Summer 2000

In This Issue

Chair's Column
LRL at Annual Meeting in Chicago
LRL 2000 Legislative Staff Achievement Awards
Marketing Your Library Using E-mail
What's New?
LRL Fall Professional Development Seminar
NCSL Publications
LRL Officers and Regional Coordinators
LRL Homepage

Chair’s Column

by Johanne Greer, Maryland, LRL Chair

I would like to thank this staff section for giving me the opportunity to serve as your chairperson. I look forward to working with each of you during the next year and beyond.

This year's Annual Meeting in Chicago has been proclaimed a great success thanks to the efforts of Susan Southworth (past chair) and Rita Thaemert (Senior Policy Specialist at NCSL for our staff section). The programs, which will be individually discussed later in this newsletter, focused on the computer age and how it is affecting the field of librarianship. The Legislative Research Librarians' (LRL) sessions were well attended by librarians as well as others interested in our programs. That in itself speaks volumes about the content and quality of our programs and presenters.

The information age has affected all of us and with these new resources come new responsibilities. Digitization and copyright laws are hot topics for libraries. The verdict is still out on what "fair use" is for copyrighted materials. In Maryland, we are studying the issue with respect to our newspaper files. Are the files that our library has compiled since the late 60s really our files that we can scan and make available in a digital format, or is it just the arrangement of them that we own? These files in their current state are fine, but when we look at trying to preserve them in an electronic format, it puts a new spin on copyright laws.

We are also considering whether or not to continue clipping the newspapers as we have for the past three decades because many of the papers we clip now have their own online databases. They are also available through commercial vendors such as Westlaw, Dialog, and Lexis.

Our vertical file has stopped growing at the rate that it once did because of concerns about copyright laws. I imagine in the end, this will ultimately be decided by the courts when some unsuspecting library is sued. This topic will be discussed further at our Professional Development Seminar (PDS) in Baton Rouge in October. The agenda for the PDS has been worked out by Suzy Hughes and Arthur McEnany with the help of Rita Thaemert. They have done an excellent job in arranging interesting sessions and wonderful meals.

There will be a technology workshop where we will have the opportunity to talk with Techies and learn how to set up our own Web pages. There will also be a session that discusses cataloging systems that libraries have or are considering purchasing. A tour of the Louisiana State Library will include presentations on networking with state agencies, electronic records retention, coordinating legislative research, and managing state documents.

Politics in Louisiana has been described as "colorful." With this concept in mind, a program has been planned to discuss the historical perspective of Louisiana's Legislature.

We have been instructed to bring our appetites. The Governor and First Lady will host a dinner for us the first evening we arrive, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner "Louisiana style" will be provided each day. There will also be a dinner with other librarians from Louisiana.

I hope we have a good turnout and that all attendees bring their ideas, problems, and solutions to the information age.


LRL at NCSL's Annual Meeting, July 16-20, Chicago

Intellectual Property in a Digital Environment
Monday July 17
8:00 am - 9:15 am
by Susan Southworth, Connecticut

Our initial program was in the nature of a Nutshell ® on Digital Intellectual Property presented by Dr. Henry Gladney, member of the National Academy of Science study committee that produced The Digital Dilemma, and Ms. Miriam Nisbet, Legal Counsel to the American Library Association.

Given the global nature of this topic, it was surprising that both speakers were able, in the short amount of time allotted to them, to define and synthesize the scope of the issues we all face as librarians and as everyday users of electronic documentation. Each presentation was accompanied by overheads and handouts; where possible appropriate URLs for further study and discussion are noted.

Dr. Gladney, as a representative of the NAS study committee, stressed that the purpose of their report was to present an objective view of the current situation, not to act as proponents or opponents of any issue. Because intellectual property decisions are becoming a part of people’s everyday lives whether they realize it or not, the NAS made certain recommendations for future action in their final product, The Digital Dilemma,

Copyright is more affected by the electronic environment than other forms of IP such as patents and trademarks. "Fair use," already variously interpreted in the world of print, is even more volatile a concept when applied to the transfer, downloading and re-use of digital documents. The concepts of "copy" and "publish" need redefinition, and the study committee acknowledges that while a great deal more public education is necessary, they were unable to provide a concrete curriculum for doing so. Dr. Gladney emphasized that they recommended that Congress not rush to legislate, that additional digital intellectual property research is necessary before any attempt to amend the current law.

