LRL Newsline | Spring 2019

Chair's Corner

A photo of 2018-2019 LRL Chair Betsy Haugen of MinnesotaWelcome to the Spring 2019 issue of Newsline!
By Betsy Haugen (Minnesota), LRL Chair 2018-2019

For many of us, it is the heart of the legislative session and the days go by quickly. The snowy Minnesota winter has made our commutes to the Capitol less than quick. Our February snow total of 39 inches is a new Twin Cities record for the month and more than five times our average. 

As I wait out some remaining wintery weeks here, I’ve been reflecting back on warmer days and wonderful opportunities I had last year. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit state capitols in Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Pennsylvania, and some of the remarkable libraries within them: the Nebraska State Library, the State Law Library of Iowa, the Kansas State Library and the Library of the Senate of Pennsylvania. The state capitols were all amazing, and each library had fantastic details, beautiful art work and dedicated staff. I really was in awe.

In 2019, I am looking forward to visiting at least two more state capitols.  Teresa and I will head to Madison, Wis., in early June for the Spring LSCC meeting. In August, I’ll travel south to Nashville, Tenn., for NCSL’s 2019 Legislative Summit. Don’t miss Eddie Weeks’ Newsline feature on the Tennessee Legislative Library, the “Crown Jewel atop the Cordell Hull Building”. Eddie, long-time Legislative Librarian from Tennessee, is helping us plan programs and tours that you will not want to miss.  Please mark your calendars now for the Aug. 5-8 Summit and join your colleagues in Music City, U.S.A.

The Spring issue of Newsline also features a library profile from Jessica Lundgren, Senior Law Librarian of the Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library. Jessica provides a great introduction to her library and some early details on the 2019 LRL PDS in Portland and Augusta, Maine, on Sept. 22-25. Megan and Jessica have already been working hard brainstorming relevant session topics. Plan to attend what is sure to be a great opportunity to learn from your colleagues!

Learning about the work going on in other legislative libraries is one of my favorite things.  Read on for state news, as well as responses to our library survey, announcements about the LRL notable document awards, and the legislative staff achievement nomination process. Megan has created a new online form for Notable Document Award submissions. The new form will make it easier to submit reports, and more efficient for the NDA committee to process and track submissions. Thank you, Megan!

If you are interested in taking on a leadership role with NCSL, the 2019 LRL Nominating Committee is currently seeking candidates to run for the office of LRL Secretary. This is the first step in a four-year commitment to the LRL's executive committee. It's a great way to get more involved in NCSL, meet dedicated legislative staff from around the country, and to help shape the direction of the LRL professional staff association.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions on upcoming events, or ideas for programming!


Mark Your Calendars 

The 2019 NCSL Legislative Summit will be held Aug. 5-8, 2019, in the welcoming city of Nashville, Tenn. Those of you who know long-time LRLer Eddie Weeks know he will be a great host. Nashville boasts an extremely walkable downtown with great food and music options on every block. Please consider joining us this summer.

The 2019 LRL PDS will be hosted by the award-winning Maine Law and Legislative Reference Library. The dates will be Sept. 23-25, 2019.

A Super PDS is in the works for 2020 in Atlanta, with six staff professional development associations committed to participating.  Join colleagues from RELACS, NALFO, LINCS, NLPES, LSS and, of course, LRL. The last time NCSL put together a Super PDS was in 2000 in Madison, Wis. We’ll let you know more details as planning continues over the next year.

Recognize Your Colleagues

NCSL is collecting “shout-outs" to legislative staff that will be posted on NCSL’s website during the upcoming May or November 2019 Legislative Staff Weeks. Please tell us about a great legislative staffer you know!  


Notable Document Awards - Nominations Open!!

Submission Deadline: Friday, May 31, 2019
By Elizabeth Lincoln, Minnesota

The annual Notable Documents Awards are presented by the Legislative Research Librarians Professional Staff Association.

The award was established in 1998 to recognize excellence in state documents that explore contemporary topics of interest to legislators and staff and present substantive material in an outstanding format.

Many states are not represented in the nominations, as we typically receive nominations from 20 or fewer states. Be sure your state is represented in the nominations this year!

Nominations are due May 31, and there is a simple form to fill out to submit a document. The committee reviews each document and uses a scorecard to rate each one. Visit the LRL home page for more information.

The purpose of the awards is to:

  • Formally recognize excellence in documents that explore topics of contemporary interest to legislators and staff by presenting substantive material in an outstanding format.
  • Advertise the extensive range of information available to legislators and staff.
  • Increase participation by legislative research librarians in the states’ information networks.

