Legislative Research Librarians
LRL Newsline Supplemental

"News from the States" for the Spring, 2003, issue of the NEWSLINE focused mostly on answer to questions about how the libraries were faring during budget cutting times.

Molly Otto reports:

We have made a few budgetary adjustments here at the Colorado Legislative library and council in light of the current reductions in our state budget.

Staffing for the library has not been reduced, so there are still 2 full time librarians in the library-the Assistant Librarian and myself.  However, one support staff and a research staff position within the Council  have both been vacant for at least a year, and it is not expected  they will be filled in the near future.  Also, a senior staff person will be retiring at the end of year, and that position will be filled internally within that unit, which will leave that unit short a position.  Finally, there was some funding set aside to hire a human resources/personal manager, but that money was diverted to a higher priority, putting that position "on hold" as well.

As far as reductions in our materials budget, we are eliminating some of our print periodical subscriptions, if they are available on-line, either directly on the Internet or through our Lexis-Nexis service.

A major cost savings measure we negotiated is our Lexis-Nexis contract.  We could only one on-line legislative/legal info. database,  so we had to decide between L/N and Westlaw.  We previously had a contract with Westlaw, but then L/N gave us a free trail as a basis of comparison. They also offered us a good price, which will save us substantial money now and over the next 5 years, compared to Westlaw and the same 5 year projection.  Also, most of our research and legal services staff are pretty satisfied with L/N.

Finally, I reduced the cost of our annual contract we have with the vendor for our library automation system (Notebooks for Lotus Notes).  We were paying quite a bit of money for services which we no longer need, now our system is up and running.

I probably gave you more information than you need, but we are pretty fortunate in that the legislature does support us and the legislative council and the services we provide them.  On the other hand,  I realize we need to reduce some of "the fat", so the state can still operate-in the red or black-which remains to be seen!

Karen Mau reports:

We were fortunate this year to have a no growth budget. The Legislature did explore reducing all legislative agency budgets by 10%; thank goodness it did not pass!

Have you made cuts to your materials budget? YES!

What types of materials have you dropped, or what service cuts have you made in your library?

We are reviewing cancelling statutes (available through Westlaw) and serials.

Taran Ley reports:

Too soon to tell--the budget process is just beginning.

Arnold Weinfeld, Michigan Policy Library, reports:

To put is simply, we have essentially dropped subscriptions to any and all periodicals, magazines, newspapers, etc. that we can pick up on-line.

Lisa Mecklenburg Jackson reports:

Although Montana Legislative Services did have to make some cuts in its budget, these cuts did not affect staffing. Most cuts were to the equipment budget. (The library will not be getting the new scanner we had been promised, dang it).

Thankfully, we have not had to make any cuts to the materials budget. Of course, our materials budget is quite small as it is.

North Carolina
Cathy Martin reports:

We’ve been fortunate to maintain our standard session staffing in the Library, with a full permanent staff and 2 temporary session staff (one FT, one 4/5 time).  Having suffered some significant attrition last year among professional legislative staff in general, we’ve also been fortunate to be able to fill those positions.  In the Library, we’ve made modest downward adjustments to our spending.  Our greatest void is in the tax research area, where we’ve been unable to make significant improvements to the collection, including not being able to expand our online legal research services. Overall, we’ve weathered the budget storm fairly well.

North Dakota
Marilyn Johnson reports:

In preparing the legislative library spending proposal for the 2003- 2005 biennium I was asked to submit a 95% budget request. To do that we postponed converting the 1999, 2001, and 2003 bills as introduced to CD-Rom.

Debbie Tavenner reports:

The budget situation has created a frugal situation at the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, but no drastic cuts have been imposed. The Library's receptionist was assigned to another area of the Commission to provide staffing to fill in for pregnancy and family leaves. I hope it is not permament. In the mean time the three of us are doubling up on duties to get things done. In fairness, I must say that in 2002 for a period of about 10 months, the Library was assigned an extra staff member, who filled in for a pregnancy leave in the library, but also overlapped with the Library receptionist for about 6 months. So for a good part of last year we had extra help. It is anticipated that there will be minimal staff salary increases in 2003 and none in 2004.

