VOL. XXVII No. 1 Spring 2002


Chair's Column
Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee
LRL at Annual Meeting and PDS
Coordinators Corner
Library Profile
LRL Web Page Acquisitions List

Chair's Column

by Nan Bowers, Nevada, LRL Chair

Welcome to the Spring 2002 issue of NEWSLINE.


As I will be completing my year as chair of the LRL group at the Annual Meeting this July, this is my last column. It has been a year of responsibilities and opportunities and new friendships. If you have a legislative bureau that will back your participation as an LRL officer, I strongly recommend that you contact the officers about an appointment. It is truly a career enriching experience. Some highlights of this year:

The chair presides over monthly (usually) conference calls of the officers and our NCSL staff contact to discuss news, issues and plans for LRL. We often include time for our own state's legislative and library news and NCSL items. For the annual professional development seminar, the chair introduces speakers, works closely with the hosts and NCSL staff to see to needs of programs and attendees, conducts the business meeting, writes thank you notes. The chair participates in three Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) meetings during the year and serves on a subcommittee. I attended meetings in Honolulu, Santa Fe, and Captiva Island, Florida. I am active in the Technology Task Force, focusing on Web site issues and NCSL's new bill text and status system. LSCC meetings are held alongside the NCSL Executive Committee meetings. The Executive Committee includes legislators and legislative staff members and provides overall direction on operations of NCSL. Additionally as chair, I provide written reports on LSCC meetings and write a column for the LRL newsletter. At NCSL Annual Meeting, the chair's responsibilities include both LSCC and LRL meeting activities as listed above. Miscellaneous tasks include promoting LRL and NCSL programs, updating the chair's notebook, contacting regional coordinators, representing LRL on committees when needed, and providing information or decisions on LRL matters when appropriate.

People are the key to any organization, and I have found wonderful support in the librarians group, the legislative staff group, and professionals at NCSL. I knew little about the programs or staff resources of the organization before my appointment as an LRL officer. I knew very few legislative staff members outside of Nevada and the LRL group before my appointment as an LRL officer. Now I'm friends with and work with a legal researcher in Texas, the systems director for the Virginia House, a Senate leadership assistant in Tennessee, and others in LSCC and NCSL. Please consider the opportunities to expand your own professionalism and become a part of the LRL officers group.


Denver is hosting "Summit for America," this year's NCSL Annual Meeting. Ramona Kenady, NCSL Staff Chair, says of the upcoming conference "...legislative staff's role is essential to building, strengthening and preserving the legislative institution, and here we get the kind of in-depth immersion in issues and professional training we can put to use for the benefit of our legislatures." Check NCSL online for information.

Chair: Nan Bowers, Legislative Research Library, Nevada
NCSL Staff: Rita ThaemertTHANK YOU

I would like to say thank you to a few people who have been very supportive of my year as chair of the LRL group. First, my supervisor, Pepper Sturm, and the administration of the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau for approving the time off for meetings and financial support for travel. I thank my two assistant librarians, Jan Wolfley and Teresa Wilt, who have managed the library so efficiently in my absence. Rita Thaemert, NCSL, is the wonderfully organized and supportive force behind LRL. Thank you to the other LRL officers, particularly Johanne Greer, past chair, for her support and advice, and the two upcoming officers, Robbie LaFleur and Arthur McEnany. The seven regional coordinators have done a great job of distributing and receiving news from their sister state legislative libraries. The LRL chair is also indebted to the hard work of all past chairs who have established procedures and set examples. Thank you all. bowers@lcb.state.nv.us

LRL at Annual Meeting

NCSL's Summit for America, which takes place July 23-27 in Denver, comes at a critical point in our nation's history. Legislative leaders, legislative staff, policymakers and the nation's public policy experts will meet to discuss the most important issues facing America. The Summit for America covers it all-from the threat of terrorism to the hot topics of today. Join your colleagues from America's state capitols to discuss the issues that matter most.

LRL Preliminary Agenda

Tuesday, July 23

3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Denver Public Library Tour and Presentation

Registration for Annual Meeting begins at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday. You do not need to register to attend the 3:00 p.m. session.