Visit the LRL website to see the guidelines for selection and a list of previous winners. Nominations are due Friday, May 31, 2019.  Watch for reminders on the NCSL LRL listserv soon.

Email Elizabeth Lincoln or Megan McClure if you have questions.

Notable Documents Awards page
Notable Documents Awards previous recipients

Legislative Staff Achivement Awards - Nominations Open!!

Nomination Deadline: Friday, May 3, 2019

The annual Legislative Staff Achievement Award was created by the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee to recognize excellence in supporting the work of a state legislature and strengthening the legislative institution.

Each staff section associated with NCSL may name up to two recipients—individuals, teams or legislative offices—for recognition each year. Recipients of the awards receive a plaque and are recognized by the NCSL staff chair during the legislative staff luncheon at the NCSL Legislative Summit.

All members of LRL and legislative libraries are eligible for this award. Nominations may be submitted by the nominee, the nominee’s co-workers or supervisor, or by other members of the staff section.

Award Committee Membership:

Jennifer Bernier (Connecticut) – Chair

Alex Burnett (Maine) and Debbie Tavenner (Ohio)

More information such as award criteria and the nomination form can be found here.

 For more information visit the LRL Legislative Staff Achievement Award information page or you can contact NCSL liaison to LRL Megan McClure (303-856-1355).

LRL Officers Nominations Open!!

Nomination Deadline: April 26, 2019

The Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section is seeking nominations for candidates to run for secretary of the LRL Staff Section. The deadline for declaring your candidacy is April 26, 2019. Julia Covington of North Carolina serves as the chair of this year’s Nominating Committee, with committee members Teresa Wilt of Nevada and Jennifer Bernier of Connecticut.

Under the LRL Bylaws, the role of the secretary is as follows: “The secretary shall serve a one-year term and shall record minutes of all staff section meetings and perform additional duties as may be assigned by the chair. The secretary shall preside at LRL Executive Committee and staff section meetings in the absence of both the chair and vice chair. The secretary shall succeed the following year to the office of vice chair.”

The secretary serves for one year and then automatically moves up for one-year terms as vice-chair, chair and immediate past chair. As vice-chair and chair, you will serve on the Legislative Staff Coordinating committee, which meets four times a year in various locations. Attending these meetings is not mandatory, but it is worthwhile to attend if you can as you meet the officers from other staff sections and learn about how other states’ legislatures work. 

For questions or more information, please contact Nominating Committee chair Julia Covington  or LRL liaison Megan McClure (303-856-1355).   


LRL at the 2019 Legislative Summit | Nashville, Tenn. (Aug. 5-8)

The Tennessee Legislative Library: The Crown Jewel atop the Cordell Hull
By Eddie Weeks, Tennessee

In 2017, the Tennessee General Assembly moved all legislative offices from the War Memorial Building and the Rachel Jackson Building into the Cordell Hull Building. In one fell swoop, the Legislative Library moved from a building built in the 1920s to one built in the 1950s.

The Cordell Hull Building was completely remodeled in preparation for this move. The building was slated to be torn down just a few years ago, until historic preservationists pointed out its unique features and history, leading to plans for it to become the new legislative office building.

And on the eighth floor of this nine-story building sits the Tennessee Legislative Library. It's a small, one-person library that belies its history.  In 1854, the 30th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee ordered the Secretary of State to "collect all of the books belonging to the State" and have them sent to the Capitol building then being constructed in Nashville. Those books were to be “for the use of the Legislature.” It was the beginning of the Legislative Library.

The books were located in one grand room on the top floor of the Capitol and a magnificent spiral staircase reached the three stories of books towering above. That collection survived the Civil War, Union occupation and Reconstruction and remained "for the use of the Legislature." 

Over time, that collection morphed into the State Library, serving all citizens of Tennessee as well as the legislature. In 1954, the State Library and Archives moved from the Capitol into their own building, while the Legislative Library collection remained in the Capitol "for the use of the Legislature".

In the early 1970s, the Legislative Library moved (along with other legislative offices) from the Capitol into the War Memorial Building. The room that formerly held "all of the books belonging to the State" became the Legislative Lounge, which still displays journals and acts that showcase its former use. Due to the small size of the rooms in the War Memorial Building, the Legislative Library was housed in rooms G-9, G-9A, G-12, G-15, the attic and the basement.

In 2017, the Legislative Library moved from these cramped, below-ground conditions to the eighth floor of the Cordell Hull Building. It is truly the crown jewel atop the Cordell Hull, with space and design harking back to its glory days in the Capitol. But no matter the location or the condition, the Tennessee Legislative Library remains in use and "for the use of the Legislature."

