Newsline is the newsletter of the Legislative Research Librarians Professional Staff Association.
Julia Covington, North Carolina
LRL Chair 2017-2018
Welcome to the Summer 2018 issue of Newsline!
It has been a pleasure to serve as LRL staff section chair during this past year. This is my final Chair's Corner column and I want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank the many LRL colleagues who’ve worked with me to make this year a success. I also want to share what’s happening with LRL this summer and what’s on the horizon.
My heartfelt thanks to my fellow LRL Executive Committee members, Betsy Haugen (Minn.), Teresa Wilt (Nev.) and Catherine Wusterhausen (Texas) for their team work, good humor and support. It’s been an honor to work with such a talented group of librarians. You’ve made this year’s work so easy for me!
I also want to offer sincere thanks to the LRL Regional Directors, Christine McCluskey (Conn.), Annette Haldeman (Md.), Robin Boatright Stadler (La.), Debbie Tavenner (Ohio), Elizabeth Lincoln (Minn.), Molly Otto (Colo.) and Eric Glover (Idaha), who routinely give their valuable time and attention to help promote LRL across the states and who were instrumental in the success of the recently completed LRL Member Directory Update/Outreach Project.
Last, but not least - many thanks to our LRL staff section liaison, Megan McClure, who has worked tirelessly this year to keep the LRL train running on time. I’ve appreciated the creativity and the fresh perspective that Megan has brought to the monthly Executive Committee conference calls.
Professional Meetings Ahead
Through the remainder of 2018, LRL is co-sponsoring two professional meetings for Legislative Librarians. First, the NCSL Annual Legislative Summit in Los Angeles, Calif., July 30-Aug. 2. LRL programming will include a diverse collection of training and networking opportunities, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Loyola Law School Library and of the Huntington Library, the LRL annual business meeting, the traditional LRL Dutch Treat Dinner and much more.
Second, is the RELACS and LRL Joint PDS in Harrisburg, Pa., Oct. 4-6. This meeting will provide excellent networking and learning opportunities. LRL programming will include presentations such as Panning for Primary Source Gold: Historical Methods in Legislative Research and The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Navigating Parties as a Nonpartisan. There will also be tours of the Pennsylvania State Capitol and of several local libraries and museums. In addition to these meetings that require travel, keep an eye on your inbox for details of an LRL webinar being planned for later this fall.
Once again we have a full issue of Newsline for you to enjoy. Highlights include an article by Janice Murphy about the new biographical database of legislators at the Michigan Library; a profile of the new Twitter program at the NC General Assembly; News from the States and additional information about those upcoming meetings!
LRL offers many opportunities to support and connect with fellow legislative research librarians nationwide. These include sharing information via our listserv, viewing professional development webinars, and attending the annual NCSL Summit and the LRL Professional Development Seminar. We’re a vital, well respected community of highly specialized legislative librarians. Take advantage of what we offer, reach out and become more involved!
Thank you again for the opportunity I’ve had to serve as LRL chair.
Since it was launched twelve years ago, Twitter has become one of the world’s most-used social media platforms.
The site’s 330 million users send around 200 billion tweets per year, an average of 6,000 tweets per second. The first one was sent on March 21, 2006 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Three years later, in May 2009, the platform recorded its billionth tweet. In 2018, it takes less than two days for a billion tweets to be sent.
Twitter has become an indispensable way for state legislatures to get information to their constituents.
Some have done it for years; others are new to the process. North Carolina launched the General Assembly’s first-ever Twitter account in February. Our legislative calendar is tied to the account, so that all adjournment notices, meeting announcements, and other business are automatically tweeted as they hit our website. The library staff is responsible for other tweets. Examples of these tweets include:
Notice what does not appear on this list: tweets from either chamber or individual legislators. Our goal is to keep the Twitter feed nonpartisan. The North Carolina Senate, for instance, has an active public relations office, and we tweet none of their press releases. (An exception was when the president pro tempore called for a “bipartisan defense” of North Carolina barbecue after a food website declared, erroneously, that Brooklyn barbecue was “taking over the world.” We retweeted him faster than you can say “red slaw and hushpuppies.”)
Likewise, we don’t retweet news organizations or reporters. Ditto for-profit companies. It isn’t a good look to appear to endorse their positions. We ignore posts from any elected official, federal or state, but we do retweet informational (i.e., non-opinion) posts from nonpartisan agencies such as the State Library, the North Carolina Zoo, museums, the university system, or the National Conference of State Legislatures. We also don’t like or follow any Twitter user, individual or organizational.