6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. LRL Dinner at Rita's

Wednesday, July 24

2:45 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Librarians and the U.S. Census
NCSL Computer Lab
Jerry O'Donnell, Statistician
U.S. Census Bureau, Denver

Thursday, July 25

12:00 noon-1:45 p.m. LRL Staff Section Lunch and Business Meeting

4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. LRL tour of the Colorado Capitol and Library

Friday, July 26

12 noon - 2:00 p.m. Legislative Staff Lunch

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. LRL Reception
Denver downtown restaurant

Saturday, July 27

8:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. The Power of Collaboration
(joint with other staff sections)

LRL Professional Development Seminar
October 9-12 * Bismarck, North Dakota
Countdown to Service
Preliminary Agenda

Wednesday, October 9

Registration and Opening Reception

Thursday, October 10

Continental Breakfast

Tour of the Heritage Center

Number One is the Loneliest Number
Communication and Consensus Building

Count on Users
Acquiring, storing, labeling and accessing audio records

Trolley to Fort Lincoln

You Can Count on Me
Legislative Library Web Sites Panel

Tour of the Custer House

Friday, October 11

Continental Breakfast

Tour of the North Dakota Capitol and
Legislative Council Library

Count Us In
Native American Issues

Count Your Blessings
Electronic Publications

Let Me Count the Ways
LRL panel on record keeping and staff evaluations

Dinner at the Pumpkin Patch

Saturday, October 12

Breakfast and Business Meeting

Travel to Minot Hostfest with a stop at the
Lewis and Clark Visitors Center in Washburn

Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee
May 3 and 4
Captiva Island, Florida

LSCC Report
by Nan Bowers

Each of the LSCC task forces met to work in their respective areas. The task force areas include technology, professional development, strategic planning, and legislative staff management.

Technology Task Force

As a member of this task force, I participated in discussions and planning for the new NCSL Bill Status and Legislation Management System. The system is designed to assist you in searching, identifying, managing and reporting on current state legislation regarding specific issue areas. The task force is working to bring more states on board with the project, critique the interface, and test the system. Currently, I am collaborating with two other members of the task force to edit the help text.

There will be Information and a demonstration of the Bill Status System during the Annual Meeting in Denver this summer.

The second focus of the task force concerns testing usability for the NCSL Website. Testers will use a new, improved format for the survey to gauge Web navigation. Analysis of results will assist in Web evaluation and improvement.

NCSL Strategic Plan 2002-2005

Presentation to the Executive Committee at the May meeting included the NCSL revised mission statement and objectives. The revised mission statement reads

  • To improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures
  • To promote policy innovation and communication among state legislatures
  • To ensure state legislatures a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system
Six objectives stated include
  • Energize and sustain legislator and staff participation in NCSL and project the organization as an extension of state legislatures
  • Build public and political support for the essential role of state legislatures in the federal system
  • Strengthen NCSL's financial viability, develop staff capacity and ensure accountability
  • Seize opportunities to respond creatively to emerging issues and trends
  • Improve the delivery of information to legislators, the public and special audiences
  • Strengthen role as stewards of representative democracy
  • The Executive Committee report details strategies and tactics to achieve the objectives.

Coordinators' Corner

Questions for this issue:

Redistricting may bring many new members to state legislatures. Are you expecting a sizeable turnover? Any guesses as to the number or percentage of new people you anticipate in your legislature? What kind of orientation, marketing, etc. will your library offer new members? Any other library news?

Coordinator Suzie Johnston, Louisiana

Helen Hanby, Alabama
Alabama doesn't expect a large turnover in membership due to redistricting. The new membership in the Legislature will be due to incumbents not running or being defeated.

Our library is used by the Legislative Reference Service staff and not used very much by legislators. Therefore, nothing regarding our library is planned as to orientation for new members.

Meldia Rose, Arkansas
When combining term limits with newly drawn state legislative House and Senate districts, the turnover in the legislature is expected to be significant. Out of 100 House members, at least 39 will be returning to the House. This number will increase after the primary elections are decided on May 21, 2002. Out of 35 state Senators, 17 incumbent Senators will be returning to the Senate, but they will be serving in a newly redrawn district. Of the 18 open Senate seats, term-limited House members are seeking several positions.

The House and Senate conduct their own member orientations. Since term limits were enacted, there is more emphasis on educating the new members on chamber rules, procedure, and the legislative process in general. Since term limits result in a loss of institutional knowledge, legislators are more dependent on the professional Bureau staff to provide information on key issues.

