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Saturday, March 3, 2018

What is the TSLAC?

Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building
Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives & Library Building (Beaty, 2017)

Terrific Students Learning About Citations?
Talented Special Library Aides Cataloging?
Three Senior Librarians Avoiding Confrontation?

Actually, it is the Texas State Library and Archives Commission!  The Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building is the main location for this entity.  It is located in downtown Austin on the east side of the capitol grounds at 1201 Brazos Street.  A recent tour afforded a better, though still limited, understanding of this Texas library organization.   Interestingly, this tour was preceded the day before by a tour of the sparkling new Central Branch of the Austin Public Library (APL), also in downtown Austin.  Though the two sites could be contrasted in many ways (see the photos below of the card catalog still in use from the TSLAC archives reading room and the device "vending machine" at the APL), they are both resources Austin is proud to host.

TSLAC has four major areas of focus:
  • Archives and Reference: Preserving the archival record of Texas (Archives and Information Services)
  • Services for Libraries: Enhancing the service capacity of Texas public, academic, and school libraries (Library Development and Networking)
  • Talking Book Program: Meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities (Talking Book Program)
  • Records Management: Assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records (State and Local Records Management) (Smith, 2017).

What does this agency have to do with you? 

The scope of this blog will not allow me to elaborate on all the services TSLAC offers in detail, but I will share some tidbits to whet your appetites. For those of you in Texas, basically the TSLAC spells R-E-S-O-U-R-C-E-S for both you and for your stakeholders.  Many state records are held physically at the Austin location in its 7 floors of archival storage.  Many of the visitors of the reference reading room and the archives room are reportedly university students seeking research information, but all are welcome.  For those not able to come in person, many of the records in the genealogical reading room are also digitized for remote access.  For example, the TSLAC has made special arrangements to offer many Texas genealogical records through the database free of charge – even for those without a subscription.  This information can be accessed through the TSLAC website by searching “ Texas.” 

There are also resources of special interest to various types of librarians.  The website, for instance, provides information and access to continuing education through webinar offerings.  Online exhibits that might be helpful for school teachers related to Texas state parks, historic flags of Texas, the women’s suffrage movement in Texas, among others, are available at   This is not an exhaustive list.  The website describes these resources and others of interest, depending on your area of library focus.

Regardless of your interests, however, if you are a librarian (or library student) living in Texas, you should be aware of the library-focused collection at your fingertips (or in your mailbox).  I had the privilege of meeting Christina Manz, the delightful librarian at the other end of emails related to this collection.  Ms. Manz is eager to help librarians with access to these books related to the library field.  In addition to offering suggestions upon request for resources about different library topics from collection development to makerspaces to cataloging to guided inquiry, the materials are sent to you wherever you are in Texas!  On the day of my visit, I was only planning to view the collection, but ended up taking home a stack of helpful books related to current practicum and course assignments.   It is a library for librarians!  And, although public libraries participating in the TexShare program will provide ILL access to the materials in this collection, most (including the Austin Public Library) have very low limits (i.e., one book at a time).  The TSLAC Library Science Collection has no such limits.  The collection is searchable through the TSLAC online catalog, but it can also be accessed by contacting Ms. Manz directly at  

Additional mention should be made of the Talking Books Program for those who have not heard of it.  Although my tour did not include this department, the website provides valuable information about the resources available.  TSLAC offers materials to assist patrons in all settings with visual impairments or physical impairments, both on-going or temporary, that restrict their ability to use more traditional print resources.  Check out the program to better equip you and your library for serving patrons who could benefit from these services at

This just scratches the surface of the services and resources available through TSLAC.  I hope you will plan to take advantage of them personally and share them professionally with others in your spheres of influence. 

Beaty, G. (2017, February 26). Device vending machine [Image]. Austin, TX: Self-published.

Beaty, G. (2017, February 27). Lorenzo de Zavala state archives and library building [Image]. Austin, TX: Self-published.