If you have the opportunity to manage a social media account for your organization, here is some advice. For starters, involve as many people as you can, at least in the beginning. Different perspectives are important in creating your strategy. You’ll also need a lot of content as you ramp up, so cast your net wide. Strive for a tone that is professional but not formal, especially on Twitter, where pithiness counts. Finally, write clear usage policies and stick to them. Happy tweeting!
The NCSL Legislative Summit will be in Los Angeles, from July 30- Aug. 2. LRL will be co-sponsoring and participating in a wide array of professional development and networking sessions throughout the Summit. For more information visit the Summit website to view the full agenda and see registration and booking information.
The LRL Professional Development Seminar will be held jointly with the Research, Legal and Committee Staff Professional Association (RELACS) in Harrisburg, Penn., Oct. 4-6, 2018.
The LRL Professional Development Seminar brings together legislative librarians and information specialists from around the country. The 2018 seminar features sessions on important legislative issues, soft skills, best practices, opportunities for networking, and tours of the capitol, local libraries, museums and archives.
Registration is open, along with the official agenda, housing and transportation information.
Pennsylvania State Museum – On Friday morning Oct. 5. museum staff will take LRL attendees on a 30 minute tour of the nearby state museum. We will learn about Pennsylvania’s rich Native American history, as well as fascinating details about the Civil War era and see remnants of its greatest battle. The tour would be from 9:15-9:45 a.m.and we can go wandering on our own after that.
Also on Friday morning we will visit the State Library of Pennsylvania. The Bureau of the State Library traces its historic roots to 1745 when the General Assembly requested that its Clerk, Benjamin Franklin, order a set of the English Statutes and some maps for reference use. It has grown to one of the largest collections of materials about Pennsylvania and serves the information and research needs of all branches of the PA State Government.
By Janice Murphy, Reference Librarian, Library of Michigan
Over the years, the reference staff at the Library of Michigan has fielded numerous questions related to the state legislature that were impossible to do without hours of combing through Michigan Manuals and other materials. Whenever a legislator has legal/ethical difficulties, comparisons are in demand, which inspired us to create the Michigan Legislative Biography Database. One of the search fields is “Reason for Leaving,” so now we can search for ‘expelled’ members and those who ‘resigned.’ In addition, for many years, the Library has had an association with genealogical research. This drove us to include more data elements rather than just the basics.
The Michigan Legislative Biography Database represents the first comprehensive listing of members of Michigan’s legislature since the Michigan Manual list in 1923. To date, there have been over 5,400 individuals in office. Michigan has had term limits since 1993, so the list grows more quickly than ever.
In creating such a database, it is important to relate your needs to programmers so that the search engine does what you intend it to do. We did not anticipate some of the detail needed and consequently keyword searching is not what we, as librarians, had thought it would be, and true Boolean searching is not available. The keyword feature is really character string searching that finds only exact matches.
That being said, users can determine who has served in the most sessions, create lists by race; age at election; home county, etc. [see the Michigan Legislative Biography Database search form for all searchable fields]. Users may, in a more complicated search, need to create multiple Excel spreadsheets and compare them to eliminate false hits. For example, when looking for legislators who were both a lawyer and a physician, ‘occupation’ searches for each should be performed and the results compared.
Development began by discussing the types of things we had been asked for in the past and projecting a few things that might be asked or attempted if there were ways to more easily search for them. ‘Who represented my district over time’ was a recurring dream. Since boundaries and district names change over time, it might more aptly be called a recurring nightmare. To address this, we included a ‘district descriptions’ field so that county, city and township names could be listed. Entering this data is no small feat, and we have not completed entering that data. There was a point in the 1920s when they stopped listing the communities by name and referred users of the Manuals to maps, and later, some urban district text descriptions became paragraphs long, as they listed street boundaries, railroad tracks… Given time and a financial investment we would like to add links to district maps someday.
Determining racial groups can be as complicated as determining the race of the individuals. Which terms to use, how many to include? What about mixed race individuals? Using US Census records via Ancestry.com and other online versions of the census has helped with those members located on the census through 1940, but race is not always stated in other records. A publication by the Michigan Black Caucus helped with African American members, but smaller minorities are more elusive.
It is hard to believe in today’s political atmosphere, but legislators did not always lead with their party allegiance. In the past it was not unusual to change parties or form short term fusion parties, and it is not always easy to determine which party an individual belonged to in the 19th century. The party statistics area of the database needed to be tweaked at one point to indicate non-Republican or non-Democratic members. A little math may be needed to determine the number of members for whom a party has not been identified.
