Legislative Research Librarians

Newsline Newsletter

Volume XXXVI, No. 3
Summer-Fall 2011

Adobe PDF Printer-friendly version with photos!


Chair's Column
Mary Camp
Legislative Reference Library, Texas

Howdy Y'all — from deep in the heart of T-E-X-A-S!

The 2011 Legislative Summit in San Antonio was a tremendous success. A great time was had by all despite budget restrictions and scorching temperatures. We experienced some amazing collections and sights, grabbed partners for boot scootin' fun, and indulged in fabulous Mexican cuisine!

During the summit, a new slate of LRL officers was elected. I am pleased to announce that Eddie Weeks of Tennessee will serve as chair-elect and Sabah Eltareb of California as secretary. We look forward to the continued support, input and assistance of Shelley Day of Utah, immediate past chair, and of Heather Morton, who will continue to coordinate and facilitate our needs as NCSL liaison (thank goodness).

Robbie LaFleur, director of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, was honored with the 2011 Legislative Staff Achievement Award. Robbie has been involved with NCSL since the early 1990s and continues to be a leader in the quest for providing access to state documents and legislative information. She is truly an amazing librarian and an asset to the legislative and library communities.

Since budget reductions and travel restrictions are in full effect for many states, the LRL Staff Section will continue to focus on electronic professional development seminars and outreach efforts during the year. We produced two outstanding webinars last year, one was produced this year, and another is in the early planning stages for next year.

As librarians, we play a vital role in the legislative process: determining and disseminating information needed by leadership, legislators and their staffs. To fulfill this role, we must not only anticipate our patrons' needs, but also add value to the data through organization and repackaging and, in an ever-evolving technology age, deliver the information succinctly without increasing information overload.

I invite each of you to play an active role in the LRL Staff Section this year. Together, we can become an even stronger partner in the legislative information arena.

Please stay in touch and feel free to share your ideas, as well as voice any questions or concerns.


2011 Legislative Summit

Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Tour
By LRL Summit attendees

The library of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas is a Texas treasure. Located on the Alamo property, the library is open to all researchers. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library is dedicated to advancing the understanding of the unique history of the Alamo and Texas and of the lives of those who experienced it; its collections focus on the period of the Republic of Texas, 1836-1846. Dr. William Eager Howard donated the beginnings of the library, over 2,000 Texas books, documents, manuscripts and works of art. The library was established on Oct. 12, 1945, in Alamo Hall, a converted fire station southeast of the Alamo church. The present library building opened in 1950; it was constructed with funds donated by Sallie Ward Beretta. Located immediately west of Alamo Hall, the building was a created as a memorial to her husband, John King Beretta, who was a friend of Dr. Howard.

Accompanying us on the tour were members of the Texas Legislative Budget Board. Martha Utterback, assistant director of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, and Caitlin Donnelly, archivist, gave us an incredible and informative tour of the library and its collections. We saw boxes of maps and architectural drawings; newspaper clippings; vertical files on the defenders of the Alamo and their families; incredible artwork; and other unique resources. The DRT Library collection includes more than 1,000 maps—land plats and world, national, state, county and city maps, including a map of the Spanish territory dated 1579 by Abraham Ortelius; an 1827 manuscript map of Austin's Colony drawn by Stephen F. Austin, part of the Cumings Family Papers; and digital images of maps from the Robert L. B. Tobin Map Collection. During the tour, Martha took us through the DRT Library vault to share architectural drawings of local missions, while Caitlin showed us the approximately 400 linear feet of file folders containing newspaper clippings, letters, photocopies of documents, pamphlets, genealogical charts and other unique resources in the library.

LRL expresses its thanks to the staff of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library for their service and indulgence.

Legislative Staff University: Ethics as the Box Office
By LRL Summit attendees

Sponsored by the staff sections and staff networks, this session featured Allan Wallis, an associate professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, where he directs the concentration in local government and currently teaches courses in leadership and ethics, urban policy, growth management policy, and innovation in public management.