Beaty, G. (2017, February 27). TSLAC card catalog [Image]. Austin, TX: Self-published.

Smith, M. (2017). "About us." Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Device vending machine at Austin Public Library
Central Library device vending maching (Beaty, 2017)

Card catalog at TSLAC
TSLAC card catalog (Beaty, 2017)
By Gienah Beaty
GLISA Secretary 2017-2018
March 3, 2018

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

In Consideration of Universal Design

Have you ever designed a blog or website? How about an event poster or flyer?  Maybe you have the opportunity to help redesign part of your library into a makerspace or teen reading area.  What are some of the things you consider?  If you find yourself considering lighting, shelf height and spacing, font size and style, or background patterns then you have considered elements of Universal Design (UD).

In layman’s terms, UD includes those elements you consider in order to make something easier for all users to access and use. Online, it can include your choice of background patterns or contrast between text and background color. It can also include how easy it is to locate and click on a button or hyperlink. In a physical space, you might consider lighting, flooring color and texture, the space between stacks, or even signage to help users locate various library services, like the bathrooms, the reference desk, or the copiers. For posters and flyers, you often have the same considerations as when designing in an online space, but you might also consider the height at which you post a flier, the background you place the flier upon, or the lighting where the flier is posted.  Sure, hanging a banner from the ceiling might be easy to read for some, but what if it’s a short hallway and you use a wheelchair or you are shorter than average? And if you hang a flier on a glass door, can you still read the flier? Is it obstructing someone's view and causing a safety hazard?

These simple examples only touch on a few areas of UD. If you would like to learn more about Universal Design and why it is important to consider in your library, you can begin at ALA.  You can also access this checklist from ALA or this one from Project enable.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

At the TLA Booth~~Guest Blog

For the first time ever, GLISA representatives were at the TWU SLIS booth during TLA Annual. If you’ve never been to TLA, the exhibit hall is a city long block of vendors and authors, all hawking their wares. It is an amazing, busy place. At the SLIS booth, future students are stopping by for information on the school and program. Former students are stopping by to visit with professors. Current students are also visiting, but it is with these folks that I wanted to chat.

Web Administrator Allison Renner designed a terrific banner for us to hang in the booth. I had it printed at Staples and we placed it right next to the SLIS banner. It was a great piece of marketing that will be used again next year, I hope.

Our first day, officers Tracy Jolivette, Paloma Lenz, and I all took over the booth during lunch hour. And what a busy lunch hour it was! Between the three of us, we could barely keep up engaging all the visitors. That hour, we met several current SLIS students and invited them to become GLISA members. With the enticement of a free tumbler, a few did. Former GLISA President Elizabeth Hollenbeck also stopped by and supported us by purchasing a heavy canvas bag. There were a few transfer and not-yet-students whom I tried to convince, that when they were ready, GLISA would be waiting for them.

The following day, there were some scheduling conflicts, read: I screwed up. For some strange reason, I never bothered to check Paloma and my schedules against the exhibit hall schedule. Anyway, it worked out that I stayed at the booth during lunch again. This time. I had Drs. Vardell, Jeng, Hoffman, and Richey, the GLISA advisor, to visit with. Despite having had almost daily interaction with Dr. Richey, this was the first time I had met her in person. I don’t know what she thought about me, but she was much like I expected, friendly and cordial and utterly professional.

I spent almost no time in the exhibit hall this year; freebies just weren’t doing it for me. The two hours I did spend there were about forging relationships and making new friends. I hope to see y’all there next year!

Christine De Angelis is conference junkie who is also a one-woman fan club of Clayton Genealogy Library’s director, Sue Kaufman.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Experience As Vice Prez - Guest Post

As a TWU SLIS student, I juggled two courses, two jobs, and volunteering for seven semesters. When I received the email notifying me of my nomination to serve as a GLISA officer in April 2015, I was shocked. What had I done that demonstrated any sort of leadership potential in my distance education courses? Turns out, joining the Texas Library Association and attending my first annual conference was my first step.