LRL Programming at the 2019 Legislative Summit

If you'd like to get to know Eddie Weeks even better, he, incoming LRL chair Teresa Wilt (Nevada) and Matt Gehring (Minnesota) will be presenting on being an introvert in an extrovert's world. Along with the LRL Dutch Treat dinner and business meting on Tuesday evening, LRL will be hosting a wide array of tours throughout the week. Some of the tour destinations will be the Tennessee State Capitol, The Cordell Hull Building, The Tennessee State Library and possibly a trip to the Parthenon after the Summit concludes. The dinner and tours allow for networking and exchange of information with other legislative library and research staff from across the nation. If you are interested in attending any of the tours please RSVP to Megan McClure and let her know which tours you are interested in. Along with the LRL programming, staff centered Summit sessions include topics such as, inspiring youth in the legislature, what I wish I knew when I started in the legislature and how to sharpen your social media savy. See the full Summit agenda for more details.

2019 LRL Professional Development Seminar | Portland, Maine. September 23-25

The Pennsylvania State CapitolJoin us in MAINE for the 2019 LRL PDS!
By Jessica Lundgren, Maine 

The Maine State Law & Legislative Reference Library (LLRL) is thrilled to be your host for this year's LRL PDS, Sept. 22-25. The conference will be based in downtown Portland, Maine, and we will spend a full day in the historic Maine State House in Augusta.

LLRL is a nonpartisan office of the Maine Legislature as well as Maine’s state law library. We serve legislators, state agencies, and all the citizens of Maine. Our 8,000 square foot library holds legislative, legal, and government materials, and our ever-growing digital collection contains millions of pages of legislative documents, court briefs and news clippings.

Program development is in full swing. Here are just a few of the sessions we will be offering:

  • Overviews of LLRL's digitization projects, reference materials, and outreach programs.
  • Self-care for library staff.
  • Presentation by Marshall Tinkle, attorney and author of the book “The Maine State Constitution.”
  • Tours of the Maine State House and Capitol Park.
  • Presentation by former Maine judge and Revisor of Statutes, John David Kennedy, on the interplay of statutes, agency rules, and legislative history in court decisions.
  • Conflict resolution and having “tough conversations” at work.

Maine is probably best known for its vast natural beauty and signature industries. According to National Geographic, Acadia National Park is one of the most-visited parks in the country and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is one of the newest, authorized in 2016. Maine’s state and private lands provide thousands of miles of hiking, snowmobile, and ATV trails. Maine’s highest peak and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail—Mount Katahdin—is located in one of the jewels of the state’s public lands, Baxter State Park. Former Governor Percival P. Baxter purchased and donated thousands of acres to the state under the condition that they be kept forever wild: “Man is born to die, his works are short-lived. Buildings crumble, monuments decay, wealth vanishes. But Katahdin in all its glory, forever shall remain the mountain of the people of Maine.” While on tour in the State House, we will visit Governor Baxter’s old office and learn about his beloved dog(s), Gary.

It’s probably no surprise to most visitors that 90 percent of the nation’s lobsters are caught off the coast of Maine. But did you know that 98 percent of the nation’s low bush blueberries are harvested in Maine and we are one of the top three potato producing states? A total of 89 percent of Maine is forested, contributing to Maine's large forest products industry. In recent years, Maine has become a hot spot for good eats and beer. In 2018, Portland was named Bon Appetit’s Restaurant City of the Year and the state has more than 120 craft brewers.

Portland, Maine’s largest city, is located on picturesque Casco Bay. Its popular Old Port is filled with old brick buildings, bars and restaurants, and unique shops. The city boasts a number of museums, historic houses, walking trails, and opportunities to take in the scenic coastline. LRL has reserved rooms for the conference at the Hyatt Old Port, which is within walking distance of some of the best Portland has to offer.

Augusta is one of the U.S.’s smallest state capitals. It was selected for its central location in 1827. The first State House, a Charles Bulfinch design, was erected from 1829 to 1832. On its way from Moosehead Lake to the Atlantic Ocean, the mighty Kennebec River runs through the heart of Augusta. A former mill town with rich French-Canadian heritage, the city has an up-and-coming historic downtown, two river walks, and is home to the nation’s oldest wooden fort, Old Fort Western.

We look forward to seeing you in September!

Photo of the Maine State Capitol A photo of the Portland Headlight A photo of the Maine Law and Legislative Research Library


LSCC Update

Winter LSCC/Executive Committee Meeting – Jan. 18-19
By Betsy Haugen, Chair (Minnesota) and Teresa Wilt, Vice Chair (Nevada)

The Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC), is the legislative staff governing body that serves with the NCSL Executive Committee. The two top officers from each staff section are automatically members of the LSCC.

