"WHEREAS, There is a close connection between the long growth of civilization and the development of literature; and WHEREAS, It has been customary in all ages for governments to recognize this relation by elevating the poet to the same plane as statesmen and military leaders; and WHEREAS, The recognition of outstanding poets in this State and their elevation to places of honor will have a wholesome and beneficial effect on literature in this State ... "
So was it resolved in SCR 82, 43R, that every two years, “some outstanding and recognized poet, who is a citizen of Texas” would be designated as state poet laureate.
In 2019, the 86th Legislature named Carrie Fountain (HR 903, SR 455) and Emmy Pérez (HR 897, SR 456) as the latest poets laureate. Learn about them and other recently honored Texas poets laureate in our display on the north end of the library.
Tile image by Flickr user Toshiyuki IMAI and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
Following our temporary relocation, the Legislative Reference Library is back in our Capitol space! With thanks to the Texas State Preservation Board for their leadership in the renovation process, we are enjoying new carpet, paint, public computer stations, and updated staff work areas.
Peruse the photos below to see some of the work in-progress and the final results. Come visit! And as always, please continue to call us at (512) 463-1252 and/or email us at LRL.Service@lrl.texas.gov with your reference and research needs.
When a carpet is 20+ years old, it needs replacing! The new carpet is the same pattern, following our historical room treatment, but now the colors are more vivid.
Updated offices and reference desk will help us better serve our patrons.
The final results!
Photos courtesy of the Texas State Preservation Board and LRL staff.
Happy anniversary to us! The Legislative Reference Library marks its 50th anniversary as an agency this September. The Legislative Reference Library was created as "an independent agency of the legislature" by Acts 1969, 61st Leg., p. 154, Ch. 55 (Senate Bill 263),
As noted last week, we are currently marking our anniversary year with a renovation project—but we will continue to offer reference, research, and other library services while we are relocated. We look forward to many more years of serving the legislative community!
After being in our restored space for more than 20 years, the Texas State Preservation Board has planned a renovation of the Legislative Reference Library. New carpet, paint, public computer stations, added staff work areas, and other updates are on the horizon for the LRL.
As with any big renovation project, this means that the LRL's operations will have to temporarily relocate from the Capitol! We will be based on the fourth floor of the John H. Reagan Building; our Capitol space will be closed. The LRL will continue to offer reference and research assistance, check out library materials, send Current Articles and New & Noteworthy emails, produce the Legislative Clipping Service, and provide other library services. The renovation will begin in August and will take approximately five months.
Please continue to call us at (512) 463-1252 and/or email us at LRL.Service@lrl.texas.gov with your reference and research needs.
Learn a little about the backgrounds of Texas governors in our updated exhibit, Paths to Inauguration.
- View a thread map showing the birthplaces of all of the governors born in Texas—interestingly, only two out of twenty-one were born in the same town. (Rusk gave us both Gov. James Stephen Hogg, the first governor to be born in Texas, and Gov. Thomas Mitchell Campbell.)
- Consider the higher education institutes that helped prepare twenty-eight governors for leadership. (There are a lot more commonalities here than we saw in birthplaces!)
- Enjoy photos and other memorabilia from inauguration festivities, 1939 to 2019.
Cover image: The Ross Volunteer Company—a special unit in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets that is the official Honor Guard of the Governor of Texas— escort Gov. Robert Allan Shivers and First Lady Marialice Shivers’ car as they head to the Capitol for the January 20, 1953, inauguration ceremony. Neal Douglass Photography Collection, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
Entering the Capitol grounds from the south, one of the first monuments visitors see is the Texas African American History Memorial. Unveiled on November 19, 2016, the monument commemorates African American Texans and their contributions to the history and evolution of the Lone Star State.
To see how the memorial developed in sculptor Ed Dwight's studio and learn about its legislative history, visit the Legislative Reference Library's display featuring the piece. Photographs showing components of the sculpture in different stages, alongside images of the final product, give insight into the artist's process. Placards lining the top of the case outline the eight bills that the legislature passed in the process of making the memorial a reality. (You can also learn more about the monument's legislative history here.)
As Texans prepare to commemorate Black History Month, we hope you'll visit our display and the Texas African American History Memorial to learn more about the wide array of contributions made by Black Texans.
Images, clockwise from top:
The Texas African American History Memorial display is located in the case nearest the reference desk.
Photos from sculptor Ed Dwight's studio came to the library courtesy of Bill Jones, Esq., Chair of the Texas African American History Memorial Foundation, and help us to see the many steps and intricate work that went into the 27-foot high and 32-foot wide monument.
At the beginning of each session, the Legislative Agency Service Fair provides an opportunity for new members and their staff to learn more about the services each agency offers.