Raquel Williams, the fall 2015 Web Administrator, was in one of my courses in spring 2015 and remembered that I had posted in the class discussion board about attending TLA. For whatever reason, we didn't connect at conference, but she threw my name in the GLISA officer pool and the rest is history.

The email I received offered me the positions of Treasurer or Vice President. After skimming the descriptions of both roles I realized as VP I would be the editor of the online newsletter, charged with not only writing articles (which I have done before on various platforms) but also designing the entire layout of the publication (which I had never done before), so I hopped on-board figuring the summer break would give me time to brainstorm article topics and play around with Microsoft Publisher (not at all, but that's a different blog post).

With no previous experience in layout design, but an eagerness to produce a vibrant digital publication with a balance between stimulating visuals and text, I produced the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 GLISA newsletters. I interviewed SLIS professors, delegated and edited the work of my peers, and gained new skills in layout design -- all of which have been transformative for me. And, once I completed the semester newsletter, I assisted fellow officers in completing their duties by contributing ideas for social media posts, strategies for member recruitment, and assisting with the spring and fall service projects.

Meeting Christine, Raquel, Nekeeta, Tracy, Allison, and Brea has had a huge impact on my confidence as both an individual and a library professional. Being able to connect with this group both virtually and in person has been a huge learning opportunity. I admire the work ethic of each officer, current and past, and have adopted some of their practices in order to boost my own potential. As a result of my involvement with GLISA, I am motivated to participate in TLA and am now the Secretary of the Latino Caucus (the hardest part is showing up to your first business meeting). It took one fateful email to push me beyond my comfort zone and connect with some strong, forward-thinking women.

Coming into the SLIS program, I didn't expect to meet anyone from any of my classes for more than a group assignment. But, joining GLISA and answering the call for officers as GLISA VP enabled me to walk away with not only my intended MLS degree, but also great friends. Additionally, the newsletters and service projects completed during my time as VP have made for great work products to present during interviews.

Do you have a writing/online publishing background, or are you interested in building experience in editing/writing? If so, this position is perfect for you. If you want to introduce new and emerging topics in the field of library and information science, interview literally WHOEVER you want (because you're the editor), and procrastinate on course assignments by spending time searching for the perfect (copyright-free) image to enhance your Q&A, then sign-up for GLISA (if you're not already a member) and shoot an email to with your resume and an elevator speech about why you would make a great VP. And, remember, if you still have two years ahead of you, being VP this year means you can be President next year!

Paloma Lenz served as the GLISA Vice President for the 2015-2016 academic year. She graduated last week on May 11, 2016. You can follow her on Twitter at @pl0la.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Take on the Final Exam Portfolio~~Guest Post

If you are relatively new to the TWU SLIS program, you may not even realize you are required to complete a final exam to receive your MLS.  Surprise, surprise!  Lucky you, welcome to the land of ambiguity and fingernail biting…but it doesn’t have to be that way.

In Blackboard, under My Organizations>>SLIS Student Resources, there is a folder called Final Exam Portfolio.  In its many sub-folders there are instructions, Q&A, and other information.

Some semesters, the Final Exam Committee offers a BB Collaborate informational session.  If the session is not offered, I suggest emailing one of the committee members for their slideshow or hints and tips.  Last year, I could not log into the correct session and missed it.  The session was not archived, either.  I emailed Dr. Perryman and she gladly gave me the slides.

Her two biggest take-away from the slides were to be succinct and to use the rubric elements as sub-headings.  Using the sub-headings allows the grader to easily see if you have addressed the rubric line item.  It also allows you to organize your thoughts logically.  Being succinct is more challenging.  I was as to the point and brief as possible, yet I had 20 pages total not including resources by the time I was finished. 

