Legislative Research Librarians
Volume XXI, No. 4
Professional Development Seminar
Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee
News from the States
LSCC Model Policy
State Information Network
by Jonetta Douglas, Iowa
In this Newsline issue you'll read about LRL's Professional Development Seminar in Santa Fe, New Mexico, October 15-18, 1997. Special thanks to Tracey Kimball, the legislative librarian, and New Mexico's Legislative Council Service for hosting us and for providing a substantive program, great breakfasts and wonderful tours. Also in this issue are reports on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee meeting in early October 1997 in Santa Barbara, California.
The LRL listserv is now up and running. Post your questions, problems and information to share. If you're not yet on the list, please contact Rita Thaemert to participate. LRL is looking for volunteers to work on the update of the 1996 legislative intent disk. If you're interested, please contact me at (515) 281-3312 or email@example.com
We're again asking for help from regional coordinators to provide changes for the 1998 LRL directory. Please send updates to Rita.
Welcome to three new regional coordinators: Clare Cholik, South Dakota, past LRL chair who now sits on NCSL's Executive Committee; Tracey Kimball, New Mexico, who did such a fine job hosting LRL in Santa Fe; and Eddie Weeks, Tennessee, who replaced Julie McCown in the Office of Legal Services. All seven regional coordinators are listed on the last page. Thanks for volunteering.
Also in this Newsline is an article to remind librarians that the State Information Network depends upon our continued cooperation. Jennifer Bernier, Connecticut, is interested in constructing a database of legislative library acquisition lists. Please contact Jennifer at (860) 240-8881 or firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have monthly acquisition lists to share.
LRL officers are looking to revise the bylaws and are working with the committee to update the core collections list. We would like to thank Joyce Grimes, South Carolina, for her initiative and creativity in producing a new LRL brochure.
Mark your calendars for Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 20-24. We will plan activities with Las Vegas area libraries. LRL's 1998 Professional Development Seminar will be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 15-17. The tentative agenda includes a presenter from a Pennsylvania library school, a visit to a local law school, a technology workshop at the state library and, for certain, a visit to Hershey, "A Town as Sweet as Its Name."
October 16-18, 1997
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tour of the Pojoaque Pueblo Children's Library and Cultural Center
by Anne Rottmann, Missouri
Librarians were treated to a wonderful tour of the library by the librarian, Christine Truba. The library was established to give Pueblo children a place to work on school projects and find resources for school work. Christine has seen the library more than double in size through grant funding, and it has become a major community resource.
The library is governed by the tribal council, and because Christine is not a Pueblo, she must communicate with the council through an intermediary. She cannot attend meetings, and only tribal members can access their native materials.
The library works cooperatively with the local elementary school library. They try to complement each other in their collection development. Christine is currently working on a collection development and automation development policy. The facility is light and open, and Christine is very dedicated to her work for the Pueblo children. As a gift to the childrens' library from LRL, Tracey Kimball, New Mexico's legislative librarian, purchased $50 worth of Spanish-language and bi-lingual childrens' books.
The Pueblo Cultural Center was founded in 1989 to provide adult educational opportunities for the Pueblos. Funding was secured through the state legislature, private donations and grants. The staff offers classes in pottery, jewelry making, stone carving and business management to encourage the Pueblos to use their talents to earn a living and keep the native talents alive. They sponsor art shows and a gallery.
New Mexico Technet and Legislative Council Service Information System
by Jonetta Douglas
Terry Boulanger, New Mexico Technet, told us that Technet was originally the consolidation of three technology labs and other technology transfer facilities in New Mexico. It is a self-supporting, private, non-profit corporation providing management of a statewide fiber optic computer network, serving the State of New Mexico; state universities; and statewide research, educational and economic development interests. They began working with the legislature in 1988.
Technet's mission is to "promote economic development and support education through the use of technology." There is no charge for services or programs created for the State of New Mexico, but there is a charge to private entities. Technet was the first to develop an online filing system for state income tax, and they are working on a background checks program and putting online state versions of the Brady Act.
Technet is the major Internet provider for the State of New Mexico, and one-third of gross revenues go to educational programs. They provide free K-12 Internet access to all New Mexico teachers and subsidize school access. Now in its sixth year, New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, is a program that allows high schools to formulate and solve real-world problems using computer power at Technet and New Mexico State University.
A simple menu system is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day for commercial customer access to everything from personnel information to improvements in the manufacturing process. For more information on New Mexico Technet see: http://www.technet.nm.org/
Luis Avila, Legislative Council Service Information Systems Coordinator, demonstrated their online system that provides basic software and full text and amended versions of legislation. An option is available through Adobe Acrobat to view bills as the paper version with appropriate page breaks. Files are sent electronically through an intranet system.