The session data portion of the database includes the names of the members by session. It also lists all of the committees and those serving on each and the names of those in positions of authority, such as Speaker, Whip… These are areas where the variation in committee names and position titles is astounding. Each legislature puts its own stamp on its session by rearranging, renaming, combining, expanding and contracting committees. Where there were once just minority whips, now there are assistant minority whips, assistant associate minority whips, and more. Giving the administrator/editor the ability to expand the various ‘types’ for position entry, as well as others such as parties and committees, is critical. These preset, dropdowns save a lot of time with data entry and avoid typing errors.
Our database will never be quite done. New legislators are elected every two years! Desirable enhancements have already suggested themselves but will have to wait until money can be found to finance the additional programming costs.
In conclusion, if you venture into this territory, fight for continuity and focus from the programmers developing your search engine. Frequent changes in personnel and halts in their work make for uneven quality, misunderstandings and delayed completion. Make clear how you would like to manipulate search results to get the flexibility you need. Recruit volunteers to help enter the mountains of data to be entered. Some work just involves transcribing data, easily done by individuals with no special technical or research expertise. It will free you up to do the more complex data excavation.
For further information, contact Janice at email@example.com or 517-373-1302.
The Library of Michigan is an agency within the Michigan Department of Education and is dedicated to providing the people of this State and their government one perpetual institution to collect and preserve Michigan publications, conduct reference and research and support libraries statewide. To learn more, visit www.michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan.
The Notable Documents Awards are presented annually by the Legislative Research Librarians staff section. The award recognizes excellence in documents that explore topics of interest to legislators and staff, and present substantive material in an outstanding format. For purposes of the award, a "document" is one produced by a federal, state, or local government; quasi-government organization; foundation or non-profit organization. Eligible formats include print and electronic publications, periodicals, serials, or web sites.
Winners for the 2018 Notable Document Awards have been chosen and are listed below! For more information please see the award criteria page for the nomination form and more detailed information on criteria and the award process for next year.
In making selections for this award, legislative research librarians considered if the document:
Each year's submissions are reviewed by a panel of experienced legislative librarians, rated using uniform standards, and ranked according to their scores. Categories for the awards are developed each year based on the selected documents.
LRL wishes to thank the Notable Document Awards Judges who reviewed over 80 documents from 20 states. The Notable Document Award Judges for 2018 were Elizabeth Lincoln, Minnesota, Chair; Eric Glover, Idaho; Ingrid Hernquist, New Jersey; Elaine Settergren, Minnesota; and Jenna Steward, Louisiana.
June 26, 2018
LRL asked our member libraries the following question about legislative security:
Here are your responses:
(from Helen Hanby)
In the Alabama State House, we have metal detectors at the public entrances. Employees have an ID card that we use to get in our parking lot and the building and the elevators not used by the general public. We also have security guards at all entrances to the building. The House and Senate employs security full time, about 3 to 4 officers, when not in session. When the Legislature is in session, there is extra security for the House and Senate at the doors of the chambers, since access to the chambers is restricted.
We have a single public entrance to the Capitol, which has a security guard. Video cameras cover the exterior of each building, as well as the stairwells and hallways. All other entrances and legislative buildings are keycard entry only. We regularly practice the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) model. Finally… we have posted notices prohibiting weapons on the grounds.
(from Chrissy Heider)
The following are security measures in place for the Arkansas Legislature: Panic Button emergency, notification systems, restricted access areas, metal detectors, scanners, and security personnel.
(from Christine McCluskey, Connecticut Legislative Library)
Here in Connecticut, the legislature created the State Capitol Police Department in 1974. For many years, we have had security cameras in certain locations, including the Legislative Library; in the library, and in some other public-facing offices, there is also a “panic button” that silently requests the police (we have never used it). In January 2013, metal detectors were temporarily installed to screen the large numbers of people who came to attend a public hearing on gun control legislation. The following year, a permanent security system was installed. It requires legislators and staff to scan their badges to enter the Capitol or Legislative Office building, and requires members of the public to go through a screening that includes passing through a metal detector.