Planning for the FEP is essential.  The final exam is offered ONLY in the long semesters, NOT in summer.  Therefore, if you are graduating in August, you will need to plan to have your FEP turned in the spring prior.  In a way, this is advantageous for you.  I highly recommend that you use the breaks, whether summer or Christmas, to fully complete your FEP so that once the window opens, you only need to submit it.  This will allow you to focus on the classes you are taking without the stress of the final exam.  The submission window is only open about 20-30 days.  If you wait until the window opens to start the FEP, you will be in a world of hurt.

The FEP is in two parts:  your professional development plan and your work products essay.  Each of these sections is submitted separately, as is each of the three work products.  When working ahead, do not make the mistake, like I did, of collating all materials, including embedding my work products, into one report.  While I thought this was a more presentable approach, it will not work with the Blackboard submission system. 

Start planning now for which work products you want to submit.  Each of the three must be from different classes and each must express different competencies.  If your instructor tells you you have done an excellent job on a specific project or ‘highly recommends’ for you to include it, follow that lead.  If you’re unsure, ask that professor what they think about including it in the portfolio.  

While you can use one group project, I avoided this. For one, the other student had graduated and the link to the Web 2.0 tool we used was broken.  He created the user name and password for the account we used, so I was stuck.  Permission was not an issue for us, as we had previously agreed that its inclusion in FEPs was okay.  Also, upon reflection, I could not effectively link the parts of the project that I worked on to the competencies I wanted to cover.  With all these challenges, it simply was not worth my time to fret over it.  

Your professional development portion of the FEP is basically your five year plan.  What you want to be doing upon graduation and beyond, and how you are going to get there.  This is actually a really great exploration tool into what’s available for continuing education, job opportunities, and to visualize how you want to ‘do’ librarianship.  For a final reflection in another class, I started squirrelling away various pieces of information which I could also incorporate into the FEP professional development piece.  

Another interesting factor is that CMS is the required citation style for the FEP.  All previous classes I had taken at TWU required APA or MLS.  Having never used Chicago before, I immediately bookmarked Purdue’s OWL for CMS.  Don’t be confused, because the three work products you include in that portion of the FEP do NOT need to be changed.  They should remain in whichever citation style you used originally.

There is no need to be intimidated or fear the final exam portfolio.  The skills that you have been using during the entire degree program, planning, research, and writing, are all that are needed here.  Time management should be your only eyebrow lifter.  That can easily be vanquished by using the off-season well.  

Christine De Angelis was awarded the 2016 TWU College of Professional Education Student Award for Outstanding Student Service in SLIS for her time as President of GLISA.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Year as GLISA President~~Guest Post

I am writing this blog post as one of my final acts as President of GLISA.  And what a ride it has been!  Like some other GLISA officers, I came into this hesitantly; I jokingly say I was snookered in.  Really, I had won the GLISA ALA 2014 scholarship and was subsequently asked by then President Elizabeth Hollenbeck if I would like to be an officer.  Well, it was not really something I had endeavored for or even considered, but upon reflection (see, I did learn something in library school, lol), I really could not come up with an honest, viable excuse to say no.  The Nos I came up with were BS, with ‘No Time’ being the biggest lie.

Thus, I said okay.  Treasurer was out for me because I live in Houston with no plans on going to Denton.  Secretary?  No way, too much work.  I’m the secretary for my HOA, undoubtedly a larger and more complex organization than GLISA, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  Veep’s only is responsible for the newsletter each semester.  That sounded about my speed.  The hitch:  after Veep, you are expected to stay on as President the following year to provide continuity.  Eh, I could live with that.

My first year as Veep was a learning experience.  The first semester, I couldn’t get my poop in a group and the newsletter ended up being really late, like just before the semester ended.  I was not pleased with myself about that.  I sat out the second semester because of extended military training.  Even so, I felt like our leadership was weak and the officers did not gel.  I was even considering not continuing on as an officer the following fall.

