Voice and Vision

Last night, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission held a very special program: Voice and Vision, the fourth annual Texas Authors Celebration. This program, created by Texas Center for the Book Coordinator Rebekah Manley, is held each year the Thursday evening prior to the Texas Book Festival. Consistent with our mission to provide Texans with the information they need to live informed and productive lives, the Texas Authors Celebration, a project of the Texas Center for the Book, brings together the worlds of authors, publishing, literacy, research, archives, and libraries. The event emphasizes the ways in which archives and libraries support the literary endeavor.

Becka Oliver of the Writers’ League of Texas, moderates a panel of illustrator Ekua Holmes and authors Chris Barton and Michael Hurd.

The program — the first to be held in a newly redesigned event space created for programming on the second floor of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building — began with the presentation of the Texas Center for the Book Literacy Awards to Books Are GEMS, a project building literacy and a love of reading for children in El Paso, Texas, and runner-up awards to Inside Books, providing books to the incarcerated in Texas, and Teen Bookfest by the Bay, based in Corpus Christi.

Following the presentation of the Texas Center for the Book Literacy Award was a panel discussion featuring Chris Barton and Ekua Holmes, the author and illustrator of What Do You Do with a Voice Like That: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (Simon and Schuster, 2018), and Michael Hurd, author of Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas (University of Texas Press, 2019). The panel, moderated by Becka Oliver, Executive Director of the Writers’ League of Texas, explored various aspects of the craft of writing and illustrating books, including a lengthy discussion of the value of archives to writing books such as these which document important aspects of our shared history. By way of complimenting the valuable work done by archivists and librarians and how helpful they have been to his work, Chris Barton commented, “I might choose my next book based on what will allow me to spend the most time in this building.”

But Becka Oliver and Michael Hurd also hinted at the dark side of archival research, the phenomenon known as “archival silence,” when the archives of a particular experience, often that of underrepresented people, does not exist. This lack of coverage in itself tells a valuable, if discouraging story, but it also serves to point to the urgent need to keep and maintain the archival record.

The role of archivists and librarians — the keepers of the record of our common experience — becomes more important and more noted every day. We hope that some of the authors who visited with us last evening will return to continue their research in our collection and avail themselves of the expertise of our outstanding archivists and librarians.

For researchers working on research in our collections, TSLAC, in cooperation with the Texas State Historical Association, is making available for the third year, $2,000 Fellowships in Texas History, a stipend to support travel costs to work in the TSLAC archives. These fellowships are made possible by the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas with generous funding from the Edouard Foundation. For information on the Fellowship, visit the TSHA website at https://tshaonline.org/awards-and-fellowships/2422. The deadline for application for the 2020 Fellowship is December 28, 2019.

Links in this post:

Texas Center for the Book Literacy Awards: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/literacyaward

Books are GEMS: http://www.booksaregems.org/

Inside Books Project: https://insidebooksproject.org/

Teen Bookfest by the Sea: https://sites.google.com/site/teenbookfestbythebay/home

2020 Fellowships in Texas History: https://tshaonline.org/awards-and-fellowships/2422

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