(from Eric Glover, Legislative Research Library)
Capitol building is open to the public from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Ten open door entrances into the Capitol
Restricted access: keycard access required for certain locations within the Capitol and after-hours access for certain employees
No metal detectors or scanners
Video surveillance inside and outside the Capitol building
During the legislative session, six unarmed contract security persons stationed at the Capitol building, two Idaho State Troopers stationed at the Capitol building, and one Idaho State Trooper covering multiple buildings including the Capitol building
During the off session, one unarmed contract security person stationed at the Capitol building, and one Idaho State Trooper covering multiple buildings including the Capitol building
Emergency notification systems: panic buttons, telephone security procedure, and email notifications
Internet/online/network security measures: In general, Idaho follows guidelines published by the Center for Information Security (CIS). These guidelines are referred to as the CIS Controls. These are a few of the security measures Idaho has in place:
Yearly end user computer based security training
(from Frances Thomas, House Research Library)
Physical Security at the Capitol
(from Annette Haldeman)
“To enter any building in the legislative complex, visitors must present a photo identification card (e.g. a driver's license) and pass through a metal detector. Security officers also search bags and other personal effects. Temporary badges are then issued and must be kept visible for the duration of the visit.” (excerpted from http://dls.maryland.gov/library/educational-tours)
“The responsibility to care for State buildings in Annapolis dates to 1862 when the Governor was authorized to appoint custodians. These duties devolved to a superintendent who, in 1970, headed the Office of Annapolis Public Buildings and Grounds within the Department of General Services. The Annapolis Public Buildings and Grounds Division operates, maintains, and secures the State Office Center in Annapolis. Some twenty-seven State-owned buildings encompassing over 2 million square feet on 49 acres of landscaped areas and 24.5 acres of parking lots are overseen by the Division. The buildings house approximately 4,700 State employees and elected officials. The Division also maintains Government House and other historic buildings, including the State House, the Old Treasury Building, and Shaw House.” (excerpted from the Maryland Manual, Department of General Services’ page: https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/15dgs/html/15agen.html#annapolis )
Employees of the Department of Legislative Services, members, legislative staff, and lobbyists have ID badges. Employees, members, and legislative staff have varying degrees of access and can badge into the appropriate garages and buildings to which they are assigned.
The Mississippi Legislature utilize professional law enforcement officers to safeguard the state capitol building and its staff. Capitol Police Officers are stationed at the main entrances of the capitol building along with metal detectors for diagnostic purposes. The Mississippi House and Senate also employ a Sergeant at Arm as well. The Sergeant at Arms helps supervise and preserve the order of the House and Senate.
The building has a dedicated police force, Capitol Police. In addition the House employs a Sergeant at Arms and uses other law enforcement as needed. The Senate has a Sergeant at Arms and employs a security officer.
(from Jane Basnight and Julia Covington.)
In North Carolina we have two buildings that make up our legislative complex: the Legislative Building (LB) and the Legislative Office Building (LOB). There are Legislator and staff offices plus committee meeting rooms in both buildings. The House and Senate chambers are located in the LB. This past spring, NC installed metal detectors at all public entrances to the LB. The installation process took several months and was completed in time for the spring 2018 session in May. We hired additional employees to work as scanners during session. We've also recently added additional security officers. Currently we're exploring options for the same in the LOB.
(from Debbie Tavenner, Ohio Legislative Service Commission)
Staff working in the Statehouse & Senate Building and Riffe Center (offices for the House of Representatives, Legislative Service Commission, Governor, and other executive offices) have identification badges that allow them to enter the buildings. The elevators to offices in the Riffe Center are behind secure gates and the badges open the gates.
Visitors to the Statehouse enter one of three entrances. They must go through airport-like security. Currently they do not have to show identification.
Visitors (or staff who forget their identification badges) to the Riffe Center who plan to visit any office that requires using the elevators behind the secure gates must enter through a particular entrance on the first floor, show identification at a security desk (private security firm) to receive a picture name-tag that affixes to their clothing, and then travel to the third floor to go through airport-like security before being allowed to use the elevators. The Ohio Highway Patrol operates the airport-like security machines.
Our capitol started using the metal detectors at all entrances several years ago. The state troopers patrolled inside and outside the capitol regularly. There could be other security measures implemented after the renovation.
(from Elizabeth Taylor)
The State House is protected by the Bureau of Protective Services which is a division of the Department of Public Safety, however Senate and House security have jurisdiction over their respective chambers. All employees and lobbyist have ID badges. Members and staff badges act as card readers to enter certain doors at the State House. The Gressette (Senate) and Blatt (House) buildings are secured via their respective chambers security. The Legislative Council is located in the Dennis building which does not have its own security, however we have implemented a security system with entry via key fobs. The garage that is located underneath is secured by BPS and employees have to use their ID’s to gain access to the garage. This does not apply to Gressette or Blatt buildings because, unlike other buildings on the grounds, members of the general public must go through security to enter them.