The system provides committee agendas with minutes, votes and amendments. A bill locator system, "bill finder," can be searched by key word, sponsor or bill number. Up to three key words are acceptable to search the full text of bills. The system will eventually be called "bill explorer" and will look like an online bill book that includes a first version of the bill, amendments, separate and in bill context. It will allow for searching by code section and statute number.
Luis discussed the LCS effort to make laptop computers available to all legislators. Members who use them can take them everywhere and use them on the floor during session. He expects increased use by members and more requests for training sessions. To visit the New Mexico LCS web site see: http://www.technet.nmorg/legislature/
NM Legislative Council Service Briefings
by Susan Southworth, Connecticut
This informational program focused on two topics of universal interest, welfare reform and Indian gaming regulation. Both topics were very well summarized and presented by two members of the New Mexico Legislative Council Service who generously gave their time to be guest speakers.
Within the context of federally mandated welfare reform, John Yaeger discussed a topic that has certainly surfaced in many other states, the issue of the relative authority of the governor versus the legislature, which arose during New Mexico's implementation of welfare reform. The courts declared that the governor exceeded his authority by unilaterally implementing his own PROGRESS plan over the legislatively enacted FAIR plan he had previously vetoed. The conflict was hopefully to be resolved by a legislative task force composed of both legislative and gubernatorial appointees.
Pam Ray detailed the state's history of gaming, which is particularly complex because there are 22 tribes and Pueblos in New Mexico. Negotiations between the governor and tribes bogged down, ending up in the courts. Conflicts arose over the extent of state regulation of Indian gaming, the legality of the 1994 constitutional amendment authorizing video slots and lotteries, and the validity of compacts negotiated exclusively by the executive branch without legislative approval or oversight. Sound familiar? As of October, the court decision invalidating the compacts had been stayed pending appeal, leaving the Indian tribes to continue running gambling establishments.
Evaluating Your Library
by Nancy Hays, Texas
The Friday afternoon session presented three methods of library evaluation. All involved a desire to improve library services and an opportunity for input from library users. Strategic planning involves evaluating the library organization overall. The value study model places a value on the information a library provides, giving a way to measure its cost-effectiveness. Finally, the third method requires constant collection of data and surveying of users to monitor customer needs.
Donna Scheeder opened with a presentation on strategic management done at Congressional Research Service that provides information and reports for the U.S. Congress. Reasons Donna cited for evaluating services are: organizational anxiety caused by budget cutting, competition from other information services, and focusing more on the customer. Donna emphasized two things: don't do this if there is not a commitment for continual improvement, and be prepared for change.
CRS started with a strategic management review team that performed internal and external surveys. The external surveys of users asked open-ended questions, segmented users by job function and created a user profile. They also hired consultants who formed focus groups. They performed face-to-face interviews. Key questions: where did their users get their information? why did they prefer one source over another? what changes would they make in the services provided by CRS? and how is the user's job changing-what information will the user need in the future?
From the questionnaires, a list of values was created. Things CRS learned: the information needs to be balanced and politically sensitive, and they needed to anticipate what the user wants to know. Internal surveys tried to discover how employees spent their time by function, asked them to keep statistics and tried to discover time spent on a project vs. priority for the user. From all the surveys and evaluations, CRS developed strategies for change and created benchmarks--specific measures to look at the services they were providing.
Heather Gallegos-Rex from the New Mexico State Library provided information on a value study model for a state agency library. Why would a library do a value study? More and more libraries are having to justify their existence. The value study can provide budget ammunition, gather allies and promote managerial thinking about the library. This model, using King's value figures (King, et al., A Study of the Value of Information and the Effect on Value of Intermediary Organizations), places a monetary value on the resources of the library.
Building allies can create strategic partners in the mission of the library. A library adds value to an organization by being an integral part of the operation. It is a way of viewing service as a product and measuring the value of the service to the users. The methodology involves identifying and interviewing key library users and keeping statistics.
Can a dollar figure be placed on the library's value to an agency's unit? What is the return of the investment in terms of time saved and items used? How much would it cost each office to supply information without the advantage of sharing resources of the library?
The third method of library evaluation involves a continuous commitment to satisfying user needs. Donna Berg, from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library, discussed the method they used for evaluating their library, which involved quarterly customer surveys and constantly collecting statistics as an ongoing way to meet customer needs. The emphasis was on providing customer service and being responsive to the customers' needs. The first question to ask is, why is the library doing this? The several answers included survival of the library, being on the quality bandwagon, external pressure, as a strategy for success, an honest desire to get close to customers, extend a continuous improvement program, part of the way you do business.