New Orleans was a great place to be in late January! On Thursday afternoon, we participated in a focus group discussion led by Raylene Decatur of the Kittleman search firm. She is spearheading the search for a new NCSL executive director to replace retiring director Bill Pound. We provided input on the key qualities we felt a new executive director would need. It was very encouraging to learn about their detailed vetting process. Raylene will stay on after the executive director is hired to help with the transition and ensure as seamless a transition as possible.

In the LSCC Professional Staff Association Officers Work Group meeting, members reviewed and voted to approve amendments to the LSCC bylaws to remove references to “staff sections” and refer to the groups in the future as “professional staff associations”. LRL liaison, Megan McClure, is asking the NSCL web team to update the LRL website to reflect this change, so you will be seeing that switch in the next month or two. The LRL executive committee will also be creating a subcommittee to review the LRL bylaws for any needed changes. Betsy and Julia Covington, past LRL chair, will be part of this subcommittee.

The Officers Work Group also discussed preliminary plans and anticipated financial considerations for the 2020 Super Professional Development Seminar (PDS) that will be held in Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 5-9 at the Hyatt Regency. Each participating professional staff association will need to select a representative to serve on the Super PDS planning committee by June 2019. The LRL representative can be anyone from LRL—so please let us know if you would be interested in taking on this role. We will put out a notice on the listserv next month.

Betsy attended a morning presentation on the re-bid process for the Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI). LSMI is a unique eight-day executive management training program that provides legislative staff with the opportunity to develop and enhance their leadership skills. Teresa completed the LSMI program in 2013 and said it was a very valuable experience. Please see Jon Heining’s Staff Chair Quarterly Update below for more background on the LSMI re-bid process, 2019 dates, and application form. We would love to see more LRLers attend. Please feel free to ask either of us if you have any questions related to the program.

NCSL Staff Chair Quarterly Update

By John Heining, NCSL staff chair

NCSL's Strategic Direction
NCSL has hired an executive search firm, Kittleman and Associates, to assist the Executive Committee in finding a new executive director to replace Bill Pound, who has announced he is retiring this year. One of the first tasks of this firm was to convene focus groups to provide input about the executive director search and the strategic direction of NCSL. Focus groups were held throughout the fall via individual telephone interviews, group conference calls and group discussions at various NCSL meetings. Kittleman and Associates shared their findings about the strategic direction with the Executive Committee at the Winter 2019 meeting. You can see their report here. I think you will find the report to be thoughtful and the issues identified to be familiar.

Executive Director Job Description and Next Steps 
Based on the input Kittleman and Associates received from the focus groups, they also created a job description for the position. The job description and posting were released last week. Over the coming weeks, Kittleman will identify qualified applicants and narrow the applicants down to a handful of candidates. In April, the semi-finalists will be interviewed separately by a panel of legislative staff who I selected and a bipartisan panel of legislators who were selected by the NCSL president and president-elect. In May, final interviews will be conducted by the NCSL officers and the goal is to hire a new executive director in June, with the candidate being announced in July. I am optimistic that the person hired as a result of this process will be both highly qualified and someone who will be a strong advocate for legislative staff.

Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) Re-Bid Process and 2019 Program
NCSL and the LSCC decided to re-bid the LSMI vendor contract for a five-year period beginning in 2020. A small evaluation subcommittee was formed to review proposals, select three semi-finalists and then make a finalist recommendation to the LSCC. The LSMI request for proposal was sent to 44 graduate schools on the U.S. News and World Report 2018 ranked list of public affairs schools in public management and leadership. The subcommittee received 11 proposals and selected three semi-finalists. After an in-depth review of the semi-finalists, the group recommended that we keep the LSMI contract with the University of Southern California and Sacramento State; LSCC approved this recommendation. This 29-year program is in good hands and I believe the program will continue to be strengthened under our current vendor. My sincere thanks to Michael Adams (Va.), Martha Wigton (Ga.) and Jonathan Ball (Utah) for serving on this subcommittee. I especially appreciate the work of NCSL's Angela Andrews in staffing the committee.

This year's Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) program will be July 20-27. The application period is March 1-May 3. Please encourage staff managers or emerging staff managers in your legislature to apply. 

Legislative Institution Subcommittee of the Executive Committee
This subcommittee of the Executive Committee helps to develop the institutional work of NCSL. Committee members provide ideas, advice and guidance on the development and delivery of programming on the legislative institution at the Legislative Summit and reviews NCSL's efforts to study and enhance the operations of legislatures. Subcommittee members have discussed many of the strengths and challenges of legislatures, as well as ways to confront these challenges while bolstering strengths. 

