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Newsline, Summer 2009

Legislative Research Librarians

Newsline Newsletter

Volume XXXIV, No. 3
Summer 2009

 

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CONTENTS

Chair's Column
2009 Legislative Summit
   Tour of The Library Company of Philadelphia
   Legislative Staff Achievement Award Recipients
   Opening Up Legislatures Through Social Media
   NCSL Honors Writers of Notable Documents at 2009 Legislative Summit
   Valuing Differences, Creating Success
   LRL Business Meeting Minutes
2009 Professional Development Seminar
NCSL Publications

 


Chair's Column
Elizabeth Lincoln
Legislative Reference Library, Minnesota

The 2009 Legislative Summit in Philadelphia was one of the two chances the Legislative Research Librarians staff section has to gather this year. You’ll find summaries of some of the programs the librarians participated in at the Legislative Summit this past July in this issue of Newsline

The Legislative Summit is also the time we elect a new secretary—Mary Camp of Texas was elected—and give heartfelt thanks to our outgoing officer, Cathy Martin of North Carolina. Cathy has played a significant role in our staff section during the last few years, as secretary, chair-elect, chair and immediate past chair. Fortunately, we were able to honor her contributions with a Legislative Staff Achievement Award during the Legislative Summit this summer. Congratulations and thanks to you, Cathy. 

We also honored Susan Southworth of Connecticut with a Legislative Staff Achievement Award for her years of dedication and contribution to legislative librarianship. 

Budget problems and travel restrictions have prevented some of us from participating in the Legislative Summit and the Professional Development Seminar in the last year or so. State budget conditions appear to be making some positive movement; with any luck, more of us will be able to participate in these twice-yearly gatherings in 2010. They continue to offer us a great opportunity to make connections and learn from each other. 

My colleagues and I at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library have been busy planning this year’s Professional Development Seminar. We are excited about the programs and look forward to gathering once again. Please join us in St. Paul in October.

Elizabeth

 

2009 Legislative Summit
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tour of the Library Company of Philadelphia
By Susan Blixt, Arizona

Sarah Weatherwax and Cornelia King gave the Legislative Research Librarians a tour of the Library Company of Philadelphia, America’s oldest cultural institution. The Logan Room features artifacts, furniture and paintings such as an electrical machine designed by Benjamin Franklin, a William and Mary secretary desk owned by William Penn (1680), library tables made in Philadelphia (1740), and landscapes of Philadelphia Harbor (1840) and New York Harbor by Thomas Birch. A panoramic view and description of the Logan Room art and artifact collection can be accessed at www.librarycompany.org/artifacts/loganroom.htm.

The Library Company of Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin and friends in 1731 as a subscription library, began as an affordable method of pooling their financial resources to be sent to an agent in London, England, to purchase 375 books on history, practical science and arts, travel and other topics, and novels, plays and poems. In the beginning years, a building was not available to house the books, but library members met in apartments and homes of members, and the materials were housed with the librarian. Later, the second floor of the present Independence Hall was rented for the books, artifacts and treasures acquired over the years. In the 1790s, when Philadelphia was the nation’s capital, the Library Company acted as the Library of Congress. Today, the library is located at 1314 Locust Street, nestled in the Washington Square District. The Library Company’s current collections featuring the early history of America are well over half a million items: 300 artifacts and works of art; 500,000 rare books, periodicals, pamphlets and broadsides; 550 linear feet of manuscripts; and 75,000 maps, prints, photographs, political cartoons, original drawings and watercolors. Some of the most interesting, beautiful or unusual items in the collection include political and comic valentines, gift books with inlaid mother of pearl bindings, and studies of animal locomotion.

Although noncirculating, the Library Company is free and open to the public, retaining the concept of shareholders and gifts for its support. Researchers range from high school students to scholars. Approximately 40 fellowships are granted yearly for residency research to candidates from around the world to use the library’s collection for their projects, dissertations and books. The current library exhibit, “Mirror of a City: Views of Philadelphia,” recently acquired from the Jay T. Snider Collection, features an iconography of books, manuscripts, graphics and artwork depicting the development of Philadelphia from 1684 to the early 20th century. Other interesting exhibitions are available for viewing online: www.librarycompany.org/collections/exhibits/index.htm. The Reading Room provides a comfortable environment, and the WolfPAC library catalog, supplemented by the ImPAC (ephemera and graphic digitized images), presents the researcher with valuable descriptive information on items from the library’s varied collections. 