Donna provided a list of "listening posts," ways of collecting information that can help the library provide better service. These listening posts include observation, a quarterly business assessment called OPPI (Opportunities for Process Improvement), listening to customer complaints, creating advisory panels and focus groups, customer surveys, event-driven surveys, problem/satisfaction tracking surveys, surveys of lost or former customers, and ad hoc marketing research.
The library staff is divided into process teams that are responsible for the major functions of the library, e.g., acquisitions, cataloging, shelving, customer service, and marketing. If a customer has a suggestion for improvement, the library process team responsible for that area tries to complete the project within the next quarter. All three librarians pointed out the need for a library to justify its funding. The methods they discussed provide ways to evaluate a library's services to meet the needs of users and make the library an essential element of an organization.
October 3-4, 1997
Santa Barbara, California
by Jonetta Douglas
Anne Walker, Missouri, NCSL Staff Chair, began the meeting with exercises to "break paradigms," a concept she would like staff sections to consider in the coming year. The first exercise was a re-examination of a simple problem using specifics and using imagination. After more consideration than there should have been, we found a solution at four or five minutes that someone had suggested at about three minutes; proving that we need to think in terms of "breaking paradigms" and listen and react more quickly. For the second exercise, we broke into groups and designed our own view of the governance and organization of NCSL, from the 50 states to the executive director and staff. With 12 component cards, each group configured their envisioned structure of NCSL. Very interesting designs.
Anne provided a brief history of LSCC and its relationship to the Executive Committee, ASI, AFI and all the committees, sub-committees and task forces in NCSL. She again stressed the "breaking paradigms" concept for LSCC and staff sections. Without carryover problems from the previous year, this is a good time to try new and different things. Each task force was given a worksheet on which to record the year's work progress that will then be shared with other task forces at LSCC meetings.
Bill Pound, NCSL's Executive Director, reported on NCSL and answered questions. He explained that the new Leaders' Advisory Committee is an oversight body for leaders' programs, comprised of leaders who are members of the Executive Committee. He also addressed NCSL funding questions and identified the three major sources for NCSL revenue: state dues; grants for specific programs; and revenues derived from Annual Meeting, including publication sales and exhibits.
Jennifer Noyes, Wisconsin, staff chair for ASI, reminded committee members of the ASI-AFI meeting in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5-7, 1997 and will send a letter to each staff section chair. Anne Walker requested that at each LSCC meeting three staff sections give a report on their section. The three reports at this meeting were from Diane Bolender, Iowa, RACCS chair; Carole Peterson, Utah, ASLCS; and Anne Murray, New Mexico, Leadership Staff Section.
NCSL Executive Committee Report
by Clare Cholik, South Dakota
The NCSL Executive Committee held its first meeting of this conference year on October 4, 1997, in Santa Barbara, California. NCSL President, Senator Richard Finan of Ohio, conducted the meeting.
Senator Finan's appointment of Representative Norma Anderson of Colorado to the Executive Committee was confirmed. She fills the unexpired term of Senator Tom Norton, also of Colorado, who resigned due to his gubernatorial candidacy.
The committee received reports on the Assembly on Federal Issues and the Assembly on State Issues. Members of the Executive Committee and the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee spent a large amount of time working to revitalize both of them last year, and their efforts were successful. All the committee officers are in place, and plans were finalized for the joint ASI/AFI meeting, November 5-7, 1997 in Washington, D.C.
Anne Walker gave the report of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. She explained that all of this year's task forces are focusing on communication. One of the LSCC's primary objectives this year is to "spread the word" about NCSL to those legislators and staffers who may not know about NCSL or use it to its full extent.
The Budget, Finance and Rules Subcommittee reviewed the FY 98 budget of NCSL and the status of FY 98 dues. They also reviewed and adopted many grant proposals. The Subcommittee spent time discussing NCSL's reserve fund and the appropriate level of funding for it.
The Program Planning and Oversight Subcommittee reviewed the Philadelphia Annual Meeting. Since only a small number of evaluations were completed by attendees, the subcommittee could not draw many conclusions from them. Senator Jack Regan (NV) gave a report on the planning for the 1998 Annual Meeting scheduled for Las Vegas. The subcommittee also examined NCSL's policy on providing states with blocks of hotel rooms for the Annual Meeting. Following the review, the group concluded that no changes are necessary at this time because the system is equitable and functioning well. At the next meeting, the subcommittee will select a site for the Annual Meetings held in the years 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Lastly, legislators on the Executive Committee discussed NCSL's participation in the Federalism Summit, November 7, 1997. The members tried to clarify NCSL's role in the Summit following the defeat of three resolutions dealing with federalism at the Annual Business Meeting in Philadelphia.