Your feedback about institutional issues is important. If you'd like to weigh in on the session topics NCSL should consider pursuing within the "legislative institution track" at the 2019 Legislative Summit in Nashville, please consider completing this short survey. The subcommittee will use the results of this survey to provide direction regarding summit programming.

Changes in Executive Committee Members
There's been some turnover of legislative staff on the Executive Committee. In the Fall of 2018, three staff at-large members departed the legislature for other opportunities. Please join me in thanking Lauren Hieger (Missouri), Katy Proctor (Arizona) and Jason Simmons (South Dakota) for serving on the Executive Committee. I value their input and engagement and wish them well in their new opportunities. 

With departures come new appointments. Please join me in welcoming Jen Carlton (Ind.) and Scott Kaiser (Ill.) to the Executive Committee. I look forward to working with both of them. 

Nominating Committee
I will soon be forming the 2019 Nominating Committee to interview and select legislative staff to serve as at-large members on NCSL's Executive Committee. If you know of anyone in your legislature that would be a strong staff voice on NCSL governance, please encourage them to declare their candidacy. More information about the number of vacancies and declaration deadlines will be sent in the next month or two. 

Staff Chair Goals
It's a busy year at NCSL! In addition to the above updates, members of the LSCC continue to work on my goals for the 2018-2019 conference year. You can see these goals here. I will have more information about what we've accomplished later in the year.

Thank you very much for your time. I welcome your feedback, reflections and comments. Please don't hesitate to contact me at (512) 463-1155 or

State News and Member News

Image of a hand holding a bullhorn with the words "braking news" coming out in a word bubbleConnecticut -- Christine McCluskey - Senior Research Librarian, Office of Legislative Research, Connecticut
Connecticut news: We are excited to welcome Kelly Callahan as our new library assistant. Kelly comes to us after three years in the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Louisiana -- Bethany Reisch, Librarian, Louisiana House Legislative Services
Elizabeth Reagan of the Lousiana Senate Library has retired. Her replacement, Monica Corbett, started March 12. Welcome to Monica!

Minnesota -- Elizabeth Lincoln, Director, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
We are in the middle of the busy legislative session in Minnesota!  Fortunately, we took some time last summer to prepare two web pages that help to answer frequently asked questions during the legislative session.

Several Legislative Reference Library librarians worked with House and Senate fiscal analysts to compile a list of all major appropriation bills and laws for the past 25 years including links to the laws or bills and whether they were vetoed. Next summer, librarians plan on adding features—more nuanced subject access to the bills and laws and the ability to search.
Librarians also compiled two other useful web pages related to state fiscal matters.  Decades of governors’ proposed operating budgets and the governors’ proposed capital budgets are compiled in one place now.

In January, the Library along with many other state-funded libraries switched to a new catalog.  We are still learning some of the new features!

North Carolina – Julia Covington, Reference Librarian, North Carolina Legislative Library

Jane Basnight, longtime reference librarian, retired on Dec. 20, 2018 after more than 40 years of state employment.

The Library has taken a leading role in education and training. Our initiatives include: posting online tutorials for basic research tasks; developing new on-site training for legislative staff; updating websites for the library and Legislative Analysis Division; and redesigning reference materials such as the flowchart on how ideas become laws.

 A major project for 2019 will involve working with our IT and legislative services offices to design a new public records website.

Oklahoma – Christine Chen, Administrative Librarian, Office of Library Resources
We have a new director in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and her name is Melody Kellogg. Our budget stays flat for couple of years now; we don’t have out of state travel budget for a while. 

Library Question

LRL asked our member libraries these questions on their library budgets:

  1. Are you noticing a sizable shift in your budgets for acquisition purchases? 
  2. Are you steadily purchasing fewer books? 
  3. Money shifting to other electronic resources?  
  4. Any new or changing products that are consuming a lot of your budget?

AlabamaHelen Hanby, Legislative Services Agency
Our library has not purchased new books for a couple of years. We are basically an in-house library for the Legislative Services Agency and our attorneys use Westlaw instead of books now.

The Alaska Legislative Reference Library is gradually reducing our acquisition purchases and shifting more towards electronic resources. 

California -- L. Pealer, Supervising Librarian, California Office of Legislative Counsel
Are you noticing a sizable shift in your budgets for acquisition purchases?  Our budget was increased at the beginning of this fiscal year, to fund new purchases with standard purchases. 

Are you steadily purchasing fewer books? Yes, but since the price of print has dramatically increased, the allocation for the budget hasn’t exactly changed even though the volume has. 

Money shifting to other electronic resources?  The money hasn’t shifted, but just overall increased. 