As you leave the Library Company of Philadelphia, there is a plaque on the west wall that reads:

Edwin Wolf 2nd
Librarian 1955-1984
Died 1991, aged 79.
His ashes lie within this wall.
 
Now we know where all good librarians go. Do you think this will become a librarian trend? Claim your spot before all the good places in your library are taken!
 

Legislative Staff Achievement Award Recipients

Cathy Martin
Legislative Librarian
Legislative Library
North Carolina

The Legislative Research Librarians staff section honors Cathy Martin as a leader with a champion combination of traditional library values and forward technology thinking. Cathy came to librarianship by way of the law. Fortunately for us, after six years as a legal services attorney, she redirected her goals and added MLS to her JD. As Legislative Librarian of the North Carolina General Assembly since 1990, her division director credits her tremendous insight into the needs of legislative staff to this combination of careers. She is praised by her colleagues as a quick and efficient researcher, always cognizant of new information technologies, supportive and open, thorough and accurate, and an excellent mentor. Cathy began her LRL duties by serving as a regional coordinator for many years. As an LRL staff section officer from 2005 to 2009, including chair in 2007-2008, Cathy has been thoughtful, creative and diligent. She confidently and competently asserts ownership, on behalf of legislative librarians, over information retrieval and dissemination issues in the NCSL community. She participated in the LSCC E-Learning and Technology Review subcommittees as well as the Executive Committee’s Web Redesign Task Force, and contributed much toward harnessing the powers of new Web technologies to increase remote professional development opportunities and education for members. Thanks and congratulations, Cathy! We look forward to your continuing service to legislative librarianship.

Susan Southworth
Legislative Librarian
Legislative Library
Connecticut

LRL is pleased to honor Susan Southworth with the 2009 Legislative Research Librarians’ Staff Achievement Award. Susan has devoted more than 35 years to working with or for the Connecticut General Assembly. She was hired as the first librarian for the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, later heading the Law/Legislative Reference Unit at the Connecticut State Library before returning to the General Assembly as the Connecticut Legislative Librarian. Susan first participated in NCSL as a faculty member at the 1984 Annual Conference. She served on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) Task Force on Promoting and Developing Professionalism of Legislative Staff, the LSCC Task Force on Promoting the Legislative Institution, and the NCSL Legislative Staff Nominating Committee. Susan chaired LRL in 1999-2000, after previously serving as secretary and vice-chair. She served on many LRL committees, including the Core Collection Committee in 1998-1999 that developed benchmarks for legislative library resources. Susan has continued to serve, often in less visible positions, and remains always willing to lend a hand, whether it is to write a meeting summary article for Newsline, to answer questions posed by colleagues on the listserv, or to serve on a committee. Susan believes her contributions to the staff section are low-key and not deserving of an award, but we see her as one who has given her best over many years and worthy of recognition for her articulate support of libraries and her example of service.

Opening Up Legislatures Through Social Media
By Shelley Day, Utah

As social networking continues to grow, speakers told NCSL Summit attendees that citizens expect information to be available on the Internet and on social networks they use most, such as Twitter, Facebook or the next new site. Twice as many teenagers (our future voters and leaders) than adults use social networking sites. 

Legislative environments are using social media to enhance the institution, improve the public's perception about legislative transparency and accessibility, and increase public participation. Through blogs, Web feeds, photo/video sharing, podcasts, widgets and social news sites, government becomes more hands-on by posting special meetings, breaking news, civic education events, and YouTube videos. For overwhelmed legislators, social media can decrease incoming e-mails, identify and allow effective communication with their constituents. For frustrated constituents, social media allows a comfortable format to provide input on issues. 

Speakers noted issues to consider: security; social content linked to current databases; establishment of clear-cut policies; and the ability to think differently. It takes decentralization, not a bureaucracy, authenticity and personality (key to showing the human side) to make social media effective, and participation and transparency go hand-in-hand. 