The next meeting of the Executive Committee is scheduled for January 23-24, 1998 in San Antonio, Texas.
Task Force on Communication Through Technology
by Clare Cholik
The first meeting of this task force was held on October 3, 1997. The Chair is Ramona Kenady (OR), and Bill Behnk (CA) is serving as the Vice Chair. Its overall goal is to examine a wide range of technologies that NCSL might use to improve its communication with legislative staff.
The group began by formulating a list of all possible technologies that NCSL might use for this purpose. They also identified the positive and negative aspects of each of them. Members of the task force plan to explore the possibility of an interactive CD-ROM that would inform people about NCSL. There will be further discussion on this idea at the next meeting.
The task force is also focusing on the NCSL Web site. One subcommittee is doing an in-depth study of the site including its effectiveness and the financial and human resources devoted to it. Another subcommittee is addressing the standards for Internet information that would allow users of the NCSL Web site to perform multi-state searches.
Please contact me if you have any input for the subcommittees or the task force, in general. Also, please voice any questions or concerns you may have. The input of legislative staff is very important to this process.
Task Force on Communication and Coordination of Professional Development
by Jonetta Douglas
Tom Tedcastle, Florida, task force chair, suggested that we work to enhance the relationship and sharing of knowledge within and between staff sections. We could have a two year projection calendar for staff section professional development seminars. Advance scheduling would allow more time to prepare for staff chairs who visit all nine meetings, and staff sections could consider shared meeting times and locations. Ideas to enhance staff involvement were discussed. The task force includes at least one member from each staff section, and we all spoke about our staff sections, Annual Meeting, professional development seminars and future plans.
This task force was established to provide oversight, coordination and evaluation of NCSL's professional development programs for legislative staff and to encourage and promote participation by legislative staff in these programs. The charge includes development of a plan for a coordinated approach to professional development programs, review and recommendations related to current programs and creation of a work product that promotes and encourages participation in the staff sections and programs. This was a planning meeting with a good start for 1997-98 and several good ideas to get and keep staff involved in NCSL.
Task Force on Outreach and External Communication
by Anne Rottmann, Missouri
This is a new task force charged with increasing awareness, understanding and participation in NCSL by legislative staff. The task force must create a plan of outreach to legislative staff, both active and inactive, and to staff sections by developing new methods of external communication. To be completed by year's end are (1) a work product to carry out the assignment and (2) a plan to disseminate the work product. The task force will get statistics from NCSL on staff member participation and the number of members and potential members of each staff section. There will again be a staff section booth at Annual Meeting because of a favorable response in Philadelphia. Each staff section is encouraged to create a brochure to explain the section, and the task force will formulate a general brochure to provide an overview of NCSL, possibly including each brochure on the NCSL web site.
Much of the news in Newsline is gathered by a dedicated team of coordinators who call and fax to libraries and librarians in their regions to get the latest news and ask preassigned questions of interest to us all.
The questions for this issue were:
- What topics would you like to see covered at upcoming LRL Professional Development Seminars? and
- What are some of the "hot" issues facing your state legislature in 1998?
Coordinator MARIAN ROGERS, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau
Ohio: Debbie Tavenner, Ohio Legislative Service Commission
I would like to have advice on when legal resources on the Internet can be used to replace traditional online services or books.
School funding is the primary issue before the Ohio Legislature. The Legislature is under a court order to come up with an alternative. The issue of electric utility deregulation may also be under consideration.
Missouri: Anne Rottmann, Missouri Legislative Library
PDS topics: time/stress management, dealing with difficult people/situations, marketing the library on a limited budget (specific strategies), technology for small/special libraries and a roundtable on good Internet sites for informtion.
Hot topics in Missouri: Electric utility deregulation, settling the Kansas City and St. Louis deseg. cases and what to do with that money, tax cuts for Missouri taxpayers (mostly through property tax credits), school-linked day care, transportation funding and welfare reform.
Coordinator JENNIFER BERNIER, Connecticut Legislative Library
Pam Schofield, Massachusetts, State Library
Presently doing Internet training workshops, wonders if others would share info at the professional development seminars.
Hot issues are: electricity deregulation, death penalty (as always), assault weapons, tax cuts, stadium financing, anything to do with child support.
Michael Chernick, Research Counsel, Vermont Legislative Council
Here in Vermont, the 1998 session is projected to be shorter than the marathon 1997 session that lasted until June 12. This year the legislature will focus on technical changes to Act 60. That act is the newly adopted Equal Opportunity Education Act that was enacted in the aftermath of the Brigham decision in which the Vermont Supreme Court found the state's property tax financing method for state education to be unconstitutional. The Republicans will propose major changes, including a total repeal of the act. It fundamentally alters the state's system of financing public primary and secondary education by establishing a statewide property tax and a system of block grants to each school district. However, with Democratic majorities in each chamber, no substantial changes will occur this session. In addition, the General Assembly will probably enact a DUI measure.
