libraries grants provided over $194,000 to 25 libraries in the disaster area to help rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

Goal 2: To recruit and retain the knowledge-based workforce necessary to discharge the agency’s duties.

  • Salary adjustments: Using special appropriations for the FY2016-2017 biennium, about 60 TSLAC staff received salary equity adjustments, moving those employees closer to the median.
  • Archivist series: At TSLAC request, the State Auditor created additional steps in the Archivist series to match the Librarian series, creating a career ladder for advancement.
  • LAR request for Government Information Analysts: Request for authority to add two analyst positions approved without funding.
  • Successfully recruited for several positions, however some key positions could not be filled due to a hiring freeze between February and August.

Goal 3: To safeguard, preserve, and provide access to informational and historical assets.

  • Archival preservation: TSLAC accessioned over 3,000 cubic feet of state archival resources in FY 2017.
  • Staff of the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center accessioned resources, served visitors in person and by phone.
  • Public service: over 7 million assists with information resources; another 2 million searches of online resources via the TSLAC website.
  • Records Management Assistance: During 2017, Records Analysts provided consultation and training to 9,486 state and local agency staff.
  • Records retention schedules: TSLAC published major revisions to the Electronic Records Rules, and the retention schedules for Public School Districts, and Public Safety Agencies.
  • Completed substantial upgrades at the Sam Houston Center, including beginning work on the installation of a major permanent museum exhibit of historical materials and interpretation.
  • The TSLAC conservator conducted preservation work on several dozen items in the agency’s conservation lab.
  • Exhibits, programs and online exhibits highlighted materials and provided background interpretation of the collection.
  • Texas Authors Summit: This second annual event showcased for Texas writers the materials available for research in the Texas state archives.
  • During 2017, TSLAC recovered several valuable historical documents through replevin efforts and in cooperation with the Office of the Attorney General.
  • Research Fellowship established in cooperation with the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas and the Texas State Historical Association.

Goal 4: To acquire the technology necessary to effectively, securely, and efficiently manage agency resources.

  • TSLAC staff have implemented measures to safeguard agency resources and is actively investigating other more cost-effective means to further ensure security.

Goal 5: To secure the state’s official records by addressing the immediate need for additional archival storage and provide for the growth of Texas records.

  • Archival and records storage is the agency’s most acute short- and long-term priority.
  • Staff have developed plans for expansion of the Zavala facility and continue to consult with the Texas Facility Commission to seek a solution to the need for both short-term lease space for records storage and long-term permanent storage space for archives and records.

Goal 6: To support efforts to ensure digital inclusion for Texas.

  • Broadband project: TSLAC successfully requested $1 million to increase broadband connectivity for Texas public libraries by incentivizing participation in E-Rate funding.
  • Toward Gigabit Libraries: Texas was chosen as a pilot state participating in this IMLS-funded project to develop a toolkit to assist small and rural libraries in improving their broadband speeds and network infrastructure. Ten Texas libraries will test the toolkit in FY2018.
  • Broader access to online resources: TSLAC brings statewide access to online resources via TexShare, TexQuest, and online collections such as the Texas Digital Archive.
  • Makerspaces: Via grant funding, TSLAC supported the growing maker movement to establish STEM programs for children of all ages in public and academic libraries across the state.
  • E-Resource grants: Through our Impact grants, TSLAC supported several grants to expand the availability of electronic resources in communities across the state.
  • Developed partnerships with the Texas Department of Agriculture, the Still Water Foundation, and Glasshouse Policy Group to explore opportunities to raise awareness of broadband needs in Texas communities and the role of libraries in responding to that need.
  • Basic Computer Skills Curriculum: TSLAC created a free Digital Literacy Toolkit available on the TSLAC website, and provided training on use of the Toolkit throughout the state.
  • Over 2 million web-based resources in the TSLAC collection were used in 2017.

Goal 7: Continue to refine our response to the informational needs of the increasingly diverse Texas population.

  • The Talking Book Program circulated 770,201 items to 15,123 persons with vision impairment or physical disability across the state of Texas in FY 2017.
  • The Disability Information Service of the Talking Book Program provided information and referral to persons with disabilities across the state of Texas.
  • Through grant funding, TSLAC supported projects to encourage library use by such groups as English-language learners, rurally isolated persons, the homeless, prisoners, veterans, and multicultural communities.
  • Lone Star Día: Each year, the Texas Center for the Book supports libraries across the state to participate in El día de los Niños, El día de los libros – Day of the Child, day of the book.
  • Sponsored statewide Letters about Literature writing contest for students in grades 4 to 12 to encourage reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
  • Ensured the availability of non-English language materials through TexShare and TexQuest.
  • Provided Spanish and Vietnamese translations of the Digital Literacy Toolkit.