Any new or changing products that are consuming a lot of your budget?   Annotated codes (print) and electronic databases consume the majority of our budget. 

California Reference Bureau

No, I’m not noticing a sizable shift in our budget for acquisition purchases. CRB has a relatively small print collection – especially when compared with the rest of the State Library. Every year, we do our best to allocate some funds to purchase—rather than borrow—books (and other library materials) requested by legislators and their staff, particularly when they are on a topic that is recurring (drought, anything about California, etc.), high legislative interest (this session—poverty, increase access to health care, homelessness, etc.), or to support a work project and/or legislation. Also, we try to keep an eye out for books in the public policy arena getting some press coverage or traction and will purchase those as found. 

As far as money shifting to other resources—being part of the State Library—when unanticipated events happen that weren’t budgeted for, let’s just say that yes, that the easiest pot of money to look to is collection monies, especially for those that haven’t already been allocated (depending on time of year and renewal dates, databases or serials). And, those remaining funds that would have been designated for monographs are usually especially first to be sacrificed, followed by serials and databases. Generally speaking, the cost of all types of books and other library materials are going up and even if budgets stay relatively stable, the buying power is reduced so it is able to purchase fewer books. 

No new or changing products consuming a lot of our budget at this time. 

Connecticut -- Jennifer Bernier – Co-Head Librarian, Connecticut Legislative Library
Our acquisitions budget has been flat for at least 10 years and is expected to remain so into the foreseeable future. We have reduced our periodical subscriptions from about 150 to 42, partly to save money and partly because more periodicals have become available via the databases to which we subscribe or have access to through the Connecticut State Library. In general, we have fewer hard-copy resources and have become more reliant on (expensive) databases.

Hawaii -- Karen Mau, Head Research Librarian, Legislative Reference Bureau, Hawaii State Capitol
For Hawaii, our electronic legal resources costs have steadily increased over the years.  Although, we have received budget increases to cover the electronic resources cost increases, we have had to cut costs in other areas including book purchases to cover other library costs that increase every year.  

Are you noticing a sizable shift in your budgets for acquisition purchases?   We have no budget for acquisition purchases.

Are you steadily purchasing fewer books?  No change.  

Money shifting to other electronic resources? No. 

Any new or changing products that are consuming a lot of your budget?Not at this time.

Oregon -- Jerry Curry, Reference Librarian/eClips Editor, State Library of Oregon

Question: Are you noticing a sizable shift in your budgets for acquisition purchases?  
Answer: Our materials budget has remained very flat and typically the last few biennium periods only increased given by an inflation factor.  We have slightly decreased our electronic materials budget which has given us a chance to eliminate some duplication and offer a more focused group of products to our state agency patrons.

Question: Are you steadily purchasing fewer books?  
Answer: Yes, we are now only adding a few hundred titles per year and cutting physical journal subscriptions.  We are, when cost effective, purchasing electronic access to journals.  We still collect in the areas of Oregoniana and consider ourselves to be more of a “just-in-time” library when it comes to acquiring physical materials.

Question: Money shifting to other electronic resources?  
Answer: Even though our budget is relatively flat, we do commit any increased inflationary increases to maintaining a stable selection of useful electronic resources.

Question: Any new or changing products that are consuming a lot of your budget? 
Answer: We have found a steady demand for the online learning environment from O’Reilly.  This product was formally known as Safari and while expensive, we do find that we get a positive ROI on this product.  Our patrons love it and use it quite often.

Minnesota -- Elizabeth Lincoln, Director, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
In response to this month’s question regarding shifting budgets for acquisitions at our Library—the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library spends far more on both print and electronic subscriptions.  Print magazine subscription costs have gone up, the demand for electronic resources such as Westlaw and magazine databases increases, and the cost of online news sources is increasing.  (For example, we started offering individual passwords to the major paper in our area and the popularity of this program is proving to be costly!)  However, our print book budget is decreasing. 

Maine -- John R. Barden - Director, Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library:
Our budget for all non-personnel operating costs, including acquisitions, has been flat for at least eight years. While we are able to maintain a core of print materials, we are increasingly relying on online resources for a broader array of content. We have debated the disadvantages of licensed content versus purchases, but we find that this is the most economically feasible way for us to continue to offer up-to-date content for our librarians and patrons.

Maryland -- Cynthia Stiverson, Manager, Acquisitions Services, Library and Information Services
In the past 10 years our library has shifted funds from purchasing books to acquiring more electronic resources. One reason is because many reference works are no longer being published in book form. In addition, our library patrons demand information that is updated faster on electronic databases than would be available in published books or periodicals.  We have not yet acquired any tablets for use by our patrons, but expect to do so in the future. 