The House Judiciary Committee has been meeting throughout the fall to draft a response to a Senate measure that the House considered unacceptable. Otherwise, beyond the annual money bills, the one relatively certain measure is a legislative response to a recent Vermont Supreme Court decision (Bianchi) that broadly redefined "marketable title" requirements to include compliance with all state and local permits and regulations.
In the Legislative Council, during the summer of 1998 the office will be upgrading the computerized document manager to Groupwise 5, retiring its predecessor Soft Solutions and converting to Microsoft Word from Word Perfect. Also on the technical agenda will be a conversion from Window 3.1 to Windows 95 or 98.
Lynn Randall, Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library
A topic I would like to see covered is managing newspaper clippings collections, more specifically setting up an imaging system. I bet folks at the Texas Legislative Reference Library would be a great resource for this. We have a very good collection that is heavily used, but it's still all in paper.
Forestry issues are going to be very big, especially the regulation of clearcutting.
Susan Southworth,Connecticut Legislative Library
In-house technology for archiving documents. What storage types available, relative costs/benefits of each, ease of creation, life span of product, how labor intensive, specific hardware manufacturers, versus outside contracting. Also, comparison of our services to those offered by counterparts. This is very hard because of the varying sizes and staffing. But there may be a lot of possible efforts we could make even given our limitations. Does that translate into a program? Probably not, but maybe some kind of roundtable discussion?
Connecticut topics: Child abuse by family members--creation of a classification of crime "facilitator abuse," electric industry restructuring continued, municipal elections by mail, soft money ban, performance evaluation as a means of improving state budget, review and decisionmaking, police pursuit issues.
Also, municipal liability--recent state Supreme Court ruling held municipalities do not have immunity under state recreational land use act. Legislation may consider expanding or mitigating municipal immunity under these conditions.
Accelerated rehabilitation--several recent court cases have granted AR in death cases. Legislature may examine the types of criminal charges that should disqualify a defendant from AR.
Ellen Breslin, New York, Legislative Library
How is the Internet integrated into the research functions of the library? Perhaps a program on library management software used by LRL members?
Henry Ilnicki, New York State Library
How can the library facilitate better communication between staff offices?
Budget issues, juvenile delinquency, energy/tax relief.
Coordinator CLARE CHOLIK, South Dakota Legislative Reference Library
Would like a roundtable discussion focusing on Internet-related issues such as (1) how to best determine if an Internet source is credible or current; (2) how to handle the distribution of materials that libraries once received in hard copy but are now receiving only in an electronic format; and (3) the effect of the Internet on a library's collection of documents.
Once again, the SD Legislature is likely to grapple with the issue of corporate hog farms including the fundamental question of whether or not they should be allowed in the state, and if they are allowed, what regulations should be placed on them. Legislators will also face the issue of special education funding. The state's formula for funding education was revised recently, and there is concern primarily in the state's largest school districts that the new formula for funding special education is not equitable.
Marilyn Cathcart, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
Internet and Web are always good topics, possibly web coding, new web products, or searching the Internet effectively. Other topics include perhaps some background on the Legislature as an institution or making effective presentations to political leaders. Heard Alan Rosenthal speak recently on his new book, Drawing the Line: Legislative Ethics in the States, and found him very interesting.
The Minnesota legislature will be dealing with stadium funding, how to spend a large budget "surplus" and bond issues.
Beth Furbush, Montana Legislative Library
Interested in new legislator orientation tips and the librarians role working with MIS.
We don't have a 1998 regular session in Montana, but interim work is intense, looking at issues such as the effect of gambling on society, private corrections, correctional standards, managed mental health care, property tax revision, economic development options for tribes, modification of the Public Employees' Retirement System, and electric utility deregulation. A call for a special session to set a numerical daytime speed limit for motor vehicles was defeated, but the latest polls indicate that public opinion now favors such a limit, so by 1999 we'll probably join the rest of the country in having a speed limit.
Anne Christensen and Mary Rasmussenn, Nebraska Legislative Reference Library
They are interested in computer database programs or other online information services used by other reference libraries, and how other libraries market their services.
Nebraska hot carryover legislation: juvenile justice, health insurance for children, concealed weapons legislation, limiting appeals in death penalty convictions, telecommunications, deregulation of the electric industry.
Some potential new legislation: livestock confinement operations, a proposal to increase Omaha sales taxes to finance a new convention center, proposal to move the existing campus of Peru State College.