Goal 8: Continue to develop the Texas Digital Archive as a vital information resource for all Texans.

  • The Texas Digital Archive continued its growth as a means of preserving state government archives in electronic format.
  • Worked with legislative offices to codify TDA in statute. (This effort was unsuccessful in the 85th Legislature, but we will explore again in the next session.)
  • Worked to increase public awareness of the resources and to reach out to agencies to arrange to bring more of their archival materials into the archive.
  • Major new initiative with the Texas Department of Transportation will bring thousands of materials into the TDA.

TSLAC staff look forward to another year of serving the public in 2018. As we move toward Sunset Review, we will enjoy describing the various ways we serve the information needs of all Texans.

Aspen comes to Houston Public Library

We all go to a lot of meetings. We sit in dark rooms sneaking glances at our phones and e-mail while someone runs through a power point deck and then we go back to work, hopefully with some new information to help justify the time away.

Participants in the Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries held at Houston Public Library, Thursday, November 16, 2017.

But this week I participated in a totally different type of meeting. All day Thursday at the Houston Public Library, the Aspen Institute under the leadership of Amy Garmer, convened a powerful group of community stakeholders from organizations across the city and county. The topic of conversation at this Aspen Dialogue, was how the library can be a catalyst to help create the building blocks of a resilient city. This was a particularly timely task as the City of Houston and Harris County along with other communities along the coast continue to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. In fact, in September, Aspen convened a meeting in Houston to bring local agencies and organizations together just two weeks after the floods, to consider and process what had happened. It was a powerful moment that led to intense conversation about the need for cities to work through a process that moved along a line of “Recovery, Rebuilding, and Resurgence.” That first dialogue also revealed what many already knew, that in times of crisis, it is the most vulnerable — including the poor, the elderly, and those with physical disabilities — who will be most impacted and who need the most help.

This week’s dialogue featured the broad range of exciting and transformational services offered by HPL Director Dr. Rhea Lawson and her outstanding team of professionals. The stakeholders present — representing city agencies, the K-12 community, business leaders, philanthropic groups, and others — acknowledged the great work that the library is already doing, and worked together to generate ideas to offer Dr. Lawson and staff in how to leverage those services in ways that help build partnerships for new services and help create the building blocks for a resilient city.

It was a day of affirmation for the power of libraries, confirmation of the great work already being done by Houston Public Library and other Texas libraries, and an expression of confidence that the library is very much part of the solution for creating sustainability and resilience to help communities better prepare for and cope with future challenges.

As HPL Assistant Director for Community Education, Outreach and Cultural Initiatives Nicole Robinson so eloquently stated, “It’s not enough to just BE at the table, we need to OWN the table.” Yesterday all day long, the library literally owned the table.

And no one was reading their e-mail.

TSLAC and TLA step up

This week the Texas Library Association and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission announced grants to Texas public, academic, and school libraries recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

TLA announced grants totaling $102,600 to 25 libraries from its Disaster Relief Fund in amounts ranging from $2,500 to $15,000. These funds were contributed to TLA by librarians and library supporters across Texas and the nation.

On Monday, November 6, The Texas State Library and Archives Commission met in Nacogdoches and approved a total of $194,071 in “Rebuilding Texas Libraries” grants to 25 libraries (coincidentally, though most do not overlap between the two lists) in amounts ranging from under $5,000 to $25,000. These amounts are small, but we hope will be some help to libraries attempting to recover from one of the worst storms in Texas history. We thank the Houston Chronicle for their story today about the TLA and TSLAC grant programs and the efforts of gulf coast and Houston area libraries to recover.

Also at this week’s meeting, the Commission approved the posting of the proposed revision to the School Library Program Standards. These voluntary standards–the product of many hours of work by a committee of school librarians across Texas–are the first major revision to the standards since 2005. We look forward to final adoption of these new standards at the Commission meeting in February. I will provide more information about these standards in a subsequent post on this blog.

FEMA and TSLAC application deadlines

FEMA deadline:

Borrowing from a post on our Library Developments blog at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/librarydevelopments/:

The FEMA Request for Public Assistance (RPA) deadline is now 5:00 pm, Oct. 31, 2017.

This is a critical deadline and supersedes any previous deadlines provided by the State. If your arts organization, cultural institution, or government entity misses it, you miss the opportunity to be considered for, and possibly receive, federal disaster assistance.

The FEMA News Release about the October 31 RPA deadline can be found at https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/10/07/deadline-governmental-jurisdictions-and-private-nonprofits-request-0.

