Legislative Research Librarians
LRL Newsline, Spring 2012
Volume XXXVII, No. 1
Tweet, Tag, Follow, Wall, TrackBack . . . welcome to the 21st century in information science!
As I sit here composing this column, I somehow feel hopelessly old-fashioned using a PC and a full-sized keyboard. I am certainly grateful, however, to be allowed more than 140 characters to relay plans in the pipeline for this year's summit and for staff section and professional development activities.
NCSL's annual Legislative Summit will be held August 6–9 in Chicago. Although the agenda is still being finalized, the proposed list of speakers is incredible and includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. During the summit, the LRL section will present Notable Documents Awards, select a recipient for the Legislative Staff Achievement Award, and usher in a new slate of LRL officers. Please begin considering possible entries and nominations from your library. I heartily encourage you to attend this year's Legislative Summit — the networking opportunities alone are priceless.
The LRL staff section will offer a professional development webinar this fall tentatively entitled "Evaluating Authoritative Sources." The webinar will feature staff from three states, each with a unique viewpoint, and discuss how to assess traditional print and online sources, as well as social media links, when providing reference assistance.
I'd like to take a moment to recognize the LRL staff section regional coordinators: Christine Chen, Robyn Cockerham, Julia Covington, Sonia Gavin, Maeve Roche, Carrie Rose, and Anne Rottmann. You are the eyes and ears of the legislative librarian community, and your role is so vital as we strive to stay connected in these times of limited travel. Thank you for contributing to this edition of Newsline, for serving as regional coordinators, and for being our section's conduit for communicating across the nation!
I am pleased to announce that the Texas Legislative Reference Library and the California Research Bureau have been selected to host this year's annual internship program of the Library of Parliament of Canada. Previous years have included programs in Scotland and Ireland (2011), Berlin (2010), and Brussels (2009). The Texas visit scheduled for March focuses on "library research services of a foreign country" — although we hope they won't find Texas to be too foreign — and will include overviews of how the Texas Legislature works, the role of the library, and how our resources and research assist the various members, committees, and agencies of the Texas legislative community.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any ideas, suggestions, or concerns, and, in this age of technology, remember to boldly go where no librarian has gone before.
2012 Legislative Staff Achievement Award Nominations
Deadline: Friday, May 4, 2012
It's time to recognize the outstanding service provided by legislative libraries and librarians throughout the states. We need your help in identifying candidates for the annual LRL awards.
Please send us the name of a person or institution—it can be yourself or your library—using the criteria listed below as a guide, along with a description of specific accomplishments and LRL involvement. Many of you are the only legislative librarian in your state, and you provide tremendous services. There may be no other LRL member that knows enough about your job to nominate you, so go ahead and write up your successes. Or, if you know of others who should be recognized, please send us a nomination for them or their library.
As is the LRL tradition, the nominating committee is being chaired by last year’s honoree, Robbie LaFleur of Minnesota. The award will be presented at the NCSL Legislative Summit in Chicago, Illinois, August 6–9, 2012. Please email your nomination by Friday, May 4, 2012, to LRL liaison Jeanne Mejeur.
The criteria for the Legislative Staff Achievement Award from LRL are as follows, for both individual legislative librarians and legislative libraries:
The librarian who has:
Provided outstanding support to the state legislature or legislative institution
Provided outstanding support to NCSL or the LRL Staff Section
Enhanced the profession of special librarianship within the legislative context
Demonstrated innovative approaches to the field of legislative librarianship
Made a major creative contribution to enhance legislative library services in one or more of the following areas:
- organization of information
- integration of the library into the legislative process
- excellent research products
- excellence in reference services
- managerial expertise
- information technology
- other contributions
The library that has:
Provided outstanding support or assistance to NCSL or the LRL Staff Section
Maintained a professional, qualified staff
Actively participated in professional library associations
Contributed significantly to major developments in the field of legislative librarianship
Demonstrated creativity in several of the following areas:
- maintaining a collection that meets legislative needs
- orienting new patrons to library services
- targeting services to meet legislative needs
- integrating new technologies into legislative services
- alerting patrons to information resources
- other contributions
For more information, please see the LRL Awards page or contact Jeanne Mejeur at 303-856-1467.