Marilyn Guttromson, North Dakota Legislative Council
Suggests a hands-on review of Internet resources specifically appropriate to legislative librarians, and also a session on handling and responding to e-mail requests.
Coordinator JOYCE GRIMES, South Carolina Legislative Council
A half-day seminar on handling conflict and stress with role-playing, including physical and mental health tips; a couple of hours on marketing our library, as well as individual marketing; a panel of legislators and committee staff discussing how we can better serve them; a "charm school" on proper professional manners, including image (attire) and speech (tone); a preview of latest computer programs.
Hot issues are: education reform to focus on assessment and accountability of all statewide public schools to meet the national norm, managed health care insurance, strengthened right to work laws, increased fees on video poker machines and more stringent regulations on the industry, economic develoment incentives, increase of sales tax to lower property tax.
Cheryl Jackson, Virginia, Division of Legislative Services
Meeting topics are Internet research, budget formulation and evaluation, cataloging systems and demonstration.
Hot legislative issues are abolition of car tax, digital signatures, Internet, electricity deregulation and congressional redistricting.
Lynda Davis, Maryland Department of Legislative Reference
PDS: Web site management. Is traditional indexing now necessary if all is on the web? Relational indexing.
The 1998 session began Jan 14 with money to spend or return in the form of tax cuts. For the first time in several years, state revenues are looking good. Some of the issues the Maryland General Assembly will consider this year are: pension enhancements for state employees and teachers, education funding quity, increased funding for the University of Maryland and public schools, pfiesteria, electric utility industry rates, horse racing, and gambling.
The General Assembly Web site will have roll call votes from the House and Senate this year. 1998 is election year in Maryland; all the Delegates and Senators will be up for reeclection this fall.
(Personal note from Lynda--Thanks for your cards and notes and good wishes when I was sick. All is well now--no more excuses.)
Coordinator JENNIFER BOTELER, Idaho, Legislative Services Office
Depending on where the meeting is held, an in-depth examination of certain areas of law. An expert, such as a law professor, could give a historical overview, current situation and research tips. In western states, water law, reparian and prior appropriation, is a topic that continually comes up in legislatures and courts. Many states (CO, Rocky Flats; ID, INEEL; SC, Savannah River; TN, Oak River; WA, Hanford) are concerned with remediation of nuclear wastes from nuclear weapons production sites, and the transportation, storage and disposal of radioactive wastes from other states and foreign countries.
Also, practical hands-on sessions, led by members of the staff section; adapting National Library Week to the legislative library environment; automating a small library collection, selection and evaluation of vendors; availability and comparison of full-text periodical databases through the Internet.
Hot issues in Idaho are charter schools; government ethics (campaign contributions, conflicts of interest); prison overcrowding and costs (reduce certain non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, alternative sentencing); abortion (parental notification; ban partial-birth abortion); tax credit for parents who home school their children or send them to private schools.
Dave Harrell, Oregon Legislative Library
An in-depth Internet presentation.
'98 sessions will most likely deal with workers comp reform, state agency streamling and health insurance mandates. It is still really early to try to accurately predict the topics as interim committees are just now becoming active and the next session is a year away.
Linda Heatherly, California Office of Legislative Council
Governor Pete Wilson and the two chief legislative leaders, Bill Lockyer, Senate President Pro Tem, and Cruz Bustamante, Assembly Speaker, are lame ducks, forced out of the Legislature by term limits. Wilson is starting the last year of his term as governor.
Issues likely to get attention: attempts to overturn the electric utility deregulation scheme (scheduled to go into effect this year); bilingual education, a ballot measure to end bilingual classes has qualified for the ballot; legislative reform bill may be considered; managed health care regulation, advisory commission has proposed an overhaul, including creation of a new regulatory agency; bond measure regarding schools, possibly prisons as well.
Supporters of Initiative 200, a measure to roll back affirmative action programs in WA, gathered enough signatures for the petition to be considered by the Legislature. Another initiative to raise the state's minimum wage is being prepared by a coalition led by organized labor. Gov. Locke will propose a bill that limits toxic chemicals in fertilizers. Other proposals supported by Locke include: reducing the drunk driver blood alcohol concentration limit and restricting deferred prosecutions, cracking down on methamphetamine lab operators, and providing additional funding and support for law enforcement to keep communities safe from crime.
Coordinator TRACEY KIMBALL, New Mexico Legislative Council Service
Would like to see a professional development session on preservation of electronic records, to get some guidance on standards for selection and available technologies.
New Mexico's '98 legislature is a 30-day session dealing primarily with fiscal issues. We expect to have tax cut proposals, recommendations on funding health insurance for low income children who are not eligible for Medicaid, and to re-visit the revenue-sharing agreement and fees in the Indian gaming law passed in 1997.
