Friday, November 12, 2010

Texas State Library & Archives - the Good & the Bad

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is celebrating the completion of a $20 million renovation of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building today. Author and historian H. W. Brands will speak at the ceremony, which will take place on the front steps of the de Zavala building, at 1201 Brazos St., across from the east side of the State Capitol. The de Zavala building was dedicated as a national Literary Landmark last year. The State Library & Archives also celebrated its centennial in 2009. A short history of the State Library & Archives is located on its website. The Texas State Library and Archives, A History 1835-1962 by David B. Gracy II was published in June of this year by the University of Texas Press.

The current issue of Libraries & The Cultural Record includes an article by Pamela R. Bleisch entitiled "Spoilsmen and Daughters of the Republic: Political Interference in the Texas State Library during the Tenure of Elizabeth Howard West, 1911-1925". This is a compelling article which paints a picture of an extremely dedicated librarian who is dealt a terrible hand of cards. Paid almost nothing, West promoted county library service, library service to the blind, and accommodated use of the state library by African Americans. Almost destitute after paying for extensive travel with her own funds, West resigned when the Texas State Legislature funded a sinecure on the State Library staff for a daughter of Sam Houston. With little public complaint, West accepted a position as Librarian of Texas Tech University. For her article, Bleisch was awarded the Justin Winsor Prize for the best essay in library history in 2009-10 by the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association.

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