This year I have not had to make any major cuts in library purchases. In the last year and a half there were cuts to a few things. Shepard's in print and US Law Week were dropped. Premise was discontinued not because of budget concerns, but because of incompatibility with the network. (LSC subscribed to several Ohio legal databases and USCA.) It freed up about $4500, however. Staff continue to have access to the resources or comparable resources through LEXIS and WESTLAW. Frequently, it is mentioned that if things get tighter, one of the online systems will have to go. That would affect the entire office, not just the library, because everyone on staff has either a LEXIS or Westlaw & LEXIS password.

David Harrell reports:

Our library suffered a 50% cut in FTE at the end of the 2001 session. I am now a "gang of one". I have been asked to reduce expenditures for materials and acquisitions by about 70% and am in the process of doing so. Not fun.

South Carolina
Joyce M Grimes reports:

How are current or proposed budget cuts affecting staffing levels in your legislature and library?

 In past years the library has depended upon part-time undergraduate, graduate and law students to support its operations.   During this current fiscal year and proposed budget,  no funding is budgeted for staff support.    Duties previously performed by students have been reassigned  amongst permanent Council staff.     Full time staff  is stretched already because of the budget reduction and loss of personnel serving in Operation Iraq Freedom .   Fortunately, some of the services are not time sensitive.   Unfortunately, the Legislature and all of state government are performing the minimum level of service.  No immediate fiscal reversal is anticipated.

2. Have you made cuts to your materials budget?
 Print subscriptions reduced by 50% and discontinued exchange agreements.

3. What types of materials have you dropped, or what service cuts have you made in your library?
 Statute mandates that the Legislative Reference Library fund the annual code supplements updates to various federal, state and county entities.  Faced with  shrinking appropriations, the Legislature passed a proviso effective FY2002-2003 to charge entities  for  cost of  annual code supplements.   Working with the Legislature’s  Information and Technology Department, the Legislative Reference Library developed a computerized database to process orders and meet audit accounting procedures.

Penelope Dukes-Williams reports:

Here in Texas, the budget for 2004-05 has not been finalized however, at the beginning of the year all of the state agencies were requested to cut their spending by 7% for the remainder to the fiscal year.  We have cut back on our serials subscriptions and are only ordering materials for our collection when requested by a legislative office.

Shelly Day reports:

The Utah Legislature faced its first major budget shortfall in the 2002 5th Special Session, which reduced its budget by 5.02% for FY 2001-02. Then in the 2003 General Session, its budget was reduced another 4.6% for FY2002-03. Our office (Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel) has been cut a total of 10.5% to date. The legislative research library contained within the Information Center does not have its own budget, but falls under the umbrella of our office budget.

We have only lost fulltime staff that have moved out of state or changed jobs. Replacements to our lost office staff have not been and are not going to be made. Fortunately, no fulltime staff have been lost because of budget cuts.

To avoid letting go of fulltime staff because of budget shortfalls for FY 2001-02 and FY 2002-03, our office found other ways to compensate for the inconvenience.

Paid intern positions were eliminated for law clerks and research assistants, but we still manage to get cream of the crop "externs" and we currently have five.

  • All staff were instructed to refrain from ordering materials that were not absolutely necessary for their course of work. Many staff did not renew or simply canceled subscriptions. If publications are available online, our office has virtually eliminated any purchases in hard copy unless absolutely necessary.
  • The number of Utah Codes ordered (annotated and unannotated) was greatly reduced (as several staff had never opened the previous year codes).
  • No office supplies, equipment, furniture, or computers have been ordered unless absolutely necessary.
  • Mailings have been consolidated.
  • Legislative fees for publications, copies, cds, etc., that we produce have increased.
The Information Center created the greatest savings for the office with many of these changes. Yes, we had "kind of" a contest.

