TSLAC to receive Governor Perry’s records

As of today, Texas has a new governor. I was part of a very large crowd gathered on a beautiful Texas day to listen to Governor Abbott’s inaugural speech from the south steps of the Texas capitol.

But we have some work ahead of us regarding the administration of outgoing Governor Rick Perry as we prepare to receive the records of his office into the State Archives. This is an important advancement for our collection and for the state of Texas. Governor Perry is the longest-serving governor in Texas history and the archives of his 14-year administration will be an important resource for researchers in Texas. This will be the first governor’s records since Mark White’s in the 1980s to be housed in the State Library.

Of particular significance, the Perry files include a huge component of materials in electronic format. In fact, over 6 terabytes of digital files. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes of data. In other words, a lot of material.

And it is material that will be in demand, especially if Gov. Perry decides to seek higher office. In that case we would anticipate receiving a high volume of public information requests for governor’s materials. To be able to do that, we will ingest the archives via a software solution that allows for the preservation of electronic records so that they can be easily managed, searched, and retrieved.

This is a huge turning point for the State Library and Archives and the state of Texas. While we have always had a mandate for preserving archival records of enduring value to the state regardless of format, we have lacked resources and framework until now to be able to actually take in electronic records. The addition of this preservation system to manage Gov. Perry’s archives will allow us a platform to look ahead to building an archive of state agency e-records.

Full realization of this vital project—to be called the Texas Digital Archive—will require additional resources for staffing and storage. For this reason, we are requesting $450,000 per year in new funding in our 2016-2017 appropriations request to bring in important digital archives from state agencies. Because of the potential impact and the urgent need to preserve e-archive materials, creation of the Texas Digital Archive is TSLAC’s number legislative funding priority.

Texas has been one of only nine states that does not have a process to preserve electronic archives. With the Perry papers coming in, we have an important opening to build the Texas Digital Archive. Ultimately creating that important resource to ensure transparency of state government for all citizens will depend on that additional appropriation.

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