Welcome! I am excited to launch this new blog of the Texas State Librarian, otherwise known as the Director and Librarian of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. It is a fancy title, and to be sure, I take the role seriously and am honored to serve in this position. But I also try to have fun and enjoy the wonderful work this agency does. So if you expect this blog to be a dry report of agency business, I sincerely hope you’ll be disappointed.
But being that TSLAC maintains the historical record of the State of Texas, a historical note is in order. I like Simon Sinek’s idea of “Starting with Why” (for his great TED talk on this concept see: http://bit.ly/16vWLIe). So what is the WHY of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission? Simply put, state leaders over 100 years ago created our agency to ensure that citizens have access to the information they need to lead informed, productive, and fulfilled lives.
In the first agency biennial report in 1911, State Librarian E. W. Winkler wrote the following: “The State Library is a place for information. . .It should have the information needed by the historian to portray truthfully the history. . .of this state.” Two years later in 1914, Winkler quoted another librarian in saying, “The state Library is a business institution with a missionary spirit. . .It seeks to extend the benefits of great and well classified collections of books to the greatest number of people and to encourage them to take advantage of the knowledge thus to be obtained. . .It should send out library organizers to hold library institutes for the stimulation of interest in libraries and to assist in the training of librarians.”
There you have it: virtually all our priorities 100 years later expressed in the first five years of the agency. With very little change, these statements of why we exist would encompass our four areas of work: archives and information services, library development and networking, state and local records management, and the Talking Book Program.
We live in an information-based economy and, in a very real way, the continued success of the state depends on the access to information that is provided through these four programs for virtually every citizen in the state of Texas regardless of age, geographic location, or physical ability.
Unfortunately, a 65% cut to our state funding in 2011 compromised our ability to deliver our core services. We recovered some ground in 2013 but we are still over 40% below our 2011 state appropriation. In the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature, we are looking forward to arguing for an increase of nearly $10 million to help us meet our mandate to help Texans find the information they need to be successful.
In future installments of this blog, I will be discussing various topics such as our specific appropriations requests; exciting new programs at TSLAC; innovative projects supported by TSLAC grants; success stories and best practices from Texas libraries and archives; and ideas and developments from the world of information, books, reading, and history.
Thank you for reading!