Staff Achievement Award Winners, 1997–2011
The Legislative Staff Achievement Award was instituted by the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee in 1997, to allow all of the NCSL staff sections to recognize their outstanding members. Past recipients of the Legislative Staff Achievement Award from LRL are:
Robbie LaFleur, Minnesota
Anne Rottmann, Missouri
Cathy Martin, North Carolina
Susan Southworth, Connecticut
Susan Gilley, Oklahoma
Tracey Kimball, New Mexico
Senate Law Library, Louisiana
David R. Poynter Legislative Research Library, Louisiana House of Representatives
David Harrell, Oregon
Nan Bowers, Nevada
Marian Rogers, Wisconsin
Irene Stone, California
Deborah S. Priest, New York
Dr. H. Rupert Theobald Legislative Library, Wisconsin
Elizabeth Furbush, Montana
David R. Poynter Legislative Research Library, Louisiana House of Representatives
Jonetta Douglas, Iowa
Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau, Frances Enos, Head Librarian
Lynda C. Davis, Maryland
Marilyn Johnson, North Dakota
Marilyn Cathcart, Minnesota
Clare Cholik, South Dakota
Debbie Tavenner, Ohio
Sally Reynolds, Texas
2012 Notable Documents Awards Nominations
Deadline: May 18, 2012
Notable Documents Awards Form
Nominations are now open for the 2012 Notable Documents Awards. The Notable Documents Awards are sponsored by NCSL’s Legislative Research Librarians staff section (LRL). Winners will be announced at the NCSL Legislative Summit in Chicago, Illinois, in August 2012.
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 Network.
Encourage deposit of documents with NCSL and the Council of State Governments (CSG) by subject-appropriate publishing organizations.
The winning documents will be highlighted at the NCSL Legislative Summit and will be announced in the LRL Newsline, State Government Research Checklist, State Legislatures, and State Government News.
Notable Documents submissions will be judged on the criteria listed below. The document:
Clearly and prominently displays title, author, publisher, and date.
Contains a title that reflects actual content.
Appears relevant to identifiable readership.
Significantly contributes to knowledge of concern to legislators.
Is innovative in presentation of material.
Contains strong bibliographic/footnote entries.
Presents information accurately and clearly in an organized fashion.
Offers graphics that are readily grasped.
Was published within the last two years.
Compares state activities in an arena of contemporary legislative interest in a comprehensible manner.
Expands understanding of government processes, functions, or relationships.
Attempts to provide balance and perspective from various sides in the political spectrum.
Documents will be evaluated by the Notable Documents Awards Committee, chaired in 2012 by Kristin Ford of Idaho. Committee members are Ingrid Hernquist of New Jersey, Carol Blackburn and Elizabeth Lincoln of Minnesota, and Frances Thomas of Louisiana.
There is no limit to the number of titles you can nominate, but please submit a separate nomination form for each document. Electronic submissions are strongly encouraged. If possible, please submit documents via email with either a link to an online version or an attached PDF version. If an electronic copy is not available, please provide six copies of each printed document along with a nomination form.
A "document" for purposes of this award is defined as one produced by a federal, state, or local government agency, by a foundation, consulting firm, or quasi-public or private sector non-profit organization. Format includes print, microfilm, CD-ROM, periodical/serial, or URL.
To submit documents, please use the Notable Documents Awards form. For more information, contact LRL liaison Jeanne Mejeur at 303-856-1467.