Eddie Weeks, Tennessee
Not a sizeable turnover, but the largest in years. We will probably have 15 to 20 new members (out of 132 total members), more due to retirements than to redistricting. The loss of institutional memory will be great, and several chairmanships will be up for grabs. We will also have a new governor, and the two leading candidates (one from each major party) have both angered the Legislature with several criticisms. The Office of Legal Services (of which the Library is a part) will offer a "meet and greet" breakfast to all the new members. I'll provide handouts outlining the Library's services and giving our location and telephone number.

Coordinator Clare Cholik, South Dakota

from Clare
In South Dakota, all of our legislators serve two-year terms, and all 105 seats are up for election this year. Historically, our turnover rate each term hovers around thirty percent. In 2000, it was closer to fifty percent due to the inception of term limits. However, since many of the term-limited members ran for a seat in the other house, we didn't have as many "new faces" as it appears. I suspect this year will be much like 2000. Redistricting is pitting a few incumbents against each other, but I don't think it will have a great impact on our overall turnover.

Following the election in November, the new members participate in a two-day orientation program. The brevity of time and the large quantity of information make for a long two days. I, as the legislative librarian, am generally given a few minutes to discuss the library with them. I basically just offer my research assistance, give them a brief description of what I can do for them, and provide them with follow-up information that I hope they'll read on their own time. I used to offer a brief tour, but I havelearned that just speaking to them where they are is more effective under the circumstances.

Marilyn Johnson, North Dakota
Voters approved a Constitutional amendment in 1996 providing for four-year terms for both representatives and senators in North Dakota. Members in odd-numbered districts appear on the General Election ballot in 2002. Twenty-six Senate seats and forty-nine House seats are up for election. Redistricting in 2001 reduced the number of Senate seats from 49 to 47, and the number of House seats from 98 to 94. The total number of legislators fell from 147 to 141. Eleven incumbents (four senators and seven representatives) are not running.

During the Organizational Session prior to the January 2003 convening of the Legislative Assembly, the Legislative Council Librarian will participate in the orientation program for new legislators. That presentation involves explaining the Legislative Council interim process, outlining library services, and introducing basic references. It is simple and direct, like the librarian. By the time the freshmen get to Legislative Council staff on their crowded, three-day agenda, their eyes have glazed over. If they get "library, 2nd floor, Marilyn, and Audrey," we've made contact. Once the word is spread during the opening days of the session by some user, library business becomes increasingly brisk.

Robbie LeFleur, Minnesota
In Minnesota a larger than usual turnover is expected in both the House and Senate. Redistricting has paired some incumbents and many others have chosen retirement for other reasons (so many cite "time with my family"). Most notably, Roger Moe, our longest serving Senate Majority Leader, is the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate for governor, so he won't be returning to the Senate. In the House, many moderate Republicans with seniority are retiring, so the Republican caucus is expected to be more conservative in 2003.

After each election and before the session, we send out personal letters to the newly elected members inviting them to the Library for a tour. Many respond. We have packets ready for them that include a library brochure and sign-up sheets for our current awareness services. Once session begins, we divide up the list of those who haven't yet visited the library, and we attempt to make appointments with them to talk about library services.

Since so many members use our services through their staffs, we also hold classes and tours for new staff each year. We highlight both our print and electronic resources, and emphasize our staff experience. The number of "I didn't know the library could provide that" comments we receive as a result of those classes is really amazing!

Peg Jones, Nebraska
During the 2001 legislative redistricting effort in Nebraska, a rural district in the northeastern part of the state was eliminated and an urban district was created in the Omaha area. A newly elected senator will represent the new district in the Omaha area in January 2003. As a result of the elimination of the rural district, two existing senators were placed in a redrawn district and are now running against each other for the same seat.

This election year, one senator is retiring, and a newly elected senator will fill his seat. Twenty-three senators are seeking re-election, and two newly appointed senators are seeking election for the first time. Of the twenty-five senators seeking to retain their legislative seats, eleven are running unopposed.

Newly elected and appointed senators and their staffs are offered individual orientation pertaining to the services offered by our library. In addition, marketing of our library services is conducted on a continual basis.

Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson, Montana
We are expecting a sizeable turnover of legislators in Montana for the 2003 session. There will be nine new senators and twenty-three new house members. Nine past House members are seeking to move to the Senate, and one former senator is hoping to move to the House. The legislator turnover in Montana has risen significantly since term limits were fully implemented, which occurred in 2001 in the House and 2003 in the Senate.

