Meet the Staff: Brianna Cochran

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Brianna Cochran

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

As a new Library Assistant, my day is split between orientations and training, staffing reading rooms, and working on stacks maintenance projects. Eventually, I will be trained to assist patrons with locating research resources, and I will take on more complex stacks maintenance projects.

Why did you choose your profession?

I have always felt at home in libraries. When my single mother could not find a babysitter, she used to take me to the library with her while she studied for her associate’s degree. She studied in the adult reading room while I entertained myself in the children’s reading room. There, the children’s librarian taught me how to use an out marker and I enjoyed the satisfaction of placing a book on the shelf in its correct location. My childhood enthusiasm for libraries carried over to my home life. Enthusiastically, I created library check out cards on scraps of colored construction paper, for my personal collection of books and VHS tapes.

What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection?

At this point, I have a limited exposure to our vast collection, so I will probably discover new favorites as I work with more materials. However, my current favorite is our collection of newspapers on microfilm. I have selected the Houston Post from November 1, 1919, as an example.

Before working at TSLAC, I needed access to the Houston Post for personal research. The only places I could find that provided access to the out-of-print the Houston Post were Rice University in Houston and paid newspaper subscription sites, so I was not able to access the materials I needed for my project. I was excited to find out the Houston Post is at TSLAC, and I have enjoyed learning how to use microfilm.

The Houston Post. (1919, November 1)

The Houston Post. (1919, November 1)

[TSLAC also maintains institutional memberships to the Newspaper Archive and Newspapers.com Texas Collection, both available for free on-site in our Reference Reading Room located in the Lorenzo de Zavala State Library and Archives Building in Austin.]

When you’re not busy what do you like to do for fun?

I like to be in nature. Beaches are my favorite, but in Austin I like to hike nature trails. I am learning to practice mindfulness, which is accepting and noticing the present moment without judgment. Therefore, my hikes look more like walking slowly and marveling at water droplets sparkling in the sun, rather than hiking quickly for exercise. I find mindfulness helps manage stress, because it gives me a sense of power. Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, I can make decisions about what to do in the present.

Meet the Staff – Taylor Fox

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Photograph of Taylor Fox

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

I’m a Reference Librarian, and I answer questions from people researching or just plain curious about Texas history, government, and culture! I’m the lead for our Genealogy and Main collections, which involves identifying very old books that need maintenance and very new books to collect and make available to researchers.

Why did you choose your profession?

I was a student worker at my university’s library because I heard it was a fun place to work, and figured if I wanted to fully immerse myself in academia, I better understand how to use the library. I started in technical services, then moved to circulation, then to interlibrary loan, where I really found the heart of what libraries are all about: making information available to the public without discrimination or judgment. It’s a wonderful sentiment that speaks strongly to me, and so I pursue it!

What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection?

This changes over time as I’m exposed to more and more of what TSLAC has to offer, but currently my favorite publication in our collection is a periodical called The Woman’s Viewpoint. This was a female-led periodical published in Houston between 1923 and 1926 which sought to provide a space and vehicle for Texas women to share their opinions “fully, frankly, and fearlessly.” The magazine offered articles on a variety of topics which the editor considered of interest to women: government, politics, and women’s right to vote; environmental concerns; the importance of maintaining good health and recreation; and fashion, movies, music, and other cultural affairs.

Image of The Woman’s Viewpoint, Vol. 1 No. 1 Sterling, Florence M. The Woman’s viewpoint magazine. Houston: Woman's Viewpoint Publishing Co., 1923.

Image of The Woman’s Viewpoint, Vol. 1 No. 1
Sterling, Florence M. The Woman’s viewpoint magazine. Houston: Woman’s Viewpoint Publishing Co., 1923.

One of the reasons I enjoy this periodical so much is because it’s very easy for me to think of Texas in the 1920s the way my family has described it: lots of cows, farms, and not much to do. This magazine transports me to a grander view of Texas: one of daring, educated, urban women dedicated to building strong homes and communities, with the understanding that their voices were critical to the shaping of our state and country.

When you’re not busy what do you like to do for fun?

I play guitar in a prog-rock band called Dream Eater, and enjoy writing, rehearsing, and playing shows around town; come see us! I also practice yoga regularly and occasionally try to lift weights with my husband, a guaranteed good time. My kind of fun involves eating breakfast tacos, drinking coffee, reading, jamming, and hanging out with my crazy cow-dog, Dingo.

Meet the Staff – Caroline Jones

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

I assist patrons in the Reference, Genealogy, and Archives Reading Rooms in conjunction with the Reference Librarians and Reference Archivists. This includes helping patrons with searching our catalog or using our microfilm readers, and other tasks like pulling and refiling materials and processing both US and Texas documents.

Why did you choose your profession?

When I was a sophomore in college, I went to a presentation my history professors were hosting concerning professions you could pursue with a BA in history. One speaker was an archivist (who I realized when I started at TSLAC was Jelain Chubb, the current State Archivist). Prior to her talk I didn’t know much about archives and wasn’t sure what I’d do after graduation, but the possibility of handling historic documents and making them accessible for research sounded like the perfect way to use my history degree in a hands on way. I loved the idea of being able to handle historical artifacts and not just read about them second hand. After volunteering in my high school’s archive back in Dallas and working in the St. Edward’s University Munday Library, I was determined to get into this field.

What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection? 

I don’t think I could ever choose just one! At the moment, one of my favorites is this photograph from the Graham (R. Niles) collection. I really enjoy this image because of the humor this woman has in posing with her dog. I enjoy finding these more candid images of people where they are clearly having a good time and not taking themselves too seriously. I also love animals, so I feel this woman is a kindred spirit.

1964/306-1675, Photographs, Graham (R. Niles) collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

When you’re not busy what do you like to do for fun?

I’m big into adult coloring books, Pilates and Barre classes, learning calligraphy, reading and writing, and binge watching shows on Netflix.