The Legislative Research Librarians is one of ten staff sections at NCSL and actually predates the establishment of NCSL. Legislative librarians began gathering informally in 1968 at a meeting of the National Legislative Conference (NLC) in St. Louis, Missouri. The group formally organized as the Legislative Reference Library Services Section at the 1972 meeting of NLC in New Orleans. Members elected Maine legislative librarian Edith Hary as the chair.
When the NLC was merged into what then became the National Conference of State Legislatures in 1975, LRL became one of the first two NCSL staff sections, along with the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries, which was established in 1943.
LRL published its first newsletter in 1977, adopted bylaws in 1978, printed its first directory in booklet format in 1980, and presented its first professional development seminar in 1989 in Denver, with 22 librarians in attendance.
Long-time members of LRL will remember NCSL’s LEGISNET, the first on-line searchable database of legislative research reports, program evaluations, and articles. The support the legislative librarians provided to NCSL was invaluable in designing and maintaining LEGISNET, which existed until the late 1990s and was then folded into separate databases of research documents and legislative program evaluations on NCSL’s website.
LRL now publishes the LRL Newsline and an annual online Legislative Research Librarian Directory. The staff section has also previously published Core Reference Collection for Legislative Libraries, Survey of Automation in Legislative Libraries, and Legislative Intent Research: A 50-State Guide.
Despite cutbacks in state legislative staff agencies, the Legislative Research Librarians remain a vital information resource for legislators and legislative staff, as well as state agencies and the general public. LRL is one of the most active and dedicated of the NCSL staff sections, with a core of committed and enthusiastic members.
Staff Section Trivia:
ASLCS is the oldest staff section (1943)
LINCS is the newest staff section (1999)
Four are older than NCSL: ASLCS, LRL, NLSSA and NLPES
LRL is the smallest staff section
Legal Services is the largest
When Did They Begin?
Staff Section Established
American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) 1943
Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section (LRL) 1972
National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA) 1973
National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES) 1974
Leadership Staff Section (LSS) 1975
National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO) 1977
National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT) 1978
Research and Committee Staff Section (RACSS) 1979
Legal Services Staff Section (LSSS) 1982
Legislative Information and Communications Staff Section (LINCS) 1999
Recognizing LRL Leaders
The Legislative Research Librarians staff section has been fortunate to have had great leadership over the years. Because of the officers who have guided the staff section, LRL has continued to grow in the scope of services provided, outreach to legislative staff, and networking opportunities for legislative librarians. Below is a list of chairs, from the inception of LRL in 1972 through 2012.
1972–1973 Edith Hary, Maine
1973–1974 Irene Stone, California
1974–1975 Susan Lawrence, New York
1975–1976 Marion Muenzenberger, Texas
1976–1977 Mina Waldie, Wisconsin
1977–1978 Suzanne Hughes, Louisiana
1978–1979 Gene Bismuti, Washington
1979–1980 Anna Mae Goss, Illinois
1980–1981 Anne Mae Goss, Illinois
1981–1982 Joan Smith, Virginia
1982–1983 Joan Smith, Virginia
1983–1984 Marilyn Guttromson, North Dakota
1984–1985 Jane Peterson, Utah
1985–1986 Lynda Davis, Maryland
1986–1987 Barbara Laughon, Ohio
1987–1988 Pat Illnicki, New York
1988–1989 Susan Zavacky, Pennsylvania
1989–1990 Jay Baxa, Virginia
1990–1991 Susan Gilley, Oklahoma
1991–1992 Marcia Hoak, Oregon
1992–1993 Jo Casullo, Nebraska
1993–1994 Marilyn Cathcart, Minnesota
1994–1995 Debbie Tavenner, Ohio
1995–1996 Clare Cholik, South Dakota
1996–1997 Nancy Quesada, Texas
1997–1998 Jonetta Douglas, Iowa
1998–1999 Anne Rottmann, Missouri
1999–2000 Susan Southworth, Connecticut
2000–2001 Johanne Greer, Maryland
2001–2002 Nan Bowers, Nevada
2002–2003 Robbie LaFleur, Minnesota
2003–2004 Arthur McEnany, Louisiana
2004–2005 David Harrell, Oregon
2005–2006 Tracey Kimball, New Mexico
2006–2007 Kristin Ford, Idaho
2007–2008 Cathy Martin, North Carolina
2008–2009 Jacqueline Curro, Maryland
2009–2010 Elizabeth Lincoln, Minnesota
2010–2011 Shelley Day, Utah
2011–2012 Mary Camp, Texas
LRL Chairs represent 26 states: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana (2), Maine, Maryland (3), Minnesota (3), Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York (2), North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio (2), Oklahoma, Oregon (2), Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas (3), Utah (2), Virginia (2), Washington, and Wisconsin.
