Saturday, August 20, 2011

Future of Texas Library Systems

Flickr: Kat.
Thanks to the Texas State legislature and the incredibly shortsighted budget cuts that shortly be felt by all, the 10 public library systems that support public libraries in Texas will dissolve.  The systems have been in place for decades, serving as a midwife to the birth of new, small public libraries.  The systems would also assist their member libraries with continuing education, consulting, resources and grants.  This hand-holding and networking was vital to both the libraries and the communities they serve.

However, the 10 systems are extensions of the Texas State Library.  To balance the state budget the Texas State Library was told they must revert back to their original purpose--to be an archive, nothing more.

So what is the future of public libraries in Texas, without the help and assistance of the systems?  For the bigger public libraries, they already have a large talent base.  But for the smaller & isolated libraries, they are to be left on their own.  They will struggle, they may eventually close or be stripped bare of usefulness.  For many communities, a public library is a benchmark of success, of local pride.

Can we survive without the regional systems?  Maybe.  But it's not going to be pretty.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

All about the Old Stuff

Flickr image from Super Furry Librarian
Nothing like a class to discover how little you actually know on a topic.  Thanks to staff at the Texas State Library & Archives Collection, a class was offered on Archival Basics presented by David Gracy, professor emeritus in archives at UT School of Information.  A very engaging speaker, Dr. Gracy was the Director of the Texas State Archives.

Archivists have a different point of view and orientation to the retention and organization of materials.  Librarians are all about access--making sure people find things they want, organized to that end.  Archivists are more focused on the material, keeping collections intact.  So if Bob Smith's family donated Bob's letters, diaries and scapebooks on Bob's hobbies, it is important to an archive to keep all of Bob's stuff together. If Bob's stuff went to a public library, more than likely, it would all be split up according to topic and arranged by subject. 

It's like there are cat people and there are dog people.  They both like four legged furry friends, but then things split.