Allan Wallis presented several clips from movies such as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “The Fog of War” and “Gandhi.” Following the clips, Mr. Wallis discussed the ethical dilemma presented in the clips, then invited discussion of how to handle the conflict. The clips and discussions were used to illustrate proscriptive ethics (distinguishing right from wrong) versus prescriptive ethics (choosing between two rights) through three ethical compasses:

  • Rules based reasoning,
  • Ends based reasoning, or
  • Care based reasoning.

A PDF version of this presentation is available on the NCSL website.

Texas Legislative Reference Library and Capitol Tour
By LRL Summit attendees

The small but mighty LRL staff section made the road trip from the Legislative Summit in San Antonio to Austin to tour the Legislative Library and the Texas Capitol. Demonstrating that everything is bigger in Texas, the Texas Capitol is the largest in gross square footage of all state capitols. Even the Legislative Reference Library is bigger! Since its creation in 1969, the library's collection has grown to approximately 49,400 titles and 134,772 volumes.

Karina Davis, Senate parliamentarian, provided us with a tour of the Senate and House chambers, and discussed their legislative process.

We learned about the library’s scanning process and how the library staff carefully unfold and flatten the original historical legislative documents to be scanned. The oldest Texas print title is the Senate Journal from the Third Legislature, First Called Session, dated 1850.

Richard Eisenhour, with the Texas State Preservation Board, gave us an exclusive tour of the Capitol. The Texas State Capitol was designed by architect Elijah E. Myers, architect of the Michigan and Colorado capitols, who won a nationwide design competition for the project in 1881. Instead of cash, the Capitol’s contractors were offered an interesting trade, 3 million acres in the Texas Panhandle in exchange for constructing the Capitol. Similar to other capitols, the Texas Capitol has hung historical photos of previous legislatures in the hallways. Many of the historical photos include those of the legislative mascots—children and grandchildren of the legislators.

During the tour, Richard took us to a subterranean vault in the Capitol that was used to store the state’s money and to the Speaker’s apartment. Texas is the only capitol that has living quarters for its speaker! Originally, the Senate leader had a similar apartment, but it was removed after a devastating 1983 fire in the Capitol.

Mary Camp’s staff was incredibly hospitable and treated us royally. LRL expresses thanks to Mary Camp, her staff, Karina, Richard and all others involved in providing the tours and refreshments, and to Heather for driving.

Business Meeting Minutes
By Eddie Weeks, Tennessee

Attendees: Shelley Day (Chair, Utah), Mary Camp (Chair Elect, Texas), Eddie Weeks (Secretary, Tenn.), Heather Morton (NCSL Staff, Colo.) and Jo Anne Bourquard (NCSL Staff, Colo.).

Welcome: Shelley Day convened the meeting and welcomed several Notable Document Award winners and their friends and family. LRL thanks them for their contributions and their attendance and welcomes their presence at this meeting.

Recognition of Host State: LRL thanks Mary Camp for her incredible work in preparation for the NCSL Legislative Summit and LRL’s part in it. The visit to the Austin and the Capitol tour were well-planned and excellent. The tour of the Texas Legislative Library was wonderful and very informative. Further gratitude is expressed to Richard Eisenhour, collections coordinator for the Texas State Preservation Board, and Karina Davis, Texas Senate parliamentarian, for providing a tour of the Capitol building. LRL was pleased to present Mary with a box of See’s caramel lollipops.

Recognition of Lunch Sponsor, LexisNexis: LRL expresses its thanks to LexisNexis for providing lunch for the members of LRL and the Notable Document Award winners and their associates. LexisNexis provides incredible and invaluable services to all 50 states and numerous other countries; LRL is grateful for its work and services.

LRL Staff Achievement Award: The Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section is honored to present the LRL 2011 Staff Achievement Award to Robbie LaFleur of Minnesota. The award which consists of a plaque and a fitting tribute that Shelley read aloud to recognize Robbie’s many valuable contributions to the legislative institution, LRL Staff Section, and her many other professional accomplishments. LRL is honored to have Robbie LaFleur as a member of the Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section; she is a true leader and mentor to us all.