State Budget Update, Fall 2011–Fiscal Affairs Program
Child Health Screenings Under Medicaid–Vol. 19, No. 43
Health Impact Assessments Growing in Use–Vol. 19, No. 44
Are State-Owned Banks a Viable Option?–Vol. 19, No. 45
Examining State Business Climates–Vol. 19, No. 46
Bringing Farmers’ Markets to Underserved Communities–Vol. 19, No. 47
State Statutes Go Mobile–Vol. 19, No. 49
The Burden of Prescription Drug Overdoses on Medicaid–Vol. 20, No. 1
Lawmakers Hammer Against Metal Theft–Vol. 20, No. 2
Asset Limits in Public Programs–Vol. 20, No. 3
Tracking Networks: Linking Health and the Environment–Vol. 20, No. 4
Fighting Against Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease–Vol. 20, No. 5
Saving Money and Improving Care by Integrating Health Care–Vol. 20, No. 6
Impaired Driving and Ignition Interlock Laws–Vol. 20, No. 7
Making the Most of Your Ethics Training–Vol. 20, No. 8
Drugged Driving–Vol. 20, No. 9
Reducing Strokes by Streamlining Care–Vol. 20, No. 10
How Data Play a Role in Early Childhood Education–Vol. 20, No. 11
The Nuclear Waste Dilemma–Vol. 20, No. 12
State News From the Regional Coordinators: For this issue, the Regional Coordinators asked the Legislative Librarians in their regional states about the use of social media in the course of their work and for any other news they would like to share.
From Maeve Roche, California
The California Research Bureau is part of the California State Library (CSL). The California State Library has a blog, an RSS Feed, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a small presence on YouTube. The blog highlights what CSL has been doing, and we post items of interest to public libraries within the state. Recently, we’ve branched out a bit and began posting quick historical facts about California. There are plans to begin using Tumblr to showcase special online mini-exhibits, and to transition our blog to Tumblr. Also, several of the library’s program groups have their own Facebook pages—the California Homeless Youth Project, Transforming Life After 50, and the California Literacy project.
From Carrie Rose, Connecticut
The emergence of social media has changed the way many libraries connect with their patrons. The majority of the state and legislative libraries in the Northeast do not use social media tools within their libraries.
The Vermont Legislative Council, the Rhode Island State Library, the Connecticut Legislative Library, and the Maine Law and Legislative Reference Library do not use social media tools in their libraries. Each of the states has a different reason for omitting this resource from their library services. The Vermont Legislative Council Library is too small and its resources are too limited to undertake a social media project at this time. The Maine Law and Legislative Reference Library is unsure of how productive this type of tool would be for their library and are focusing on developing tools in other areas. The Maine Legislative Council has also not been receptive of other standing committees using social media tools. The Connecticut Legislative Library has discussed implementing social media tools for several years; they are considering implementing a blog in the near future. Finally, the Rhode Island State Library does not use social media tools and cites a law that prohibits political advertising from official budgets (R.I. Gen. Laws 17-23-18).