Each session, the legislative services division in Montana conducts a two-day new legislator orientation session. The library is heavily involved in that orientation. We do a session on resources and services available in the legislative library, as well as conduct tours of our facility. We will offer training on electronic resources available to legislators and put together a packet of information and information guides for each legislator. We have also implemented a monthly library newsletter to remind legislators (and our staff) of our holdings and services, and we contribute frequent articles to the legislative division newsletter, The Interim. At the start of the upcoming session, we will be providing each legislator with a goodie bag that will include some fun and practical items that we hope will remind them that the library is not only a place to get information, but also a fun place. We're all about fun here!

Coordinator Marian Rogers, Wisconsin

from Marian
Turnover is usually high in the Wisconsin Legislature after redistricting; also, a number of legislators plan to retire. With these two things in mind, we expect 4-5 new senators (rather than the usual 2-3) and 20-25 new representatives (rather than the usual 10-15).

In the next legislative session, the bureau as a whole will be holding various "LRB Seminars." The topics usually include: bill drafting, reapportionment, how to do legislative intent research, how to use the Index and Bulletins of the Proceedings, and how to use LRBCAT (the online library catalog) and the legislative library. "Legislator Guide to LRB Services" will be updated and distributed to all legislative offices. Library staff may also actively market LRBCAT by holding patron registration and training drives.

The legislature has been in special session deliberating a budget adjustment bill since January 2002. A committee of conference is now working out the details. In May 2002, another special session was called to address the issue of chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin's wild deer. A bill was passed and has been signed by the Governor.

The LRB was scheduled to move in July 2002, to rennovated space in another building on capitol square. Because of the budget crisis, we were asked to delay the remodeling and relocation for 12 to 18 months.

Arnold Weinfeld
Michigan House Democratic Policy Staff
Redistricting and term limits will hit the Michigan House and Senate, with the Senate feeling the full weight of term limits for the first time. Term limits alone will result in 27 new Senate members out of a total membership of 38. However, it is widely expected that at least some of these will be filled by current or former House members.

In the House, term limits and redistricting has made for an interesting picture as some House members who are not term limited look to move on to the Senate, in some cases after only serving one two-year House term. Out of a 110 member House, it is expected that there will be a minimum of 52 new members. Of these, two term-limited Senators are looking to come back to the House.

Linda Hess
Michigan Legislative Service Bureau
Due partially to redistricting, but primarily because of term limits, the fall election will result in at least 52 new state representatives and 28 new state senators in Michigan. This means that new faces will make up nearly 50 percent of the House and 75 percent of the Senate. Although former House members may fill some of the Senate seats, most of the many new legislators will need an introduction to what we have to offer.

As part of the Legislative Council, the Research & Reference Collection participates in their extensive orientation/welcome program for new legislators. This includes preparing and distributing a legislative briefing book for new members, special presentations on our services during scheduled legislative orientation sessions and sponsoring open houses for new legislators and staff so they can meet Council personnel, ask questions and see samples of our work. There are also personal visits to each new legislator from teams made up of representatives from different areas within the Legislative Council.

In other news, the Legislative Service Bureau is now utilizing the intranet connection we share with the legislature to publicize materials available from the Research & Reference Collection. These include listings of our recent acquisitions, subject biblio-graphies, vertical file subjects and a recently added list of library periodicals highlighted by color graphics.

Anne Rottman, Missouri
Missouri is in for a lot of changes this next go around. Our term limits kick in and we will lose 73 of our 163 house members and 12 of our 34 senators for a turnover rate of roughly 43 percent.

Last general assembly we participated in a scavenger hunt with the house of representatives orientation program. The new members were supposed to come by the library where we had a new member packet prepared for them that had articles and references to materials on being an effective/new legislator along, with items that told about our services and had our phone number in big numbers on it. They also got a chance to personally meet our staff and put faces to our names. That also helped us in the same way. We look forward to that process again.

The Missouri capitol restoration, which included the library space, is temporarily on hold due to budget constraints.