One area he felt does need more immediate legislative attention is digital preservation archiving. Two major subtopics are: the fear articulated by research librarians over the potential lawsuits for copyright infringement; and the impact of digitization on access to resources, with licensing often replacing purchase. (Dr. Gladney would appreciate comments on his article found at

The licensing issue becomes an even more powerful when juxtaposed against the increase in corporate mergers, diminishing the number of publishers and concentrating the ownership of information into an ever-smaller group of mega-companies.
This thread led directly into Ms. Nisbet’s presentation on the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act, a model law drafted by NCCUSL to ensure consistent rules governing contract law from state to state, to accommodate the impact of technological changes. Because the trend toward library access to electronic resources is through licensing agreements, this law should be of concern to librarians across the nation. The American Library Association is on record as being opposed to UCITA in its current form, and is working hard on the state level to educate legislators and librarians on its potential impact. Ms. Nisbet made several points to justify their position, arguing that UCITA replaces the public law of copyright with the private law of contract, a more limiting and restrictive form of law; and that its scope is overly broad and undercuts traditional "fair use" as well as preservation and lending of information.

A lively debate ensued when two members of the audience representing two states (Maryland and Virginia) with different legislative responses to UCITA voiced their opinions. It was extremely unfortunate that lack of time required that this exchange of views be curtailed.

For further information regarding UCITA, visit the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Library Association’s Washington office at
The overheads accompanying Dr. Gladney’s remarks are available at
and a handout reprinted from D-Lib Magazine (volume 5, number 12, December 1999) giving a synopsis of the NAS study is found at


Legislative Research Librarians and Project Citizen
Monday, July 17
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
by Arthur McEnany, Louisiana

Susan Gilley, Director of Libraries for the Oklahoma Legislative Reference Bureau, was the facilitator for this session. It was attended by civics teachers from around the country who are involved in Project Citizen.
The purpose of the meeting was for the librarians to demonstrate to the teachers various search techniques and strategies.
Susan first demonstrated NCSL's home page and how it is linked to all of the different states legislative home pages. Using the phrase "school violence," Susan aptly illustrated how to conduct a search using subject categories. Linking to the U.S. Department of Justice - - we were linked even further to "Join Together," a group against substance abuse and school violence.

Susan then explained how to use various search engines such as "Yahoo" and"Alta Vista," especially their advance search capabilities. Some of the more individual web sites visited along the way included: the Librarians Index to the Internet. - the Newspaper Association of America. - the Policy News & Information Service that has links to American newspapers. - the Council of State Governments home page with links to news articles of interest.
After this brief introduction to the various search engines, members of the LRL staff section joined the teachers for some hands-on practice time on computers.

Let me also mention in closing that linking on to the Louisiana Legislative Home Page ( and scrolling down, one can link toLouisiana newspapers.


Business Meeting, with Roundtable
Wednesday, July 19
by Nan Bowers, Nevada

The meeting was called to order at approximately 1:00 pm, by chairman Susan Southworth (CT).

Susan welcomed all attendees, commented on the interest and attendance at the LRL sponsored meetings, and acknowledged the WestGroup contribution for the business luncheon.

LSCC Reports
Susan reported on the task force committee meetings for Project Citizen and the Legislative Chambers Book. Because of the tremendous expense of publication, information from the chambers book may instead be placed on the NCSL website, creating not only an affordable pictorial celebration of our varied chambers, but a database of information relative to chamber renovations to serve the needs of individuals and states contemplating future projects.

Jonetta Douglas (IA) serves on the NCSLnet task force. She spoke about the MyNCSL feature of the web page that is now available and working well. If we have problems or questions about using the feature, e-mail the webmaster and copy to her. She reported that LRL has been asked to compile and keep up to date a staff directory for all legislative agencies. The directory will list staff by subject specialties and serve as an update to the 1994 directory.

