The week in round-up

This post is a round-up of four miscellaneous but related items from the last several days.

  • Last Sunday evening, “60 Minutes” aired a fascinating story about billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein. Mr. Rubenstein has donated many millions of dollars to projects that preserve historical resources in the United States. Projects that he has supported include restoration of the Washington Monument, purchasing the British Magna Carta for display at the National Archives, the Robert E. Lee memorial home at Arlington National Cemetery among many others. When asked by Morley Safer why he provided money that the government should be providing, he responded, “Well, the government doesn’t have the resources it used to have. We have gigantic budget deficits and large debt. And I think private citizens now need to pitch in.” (We might have a project or two that we could pitch to Mr. Rubenstein.) You can see the entire interview online at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/patriotic-philanthropist-david-rubenstein-morley-safer-60-minutes/
  • I travelled to Abilene this week to speak to the spring meeting of The High Ground of Texas, a group comprised mainly of economic development directors, city managers, and other local officials from a wide swath of the west Texas area. My topic was “Re-envisioning Community Libraries” and I shared with the group my thoughts about how libraries have evolved to become learning centers, community hubs for technology and civic engagement, and potential drivers of workforce and economic investment in communities large and small across Texas. We had a great conversation and I am hopeful that some of those hard-working individuals will take away a thought to include libraries in discussions of local economic and workforce development. My presentation can be viewed online at http://prezi.com/xsz4ezyd9iwm/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
  • Similarly, National Public Radio this week ran a great story titled “Do We Really Need Libraries?” marking the 114th anniversary of the gift of Andrew Carnegie of 60 branch libraries to the New York Public Library system and the request of the NYPL, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queensboro Public Library for $1.4 billion in city funds to renovate and expand library branches. In answering the title question, the article, quoting Tony Marx of NYPL, make a case that libraries are more needed now than ever:
    “Public libraries are arguably more important today than ever before,” Marx says. “Their mission is still the same — to provide free access to information to all people. The way people access information has changed, but they still need the information to succeed, and libraries are providing that.” Or as Andrew Carnegie said many years ago: “A library outranks any other thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”
    The NPR article (with great pictures) can be found at: http://n.pr/1IVFYxQ
  • We are nearing the end of the 84th Regular Legislative Session. We are waiting to hear the outcome of our agency’s requests for resources to better serve the people of Texas by providing improved access to library and archival resources that are vital to our information economy. It looks like we may receive funding to create the Texas Digital Archive and address the longstanding need to archive state agency records of enduring value in electronic format just as we have always done in paper. And we might just get some resources to expand the extremely popular and very effective TexShare and TexQuest programs to provide access to shared digital content for virtually every Texan through public, academic and school libraries in Texas. We are hopeful that conferees on the budget conference committee recognize the needs for Texans to have access to quality information resources. I will detail our budget requests and status in my next blog post. Meanwhile we thank the many individuals and organizations in Texas such as the Texas Library Association and the Texas State Historical Association that have spoken up in favor of our budget request this session.

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