Debbie Tavenner, Ohio
The 125th Ohio Legislature will see some new faces next year, but not nearly as many as two years ago, when term limits first took effect. It is estimated that there will be 24 "brand new" members--AND that is just an ESTIMATE. There are no incumbent candidates running for election in 18 House Districts. As a result of the latest redistricting plan current members of the House are running against each other in three House Districts. Ohio Senate President Richard Finan, and former NCSL President, will no longer be in the Legislature due to term limits. A "brand new" legislator will be elected from the Senate District that he would have represented. In other cases, current House members are running for Senate seats; in one case, a Senator and a Representative are trying to switch places. Both legislators must leave their respective chamber at the end of the 124th General Assembly.
The Legislative Service Commission (LSC) sponsors new member orientation sessions after each election. I plan to update the Library's brochure and have it placed in the LSC packet. During the last two orientation sessions the Director mentions library services as part of his presentation. The Guidebook for Legislators also mentions the Commission's Library. No subjects at the orientation sessions receive much indepth instruction. I wish there was time for more, but it is not a case of being slighted.

Alyce Baker, our library receptionist, is home enjoying time with her new son, Spence, born in early May.

Coordinator Cathy Martin, North Carolina

from Cathy
The longest legislative session in North Carolina history (January 24 - December 6, 2002) and the redistricting process will certainly have a major impact on the number of returning members. Even before the redistricting process began, many members had announced their intentions not to run again.

Then there's redistricting . . . .A lower court's determination that our new state legislative districts were unconstitional was upheld by the state Supreme Court last month (April). Pursuant to some rather complicated instructions by both courts and an excruciating timetable, the legislature convened in Special Session last week (May 14) and submitted a new plan to the lower court for review. The judge has several options--he can uphold the redrafted plans, adopt alternative plans submitted by the plaintifs, or create maps on his own. We hope to have a decision early next week. No matter the outcome, another appeal to the state Supreme Court is expected. We have not yet had primaries for any races. Meanwhile, as the Special Session continues, we prepare for the Regular Session to begin Tuesday, May 28th. Concurrent special and regular sessions is a first for North Carolina.

from Lynda Davis, Maryland
Several Library and Information Services staff are involved in preparing the Department of Legislative Services Web page. This will be available later in the summer. The online library catalog is now accessible from the Maryland General Assembly Web page or directly (dlslibrary.state.md.us) We were amazed when the day after its appearance on the Web page, someone from another state agency walked in with print outs of records for two reports.
Last December Lynda Davis visited the Texas Legislative Library. It was a great opportunity to observe different methods and products. Dale Propp and his staff are working on several information products for their legislature. These have produced ideas and a new look at our work. The reference librarians are using a revised reference form incorporating aspects of the one used in Texas.

This interim, Marilyn McManus will coordinate a review and evaluation of the K section of our library collection. A couple of years ago, we decided it was time to examine the collection. This was the first time the entire LC collection has been reviewed. We believe the review's weeding and updating materials has strengthened the collection.

Carol Carman produced a shelf list from the online library system to aid in the evaluation. Another annual project following the session is the updating of the Mandated Reports Database. This should be completed by the end of May. The Mandated Reports Database lists reports that are required to be submitted to the General Assembly, its committees, or agencies. Identifying which reports are required is the easy part. Tracking the reports is the real job.

Coordinator Dave Harrell, Oregon

from Dave
Here in Oregon we are about to head into our third special session of 2002. The latest budget forecast shows an additional $500 million drop in tax revenues from the previous forecast. Yikes! In addition, the voters just rejected a ballot measure that would have moved $200 plus million from a rainy day fund to the K-12 school system. That money plus leaving a modest ending balance for emergency allocations, though the rest of the biennium means the shortfall is more like $800 million. My head is starting to hurt just thinking about it. There have already been substantial cuts to agency budgets and state programs so the "tax" word is entering discussions. We all know those are seldom "civil" conversatons.

A special interim committee has been appointed to look into "fixing" our "out of whack" public employee retirement system, so that is also a potential special session topic. Losses in stock market investments, perceived "too generous" retirement amounts, and the yet to retire baby-boomers have created a potential additional tax liability for those public entities that fund the system. This does not sit well in these lean economic times. Oregon has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Term limits in Oregon was recently thrown out by our Supreme Court. Add the recently upheld redistricting plan to the political mix, and there were some very interesting primary races pitting same party incumbents against each other for the same seat. There will be some turnover in the next session but not as much as when term limits initially took effect. There are 15 Senate and 60 House seats up for election. I predict we will see 12 new faces!

As always, the library will contact every new member and their staff as soon as possible to let them know we are here to help with their research needs and serve as an information resource. A new library brochure is in the works as well as a new Web site. Let me see, how many hours are there in a day?

Hope to see everyone in Denver in July.