Clare Cholik (SD) serves on the Legislatures of the Future task force. The task force study produced two publications, A
Practical Guide to Futures Study, and Legislatures of the Future: Implications of Change. This was the final year of Clare’s term on the NCSL Executive Board. LRL has had excellent representation on the board, with Jonetta currently a member. We have been encouraged to find members who would be willing to run for the executive board to continue LRL representation.

Johanne Greer (MD) reported on the task force focused on recruitment and retention of legislative staff. The results of the survey are incorporated in the July/August 2000 issue of State Legislatures in the article "Getting and Keeping Legislative Staff."

Awards Announcements
Before presenting the awards, Susan thanked LRL members who served on the nominating and selection committees. Plaques were presented to recipients of the following awards:

Individual Staff Achievement Award to Jonetta Douglas, Iowa and Institution Award to Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau, Frances Enos

Notable Document Award, State Document Category
Minnesota Budget: A Fiscal Policy Analysis produced by the Minnesota State Senate, Office of Fiscal Policy Analysis
Nevada State Water Plan produced by the Nevada Division of Water Planning, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Positioning Arizona to Achieve Maximum Benefit from the Information Economy produced by the Arizona Legislature, Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Internet

Notable Serial Document Award
Ohio LBO Policy Briefs by the Ohio Legislative Budget Office
Session Weekly by the Minnesota House of Representatives, Public Information Office

Professional Development Seminar
Rita Thaemert (NCSL) showed the brochure for the PDS in Baton Rouge, scheduled for October 18-21. Suzy Hughes (LA) and Arthur McEnany (LA) discussed the planned programs and social events. For the complete text of the brochure and preliminary agenda, see

Future sites for the LRL professional development seminar include Richmond (VA) in 2001 and Bismarck (ND) in 2002.

Other Matters
Susan Southworth reported LRL will probably discontinue the legislative history project. The American Associations of Law Libraries (AALL) is producing an updated edition of their directory covering the subject. The directory, entitled Guide to State Legislative and Administrative Materials, will be available through William S. Hein & Co later in the year.
Susan Gilley (OK) commented that there was an LRL scrapbook, covering many years, that is now missing. Johanne Greer suggested we appoint an LRL archivist to collect and preserve photos and timelines of group activities.
Susan Southworth introduced Liana Quieder, library director of the Palestine legislative library. Liana spoke briefly about her library.

New LRL Officers
Debbie Tavenner (OH) reported that the nominating committee places Beth Furbush’s (MT) name for the secretary position. The nomination was seconded and approved. The new slate of officers is Johanne Greer, chair; Nan Bowers (NV), vice chair; Beth Furbush, secretary. Johanne presented Susan Southworth with a plaque and gift in appreciation of her serving as LRL chair for the 1999-2000 term.

LSCC Executive Officers
Susan Southworth introduced the current, incoming and former chairs of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. John Phelps, current chair, spoke of the role of LSCC and the programs and continuing education opportunities available through NCSL. He commented that 1200 legislative staff attended this Annual Meeting.

Roundtable Discussion
Susan introduced Don Hunter from the Council of State Governments. He reported CSG is still accepting paper copies of documents for their collection and to loan. New documents available for loan are listed in the CSG Research Checklist. He requests states send documents for the checklist, particularly those covering currently important issues. Don reported the CSG publications are accessible online from the STARS feature of their website The ISIS database is currently available only to CSG staff, but there are plans to update and remodel the system and allow public access. Don also reported the 2000/2001 Book of the States is now available.

General discussion by the group included collection/processing of legislative history materials from electronic files, session documents available on a single CD, communication between the information systems staff and library staff within the legislative bureaus. Librarians noted the nature of reference questions is changing. Many more questions involve "how to" concerning the Internet and legislative web sites.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 2:45 p.m.


The Past Meets the Future: Digitizing 150 Years of the Chicago Tribune
Wednesday, July 19
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Speaking were John F. Jansson, editor of Information Systems at the Chicago Tribune, and Ari Palttala, Director of Business Development for Progressive Technology Federal Systems (PTFS).