This year, the fair will be held on Thursday, January 24, from 10:30 until noon, in the Legislative Reference Library, Capitol, 2N.3.
Staff from the following legislative agencies will be in attendance: Legislative Budget Board, Legislative Reference Library, State Auditor's Office, Sunset Advisory Commission, and Texas Legislative Council. Also attending will be a representative from the National Conference of State Legislatures. You might come away with more than information—we will have selected publications and other items to give away.
Please drop by the fair to learn more about how legislative agencies can support your work!
Rep. Dade Phelan (HD-21) reviews materials from the Legislative Reference Library with LRL Assistant Director, Catherine Wusterhausen, at the 2015 agency fair.
Learn about the creative side of some Texas legislators in our recently updated "Legislator/Artist" exhibit.
See a painting by Sen. Craig Estes (77th–85th Legislatures) and drawings—on Texas legislature subjects—by Reps. Neil Caldwell (56th–64th Legislatures) and Louis H. Scholl (34th–35th Legislatures).
Know of any other legislators, past or present, who have artistic talents? Let us know so we can add their work to our display!
Cover image ("Jack passed his court bill") by Rep. Neil Caldwell. Reproduced from Inside the Texas Legislature with State Representative Neil Caldwell, 1969.
The Legislative Reference Library recently updated our exhibit about the library and its work. Come by and learn more about our creation and leadership, discover answers to frequently asked questions, enjoy now and then photos of our reading room, and see photos documenting our work over time.
Now and then, the LRL in 2018 and 1910. See that bucket next to the man in the foreground of the picture? Yup, that's a spittoon. Our tables don't come with spittoons anymore, but visitors can bring their (covered) drinks to our library!
"Failure to have the views of the minority represented is failure to have a democracy. The minority side of the house is seldom comfortable. You can become unpopular by just jogging people's conscience. If you keep telling them they know what is right, but aren't doing it, then you get to be a thorn under their saddle." – Babe Schwartz
Sen. Babe Schwartz fought for what mattered to him throughout his career, and what a career it has been! You can learn more about Sen. Schwartz’s life and contributions in our exhibit, “A Texas Treasure: A.R. 'Babe' Schwartz.”
Born in 1926 to Russian immigrant parents, Aaron Robert “Babe” Schwartz grew up as a self-described “beach bum” on Galveston Island. After graduating from Ball High School, he proudly served in the U.S. Navy from 1944–1946, and then in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1948–1953. Schwartz graduated from Texas A&M in 1948 and earned his law degree at the University of Texas in 1951. Later that year, he married wife Marilyn; they went on to have four sons and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
While in law school, Schwartz worked for the chief clerk's office in the Texas House of Representatives and in the Texas Legislative Council. He returned to his hometown to serve as a prosecutor in the Galveston County attorney’s office for a few years, but he was eager to run for office. Schwartz served as a representative from 1955–1959, and then as a senator from 1960–1981.
"I always felt it necessary to be a little better educated, a little better prepared, a little better briefed than my opposition." – Babe Schwartz
A thread that runs throughout Sen. Schwartz’s life is his affinity for the Texas coast. One of his first jobs—at age 11—was on the beach, renting beach chairs, umbrellas, and other shoreline gear. While serving in the legislature, he was instrumental in the creation of the 1959 Open Beaches Act and the passage of the Coastal Public Lands Management Act of 1973. He chaired multiple committees, many relating to beaches and the coast. After his terms in the legislature, Schwartz went on to serve as a lobbyist, often for environmental causes, and he taught law school courses including Ocean and Coastal Law. In honor of these contributions, "Babe's Beach," a stretch of shoreline west of 61st Street in Galveston, was dedicated in May 2016.
As his quotations above suggest, Sen. Schwartz also made quite a name for himself as a fighter who was willing and prepared to go nose-to-nose in the chambers. He participated in at least seven filibusters. Lt. Governor Bill Hobby even gave Schwartz a pair of boxing gloves after one of his debates.
"There are few people in recent Texas politics who have had as much impact as Babe has. He has provided a rallying post on bill after bill. He has been the real conscience of the Senate on any number of bad appointments over the years. He's experienced and perceptive and he can frequently catch a bad bill no one else sees. He has no reluctance to stand up and take on any issue that he perceives to be adverse to the public interest. His departure leaves a great void that will be difficult to fill." – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who served in the 63rd, 64th, and 65th Texas Legislatures with Schwartz
Visit the LRL to see some of Sen. Schwartz’s memorabilia and to learn more about his life and career.
Sen. Schwartz passed away on August 10, 2018, at age 92. We will miss you, Babe!