Kristin Ford, Idaho
Kind of exciting times around here as a result of redistricting and term limits! As we near the date of our primary election, campaigns are starting to heat up. The budget picture continues to be austere, with revenue falling well short each month of the projected amounts. Spending freezes are in effect. No special sessions or new interim study committees are being formed, though, as those cost money too. We are just hunkering down to weather through it.

Redistricting in Idaho is coming to an uneasy rest. After the first couple of plans were challenged and overturned in the Supreme Court, the latest one has survived several Supreme Court challenges and it looks like it is the one we are going with. As a result, we have some districts with no incumbents, and other districts that pit incumbents against each other.

In addition, voters in Idaho have awakened! The Idaho Legislature's controversial repeal of term limits this year (overriding the governor's veto, which is a rare event here) has provoked new interest in the political process among voters. We are getting easily twice the usual number of calls from the public who are interested in looking up legislator voting records, both on term limits and other issues. Whether this interest will carry through to the polling places in November and oust incumbents is another question, of course. I'm going to guess, oh, let's say a 19 percent turnover!

Coordinator Penelope Dukes-Williams, Texas

from Penelope
The Texas Legislative Library has signed a contract with SIRSI for an online catalog. A Web interface has been created to provide access to the Texas Appointments System (a database of information about agencies, boards, commissions, other legislative entities, and members appointed to them). They are also working on a project to have all of the interim reports on line and searchable. To their home page (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us) a link called "Governor's Vetoes" has been added. Click on this link for a list of Texas governors, the number of vetoes cast by each governor and, if available, the texts of the bill and the governor's veto proclamations. The list goes back to the 18th Legislature (1883). Texas has 35 members who will not be returning for the 78th Legislature. That's it for now. Hope you have a great summer!

The Kansas Legislative Library is working on a plan to digitize a large collection of legislative newspaper clippings. They want to preserve the collection and improve access. They are also working on the issue of providing access to and preserving born digital state documents. They will present their report to the legislature next year.

Arizona's legislative library reports that redistricting did not bring any new legislators to the Capitol.

New Mexico
New Mexico had a short 30-day session this winter and then spent the rest of the time waiting for a resolution to the impasse over the state budget. The impasse was finally resolved in late May.

Library Profile

by Louisa Voden, Director of theLegislative Reference Division, Oklahoma

The Jan Eric Cartwright Memorial Library is the Law and Legislative Reference Division of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Our mission is to provide prompt, nonpartisan, confidential and accurate information to Oklahoma's executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and to members of the general public.
The Cartwright Collection includes:

Oklahoma Legal Materials
    • Legislative Journals, Session Laws and Statutes
    • (both territorial and state)
    • Oklahoma Administrative Rules
    • Oklahoma State Court Decisions
    • Attorney General Opinions
    • Oklahoma Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Materials
    Federal Legal Materials
    Regional Reporters
    State Statutes From All 50 States
    Law Reviews, Legal and News Journals
    Legal and Legislative monographs
The Cartwright staff includes five full-time librarians, one part-time librarian, and three support staff.
Web page link: www.odl.state.ok.us/lawinfo/index.htm

LRL's Web Page Acquisitions List

by Leo Kennedy, Michigan

Over the past three years, we have found the Legislative Research Librarians Acquisitions List to be an extremely useful tool in acquiring reports and articles for the Legislative Service Bureau Research and Reference Collection. Periodically, we will check the site to see what new acquisition lists have been added. The little box indicating which states have recently sent their lists to NCSL permits us to go directly to those listings.

We use the lists for identifying items that have been recently released by executive, judicial, legislative, and local agencies in other states, federal agencies, interstate agencies, private publishers, think tanks, and interest groups. The bibliographies provide listings to research reports, books, articles, reference items, annual reports, etc. We identify the items we want and order them from the publisher in some cases. In other instances, the state legislative library will identify the publisher's Web site and we will download the item directly from the Web site.

Over the years, we have sent paper copies of recent acquisitions and subject bibliographies to legislators and staff. Although we use Athena to catalog our collection, it is not available to the entire legislature, only to the Legislative Service Bureau. Presently, we use a series of bibliographies to notify the Legislature about our collection: listings of recent acquisitions, subject bibliographies of reports and other items, and " hot topic " listings of reports, articles and Web sites. For the last six months, we have been e-mailing these items to legislators and staff rather than preparing paper copies.