LRL Notable Documents Awards: Shelley thanked the judges: Sabah Eltareb, California State Library (chair of the Notable Documents Committee); Carol Blackburn, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library; Ingrid Hernquist, New Jersey Legislative Services Library; and Elizabeth Lincoln, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

Shelley announced that 38 documents from 11 states were submitted for consideration, and 13 Notable Document Award winners were selected.

The list of the winners is listed in this newsletter below.

Shelley thanked all the participants for submitting documents for consideration, and then presented the following winners with certificates:

Alexander Vassar, California Senate, accepted his award. In accepting the award, Alexander recognized the other California staff and acknowledged their support and dedication.

John Turcotte, North Carolina General Assembly Program Evaluation Division, accepted the North Carolina awards. In accepting the awards, John recognized his staff and thanked them. He stated that all the authors had performed outstanding jobs. He mentioned Cathy Martin of LRL, and thanked LRL for maintaining the written word.

Susan Byorth Fox, executive director, Legislative Services Division, Montana, accepted the Montana award on behalf of Sheri Scurr. In accepting the award, Susan Fox thanked LRL and the Montana Legislative Library.

Shelley Day, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, accepted the Utah award on behalf of Phil Dean; and

Mary Camp, Legislative Reference Library, accepted the Texas awards. In accepting the awards, Mary recognized the hard work of her staff.

The first LRL Notable Document Awards were presented in 1998; LRL has now presented these awards for more than a decade.

Projects and Webinars: The Creating Statutorily Mandated Reports Database webinar is being planned for Friday, Oct. 7, at 3:00 pm EDT. A conference call is being planned to finalize everything and prepare for a dry run. Speakers will be Jennifer Bernier (Conn.), Gay Roche (Colo.), and David Schmidtke (Minn.).

LRL is grateful to NCSL for providing grants for both past and planned future webinars.

Other projects discussed included marketing a legislative library, proving the value of legislative libraries, and “how to make your library more visible.”

Regional Coordinators: Thanks to the regional coordinators for 2010-2011: Carrie Rose (Conn.), Maeve Roche (Calif.), Taran Ley (Ill.), Sonia Gavin (Mont.), Christine Chen (Okla.), Robyn Cocker-ham (La.), and Julia Covington (N.C.).

Regional coordinators for 2011-2012 will be appointed by the incoming chair, with Carrie Rose and Maeve Roche agreeing to continue as coordinatrs.

There was discussion of increasing the participation of the regional coordinators in the LRL executive committee conference calls and more use of the LRL listserv. There was agreement that the LRL executive committee needs to reach out more and increase the membership of LRL.

Election of New Officers: A motion was made and seconded to elect the new slate of officers. The motion passed unanimously. The new officers are as follows:

  • Mary Camp (Texas) – Chair
  • Eddie Weeks (Tenn.) – Chair Elect
  • Sabah Eltareb (Calif.) – Secretary
  • Shelley Day (Utah) – Immediate Past Chair

Other Business and Announcements: LRL recognized the attendance of Jo Anne Bourquard, NCSL group director, and thanked her for all her past work with LRL.

LSS and LINCS are considering Utah as a site for their 2012 professional development seminars. The possibility of LRL also attending was discussed.

Transfer of Power from Chair to Chair Elect: LRL presented Shelley Day, immediate past chair, with a book in acknowledgement of her service to LRL. The book, a scrapbook of her travels in Germany, was entitled “Shelley’s Wonderful Trip to Germany.”

Shelley Day spoke of her term as LRL chair. She mentioned the usefulness of the conference calls, but also noted how much she and others prefer face-to-face communications. Shelley gave accolades to Heather Morton of NCSL, who refers to LRL as a “small but mighty” group. Shelley said that, during her term as chair, she focused on increasing the visibility of LRL and worked with NCSL to enhance the recognition of the Notable Document Award recipients among their colleagues across the nation at the Salute to Staff (now termed Making History).