Thanks to moderator Sharon Crouch Steidel, Director of Information Systems, House of Delegates, Virginia, and speakers Ric Cantrell, Chief Deputy of the Senate, Utah, and Andrew Hoppin, Chief Information Officer, Senate, New York, for the insight they provided. 

Here is the link to view the video from the session: http://clients.onlinevideoservice.com/ncsl/Video.aspx?file=20090721-social-media

 

NCSL Honors Writers of Notable Documents at 2009 Legislative Summit

As reported by the LRL Notable Documents Awards Committee, 12 outstanding documents were honored at the 2009 NCSL Legislative Summit by LRL for their excellence in exploring topics of interest to legislators and staff.

 

CITIZEN’S GUIDE

Special Education Primer for Charter Schools
(Minnesota Department of Education)

INNOVATIVE ADVOCACY

Montana Legislator READ poster series
(Montana Legislative Services Division)

LEGISLATIVELY MANDATED

Idaho Transportation Department Performance Audit
(Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations)

LEGISLATOR’S GUIDE

A Minnesota Lawmaker’s Guide to the Agri-Environmental Policy Landscape
(Minnesota House Research Department)

POLICY GUIDE

Visioning Kentucky’s Future: Measures and Milestones 2008
(Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center)

PUBLIC POLICY – EDUCATION

Feasibility of School District Services Consolidation
(Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations)

Public Education Funding in Idaho
(Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations)

Emerging Global Workforce Raising Education Stakes: Children at the Economic Margins Key to Sustaining Progress
(Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center)

PUBLIC POLICY – ENVIRONMENTAL

Technical Evaluation of the Emissions and Control Costs of High Global Warming Potential Gases
(Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Environmental Analysis and Outcomes Division, etc.)

Biofuel Policies and Programs
(Office of the Minnesota Legislative Auditor)

Carbon Sequestration Study
(Montana Legislative Environmental Policy Office)

The Price of Flame
(Montana Legislative Services Division)

Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson, Chair
LRL Notable Document Award Committee
Montana Legislative Services Division

 
On behalf of committee members:
  • Sabah Eltareb, California State Library
  • Kristin Ford, Idaho Legislative Reference Library
  • Ingrid Hernquist, New Jersey Office of Legislative Services Library
  • Elizabeth Lincoln, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Valuing Differences, Creating Success
(Cosponsored with ASLCS and NALIT)
By Cathy Martin, North Carolina

The title is intriguing and so are the issues related to how generational and institutional-cultural differences affect the world of legislative information. Of all the wonderful programs offered in Philly, THIS is the one I’m most sorry you missed if you didn’t go! Moderator Duncan Goss, IT Director-Vermont, oversaw the lively discussion featuring panelists from all walks of legislative life, including our own Mary Camp. 

Representing the human resources angle, Jim Tamburro from Connecticut addressed staff management, retention and succession issues. He’s the General Assembly Training and Staff Development Coordinator and was a terrific presenter. He explained that the key ingredient for retention lies in a manager’s ability to understand what an employee really wants and that most non-money factors favoring retention are within a manager’s control. These include keeping employees challenged (using “stretch” goals, conducting career development discussions) and offering training and development opportunities that motivate and reward employees even if they’re maxed out on the pay scale. He reviewed his excellent handout on succession planning: when to plan (stay five years ahead); how to analyze the competencies required for the work to be done; how to evaluate staff (A, B or C players? SWOT analysis?); and how to create individual development plans. 

Susan Clarke Schaar, Clerk of the Virginia Senate, offered a wonderful historical perspective on the changing culture of legislatures—from staffing needs/expectations to the members themselves, many of whom have run for office against the institution. From her account of the days when the IBM Selectric was the “trendsetter” to her depiction of legislative staff as keepers of the flame, she had us laughing and nodding and applauding as we related to her story. She recommended NCSL’s Succession Planning in the Legislative Workplace

Michael Adams, Director of Colorado's Legislative Information Services, challenged us all to consider generational diversity when hiring and training staff. Michael noted a serious generational shift in staffing—a survey of legislative directors found few under age 50, whereas Michael is under age 50 and his staff are even younger than he is. As for cultural differences, he hires for character and trains for skill, which differs from IT managers in non-legislative environments. Because the legislative culture is so different, soft skills (affecting how an employee assimilates) are extremely important, whereas technical skills can be taught. Some people are natural successes in the legislative world and some aren’t; this goes to character and not skill. In training, he likes to create partnerships and teach his staff what all IT users do, so they understand the process. Process should drive technology and not vice versa. He recommended NCSL’s Embracing Diversity in the Legislative Workplace