The governor is expected to introduce a comprehensive plan for school reform, including school vouchers, increasing the number of charter schools, public pre-school and all day kindergarten programs, yearly testing requirements, more local budget control and replacing the elected state board of education with an appointed cabinet position.
Another welfare reform package has been prepared, and there will be legislation to complete the creation of a public regulation commission, as required by a constitutional amendment passed in 1996, which merges New Mexico's present state corporation and public utilities commissions.
Cindy Roupe and Rita Haley, Kansas State Library
Issues for Kansas during this next session: corporate hog farming, inheritance tax, personal property tax, income tax, base budget per pupil, sales tax on remodeling, state board of education, retail wheeling, abortion, special education.
Susan Gilley, Oklahoma Legislative Reference Division
LRL PDSs topics: time management and writing skills/professional writing of letters & reports; image enhancement, marketing, library or services promotion; interviewing, training new personnel; maybe something on moving again--seems someone is always doing it-Ruth Ann Melson said third time in two years!
Session Hot Issues: Possibilities include state tax cuts or rebates related to sales tax on groceries or income or estate tax; corporate farms and waste, water quality; teacher and law enforcement personnel salaries; educational choice; sentencing guidelines.
Nancy Quesada, Texas Legislative Reference Library
PDS ideas: Various aspects of technology and the best ways to make use of technology for legislative libraries (we're thinking of computer hardware and software, databases, network, Internet, etc.) Also, recommendations for good reference sources on CD or online computer databases, computer full-text magazine databases and indexes, full-text newspaper databases and indexes, Internet resources. What are some good sources and what sources have not been so great?
Texas is not scheduled to have a legislative session in 1998, but some of the topics for interim study committees are electric utilities, education funding, tax reform, home health care, NAFTA, water development, housing, civil justice and criminal justice. Revision of the Texas Constitution is also a hot topic, although not an interim study committee topic.
Coordinator EDDIE WEEKS, Tennessee Office of Legal Services
Eddie proposes that PDS hold sessions on using the various state's online statutes and the use of e-mail discussion lists to answer questions.
The Tennessee legislature will consider annexation and the incorporation of new cities, and consolidation of city / county governments in the upcoming session.
Helen Hanby, Alabama Legislative Reference Service
The Alabama legislative session begins January 13. Higher education funding and tort reform are expected to be the hot topics.
Meldia Rose, Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research
She is unable to attend the meetings, but would appreciate even more reporting in Newsline on sessions and discussions at the professional development meeting.
There is no session for 1998. In 1999, ethics is expected to be a big topic.
JoAnn Mrazek, Florida Division of Legislative Library Services
Interested in a discussion of downsizing, lowering budgets, and how to do more with less money.
Tobacco litigation, litigation reform, the Everglades, and capital punishment are expected to be key issues before the Florida legislature.
Suzanne Hughes, Louisiana Legislative Research Library
Wants to see the professional development seminar focus on technology: how technology affects cataloging, scanning documents, and document management systems.
The March-April 1998 special session will address education (community colleges and teacher salaries), New Orleans land casino contract approval, and highways. The regular session, which begins in late April, is limited to fiscal matters.
Casey Pace, Mississippi Legislative Reference Bureau
Education and health insurance for children will be the focus of legislators' attention in the upcoming session.
Note from column editor, Debbie Tavenner: There are lots of comings and goings reported in this column. On behalf of the LRL staff section, thanks for the service to all who have retired or moved to other positions and best wishes in your new endeavors. Also on behalf of the staff section, welcome to all the new staff and good luck to all who are assuming positions of greater responsibility in their legislative libraries.
Florida - JoAnn Mrazek replaces Janet Lanigan as director of the Division of Legislative Library Services. Janet moved North.
Louisiana - Suzanne Hughes wants to announce and extend congratulations to Valerie Richardson who retired. The Legislative Research Library welcomes Frances Thomas as a new librarian. Frances will manage the online catalog and the library's "webmaster" on the new House Intranet.
Minnesota - Marilyn Cathcart reports that David Schmidtke, a new reference librarian, joined the staff in late September. Randi Madisen is expecting a baby in early February.
Montana - Beth Furbush is confronting plans for a major renovation of the state capitol. Right now, it sounds like sometime after the 1999 session, we all move out of the building to an undetermined location. We would move back in the summer of 2000, with the library ending up in the `lower level' (i.e. basement), while the majority of the staff are on the first floor. I am lobbying hard for a quick reference area in the main work area. A great deal of weeding and planning lies ahead!