On behalf of LRL, Shelley expressed sincere appreciation for Heather, for the guidance she provides and support she gives our “small but mighty” staff section.

She thanked Sabah Eltareb for her service as chair of the Notable Documents Committee and the committee’s excellent evaluation and selection of the outstanding documents.

She thanked the regional coordinators for their service in outreach efforts and their difficult work, and offered them recognition and encouragement.

She stated that LRL is headed in the right direction and mentioned the two successful LRL webinars and the appointment (albeit to a short term) of Cathy Martin, North Carolina Legislative Librarian, as a discretionary appointment to the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. The growth and development of LRL continues.

LRL presented Heather Morton, NCSL liaison, with a piggy bank, an embossed leather journal from England and a bookmark from Germany. The outgoing LRL secretary thanked Heather for the Staff Section Workbook so that he could take these notes.

There being no further business for the good of the Staff Section, the business meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted by Eddie Weeks, LRL Secretary, 11 August 2011.

Making History: Legislative Staff Working for America's Legislatures
By Heather Morton, NCSL

Every year at Legislative Summit, the outgoing NCSL staff chair organizes a session to honor and celebrate legislative staff. Traditionally, a speaker is invited to make an inspirational address. This year, Tim Rice decided to make a change. Tim channeled his inner-David Letterman to host “The This Afternoon Show with Tim Rice.” Donning a tuxedo and enlisting the help of Michael Adams, the incoming NCSL staff chair, Tim entertained and inspired the audience through his monologue, guest interviews and his own Top 10 list of challenges facing legislative staff. The Gaveltones, a band whose members are Texas legislative staff, kept toes tapping with original legislative songs.

In conjunction with the title “Making History,” LRL worked with Tim to feature the 2011 Notable Document Award recipients during his “The This Afternoon Show with Tim Rice.” Winning offices and publication titles were listed during the show for the audience to see.

Michael Adams has a tough act to follow next year!

Moving Beyond PowerPoint Fatigure
By LRL Summit attendees

Mark Leutwyler, a Dell design project manager, provided an excellent presentation for attendees at our joint session sponsored by LRL and the Research and Committee Staff Section (RACSS).

Using cognitive science (how people absorb information and stay visually stimulated and engaged) to slide methodology (using easily recognizable and personalized visuals (not clip art) and little or no text), Mark walked us through the purpose of using PowerPoints (to convey a message) using four simple steps to avoid audience fatigue:

1. FOCUS ON ONE THING that will be remembered, and remove all the noise to increase retention by 79 percent.

2. BREAK IT DOWN to one bite at a time, giving your audience one concept at a time (one for each slide) to digest.

3. VISUALLY ILLUSTRATE using effective images to enhance memory and help process information conveyed verbally.

4. VERBALLY EXPLAIN as you cover one concept per slide via imagery or minimal text.

There are many different design methodologies; Mark recommended finding what you’re comfortable with and what works for you. For example, one design methodology can be 15 slides in one minute, flying through attention-grabbing pictures to make a point; or one slide for five minutes, with an in-depth discussion of that slide’s topic. Both methodologies work, depending on the topic and the audience.

Other reminders Mark included: Keep the pace, get attention early, tell a story, organize ideas, establish consistency in presentation, involve audience, and end with a thank you slide with contact information for questions and feedback. At the end of his presentation, he included links to several resources. You can access the PDF on NCSL’s Website at:


2011 LRL Legislative Staff Achievement Award Recipient

The Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section (LRL) honors Robbie LaFleur for her professionalism, competence and integrity in serving the Minnesota Legislature and for her continuing contributions to the work of NCSL through her commitment to LRL. As director of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, Robbie is committed to documenting the Legislature and issues in Minnesota. The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has developed several important databases covering information on legislators and legislative statistics and is committed to ongoing and retrospective digital archiving of legislative and state government reports. Robbie has participated in LRL activities since the early 1990s. She was a member of the LRL executive committee from 2001-2004. During her tenure on the LRL executive committee she served on the Professional Development Task Force. As chair elect she organized the 2002 professional development seminar held in Bismarck, N.D. She served as LRL Staff Section chair in 2002-2003. In addition to her LRL leadership roles, Robbie took an active role in NCSL meetings. Robbie was a speaker on a panel at the 2003 Annual Meeting on "Programming Versus Content in Building and Maintaining Legislative Web Sites," as well as a panelist on a session on "The Virtual Legislative Office." She presented a program on the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library's Legislators Past and Present Database at the 2007 Annual Meeting in Boston. Robbie has served as a judge for the LRL Notable Documents Award, and was one of the judges for the first LINCS/NALIT Online Democracy Award in 2005. She served on the NCSL Assessment Mission to the Algerian Parliament in January 2006. In related work, in 2008 she was awarded the Peter S. Popovich Freedom of Information Award by the Minnesota Chapter of Professional Journalists for her long-term promotion of access to state documents and legislative information for the Legislature and citizens. She is a member of the Minnesota Library Association and a board member of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information. Robbie continues to be an active, responsive and enthusiastic member of LRL. LRL thanks Robbie for her exemplary actions and looks forward to her continuing service to legislative librarianship!


Dear LRL friends,

I really appreciate being the recipient of the NCSL LRL staff recognition award this year. As I consider my years at the library, I recognize that my experiences with our NCSL staff section have been my most important and instructional professional ties outside the Minnesota Capitol.

It’s been endlessly fascinating to discover how each state legislature differs in culture and politics and staff services. The sessions at our professional development seminars and the ones I have attended at NCSL annual conferences have been fascinating and useful to my work for the Minnesota Legislature. When we held the professional development seminar in Minnesota recently, I learned an amazing amount about lobbyists and our own Legislature from our colleagues we invited to speak. On the other hand, I’ve learned JUST as much about libraries and state policy during conversations with NCSL friends at conference social events.

I’ve been thinking about the conferences because I wish I could have been in San Antonio. It’s so sad that state travel restrictions due to budget constraints make it difficult to bring our LRL members together in person. I think you all know I’m a great fan of using technology as much as possible. I love webinars! Online contact is great, but I’ve really appreciated the opportunities I’ve had with NCSL colleagues, in person, over the years.

Thanks again,


2011 Notable Documents Awards Recipients

Thirteen outstanding documents were honored by NCSL’s Legislative Research Librarian (LRL) staff section for their excellence in exploring topics of contemporary interest to legislators and staff. LRL presented its Notable Document Awards at NCSL’s annual Legislative Summit in San Antonio, Texas. Thirty-eight documents from 11 states were nominated for consideration.


The Legislators of California
California State Senate


Texas Water Law Timeline
Texas Legislative Reference Library

A History of Property Tax in Utah
Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel


Guide to Local Redistricting for 2011
Virginia Division of Legislative Services


Texas Legislators: Past and Present
Texas Legislative Reference Library


Distribution and Sale of Liquor in Idaho
Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations

Governance of EMS Agencies in Idaho
Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations

Programs for Children, Youth and Families Need a Guiding Framework for Accountability and Funding: Final Report to the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee
North Carolina General Assembly Program Evaluation Division

Statutory Changes Will Promote County Flexibility in Social Services Administration: Final Report to the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee
North Carolina General Assembly Program Evaluation Division


Future of Electric Vehicles in Michigan
Michigan Legislative Service Bureau, Research Services Division

Options to Reduce and Phase-out Priority Chemicals in Children’s Products and Promote Green Chemistry: Report to the Legislature
Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency


Statewide Ignition Interlock Pilot Project: Interim Report to the Minnesota Legislature
Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Combating DUIs, Preserving DNA, and Examining Emerging Law & Justice Issues
Montana Legislative Services Division

Special thanks to this year's judges:

  • Sabah Eltareb, California State Library
    Chair of the Notable Documents Committee
  • Carol Blackburn, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
  • Ingrid Hernquist, New Jersey Legislative Services Library
  • Elizabeth Lincoln, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

LRL Webinar: Creating Databases for Statutorily Mandated Reports

LRL sponsored an informative webinar on creating databases for statutorily mandated reports on Friday, Oct. 7, at 3:00 pm EDT. As mentioned in the business meeting minutes, webinar speakers were Jennifer Bernier (Conn.), Gay Roche (Colo.), and David Schmidtke (Minn.). A summary of the webinar will be in the next newsletter.