The New Hampshire State Library and the State Library of Massachusetts both utilize social media tools. The New Hampshire State Library has several blogs and a Facebook page. The State Library of Massachusetts is a heavy user of social media. The library utilizes several different types of social media tools including a blog, Flickr, Facebook, and even a YouTube channel. According to their reference librarian, Alix Quan, Massachusetts has been very pleased with the viral nature of providing electronic resources to their patrons. In fact, the library recently used Flickr to illustrate a unique collection of World War I soldier photographs, and this digital collection has generated a positive response from local special interest groups.
The Vermont State Library does not currently use social media tools in their library; they are, however, planning to incorporate the use of these tools in the future. They have one staff member who uses Facebook for professional reasons at this time.
The attitude towards social media tools within these libraries was generally positive. Unfortunately, many of the libraries in the Northeast are very small and therefore do not have the staff or resources to maintain these resources. The libraries that use social media reported being very satisfied with the ability to provide remote access to special collections. Several of the libraries hope to implement some type of social media in the future.
From Kristen Ford, Idaho
“Our Legislative Services Office state agency is not using social media. The Legislature itself experimented a little with Twitter and Facebook in 2011, but so far has not picked it back up again in 2012.”
From Robyn Cockerham, Louisiana
Although there are those states in the Southeast region that do use social media in their legislative libraries, there are those that do not. Two examples of social media LRL states are Louisiana and Florida.
Both the State Library of Florida and the Poynter Legislative Research Library in Louisiana have Facebook pages. Their utilization of the pages do contrast a bit though. Florida reports that they post snippets of trivia and highlights of the collection. The Poynter Library though uses the page to announce new reports, meetings, and items of interest to their followers.
As we know, the more followers, the larger distribution of information. If you have a chance (and a Facebook account), go by and "Like" them.
The State Library of Florida - http://www.facebook.com/statelibraryofflorida
Poynter Legislative Research Library - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Poynter-Legislative-Research-Library/151540784884772?sk=wall
From Robbie LaFleur, Minnesota
Our library dipped into social media three years ago with a Twitter feed, @MinnLRL. Without a lot of flagrant solicitation, we now have almost 1,095 followers. We use the feed to promote new services, web resources, or publications from the Library; to post links to reports that compare states; and to highlight new acquisitions. It's been very successful. We celebrate retweets. A modest investment of time and creativity helps our work reach a much wider audience.
On the flip side, we follow a carefully chosen list of people and organizations to keep us well-informed throughout the day. Reading frequent tweets from a variety of reporters during committee hearings or press conferences is a useful way to get at the most newsworthy quotes and votes. Reading the wide-ranging tweets of legislators is a good way to learn about their issues and concerns. Legislator tweets can become issues themselves; ill-considered tweets have led to two ethics committee cases. Whether you start a feed or follow feeds, we recommend Twitter for legislative libraries.
In other news, research requests roll in steadily as the Minnesota legislative session progresses. Occasional rumors circulate that legislators would like to adjourn as early as Easter, though it is more likely session will extend to the end of April. The big question remains—will the Minnesota Vikings get a new stadium?
The librarians have been busy with tours and presentations to over 175 people in 2012 already. Training runs the gamut from individual tours for new legislative staff members to introductions for new pages to groups of graduate school and law students.
Twice, the Library received great press on "Almanac at the Capitol," a weekly public television show. We got "two thumbs up and four gold stars" for our online historical coverage of "State of the State" speeches, and our materials on historical state budgets were featured soon after.
We've been updating many of our online "Minnesota Issues" guides. The Legislature has a new agency sunset commission, and we provided a great deal of background information on the agencies under review this session in a new "Sunset Advisory Commission" guide.
Online resources for historical research on the Legislature become richer each year. The "Digital Delights" column done for the Minnesota Digital Library highlights interesting and unexpected Information on legislators in the "Minnesota Reflections" database.
From Anne Rottmann, Missouri
The report from my region is pretty short. We don’t use social media in any way here in the Missouri library or in my office and neither does Ohio, Kentucky, or Illinois.