Just a little over one year ago, we increased our Information Center staff from two to three persons and last year we acquired a part-time secretary. No new hires, just added responsibilities to current secretaries who wanted more to do.

In the past two years our Information Center has acquired more responsibilities within the Session Intern program (besides our training and assisting them, Clay manages them), Legislators Back to School Week (Shelley), staffing task forces (Mark just graduated with his MPA and has served on two task forces), Development of Website including Kids Page and Civic Education for Public Outreach (Shelley), and most recently, staffing

one interim committee as secretary (Clay, who began his legislative experience as a session committee secretary 18 years ago, became Assistant to the Speaker for eight years, then joined our office just a little over one year ago). You can see we use our employee skills to the maximum when in need. Our motto here is, "Glad to help!"

Cheryl Jacksonreports:

Virginia answers for the Newsline question about budget cuts and other news:

1. How are current or proposed budget cuts affecting staffing levels in your legislature and library?

In the library, there is no effect on staffing levels.  For the legislature as a whole, there have not been layoffs, but many positions are remaining vacant.

2. Have you made cuts to your materials budget?


3. What types of materials have you dropped, or what service cuts have you made in your library?

I had a plan for three levels of cuts:  small, medium and large.  The large cuts would have absolutely gutted us.  As it turned out, we had to go with
the "small" cuts (15%).  We discontinued all of our newspapers (including the local paper) and some periodicals and books.  Much of the money was found by renegotiating our account with Lexis.  We anticipate that this is not the end, so there will probably be a "Part II" to this story.

Marian Rogers reports:

As a whole, state agencies (including the legislature and legislative service agencies) have had budget cuts. As the deliberation of the 2003-2005 budget bill (2003 SB-44) continues, more cuts are expected. At this time, position vacancies in our bureau are not filled as people retire or move on to other job opportunities. So far, our budget cuts have been covered by not filling these vacancies, as well as keeping a close eye on bureau-wide expenditures. Currently we have a limited-term library assistant for a maximum of 10 hours per week. We may not be able to fill this position when she finds full-time employment. The legislature has reduced the number of legislative messengers hired during session, some legislative staff has been cut, office budgets have been reduced, the telephone hotline and documents room staff and services has been cutback and consolidated, and mailboxes for individuals and organizations are no longer maintained.

In our agency, travel has been restricted and we are cautious with our supplies budget. Books are no longer automatically purchased or subscriptions renewed without considering the usefulness of the publication. We've found local used bookstores to be a thrifty treasure trove for some books--rather than paying full price for a new, unused copy. With careful management, we are hopeful we can continue making these cautious acquisitions.

What types of materials have we dropped? Some pricey reference publications are purchased every other year and we no longer purchase supplements to select publications. It's hard to say what effect not having part-time library support staff will have on our library services, but one thing is certain--it will slow down our retrospective conversion project. For the time being, we hope we can continue to offer our same level of services.

Other News From Legislative Libraries

Molly Otto reports:

The 64th session of the Colorado General Assembly ended on May 7th. I think many people were relieved to have made it through another interesting session. The last three days were very intense, as the Republicans pushed through the re-districting bill (S.B. 03- 352), which re-drew the 7 congressional districts. The Democrats immediately challenged the bill and filed suit, so it will go to the courts, as it did in 2001. Judge Coughlin created the "original" map, since the legislature could not agree on the district boundaries during one of the 2001 special sessions.

The Colorado legislative council celebrated its 50th anniversary this past March. The celebratory luncheon was well attended by former and current staff members. Along with that, both the director of Legislative Council, Charlie Brown, and the director of Legal Services, Doug Brown (no relation to Charlie), have both announced their retirements effective later this year. We will be losing two dedicated and knowledgeable directors, with years of experience and institutional memory between them.