The Chicago Tribune has begun a 3-year project to digitize 15 million news clippings, digitize images and text of all front page stories and all obituaries. The full text of the database and metadata fields will be searchable. It will be released to the public later this year, as its construction continues.

The project has several parts:

  • Digitize clippings from the early 1900s to January 1985 when the Tribune began archiving stories electronically. All Personal and General subject clippings in the collection will be digitized.
  • Re-key all obituaries, all paid death notices, and all other stories about deaths from 1849 to recent years, with the advent of electronic data/
  • Digitize the image of every available front page, from 1849 through the present.
  • Re-key all of those front page stories from 1849 to January 1985 when electronic archiving began.
The prime contractor for the project is PTFS of Bethesda, Maryland. The full production phase began last June after nearly two years of investigation and analysis, RFP distribution and vendor selection, and a pilot run to prove the concept and refine the process. When completed in mid-2002, the database will contain more than one terabyte of information.

To date, about 30,000 clipping envelopes, each containing an average of 16 clips, have been digitized and released. More than 1.5 million clipping images have been created. The clipping resource will become increasingly valuable to post-graduate scholars, undergraduates and high school students, in addition to Tribune reporters and editors.

The obituaries and paid death notices will be of great interest to people who are tracing their family roots. At this point, a total of 16 years of obits, death notices and other stories about deaths have been re-keyed.

It's a complex process to get the Tribune clippings to PTFS, prepare and digitize them, and return them them to their proper place in the Tribune files.

For more information about the digitizing process contact Ari Palttala, PTFS, Inc., 7315 Wisconsin Ave-Suite 1200W, Bethesda, MD 20814 or 301-654-8088. To subscribe to the Chicago Tribune Digital Archive contact Deborah Harmer, NewsBank, Inc. 5020 Tamiami Trail North-Suite 110, Naples FL 34103 or 800-762-8182.


Reinventing Customer Service for a New Century
Thursday, July 20
10:30 am - 12 noon
by Irene Stone, California

All ten staff sections participated in this session. Hawaii, Wisconsin and Nevada reported on methods they have used to reinvent the way staff provides service to the legislature and its constituents.

Kimo Brown and Suzanne Marinelli gave a presentation on the Hawaii Public Access Room, a division of the Legislative Reference Bureau. Common Cause, League of Women Voters, Council of Churches and the Association of University Women were instrumental in the establishment of the Public Access Room, which is located on the fourth floor of the Capitol.

A 100 page citizen’s guide was produced. Computers, typewriters and copying machines are available for testimony preparation. Floor sessions are televised throughout the capitol. All services are offered to the public free of charge. Service is non partisan. 125,000 copies of testimony were provided last year. Offered to the public are workshops on the legislative process, reading legislative documents, presenting effective testimony, and using Internet sites.

Workshops are also provided at other locations. The cost per year is $100,000. Many volunteers help augment the service. The League of Women Voters’ goal is to establish Public Access Rooms in all 50 states. The Public Access Room’s web site is www.state.hi/us/lrb/par

Don Schneider, Chief Clerk of the Senate in Wisconsin reported on the enhanced web site of the Wisconsin Legislature. The web site is updated every 10 seconds. Text of bills and amendments are shown side by side with roll call votes. There are audio links to both houses. Kiosks with access to the site are available in all county court houses. Because of the complete information on the web site, phone calls seeking information have been reduced.

Steve Watson, Chief Deputy Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, spoke on the Nevada training session held for all units of the Capitol staff. The purpose of the session was to introduce a team approach to serving the public. Training for all units, included IT professionals, police, maintenance, media service, and accounting.

The Service Quality Institute from Minneapolis, Minnesota was brought in to conduct the workshop. The process helped
build self esteem in individual staff members by making them feel that they were an important part of the team that then provides improved service to the legislature and its constituents.


Recipients of the LRL 2000 Legislative Staff Achievement Awards

Jonetta DouglasJonetta Y. Douglas, Senior Librarian, Iowa Legislative Service Bureau

The Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section recognizes Jonetta Y. Douglas for her contributions to her profession, the Iowa General Assembly and the staff section. A senior librarian at the Legislative Service Bureau library, Jonetta has worked for more than 20 years to provide information and reference services, research, publications and general assistance to Iowa legislators and legislative staff.