Wisconsin, however, does, and Alexis Ernst-Treutel reports that they are involved with both Twitter and Facebook and their posts include information about legislation introduced, materials added to the library, information on floor sessions (the calendar, what time they are starting), alerting folks about publications and reports from other legislative agencies like the Legislative Council and the Audit Bureau. They do not use it for soliciting reference questions for confidentiality reasons. They have been on Twitter since April 2009 and Facebook since June 2010 and currently have one staff person assigned to updating both.
There are links to the Wisconsin Twitter and FB feeds from the library’s home page http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/lrb.
From Sonia Gavin, Montana
Currently, we do not use social media for reference. The state IT department blocks all social media access (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) from the state network. In order to access these, an exception needs to be granted for each department. We are looking into allowing access, at least for our communications officer, and are writing a policy. Like the internet, there is a concern that staff will spend all their time updating their personal pages while at work. There is also a concern for viruses that come in through some of these sites.
Many legislators do have their own social media accounts, and the Legislative Council is looking at some issues that have arisen during session for those who tweet in committee or on the House and Senate floor, during discussion using smart phones. And in our staff handbook, there will be wording about being conscious of what you post on your personal page and friending legislators.
From Nan Bowers, Nevada
At this time for Nevada, the Secretary of the Senate, David Byerman, is our sole adopter in this area. You can read his new blog, From the Well, or follow him on Twitter at NVSecSenate. The Senate’s homepage prominently features “Tweets About the Nevada Legislature: #nvleg on Twitter.”
From Julia Covington, North Carolina
The North Carolina Legislative Library is the proud proprietor of the first and only blog at the NCGA – In the Spotlight. We use our blog to highlight new library materials and enhancements to our webpage and to educate users about upcoming library classes and events. The Library doesn’t use any other types of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and at this point, we have no plans to do so.
From Christine Chen, Oklahoma
We do not use either social media or social network in our library. We don’t have enough staff to take on the responsibility; our current staff can barely maintain the daily operations of the library if anyone is out of the office.
From Jerry Curry, Oregon
The Oregon State Library does utilize social media: Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Here are descriptions of these programs:
Twitter and Facebook:
Twitter - http://twitter.com/oregonstatelib
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Oregon-State-Library/68382581655
We primarily use our Twitter and Facebook accounts to keep the public informed about our programs, new books in the Library and Information Sciences area, and posts to our various blogs.
In addition, there are three state library blogs:
Read All About It, Oregon
This blog provides easy access to Oregon state government documents that are mentioned in news stories or are relevant to current news topics. Entries contain links to newspaper articles and government documents.
Oregon State Library eClips Blog
State Library eClips is a digest of news articles pertaining to Oregon State Government. Each business day OSL staff scans a selected set of Oregon news resources for content.
Reports to the Oregon Legislature
This site provides access to reports that are statutorily required, by SB 323 (2009), to be submitted to the Oregon State Legislature. As the Legislative Administrator receives these reports from agencies, the Library will post them to this site.
From Susan Zavacky, Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau Library uses no social media. I believe some members (individually, on their own) have accounts, but it’s not building wide at this point…after all, we only just (several months ago) put all PA statutes on the web!
From Shelley Day, Utah
We do not use social media in our library. The most obvious reason is that my responsibilities in our office already take up more than my fair share of time. Besides maintaining the daily operations of our library, I also have my hands tied up in several projects.
2012 Regional Coordinators
Christine Chen (OK) - Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah
Robyn Cockerham (LA) - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Tennessee
Julia Covington (NC) - Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia
Sonia Gavin (MT) - Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
Maeve Roche (CA) - Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon
Carrie Rose (CT) - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
Anne Rottmann (MO) - Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin
NCSL Legislative Summit Schedule 2012–2016
August 6–9, 2012 Chicago, Illinois
August 12–15, 2013 Atlanta, Georgia
July 21–24, 2014 Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 3–6, 2015 Seattle, Washington
August 1–4, 2016 Baltimore, Maryland