Mary Camp, Director of the Texas Legislative Reference Library, highlighted the multiple roles of the library as keeper and purveyor of legislative information. She started out with the basics: hiring and training the right staff for the legislative setting, which means hiring for character and the energy to withstand the long haul. New librarians on her staff receive three weeks of intense training, are assigned a mentor, and then receive a “take no prisoners” evaluation, after a six-month probationary period. The library also provides new member orientation. 

Attendees saw that the Texas Library has met the challenge of organizing legislative information and making it accessible, taking seriously its role as bridge between technology and user. Mary reviewed the rich and robust legislative website, developed jointly by the librarians (content) and the IT staff (implementation). Offerings include the daily legislative clipping service, legislative history and intent resources, current and historical member information, a Texas law timeline, and many more legislative archive resources. The collaboration of the library and the information technology staff has resulted in a stellar Texas legislative archive system. 

The panelists reminded us all how much we love the legislative organization and want to instill this love in new staff and new members, some of whom don’t share our history or perspectives. We need to collaborate to create a culture where differences are valued and seen as opportunities for growth.

LRL Business Meeting Minutes

July 23, 2009

Attendees: Jackie Curro (Chair, Md.), Shelley Day (Secretary, Utah), Cathy Martin (Immediate Past Chair, N.C.), Heather Morton (NCSL Staff, Colo.), Mary Camp (Texas) Stephen Bibbs (Hawaii), Susan Blixt (Ariz.), David Harrell (Emeritus member, Ore.) 

Welcome: Jackie convened the meeting at 12:00 noon immediately after lunch and gratefully acknowledged the support of Thompson West, thanking them on behalf of LRL and NCSL for the luncheon they provided. 

Recognition of Host State: Jackie recognized and thanked Pennsylvania legislative librarians Evelyn Andrews and Susan Zavacky for providing worthwhile ideas for library tours. Jackie reported that the tour of The Library Company of Philadelphia was meaningful and expressed regret that Evelyn and Susan were unable to attend due to budget matters. 

Recognition of NCSL Staff Liaison: Pleased with Heather Morton's efforts as LRL's staff section liaison, Jackie presented Heather with a classy "crab" pewter paper weight and card on behalf of LRL members. Heather then presented Jackie and Shelley with birthday cards: she discovered they were spending their birthdays in Philadelphia. Heather has won the hearts of all who work with her.

Notable Documents Awards: Jackie recognized judges of the Notable Documents Committee (Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson (Mont.) chair, and members Sabah Eltareb (Calif.), Kristin Ford (Idaho), Ingrid Hernquist (N.J.), and Elizabeth Lincoln (Minn.), then presented the awards and requested that members remember this process and continue nominating documents each year. 

Legislative Staff Achievement Awards: On behalf of Susan Gilley, Jackie announced the recipients, Cathy Martin (N.C.) and Susan Southworth (Conn.), read their outstanding accomplishments, expressed regret that Susan was not present to receive her award, and presented an award plaque and certificate to Cathy Martin, a stalwart in every way. 

2009 PDS: It was announced that a Web page and registration link will soon be created on the NCSL LRL Web site. Jackie recognized Elizabeth Lincoln and Robbie LaFleur for the interesting program they are planning for members this October, and announced that some sessions will be recorded so those members unable to travel can have access to them. 

2010 PDS: Noting NCSL's encouragement to meet jointly, Jackie asked Heather to get a feel for other staff section location plans, stating that a decision will hopefully be determined in October and emphasizing flexibility for a good fit when considering other staff sections. 

NCSL LSCC Staff Officers Visit: Gary VanLandingham, Immediate Past Staff Chair, addressed strategic vision issues, including decreased staff travel, generational training, and e-learning programs. He encouraged LRL to use NCSL resources and to continue networking to meet the needs of legislatures. Nancy Cyr, Staff Chair, encouraged LRL members to use their voices and complimented the LRL body as a great resource for NCSL, staff and legislators across the nation. Tim Rice, Staff Vice Chair, announced that he is pleased to serve in this capacity and become better acquainted with LRL members, especially Shelley (why does that scare me?). 