Jonetta has contributed many years of service in support of the LRL staff section through committee participation and chairing a number of committees. Her efforts as an LRL officer were exemplary, and she remains involved in all activities of the staff section. Jonetta has supported the organization as a member of NCSL's executive committee through work and participation on LSCC task forces. Her efforts have improved the profession of legislative librarianship. Jonetta continues to share creative insights with LRL that enrich all legislative libraries. Her representation of LRL on NCSL's executive committee has been an invaluable contribution to both the staff section and to the organization.

Hawaii Legislative Reference BureauLegislative Reference Bureau Library, Hawaii

The Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section recognizes the Legislative Reference Bureau Library of Hawaii for excellence in service to the Hawaii Legislature and to the legislative librarians’ profession. In carrying out its mission of providing the Hawaii Legislature with research and information resources, the library works to find ways to expand both the range of resources provided and the environment in which they are offered. While committed to maintaining a relevant print collection of documents, serials and clippings, in 1995 the library created an Internet presence through which its users could easily gain access to federal, state and local government resources.

Since that time, the library has expanded its web site to provide information about its services; publish bureau reports and studies; provide access to its online catalog, which is networked with three other government research libraries; and to instruct legislative staff in using the Internet for research. Future plans include expanding the integration of web links into the online catalog and producing an e-newsletter to keep legislators and staff informed about new resources and services. The library’s work is performed by a team of four professional librarians, an Internet specialist, a library technician and four student library assistants.


You've Got Mail - Using E-mail to Market Your Library

by Lynn Dilts-Hill and Adrienne Eng - Tax Analysts
(Excerpt reprinted from Special Libraries Association Legal Division Quarterly, Summer 1999)
The librarians at Tax Analysts found we could embrace new technology and at the same time market ourselves within the organization. How did we do this?

It began with answering a few e-mails from readers of our home page and it ended up with some favorable in-house recognition of the library and the services we provide to the public. It would be great to say that this was accomplished in a systematic and in a well-thought-out fashion, but that won't be true. We were not as proactive as we should have been and made mistakes along the way, but we share our adventures in cyberspace so that others can be amused or benefit from our trials.

Answering a Few E-Mails
Tax Analysts, like many institutions has a Web site. The Web site was created by a member of the technical staff. While the look of the home page has changed over time, there has always been a Customer Service section where visitors to the site were encouraged to e-mail questions. In the beginning, the Customer Service Manager scanned the e-mails each day and forwarded research-type questions to the librarians. Initially, there were 2 to 3 questions a week. We answered each e-mail, whether they were from a subscriber or a nonsubscriber of Tax Analysts' products. We rationalized that in the latter situation it fostered "good will" with a possible future subscriber. This added responsibility was possible because there were only a handful of requests a week. However, around tax season, we noticed that there was a tremendous increase in e-mailed questions from nonsubscribers, many asking for tax advice and/or tax forms.

Now, from a librarian's point of view, the nature of the questions were becoming very repetitive and very time consuming to respond to. We began to wonder whether the time spent answering the questions was worth it. One of the librarians developed a standard response to these questions, which we modified slightly depending on the nature of the e-mail. The "boilerplate", as we dubbed the response form, explained that Tax Analysts was a publisher and did not provide tax advice or tax forms. The response also provided options for getting free forms or IRS publications, i.e., the local library or the IRS Web site. The boilerplate saved us a lot of time because we no longer were composing individual responses, but some time around the end of the tax season, we decided that we might be able to reduce the number of these e-mails further, if we posted the boilerplate response on the home page. We expanded portions of the boilerplate and prepared a generic explanation about filing personal taxes. In addition, the librarians suggested several links to Web sites that could be used to obtain tax forms.

The text on the tax forms and the suggested links were well received by management and added to the home page. Along with the addition of the information from the boilerplate came another "nice" addition to the Tax Analysts' site - a line about the services that the librarians can provide customers was added. (If you are interested in seeing these changes, visit the site at

Responding to the e-mails generated by the Web site ended up being a good thing for our staff because it pointed out the value of the librarians to management. As a postscript, the information on the Web did cut down on many of the tax advice/form questions.

