History - Introduction

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"On June 2, 1902, over 30 delegates met and established the Texas Library Association (or the Texas State Library Association, as it was known then). Librarians and other library supporters assembled that day with high hopes of creating 'an organization for co-operative effort for the furtherance of this important educational movement [libraries] in Texas.'" (Texas Library Association Centennial Celebration web page )

Without a doubt the delegates who met that day came from Texas libraries housing both federal and Texas state documents for by 1902 the Federal Depository Library Program was well established and Texas state documents had been collected by selected libraries for many years with the assistance of the Texas State Library.

While the Federal Depository Program dates back to 1813, it was the federal Printing Act of 1895 (antecedent of Title 44 of the United States Code) that provided the landmark legislation with a ". . . comprehensive and substantive revision of public printing laws that centralized printing, sought to eliminate wasteful and disorderly distribution practices of the day; transferred [the] Office of Superintendent of Documents to Government Printing Office from Interior; added executive department documents to depository distribution [and] Libraries from the Executive Branch departments and the military academies added to depository system." Also in 1895 the first Monthly Catalog appeared; 420 libraries in [the Depository Library] system 1895-1903, [and] the SuDocs classification system developed by GPO librarian Adelaide Hasse. By 1907 the Land grant colleges [were] added to [the Depository Library] system." (The history of the Federal Library Programs well documented by the web page Keeping America Informed, the Federal Depository Library Program.)

Today the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in Texas is a vital and active network. Although some libraries joined the FDLP only to withdraw later, many have a long history of public service. The current FDLP Texas libraries who were also participating in the Federal Depository Library Program in 1902 (the year TLA was established) include: University of Texas, Austin (designated 1884); Houston Public Library (designated 1884); San Antonio Public Library (designated 1899); and Dallas Public Library (designated 1900). Other libraries with pre-1924 designations (the year News Notes - the Bulletin of the Texas Library Association began) include: Fort Worth Public Library (designated 1905); El Paso Public Library (designated 1906); Texas A&M University (designated 1907); the Rosenberg Library (designated 1909); and Texas Christian University (designated 1916).

For Texas documents, the collection/distribution program dates back to the 1848 Texas Secretary of State's Gift and Exchange Program where efforts were made to obtain out-of-state documents. As public and college library collections developed, so did the efforts to acquire Texas documents. In 1909 the Texas State Library and Historical Commission was established and given the responsibility for the collection and distribution of state agency documents. I

The Texas Library Laws were revised in 1919 to authorize the State Library to automatically receive from the State Printing Board copies of state documents for distribution to the public and institutional libraries in Texas. (Act July 28, 1919. General Laws, 1919, Second Called Session, Ch. 60, art. 5607a)

Over the years the State Library expanded its efforts to organize and distribute documents. These services were formalized by the Texas State Depository Library System Act (V.A.T.S. 5442a).

The history of the Texas Program is documented in Texas State Documents: The Development of a Program by Dale Propp and Robert Walton, Texas State Publications Clearinghouse, Texas State Library: Austin, TX, 1978 rev., an article "Texas State Documents," by Octavia F. Rogan, News Notes, vol. 8, no. 4, pages 3-6, October, 1932 and the web page The Texas State Depository Library Program Synopsis.)

Documenting the early activities of government documents librarians in Texas presents a research challenge. With its establishment in 1909, The Texas State Library and Historical Commission began publishing its Texas Libraries (vol. 1, no. 1, 1909-  ) as a "library newspaper for Texas" and ". . . a medium of communication, whereby all the forces might be organized and their co-operation enlisted" (Texas Libraries, vol. 1, no. 1, November 1909, page [1].) Even though the Texas Library Association was established in 1902, it was not until the publication of the News Notes - The Bulletin of the Texas Library Association in 1924 that a state-wide official journal for the Association provided a second forum for the exchange of information on current practices and the profession.

What follows is a selected chronology of the activities of government documents librarians in Texas and the formation of the Texas Library Association's Government Documents Round Table. The information included was taken from Texas Libraries, vol. 1, no. 1-4, no. 2, 1909-1920; vol. 4, no. 3, 1938 - vol. 55, no. 3-4, fall/winter 1994-95; News Notes, the Bulletin of the Texas Library Association, 1924-1949; the Texas Library Journal, 1950-  ; various editions of The Handbook of Texas Libraries; The Texas Library Association Annual Conference Programs, 1982-2001; Meeting Minutes of the Texas Library Association's Government Documents Round Table and materials from the TLA/GODORT Archives at the Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission. Additional materials are linked to the web version of The Handbook of Texas Online.

A literature search was done in Library Literature, 1921-1983; Library Literature and Information Science online, December, 1984-January, 2002, and LISA: Library and Information Science Abstracts 1969-2002 to identify articles about the practice of documents librarianship by Texas librarians.

Keeping up with current events of the Round Table is made easier by our TLA GODORT web site and the Lone Star Docs Newsletter which began in Winter 1995 and is available in full-text on the TLA Government Documents Web site from vol. 2, 1996 to the present.


Melody Kelly, University of North Texas, served as compiler and editor for this TLA Centennial Project. Information was supplied by Charlotte Bagh, Dallas Public Library; Brenda Barnes, Texas Christian University; Kayce Halstead, Stephen F. Austin State University; Cathy Hartman, University of North Texas; Diana Houston, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Maurice Fortin, Angelo State University; and Bennett Ponsford, West Texas A&M University.

Official members of the TLA GODORT Ad Hoc History Committee were: Melody Kelly, University of North Texas, Chair; Brenda Barnes, Texas Christian University; Jack Becker, Texas Tech University; Susan Hidalgo, Texas Tech University; Karen Locher, University of Houston-Victoria; and Susan Norrisey, Texas Tech University.

Created on Mar 27, 2011 | Last updated May 19, 2014