There has been definite shift from print to electronic resources, and for the last several years our databases and periodicals (including newspapers) have taken up most of our budget. Our Division's recent Strategic Plan included goals related to finding new and more interesting ways to present information. As a result we also have added subscriptions to sites like FlatIcon and Canva over the last couple of years. We see this as an ongoing need and the Library as a logical manager of such subscriptions, so the Library's budget has been increased to cover the costs of these and similar items. 

North Carolina
The NC Legislative Library is increasing its non-standing book purchasing. In 2018, we added 64 new books to the collection. These titles cover topics such as: NC history and culture; Southern politics; Writing and grammar guides; True crime; Legal research and writing.

Ohio – Debbie Tavenner, Library Administrator, Ohio Legislative Service Commission
The budget for the LSC Library is just part of our agency budget, so I never have to work with a given amount.  I know I can’t make any wild purchases and any significant purchase would have to be approved in advance by the agency director.  The majority of money spent on library materials goes to electronic legal services. Slowly we have been phasing out printed legal materials, but we still have 13 sets of the printed Ohio Revised Code.  Electronic resources are the preference of the staff. Recently, we were able to acquire access to a second legislative news service after several years of wishing we had access.  Our agency director is willing to make expenditures if the resource can be supported as critical to performing our jobs, not just a nice-to-have resource.

Years ago, the more expensive periodicals were discontinued (like CQ Weekly).  For periodicals we heavily rely heavily on the State Library of Ohio through the OhioLink databases. We are still able to get the New York Times (print), the Wall Street Journal, (print and online) and the Columbus Dispatch (print and online).

TennesseeEddie Weeks, Legislative Librarian, Tennessee General Assembly

Q: Are you noticing a sizable shift in your budgets for acquisition purchases?  
A:  Not sizable, but definitely reduced.

Q:  Are you steadily purchasing fewer books?  
A:  Yes.

Q:  Money shifting to other electronic resources?   
A:  Not really, we were already paying for electronic resources, and trying to maintain as many book/physical collections as possible.  The physical collections have simply been sacrificed.  Certain other subscriptions are paid for by the Attorney General’s office and the Tennessee Code Commission.  

Q:  Any new or changing products that are consuming a lot of your budget? 
A:  Westlaw continues to be the library’s biggest expense.

I checked with some of the staff that do purchasing and our consensus is that our purchasing budget has remained flat for the last few years, with no major rise up or down—only minor fluctuations. For book purchasing, we haven’t made any noticeable switch to purchasing electronic resources, mostly due to the lack of availability and complicated processes required given our collection scope. We recognize that runs counter to most general trends. 
The only apparent emphasis on digital purchasing has appeared in our statewide newspaper subscriptions, with more online content being purchased from the papers themselves or by online aggregators like Newsbank. I don’t think we see any transition happening in terms of our purchasing, only what the papers are offering for purchase. If papers go to online only, we purchase the online. If they publish in print and online, we make every effort to purchase both. The state of preservation for online content newspaper content is extremely troubling at this point, and significant strides would have to be made in order for us to ever consider giving up print newspaper subscriptions entirely. 
The State Library is monitoring a bill in the Washington Legislature that would require a study to evaluate whether or not to provide scholarly journal access to state employees, which may enable additional electronic journal purchasing.


Debbie Tavenner, Ohio Legislative Service Commission

Last October, I spent a wonderful weekend in Denver with Marilyn Johnson of North Dakota; Tracey Kimball of New Mexico; and Susan Gilley of Oklahoma, just for the fun of it. Among the things we did was have tea with Rita Thaemert, a former LRL staff liaison. Marilyn and Susan have organized such gatherings from time to time. Sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. We all thought it would be fun to have an LRL Reunion, so they put me in charge of organizing it since I still have contacts with the current staff. Betsy said it was OK to use Newsline to get the word out and collect addresses of former and retired staff members who might be interested.

The tentative (and plans are very tentative) idea is to organize a reunion around the Super Professional Development Meeting Oct. 5-9, 2020, in Atlanta. Hopefully there will be an overlap where we can all get together. Please notify your former colleagues who might be interested and either provide me with contact information, or ask them to contact me directly through email or regular mail. Use, or my address: Debbie Tavenner, 804 Neil Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43215

I am really excited about the opportunity to visit with former colleagues.

Resources for Staff Training

Image of a cartoon brain with arms, holding two dumbbells with the words "brain training" underneathTraining new staff can present a myriad of challenges and logistical issues. How do you train someone when you already have your plate full with your daily duties? How do you train staff in the middle of a session? Or on a shoestring or nonexistent budget? Below is a list of NCSL resources to help you train new and old staff without over stretching your time, ability and budget!