Free Good Marketing of the Library
A nice by-product of handling the e-mails was the free marketing the library staff received from management. The upper management at Tax Analysts is very interested in the firm's presence on the Web and has taken note of the enhancements the librarians have made to the home page. Given management's focus, the librarian's contributions to the home page did not go unnoticed and resulted in some good public relations about the library and the value of our services.

Many librarians are not asked to take responsibility for the Web page or do not have the time to, but the library staff can still contribute to the organization's site with a list of useful sites and since the Web is "hot" with a lot of institutions, upper management is paying attention to enhancements to the home page and to contributors to the site.
Lynn and Adrienne are Associate Librarians at Tax Analysts. Send your comments or questions to them at their e-mail address: and


What’s New?

There's a new look for Newsline. We hope to add a little color and some pictures. It's important that we keep regional coordinators involved in the collection of state news. For the fall issue, we will be asking coordinators to gather general news and information from their states. Also, a reminder that Newsline welcomes any contribution of columns or ideas.


2000 LRL Professional Development SeminarOctober 18-21
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The brochure for PDS is included with this issue of Newsline. Please note that Louisiana has planned a dinner Wednesday evening, October 18, with Governor and Mrs. Foster at the Governor's Mansion. So plan to arrive Wednesday afternoon in time for the dinner. Again, for an online copy of the brochure and registration form see the web site at Also visit for a little preview of the Friday night event. We look forward to seeing lots of you in Louisiana.


NCSL Publications
Copies of all NCSL publications listed here are available from the Marketing Department at 303/364-7700.


  • Responsible Fatherhood: A Legislator's Guide
  • Managed Health Care and Vulnerable Populations
  • Adolescent Health Summary (published only on-line)
  • A Really Long Hot Summer (drought web brief)
  • Family Caregiving (audiotape and guide)
  • A Practical Guide to Futures Study
  • Legislatures of the Future: Implications of Change
  • Government to Government: Understanding State and Tribal Governments
  • The Radical Common Law Movement and Paper Terrorism: The State Response
State Legislative Reports
  • Tax and Landowner Revenues from Wind Power Development, Vol.25, No.5
  • Alternative Fules and Excise Taxes: 1999 Update, Vol.25, No.6
  • How States are Promoting Youth Financial Literacy, Vol.25, No.7
  • Financing Child Care: Options for State Legislators, Vol.25, No.8
  • Trends in Postsecondary Remedial Education Policy, Vol.25, No.9
  • HIV Testing of Pregnant Women and Babies, Vol.8, No.31
  • Mental Health Needs of Juvenile Offenders, Vol.8, No.32
  • Prompt Insurance Payments, vol.8, No.33
  • ATM Fees, Vol.8, No.34
  • Business Tax Credits for Child Care, Vol.8, No.35
  • Ground Transportation for the 21st Century, Vol.8, No.36


Thanks to all of the staff section members and others who submitted columns and information for this issue. Newsline is published four times annually by NCSL’s Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section.

Edited by Rita Thaemert,, and copied and sent by

National Conference of State Legislatures
1560 Broadway, Suite 700
Denver, CO 80202
Phone 303-364-7700
Fax 303-863-8003



Johanne Greer
Legislative Librarian 
Library and Information Services 
Department of Legislative Services 
Nan Bowers
Legislative Librarian 
Legislative Research Library 
Beth Furbush 
Legislative Library 
Susan Southworth
Legislative Librarian 
Legislative Library 


Jennifer Bernier 
Reports on:
New Hampshire 
New York 
Rhode Island 
Clare Cholik 
Reports on:
North Dakota 
South Dakota 
Tracey Kimball
Reports on:
New Mexico 
Irene Stone
Reports on:
Frances Thomas
Reports on:
Marian Rogers 
Reports on:
Joyce Grimes 
Reports on:
New Jersey 
North Carolina 
South Carolina 
West Virginia 


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