One of the prime advantages of the Acquisitions List is that it has offered us different approaches in creating bibliographies. We are changing what we present and how we present the information. We have included listings of annual departmental reports, auditor general reports, and we are preparing special mailings on topics such as terrorism. In addition, we will also annotate reports, papers, and articles. For example, we have been sending out listings of CRS reports in various subject areas that we have received to selected groups of legislators and staff. Most recently, we have been preparing summaries of the reports and asking legislators and staff which reports they would like to receive.

It is noticeable that increasingly Web site addresses are included in the Legislative Research Librarians Acquisitions List. We have listed links as well as provided links directly to sites. In addition, we will link to our internal site, LSBSource, for recently released Legislative Research Division reports, so that legislators can directly download them. Another approach we have used is to list political science or other professional papers in our recent acquisitions lists. The responses to this approach have been mixed. In some cases, professional papers bring a good response on a subject such as term limits.

We have found the listings in the Acquisition List to be a good source of information, but also an excellent source of ideas for improving our way of communicating with the Legislature. From time to time, I have talked to Rita Thaemert and asked her to encourage legislative libraries to send her their acquisition lists. I think it is worthwhile to do so, and I would like to encourage more states to send acquisitions lists to Rita Thaemert or Janna Goodwin at NCSL.


from Nan Bowers
The New Yorker, May 12th issue, included a book review of The Social Life of Paper; Looking for Method in the Mess, by Malcolm Gladwell. Librarians feel at home in both the electronic and paper worlds of information. Computers are indispensable, but could we do our job without the piles of papers on our desks? The reviewer states that paper enables a certain kind of thinking. He goes on to say that paper facilitates a highly specialized cognitive and social process. It is a very interesting review. If you have a few minutes, check it out. The longish review of the book http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/?020325crbo_books

New NCSL Publications

All NCSL publications listed here are available from the Marketing Department at 303-364-7700.


  • 2001 Native American Legislation
  • Major Health Care Policies: 50 State Profiles 2001
  • Principals in Colorado: An Inventory of Policies and Practices
  • State Legislative Information Technology Committee Report
  • State Traffic Safety Legislative Summary: 2001
  • The Oregon Experience: Prioritizing Services and Expanding Coverage
  • Independent Living for Foster Youth
  • Along for the Ride: Reducing Driver Distractions
  • State Roles in Health: A Snapshot for State Legislatures
  • SCHIP: Money Matters
  • Public Health: A Legislator's Guide
  • 2001 Telecommunications Laws
  • 2001 Unformation Technology and Internet Laws
  • Reaching Uninsured Children Through Head Start and School Lunch Programs
  • State Tax Actions
  • Child Care and Early Education Coordination in the States: A Statutory Overview
State Legislative Reports
  • Developing Solar Electric Technology: State Policy Options, Vol.27, No.2
  • Solar Electric Technology and its Applications, Vol.27, No.3
  • Juvenile Crime Enactments 2001. Vol.27, No.4
  • State Child Welfare Legislation: 2001, Vol.27, No.5
  • State Crime Legislation, Vol.27, No.6
  • Long-Term Care and the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead Decision, Vol.27, No.7
  • States Move to Center Stage in the Federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, Vol.27, No.8
  • Helping Domestic Violence Victims in the TANF Program, Vol.27, No.9
  • Bridging the Great Divide Between Secondary Schools and Postsecondary Education, Vol.27, No.10
  • Supporting and Retaining Foster Parents, Vol.27, No. 11
  • Cultural Tourism, Vol.10, No.13
  • State Conformity to the Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act, Vol.10, No.14
  • Tax Increment Financing: Friend or Foe? Vol.10. No.15
  • Reforming the Iniitiative Process, Vol.10, No.16
  • The Influenza Vaccine, Vol.10, No.17
  • Abusing Sports Officials, Vol.10, No.18
  • Cancer Prevention and Control Initiatives, Vol.10, No.19
  • Payday Lending, Vol.10, No.20
  • Sex Education, Vol.10, No.21
  • Time-Limited TANF Recipients, Vol.10, No.22
  • The Future of Amtrak and Rail Passenger Service, Vol.10, No.23
  • Program Evaluation in the States, Vol.10, No.24

Thanks to all of the staff section members and others who submitted columns and information for this issue. We welcome your ideas and submissions. Newsline is published four times annually by NCSL's Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section and is edited and formatted by Rita Thaemert.

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