NCSL Website Discussion: The RACSS staff section joined LRL to discuss issues and new developments with NCSL staff Doug Sacarto (Director of IT and Online Services) and Ed Smith (Publications), regarding the redesigned NCSL Web site. 

Election of New Officers: Cathy Martin presented Mary Camp as the Nominating Committee's choice for LRL Secretary and expressed gratitude for her acceptance. The vote that followed among members in attendance was unanimous. Jackie Curro transferred the power of Chair by “operation of law” to Elizabeth Lincoln. On Elizabeth's behalf (since she was unable to attend due to budget matters), Shelley presented Jackie with a personal letter from Elizabeth who expressed appreciation for Jackie's perseverance in making the 2009 LRL meeting come to fruition in St. Paul, working hard to make sure LRL had an economically viable program during these difficult economic times, and asked how Jackie made it look so easy—she's always calm, cool and collected. Shelley added that Jackie has been thoughtful and thorough in her duties as Chair, and then presented the gift to Jackie on Elizabeth's behalf—a beautiful large multicolored scarf. Jackie stated that it had been an honor to serve as Chair of LRL this past year and expressed appreciation to everyone for their involvement. 

Adjournment: Without further business or announcements, Jackie Curro adjourned the annual meeting at 1:00 p.m. 

Respectfully submitted by Shelley Day, Outgoing LRL Secretary, 29 July 2009

2009 Professional Development Seminar
October 14-17, 2009
St. Paul, Minnesota

This seminar will focus on current developments in information and library management, technology and legislative research. Join your colleagues from other states to explore new ways to think about your work and to learn new skills to make your job easier. You will come away refreshed by the experiences we share.

St. Paul combines the old, the new and the unique—a European-style charming and historic city on the bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, not far from some of the nation's most scenic urban lakes.

AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS
  • What's Up With Your Library? Roundtable Discussion
  • Tour of West, a Thomson Reuters Business
  • Traditional Media vs. New Media Coverage of Legislatures
  • Social Media in Libraries
  • Minnesota Capitol and Legislative Reference Library Tours
  • Preserving State Government Digital Information
Here is a link to the Web site to access the brochure and updated agenda:

www.ncsl.org/?tabid=18062 

NCSL Publications

Reports:

  • Investing in a Healthy Start for Children—Saunders/Goodwin
  • The Children's Health Insurance Program:  A Primer for State Legislatures—King
  • Strong Leaders Strong Schools:  2008 State Legislative Action—Shelton
  • Healthy Community Design—Farquhar
  • Fundamentals of Representative Democracy—Goehring
  • Early Care and Education State Budget Report—Poppe
  • Diabetes Health Coverage—Cauchi/Thangasamy
  • Achieving High-Quality Long-Term Care—Folkemer
  • Returning Home:  Getting Health Care After Prison—Lubin
  • Teen Pregnancy—Lubin
  • Enhanced Driver's Licenses and REAL ID:  Driver's License Update—Teigen
  • Government to Government:  Models of Cooperation Between States and Tribes:  UPDATE—Davis
  • Cutting Corrections Costs—Lawrence
  • 2009 State Transportation Legislation—Hobbs (Web Only)
  • Transportation Mobility Management—Reed/Farber (Web Only)

LegisBriefs:

June-July 2009

  • Substituting Generic Drugs: State Roles—Vol. 17, No. 25
  • Teacher Leaders—Vol. 17, No. 26
  • Healthy Communities: Reducing Cancer Risks—Vol. 17, No. 27
  • Pay-to-Play: State Reforms—Vol. 17, No. 28
  • Safety for Motor Carriers of Hazardous Material: The State Role—Vol. 17, No. 29
  • State Address Health Disparities—Vol. 17, No. 30
August-September 2009
  • Gift Laws: The Devil Is in the Details—Vol. 17, No. 32
  • Detection as a Cure: Colorectal Cancer Screening—Vol. 17, No. 33
  • P-16/20 Councils—Vol. 17, No. 34
  • Food Safety—Vol. 17, No. 35
  • States Take on Alzheimer’s Disease—Vol. 17, No. 36

 

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