The position of President requires a strong leader who can make a decision and stick with it.  S/he should ask for and welcome guidance from the experts and the other officers, but should not be ruled by committee for important items.  A good president also needs to be able to trust his / her officers and delegate authority.  If you are a person who must always be ‘in the weeds’ and micromanage, President is not the position for you.  That is not to say the president cannot get his / her hands dirty; on the contrary, you must lead by example.  One of the most important things I can say about being President is that you must tell all the officers your expectations from the get go.  By doing this, you are setting them up for success and also giving them an out before they get too deep if they don’t think they can handle it.

This year as President of GLISA has been AWESOME!  Under my guidance and suggestions, the officers came up with specific service projects for both semesters, created spectacular newsletters with ALL officers contributing and the VP editing, we garnered interest through intense social media coverage and our new blog / website, started an online book club, and more…Basically, we reinvented and reinvigorated GLISA to be a vibrant, positive student organization known throughout the SLIS department and campus wide.

My only important disappointment this year is leaving GLISA without officer volunteers for next school year.  Three of the officers graduated…oh, about 24-72 hours ago; a fourth graduates in summer.  The fifth has completed her term and will not continue.  If you’re reading this blog, you are probably a GLISA member or thinking of becoming one.  I know you’ve got it in you.  Stand up and represent…become an officer today.

Christine De Angelis, a TWU alumna for three days, is the current ~ former President of GLISA.  A life-long learner, she begins a genealogy continuing education class...tomorrow!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Being Web Administrator for GLISA - Guest Post

I fell into the web administrator position at the end of the fall 2015 semester. A friend and classmate, Nekeeta Borden, was the secretary; she and Raquel Williams, the web administrator, were both graduating, and Nekeeta wanted me to apply for one of the positions.

I worked full time when I was an undergraduate, so I never had time to hang around campus and get involved with my classmates and school organizations. I was excited at the thought of being more involved as a graduate student, but with TWU being the best choice for my educational goals, I realized that I would never really have the on-campus experience of being an involved student. In fact, living in Memphis, TN, meant that I would not even be able to attend a meetup, the Texas Library Conference, or graduation.

Even with that in mind, I wasn't too sure that I wanted to be a GLISA officer. Taking two classes a semester while raising a young son and balancing volunteer work seemed to be all I could handle. Before I knew it, Nekeeta and the current president Christine De Angelis were emailing me to say that the web administrator position was still open, and Raquel was sending me a list of duties. I felt pretty unprepared for the position, even though I have experience blogging and interacting on social media.

After the first GLISA meeting, I was hooked. I felt so comfortable with my fellow officers, and it was a lot of fun to find interesting articles to share on the GLISA Twitter and Facebook, because I knew I would get feedback and new thoughts on these articles from my classmates. I started the GLISA blog and invited students to share guest posts about classes, conferences, and thoughts on librarianship in general.

The point of GLISA is to provide a community for SLIS students and be a source of information and resources when it comes to school, the job search, and professional development. But GLISA is also a really fun organization to get involved with. As web administrator, my duties include:

  • Posting GLISA and SLIS information on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog.
  • Sharing interesting and thought-provoking articles on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog.
  • Keeping up with GLISA's Blackboard for students not on social media.
  • Writing blog posts and inviting submissions from current students.
  • Writing two articles a semester for the GLISA newsletter.
  • Participating in monthly meetings via Blackboard Collaborate.
  • Providing opinions on matters like GLISA merch, grading scholarship submissions, and more.

The time commitment, the thing that originally scared me away from a GLISA position, is completely manageable. The monthly meeting I previously mentioned is the only major commitment; the rest of the duties are done as I have time - and since the program is online, I found a lot of time to do a little GLISA work here and there while completing schoolwork.

I highly recommend the position of web administrator to anyone who loves finding interesting articles to share, sounding off on social media, writing blog posts, and being enthusiastic enough to get other people to chime in and get involved. Apply for a position, or nominate a classmate today!

Allison Renner, who lives in Memphis, TN, is the current GLISA web administrator. She graduates in August 2016 - so sign up to fill the position NOW!