Mike Miller, Austin History Center

Posted by on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017 in Blog

Reported by Patrick Van Haren

President Dale Lowe called the meeting to order. Myron Burse led the pledges and Ann Graham gave the invocation of the day. James Gavin led us in saying The Four Way Test. Bill Davies served as greeter and Myron also introduced our guests and visitors.

Andrew Mondi traded his Red Badge for a Blue one…Congratulations, Andrew! Past President Ronney Reynolds followed with an announcement reminding us to sign up for the upcoming District Foundation Dinner on February 4th and to consider adding Rotary International to our wills.

Bill Davies urged everyone to attend our Spring Membership Soiree/Recruitment Event at the Headliners Club on January 24 from 6:00 to 8:00pm. Reservations are required, and Ann Graham is the person to contact to RSVP.

Mark Kapner highlighted the International scope of Rotary during the Global Awareness Update, and in particular the activities of the Rotary club of Modena Italy. They have sponsored the restoration of the high quality Balsamic Vinegar facilities of La Luchiola, which is Italian for ‘Firefly’. The operations of this high quality producer were destroyed during the earthquake of 2012. The Rotary Club of Carpi (Modena) and the Rotary Club of Paddington (London UK) collaborated to access Rotary International funding to make the project happen.

President Dale then presented the 2015-2016 RCA Annual Report and made several other announcements, including updates on Patti Riley-Brown and Bill Baker. Michael Portman led the Thank Goodness Basket and we heard from Mike O’Krent who is a new grandfather!

Michele Heyman introduced our speaker, Mike Miller. Mike, the City Archivist of the Austin History Center (Austinhistory.net), updated us on the progress of their transition to their new facility (the previous Austin Public Library “APL” main/central branch – The Henry Faulk building). The History Center will move into the Faulk building once APL moves to their new location on Cesar Chavez in the late summer/early Fall of 2017.

Mr. Miller introduced us to the operations of the History Center through an award winning video. The video explained the operations of the History center as well as the space constraints faced by the growing archives of the city. Included within the History Center are rare archives in the O’Henry room and records of the first Vietnamese newspaper, amongst many other things.

The History Center currently occupies Austin’s first central library, which was almost destroyed after the Henry Faulk building was built in the 1970’s. The building has 33,000 square feet yet holds 50,000 square feet of materials by cramping and squeezing materials into every possible space of the building. Within these squeezed spaces are greater than 1 million photographs of Austin’s heritage, voice recordings via the citizens’ oral records including former Texas Governor Ann Richards. There are 30,000 hours of video archives, as well as cold storage for old photographic and film records containing nitrogen compounds, which are volatile and highly flammable.

Mr. Miller pointed out that we, as a society, now produce in 24 hours the media volume equivalent of what our society produced from the beginning of time to 2010.

The Faulk Central Library will provide the History Center with the ability to become a destination space as a collector space, as well as an attraction museum for the city. The renovated building will provide for additional exhibition and meeting room spaces, as well as research space and space to process new collections. The current facility shuts down on Monday’s to create space for staff to process some of the collection materials as they have cannibalized previous work space for more storage. They seek to expand their outreach to youth and school tours as well.

The new building will provide them with 100,000 square feet of which 80,000 is already needed for archive purposes. The History Center already expects the archival materials from Ballet Austin and the Opera Society, as well as many more once people realize that there is a place for storing the history of Austin.

Next week’s speaker will be Stacia Crescenzi, the Principal at LASA (Liberal Arts & Science Academy).

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