Rebuilding Texas Libraries deadline:

Next Monday, October 16, is the deadline for applying for our Rebuilding Texas Libraries grants. These grants provide $5,000 for single-location libraries or up to $25,000 for multi-branch locations for Harvey-related recovery in the impacted counties. For eligibility and application information, please visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/rebuilding-texas-libraries

In yesterday’s Houston Chronicle:

Great article on the value of libraries as an essential service after a disaster, focusing on the efforts of Houston Public Library and others in the Houston are to provide basic services to the community. Harvey has highlighted once again that libraries are a critical element of the community infrastructure. That article can be found at: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Houston-area-libraries-struggle-to-recover-from-12273984.php?cmpid=twitter-premium

Powered Up Libraries and New Harvey Resources

This week we are celebrating Power Up at Your Library Week, a celebration sponsored by the Texas Library Association to highlight the innovation they bring to communities and campuses across the state. TLA has provided a variety of ways to that libraries can participate in Power Up Week and ways to showcase the exciting work that is happening in libraries across our state at http://www.poweredlibraries.org/power-up-week.  Also available on this site is a toolkit of resources libraries can use to Get Powered Up! Be sure to also check out the video tour of powered libraries conducted by TLA and TSLAC in various libraries in West Texas. Those videos as well as a promotion of Power Up at Your Library by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, are available on Twitter at #poweredlibraries.

Speaking of TLA, this week we welcome Dana Braccia, the new Executive Director of the Texas Library Association. Dana comes to her position with a rich background in library service as well as business and association work. She is the past president of the Mountain Plains Library Association and former ALA Councilor. Dana was VP of Library Operations at Library Systems and Services and before that worked at the Scottsdale, Arizona, Public Library. We welcome her to her new duties at TLA and very much look forward to working with her.

On the Harvey front, we continue to collect and disseminate information to Texas libraries about their status and resources they may find helpful. We appreciate information that came to us yesterday from Lori Foley, Administrator of the FEMA Heritage and Emergency National Task Force, on how to apply for federal disaster assistance in Texas. That information in its entirety can be found on our Library Developments blog at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/librarydevelopments/. The following is excerpted from that post:

In a Nutshell: File, File, File

  1. File a claim with your insurance company immediately. Follow all the deadlines set by the insurance company, and submit all documents and information requested within the deadlines set by the company. FEMA will want to see a settlement or denial letter from your insurance company to ensure that benefits are not duplicated, so be sure to file an insurance claim promptly. If you still have unmet needs or damages that the insurance company does not cover, then FEMA may be able to provide you with assistance.
  2. File for FEMA Public Assistance. Don’t dither about your eligibility; let FEMA determine your status. Be aware of the filing deadline. If you miss the deadline, which varies based on your county disaster declaration date, you will not have access to this federal disaster assistance. (See the attached PPT for deadline dates.)
  3. File for a Small Business Administration disaster loan as well. Complete and submit the application as soon as possible. Returning the application does not obligate you to accept an SBA loan, but it is a necessary step to being considered for other forms of federal disaster assistance, including FEMA Public Assistance.

See also the blog post by Craig Kelso, Director of our State and Local Records Management Division on documenting the destruction of public records damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, an article of great interest to records managers in the various departments and units of local government.

Humanities Texas has announced Hurricane Harvey Recovery Grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities available to libraries, museums, colleges, universities, and other cultural and historical institutions affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. More information on those grants is available at: http://www.humanitiestexas.org/news/articles/hurricane-harvey-recovery-grants-now-available

We have also provided information to both House and Senate committees of the Texas Legislature on the impact of Harvey on Texas libraries and archives, our efforts to support those libraries, and the remarkable ways that Texas libraries support their communities in times of crisis, truly earning their FEMA designation as “essential services.”

Libraries, Archives, and Harvey Relief

We are now ending the fourth week since Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas coast from Rockport to Beaumont. We have been engaged in Harvey-related activities in a number of ways:

  • On September 18, we opened our Rebuilding Texas Libraries disaster relief grants, to provide small grants to public, academic, and school libraries in restoring services and programs in the aftermath of Harvey. The grants provide up to $5,000 per location, multi-branch libraries can apply for $5,000 per location up to $25,000. We are committing $300,000 in LSTA funds and could possibly commit more depending on demand. We are grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for providing the approvals necessary to offer this grant program. I also thank our TSLAC staffers LSTA Coordinator Stacey Malek and Grants Administrator Erica McCormick for launching this project so quickly. I also appreciate the information from former State Librarian Peggy Rudd who informed me about grants TSLAC provided following Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Rita.
  • On September 14, I attended a convening by Amy Garmer of the Aspen Institute and Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Lawson held at HPL, gathering together a number of local agencies and responders to discuss the emergency in Houston and the status of the ongoing recovery. Present at the meeting was Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards, Stephen Williams, Director of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services as well as Assistant Director Judy Harris; Peter Beard, Senior Vice President of the Regional Workforce Development, Greater Houston Partnership; Tammy Kahn, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Houston; Laura Murillo, President and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Edward Melton, Director of Harris County Public Library; and the list goes on and on with representatives from Houston ISD, Rice University, Ernst & Young, the Chinese Community Center, and many others. I had the very strong sense that this was one of the first opportunities many of these people had been able to sit down with other community leaders and actually consider what had happened, what they experienced, and what they had learned. We often speak of the role of the library as a convener of community dialogues, but it was striking to see exactly how impactful and transforming a meeting of that type can be.
  • I attended another gathering on September 21, organized by Michael Gillette, Executive Director of Humanities Texas at their office in Austin. This meeting was an opportunity for representatives of a number of organizations to meet with Lori Foley, FEMA Administrator of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force. Lori’s unit of FEMA is responsible for coordinating relief and recovery among cultural heritage institutions including libraries, archives, and museums. Also present was Jon Parrish Peede, Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This meeting was attended by persons such as Mark Wolfe, ED of the Texas Historical Commission; Rebecca Elder of the National Heritage Responders and the UT Austin iSchool; Wendy Woodland, Director of Communications for the Texas Library Association; Olivia Primanis, Board Member of TX-CERA; Gary Gibbs, ED of the Texas Commission on the Arts; Jennifer Coleman of the Texas Association of Museums, and many others. Each organization shared what they are doing to assist with Harvey recovery and the list is significant. Organizations such as National Heritage Responders, TLA, and TSLAC, are tracking damage; some such as THC and TSLAC are providing grant funding. All are committed to working together to provide whatever support is needed as the Texas gulf coast recovers.

We continue to gather information on recovery information from various sources:

  • TX-CERA – The Texas Cultural Emergency Response Alliance has been a key partner in providing valuable information to the array of organizations. Their website contains much great information about how to deal with damaged collection materials.
  • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Disaster Relief Hotline – This group provides access to low-income Harvey survivors with post-disaster legal issues, such as accessing FEMA disaster aid, legal questions, landlord-tenant problems, and replacing vital documents. (Thanks to our friend Charlotte McCann for this referral.)
  • National Library of Medicine – The NLM has activated their “Emergency Access Initiative,” a collaborative partnership between NLM and publishers to provide full access to full-text from biomedical journals and e-books for libraries affected by Harvey.
  • National Endowment for the Arts – the NEH is making $1 million available to cultural institutions impacted by the natural disasters of Harvey and Irma. Museums, Archives, Libraries, and historical societies can apply for grants of up to $30,000. More information can be found in this press release on these grants.

We look forward to providing more information as we get it. Many thanks to everyone who has sent information to us. We also urge you to visit the TLA Texas Library Recovery Connection if you want to log a need for assistance or an offer of help.

Recovery update and resources

We are reaching the end of the week monitoring the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Throughout the week we have been working on various fronts to monitor the situation and plan our part of a response. We have had dozens of libraries report in on the status of their libraries and we are tracking those reports. Thankfully, the majority of libraries emerged with relatively light damage, mainly leaking roofs, light flooding, and some wind damage. Others were not so lucky. A few libraries sustained heavy damage as did the homes of many library staff.

We have also received many offers of support from various groups. We are also recording those offers and in some cases, have matched offers with libraries seeking assistance. Offers of help have come from all over the country, including California, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, Louisiana, and elsewhere. We have responded to every offer of support with gratitude and that we will be back in touch when we have a better idea what we need.

Our staff has also been working to launch an emergency grant program to help libraries offset some of the cost of recovery, or to help libraries serve individuals and families who have been displaced by the disaster. We have been greatly assisted in moving forward with that project by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, our federal partner agency. We look forward to sharing more information on the availability of those grants next week.

The Texas Library Association has put together a great selection of disaster recovery resources available here. We thank TLA Director of Communications Wendy Woodland and TLA Executive Director Patricia Smith for their great work during this crisis.

For archival and other special collections, the National Heritage Responders is a resource that can offer assistance. This group is a team of highly skilled conservators and other collections professionals with expertise in emergency response. If this pertains to your collection, you are urged to contact the NHR hotline at 202-661-8068 or e-mail nhr@conservation-us.org.

Another interesting development is Principals Helping Principals, a network of school administrators from around the country that has come together to help schools in need. School libraries can keep this in mind as a way for their principals to reach out to others for assistance.