State News
By LRL Regional Coordinators

From Marguerite Beveridge, California

In March, Marguerite Beveridge (Librarian, Office of Legislative Counsel Library, Calif.) accepted a promotion, moving from the Legislative Counsel Library to the California Department of Justice. LRL thanks Marguerite for her active role in imparting professional wisdom through the LRL listserv and establishing personable relationships throughout her years of service and participation. LRL also welcomes Dragomir Cosanici, the new supervising librarian at the Office of Legislative Counsel Library.

From Annette Haldeman, Maryland

The Maryland Department of Legislative Services Library is getting ready for a special session in mid-October. The special session will be called primarily for congressional redistricting, but legislators are also allowed to introduce bills on other topics. The legislative librarians have been receiving questions about past redistricting efforts and issues.

Over the summer, the legislative library experienced some flooding. Fortunately, none of the library’s print materials were damaged by the flooding, but many staff work areas were uninhabitable due to wet carpeting. The librarians and other library staff set up temporary shop in the amendment room in the Maryland State House until the space was dried and mold testing was conducted. The situation called for some creativity and cooperation, but the library made it through and everyone is back in their workspaces.

In other news, legislative librarian Sandy Mueller has returned to the library from maternity leave. Baby Sophie, who is now about 4 months old, is growing up fast! Legislative librarian Annette Halderman has been nominated as president elect of the Maryland chapter of the Maryland Chapter of the Special Libraries Association for 2012. The library has also hired an intern, Crystal Ngo, who is currently helping cataloging librarian Marcia Stock.

NCSL's Newsletter, The Canvass: States and Election Reform
By Wendy Underhill, NCSL

If your professional portfolio includes voter ID, early voting, voter registration, poll worker qualifications, or any other elections-related topic, you might like to subscribe to NCSL’s The Canvass. This electronic newsletter is produced by our elections team, with support from The Pew Center on the States. It tackles one major topic in each issue, plus gives the news from the states.

Here are some recent issues:

October—Ballot Design

September—Elections Are NOT Priceless

August—Vote Centers Come of Age

June—Online Voter Registration: Coming to a State Near You?

May—A Primer on Primaries

This is a FREE newsletter; just email TheCanvass@ncsl.org with your name, title, phone and mailing address, and you’ll be added to the distribution list. You can also call Wendy Underhill at 303-364-7700 for more details.

NCSL Publications


  • Charter School Authorizing—Shen
  • Principles of Effective Sentencing and Corrections—Lawrence/Lyons
  • Trends in Latino Access and Success—Liu
  • Investing in Higher Education for Latinos—Bautsch
  • State-Supported After-School Programs—Wallace
  • Bringing Legislators to the Table—Morse
  • Ex-Offender Employment Opportunities—Lawrence


August/September 2011

  • State Approaches to Prevent and Control Diabetes—Vol. 19, No. 31
  • Privatization: An Option for State Government Agencies—Vol. 19, No. 32
  • Diverting Costly Emergency Room Visits to Health Centers—Vol. 19, No. 33
  • Pre-Election Day Voting—Vol. 19, No. 34
  • Transforming Health Care Through Technology—Vol. 19, No. 35
  • The Anatomy of an Ethics Complaint—Vol. 19, No. 36

October 2011

  • Justice Reinvestment—Vol. 19, No. 37
  • Protecting Children With Allergies—Vol. 19, No. 38
  • Starting Healthy: Preventing Preschool Obesity—Vol. 19, No. 39
  • Discrimination Against the Unemployed—Vol. 19, No. 40
  • Vote Centers Offer Options on Election Day—Vol. 19, No. 41
  • Improving Primary Health Care With Preventive Services—Vol. 19, No. 42