Finally, I have had the opportunity to work with three different library graduate school interns since October of last year. Two of the students attend the University of Denver, and the other intern is from EmporiaState. It has been rewarding and enriching working with these students, and I highly recommend it.

North Dakota
Marilyn Johnson reports:

Nearly tying the record for the longest legislative session in history, North Dakota legislators adjourned after using 76 of their allotted 80 days. That was April 25th. On May 5 legislators returned at the call of the Governor for a special session. That last time a Governor brought legislators back immediately following a session was in 1937. Being part of history is exciting but sometimes being too close is nerve-wracking. Legislative Council staff attorneys particularly spent long hours researching legislative procedures for dealing with this unusual situation. In three days of special session legislators adjusted the three vetoed bills originally causing gubernatorial distress. Last seen the House and Senate Republican Majority Leaders were holding a "we'll make this work" press conference with our Republican Governor. (The 2003 Legislative Assembly brought together 31 Republicans, 16 Democrats in the Senate and 66 Republicans and 28 Democrats in the House.) Since the Governor announced he would sign the special session bills, the Legislative Assembly for 2003 should be over. Three vetoed bills specifically bringing the troops back to Bismarck concerned teacher raises, purchase of technology by the state, and status of corrections officers.

Just at the end of regular session our newest of the two microfiche reader/printers blew its motor. Instead of lasting its projected five years the machine collapsed in three. You gotta be tough to work up here in the North. We'll replace the motor, keep our old trusty backup reader/printer, and purchase a workstation that reads fiche to a computer.

When the just ordered computer arrives, we'll be able to e-mail legislative histories! Users who come in person can store histories on disc, print if they prefer, or e-mail the legislative histories to themselves. With a bit of equipment money left this current biennium, we lucked out! We're also planning to produce, in addition to microfiche,

2003 legislative history records on disc.

Yesterday Audrey and I learned we may be remodeled! (And there are those who say for me it's too late.) We'll start planning reconfigurations of our library work space shortly. Wonder who's finding the money and where? Ain't me.

South Carolina
Joyce M Grimes reports:

 Our fiscal crisis in the library has provided a wonderful opportunity to promote the use of the Internet as a resource tool!     With email and sharing collections in the local law libraries at the Supreme Court, Law School, and Attorney General’s offices,  we  avoid duplicating expensive print collections..   Sole practicing librarians staff many of the libraries in our local law community.   It is only through sharing our collections and knowledge that we are able to keep our “heads above water”!  It is refreshing to network with a group of folks that not only understand the need to share, but also promote working smarter.

Cheryl Jackson reports:

I apologize for not sending this in earlier, as it's been a year now, but Alice Winn left the Reference Center.  She moved back to Delaware with her family.  We have a great new Research Associate, Michele Howell.  Michele has been a paralegal in Richmond and Georgia, and has an educational background in English and education.  She's a savvy researcher with a wonderful personality and strong service orientation.  She fits right in here at the Reference Center, and we are thrilled to have her.   I know the LRL'ers will enjoy getting to know her.

Marian Rogers reports:

Recently, the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization authorized the Legislative Reference Bureau's relocation across capitol square to One East Main Street. We have been located at 100 North Hamilton since early 1990 when the LRB (and all personnel and agencies in the capitol's north wing) were moved for the capitol renovation/restoration project. Our relocation will place the bureau in the same building and in close proximity with two sister legislative service agencies: Legislative Council and Legislative Fiscal Bureau. This new location will place all the LRB on the same floor, instead of spread over 4 different floors as we are now. When the Department of Administration completes the approval process and after the space is modified to fit our needs, we anticipate our move will occur in mid- to late-Fall 2003.

A correction to the Fall 2002 Newsline.

The notice: "Edith Woodward, former librarian, passed away October 18, 2002. Edith, active in NCSL during her tenure with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission
(1969-1983), was 85 years old." was attributed to Wisconsin. The news was from Debbie Tavenner, Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

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