And for archival collections, of which there are many in the disaster area, the Society of American Archivists has posted information on how to assess damages and recover collections as published by the Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF). Thanks to State Archivist Jelain Chubb for that link and for working to assemble information on the status of archival collections in the affected areas.

Finally, the definition of heroism is to extend a helping hand when you have your own challenges. The Houston Public Library, which is no doubt reeling from the impact of Harvey on its own system, has posted a set of disaster relief resources on its website. Thank you to Dr. Rhea Lawson and her team for this great resource.

We will continue to keep you apprised of resources in the coming days.

Bracing for Recovery

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission, in cooperation with the Texas Library Association, has been working to identify disaster recovery resources and options for use by libraries in the Houston and gulf coast area.

First, it is important to be aware that libraries are considered essential services by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and, according to FEMA Recovery Policy, they are given priority for relocation if they are severely damaged in a natural disaster. Today I spoke with Lori Foley at FEMA. Lori is the administrator of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force and is responsible for recovery of cultural heritage institutions. She was generous to allow her name and contact to be published here. To get started recovering your collections and buildings, start with Ms. Foley:

Lori Foley
Administrator, Heritage Emergency National Task Force
Office of Environmental Planning & Historic Preservation
Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration
Mobile number: 202-826-6303

Yesterday, we had a conference call with Susan Quinn, Director of the Ocean County Library in New Jersey, and her staff along with Michele Stricker at the New Jersey State Library. Susan and her staff generously shared with us their experiences in coping with Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath. Based on that conversation, Katherine Adelberg of our staff has put together a blog post, “Lessons from Superstorm Sandy,” on our Library Developments listserv.

We are compiling a database of Harvey-related damage to Texas libraries. If you have damage to report, please send it to Valicia Greenwood at vgreenwood@tsl.texas.gov and please copy me at msmith@tsl.texas.gov.

Our State and Local Records Management Division offers webinars on disaster recovery for records managers. This will be helpful to librarians, archivists, county clerks, and others responsible for such collections. Those webinars can be accessed at: https://slrmtraining.tsl.texas.gov/course/index.php?categoryid=11

We look forward to providing more information in the coming days.

Saying goodbye to two TSLAC leaders

This month marks the retirement of two leaders at our agency who have provided outstanding service to TSLAC and the libraries and archives of Texas for many years.

Deborah Littrell

Today is the last day on the job for Deborah Littrell, Director of the Library Development and Networking Division at TSLAC. Deborah has been with the agency since 1999 and served as division director since 2000. In that time, Deborah has managed admirably through good times and lean times. She has presided over the expansion of TexShare and TexQuest resources, the addition of key projects such as community engagement, the BTOP grants, the introduction of peer-to-peer interlibrary lending, the Edge assessments, You can Do IT, and many other special projects that have expanded the capacity of Texas libraries to better serve their clientele. Following the massive budget cut in the 2012-2013 biennium, Deborah managed through painful reductions of staff and services statewide, including the elimination of the Lone Star Libraries program and the statewide library systems program. Since 2013, however, as some resources have returned, Deborah has built back services in new and strategic ways and assembled an outstanding team of professionals to help libraries take on the challenges of a new era of library and information services.

We will very much miss Deborah’s deliberate and thoughtful approach to her work and her deep commitment to the ability of libraries to help their communities. On September 1, Jennifer Peters, formerly assumes her new role as Director of Library Development and Networking and will build on Deborah’s good work to lead the agency’s support of libraries forward into the future.

Manuel Alvarez

Also this month we say goodbye to Manuel Alvarez, Director of Information Technology Services for TSLAC. Manuel may not be well known to the external customers we serve across the state, but he has been an integral element of our success. Manny’s huge technical expertise, his vision for technology services, his understanding of organizational dynamics, and his wise counsel in all matters of management have been a great benefit to us over the years. In the last year, even as health issues kept Manny from working full time, he soldiered on to provide us the guidance and structure necessary to manage through several difficult IT situations. Under Manuel’s tenure, the agency has modernized key legacy systems, updated security measures, and ensured flawless implementation of the increasingly technological applications that comprise our library and archives programs. One case in point being the many steps required to secure state approval for the launch of our Texas Digital Archive repository of state government electronic records (see post below).

Manuel will be missed by his staff, his colleagues, the commission, and many people in the field who never knew him, but enjoyed the benefit of his good work.

We are fortunate to have a very strong team at TSLAC and our directors like Manuel and Deborah have assembled talented and dedicated teams and motivated them to deliver the highest quality service. Our agency and the state of Texas owes them a debt of gratitude for their service.