In the Texas State Capitol, metal detectors and Department of Public Safety [DPS] troopers and security personnel are positioned at each of the four main building entrances. Employees who work in the Capitol, Concealed Handgun License [CHL] holders, and Capitol access pass holders have expedited entry. In January 2018, DPS released an updated list of items not allowed in the Capitol.
In addition, the House and Senate's respective rules include guidelines for preserving "order and decorum" among members and spectators, and outlining who is permitted in which areas of the chamber floors. Starting in 2015, the House also includes in its housekeeping resolution guidelines for managing access by the public to members' offices and allowing members to work with DPS to request additional security measures.
(from Michael Chernick, Office of Vermont Legislative Council)
In Vermont, the Capitol Police is the office responsible for State House security. It was established in the late 1990s. Previously, there was one unarmed and non-certified security guard. The force reports to the Sgt at Arms. As of this week, it has expanded to the chief and three additional full-time officers, one of whom has been promote to Sgt. Additionally, the Capitol
Police force receives supplemental support from certified part-timers, the State Police, the Montpelier City Police, and the Washington County Sheriff. There are entrance cameras and added temporary cameras, for example at an announced gubernatorial address. To date, there have only been security checks at announced gubernatorial speeches. It is important to note that the State House no longer houses the governor’s primary (only ceremonial) office. Except for the Lt Governor, all other non-legislative offices are now located elsewhere.
This is the statutory reference to the Capitol Police:
Minnesota: In 2017, the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library received an appropriation to digitize 28,000 tapes of legislative committee hearings and floor debates that span 1991-2003. The Library has received two-thirds of the audio files and expects to receive the remaining audio files by the end of summer. The Library will make public a searchable database of audio files once the digitizing is complete.
Missouri: Anne Rottmann of Missouri retired. Rachel Alexander has been hired as her replacement
Oklahoma: Christine Chen was promoted to Administrative Librarian within the Office of Library Resources. The Oklahoma Department of Libraries' U.S. Government Librarian, Steve Beleu, retired in June.
State Question 788 (Legalization of Medical Marijuana) passed last month.
Texas: During the interim, the Texas Legislative Reference Library has curated and updated several exhibits. "A Texas Treasure: A. R. "Babe" Schwartz" explores the life and career of Senator Babe Schwartz, who was instrumental in the creation of the 1959 Open Beaches Act and the passage of the Coastal Public Lands Management Act of 1973. In "Texas Law & Order...And The Compilers Behind It," we profile the lives and work of George W. Paschal, John Sayles, H.P.N. Gammel, and Joseph W. Vernon, all of whose contributions we see reflected in our contemporary Texas legislative publications. We also updated our Texas Poets Laureate display to include the poets honored by the 85th Legislature.
Training new staff can present a myriad of challenges and logistical issues. How do you train someone when you already have your plate full with your daily duties? How do you train staff in the middle of a session? Or on a shoestring or nonexistent budget? Below is a list of NCSL resources to help you train new and old staff without over stretching your time, ability and budget!
If you need to be informed, you need LegisBriefs. Concise. Easy-to-read. Informative. For people who want to know all sides of the emerging issues. Each two-page report gives you a wealth of insight into the issues that affect the states. NCSL publishes four LegisBriefs each month.
We’d like to share that starting this month, LegisBriefs are available to everyone free of charge. This means that anyone will be able to read them or download the PDFs from the LegisBrief portal page.
I am excited and looking forward to seeing many of you at the Legislative Summit and the PDS this fall in Harrisburg, Pa. If you have any questions on getting involved with LRL please contact me.
The LRL Portal on the NCSL website is updated regularly at least two or three times a month, with news I think you all may find interesting. Webinars and training opportunities, NCSL documents and reports, research and news along with notices for awards, and the LRL newsletter are all things that have recently been up on the portal. I encourage you to think of the LRL portal as a way to keep up with what’s going on with LRL and your peers as well as happenings at NCSL that you might find useful.
Another great resource is the Legislative Staff Services portal. I also keep this page updated with information, training opportunities, newsletters from other staff sections, and other NCSL research documents and news.
And last, but not least, I am working on collecting staff profiles for NCSL’s State Legislatures Magazine and blogs. The next NCSL Legislative Staff Week is coming up in December 2018 and we are seeking to highlight legislative staff. Do you have a project you’ve been working on that you are proud of or that your library peers would find interesting? Do you have a colleague who you think is great and want to recognize? Do you have a great legislative story you want to tell? Let me know! NCSL wants to get the word out!