The commission and staff at TSLAC are well into the planning and budgeting season. This week we are submitting our Agency Strategic Plan for 2019-2023, which provides the basis of our Legislative Appropriations Request for 2020-2021. We met with our commission on Monday to discuss our plan for that budget request.
While we know it will be a challenging budget cycle, we have ongoing agency needs that we need to articulate. At present we are seeing several critical needs that will likely become exceptional item requests–state budget speak for additional funding requests– to the Legislature:
- Archives and records storage – We are quickly running out of space to store state records and archives, a situation accelerated by a combination of factors. To address the need in the short-term, we need an estimated $4.4 million, but to provide a more long-term solution (up to 25 years), we need an anticipated $26.4 million. It’s a big ask, but Texas is a big state and its citizens depend on open access to government information.
- Access to E-Resources – Based on our conversations with the statewide library community, the need for current, authoritative information in digital formats — especially E-Books — is still the most important statewide need and one that TSLAC is uniquely qualified to serve in a cost-effective way. We anticipate asking approximately $4.6 million to access to E-resources for users of public, academic and K-12 libraries across the state.
- Taking TSLAC to Texas communities – We are developing a proposal to conduct a statewide outreach of agency services to communities across the state. As part of this project, we are working on plans for a TSLAC-mobile that will be serve as a training site, best-practice demonstration, information technology showcase, and tour of our services. And in times of crisis, it could be equipped to serve as a disaster recovery unit to be deployed to libraries and other locations damaged by hurricanes and other natural disasters.
- Other agency needs – We anticipate other requests to address agency needs such as salary increases so that we can continue to recruit and retain great staff (we have made some progress, but 75% of our staff remain below the median of their state salary range); cybersecurity to ensure the safety of the state’s information and resources under our custody; and staff to assist with the growing boom in Public Information Act requests of which TSLAC by its nature has an inordinately high number.
Many thanks to all our stakeholders for your ongoing input on our planning and budget request. We look forward to working with our constituent groups of librarians, archivists, researchers, state and local government, and persons with disabilities to ensure that we have the resources to fulfill our mission to ensure that Texans have access to the information they need to lead informed, productive lives.