Archived Webinars
  • De-escalation Techniques for the Legislature: This webinar focuses on de-escalation techniques to consider when dealing with potentially violent people you may encounter within and outside the legislature.
  • Sexual Harrassment Prevention: Legislatures across the country are taking a renewed look at their anti-sexual harassment policies and procedures. Hear from two legal experts on the best way to approach this difficult topic.
  • The American Court System: Between the two court systems (federal and state), the levels of courts within each system (trial and appellate), and the odd terminology (amicus curiae brief) it is difficult to understand how the American court system works. This session will cover the basics of how a case proceeds through the courts.
  • Be the Change: Culture, Leadership and Self Reflection: Working in the legislature can be intense with long hours, looming deadlines and competing priorities. Patrick Sullivan, director of Montana's State Professional Development Center, is an expert on how to prevent this hectic environment from leading to a siloed team. Whether you are a new or veteran staffer, join us for this webinar to learn more about the context of the inward mindset as it applies to workplace culture and how you can have an impact on the effectiveness of your team.
  • Public Service in Difficult Times: The public sector, legislatures included, has faced intense criticism and scarce resources for many years now. There are techniques available to public employees to not only cope with these challenges but to thrive. This webinar explores various ways in which legislative staff can expand their capacity and practice self-care in challenging times. The key is to transform our mindset from one that is in “survival mode” to one that seeks ways to be helpful and solution oriented.
  • Speaking with Authority: This professional development webinar, co-hosted by NCSL's Young and New Professionals (YNP) group and Women's Legislative Network, aims to help participants learn to increase self-awareness and personal brand when communicating daily. Whether you are a legislator headed into session or a legislative staffer gearing up for January, we all need to be concise, clear and credible. Ditch those phrases and words that undermine your authority, replace them with words that have impact making you the expert.
  • Keys to Effective and Engaging Presentations: Presenting complex information to colleagues and policymakers in a concise manner is a challenge—whether you have an hour or 10 minutes. Learn from communications coach Marianna Swallow the steps to delivering an effective presentation and speaking like a pro. She shares the keys to designing an effective presentation, tips to revise and sharpen your talk, and strategies to make your delivery compelling. 
Upcoming Webinars
  • NCSL Bill Information Service: For legislators and legisla-tive staff only (this webinar is held on a monthly basis as an introduction to the NCSL Bill Information Service)
  • Mindfulnes: Legislative Staff Elixer: Working in state legislatures is a very demanding job. State legislative serve in an institution where workload changes can come often and swiftly. The shifting nature of legislation and the mixture of public opinion, rules, procedures and process make session work stressful. But for the estimated 30,000-plus legislative staff that work in legislatures during session, most will tell you the work is rewarding.
  • Tackling Sexual Harrassment in the Legislature: Sexual harassment, spurred primarily the #metoo movement, has been front to the forefront of every sector—including government. In this episode, we talk with three experts to get a sense of what types of changes are happening in state legislatures and to find out what types of best practices they should consider.
  • The Best Jobs of My Life: Legislative Staff Reflect: About 31,000 people work for state legislatures, serving in a variety of jobs. The National Conference of State Legislatures is celebrating Legislative Staff Week. So we decided to take this opportunity on  “Our American States” to interview three legislative staffers and find out more about what it's like to work for a legislature in today's political environment. They tell us about their jobs, how they got there and why it's the best job they've ever had. 
  • Brain Science for Legislators and Staff: Working in the legislative arena is not always easy. There are long hours, long stretches of sitting at a desk, a need to multitask and often a lack of sleep. Stacy Householder of the National Conference of State Legislatures shares six brain rules designed to help legislators and legislative staff be more effective. Her recommendations are based on research and its relevance for those working in legislative chambers.
Magazine Articles
  • Reorient Your To-Do List to Unlock Your Productivity Potential: The start of a new legislative session offers the chance for a fresh start. To do things differently this time around, to create new (ideally good!) habits and routines. To make better use of time with the hope of feeling slightly less depleted at the end of the session.
  • Yes, No, Maybe So: Monthly feature on ethics questions pertaining to state legislatures
Other Resources
  • Govloop Training Resources: NCSL has selected 10 videos on a range of topics that you may find helpful. Govloop also has a wide variety of reports, webinars, blogs and other material you may find useful.
  • Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations: Slideshows are quick to produce, easy to update and effective to inject visual interest into the presentation. However, slideshows can also spell disaster even for experienced presenters. The key to success is to make certain your slideshow is a visual aid and not a visual distraction.

NCSL Publications

April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018