Nebraska - Anne Christensen says with Jeanne Burke's departure from the Nebraska Legislative Reference Library (LRL), we would like to introduce you to the Nebraska Legislative Reference Librarians:
Mary Rasmussen joins the LRL as a librarian. Mary is a 13-year veteran of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature, most recently serving as committee clerk to the General Affairs Committee. Her knowledge of the Legislature will serve as an invaluable resource in the LRL since she will be able to tap her past experience within the legislature.
Anne Christensen will continue her duties as librarian. Anne has guided the library through a transition from an archaic mainframe system for cataloging library materials to a more user-friendly module. She has also organized the LRL's serials, periodicals, and Nebraska Documents collections, in addition to creating several databases to monitor LRL activities.
North Dakota - Marilyn Guttromson writes that for the past several years, the ND Legislative Council Library has been converting bills as introduced to microfiche, beginning with the first session in 1889. Prior to this project, no library in the state owned a complete set of bills. During the interims, we've used the services of the state's micrographics office to film two or three sessions. Under this arrangement, we've captured bills from 1889 through 1973 on fiche. Early in 1998, we'll work with private enterprise to produce text searchable discs of the bills as introduced from 1975 through 1985.
By July, the ND Legislative Council will make available a disc containing all versions of 1997 bills, the 1997 Session Laws, bill status report, House and Senate journals, biographical sketches of legislators, and standing and interim committee assignments. A similar disc should appear shortly after the 1999 Legislative Assembly adjourns.
Maine - Lynn Randall says they are exploring setting up a Windows NT network for the public access stations in the library. Information resources on the network would include CD-ROMs, Internet and our legislative network. We would love to hear from anyone who has experience with NT networks in libraries.
Maryland - Johanne Greer will be working part time in the Secretary of Senate's office this session as assistant journal clerk. She is busy learning how to take the proceedings and read the bills.
New York - Ellen Breslin indicates they have a new staff member in the library; Heather Reddlich has both an MLA and a law degree. She has joined the staff as an Assistant Librarian.
Henry Ilnicki was excited to report the following information that was copied directly from the Internet site: http://www.nysl.nysed.gov
The New York State Newspaper Project's Internet home page
is one of 22 "best library-related web sites" profiled in a special theme issue of 'Library Hi Tech.' The web site features information about the Project's work to preserve New York State newspapers on microfilm, a searchable database of newspaper microfilm identified by the Project's statewide inventory, and guides for newspaper research.
The New York State Newspaper Project web site is one of three winners in the "Unique Content-- Historical" category. William Vann, former Cataloging/Preservation Coordinator at the New York State Newspaper Project, authored the article on pages 63-65 of 'Library Hi Tech', consecutive Issues 59-60, Volume 15, Number 3-4(1997). Vann's article describes the Project's work, discusses the web site's design and content, and looks at future plans.
Information Technology Task Force Report on A Model Policy for Appropriate Use of the Internet
- Appropriate Use of Data Communications
- Suggested for adoption by legislatures to govern use of legislative computer systems by members and staff
Electronic mail and access to the Internet provide a valuable communications tool for legislators, legislative staff, state agencies and the public. As with all other forms of communication, this tool must be managed in a manner that maintains public trust and confidence in the legislature. One of the greatest distinctions, and dangers, of electronic mail and other forms of access to the Internet, is that people treat it far more informally than other forms of business communications. People can copy and circulate it far more easily than traditional paper communications. It must be remembered that it is writing and constitutes a permanent record. Legislatures should use careful management so electronic mail will constitute clear and appropriate communications. In the interest of protecting the Legislature and its employees, the Legislature adopts the following guidelines to apply to all access of internal and external data communications systems:
- Users of the system must respect the privacy of other users and their intellectual property or data. Users shall not intentionally seek information, obtain copies, modify files or data, or use passwords belonging to other users without proper authorization.
- Users shall not represent themselves as another user, unless authorized to do so by that user.
- Users shall respect the legal protection provided by copyright and licensing laws to software and data.
- Users shall protect the integrity of the Legislature's computer system. Users shall not intentionally propagate programs and harass other users or infiltrate a computer or computer system.
- Users shall not damage or alter the software or other components of legislative computers or computer systems, or install unauthorized software or hardware peripherals.
- Users shall use only functions and components of the legislative computer system for which they have been trained.
- Users shall not sell access to computer systems.
Members and staff may use legislative computers and computer systems to:
- facilitate communications between legislators, staff, state agencies, citizens of the state, and others concerned with state business, including the transfer of documents;
- access databases and files to obtain work-related reference material or to conduct legislative-related research, or other appropriate legislative business;
- expedite administrative duties in direct support of work-related functions;
- prepare information for use in bill preparation, committee hearings, and floor debate;
- preserve historical information related to the Legislature; and
- communicate with others to pursue professional and career development, including professional organizations.
- [Optional Term] As with telephones, electronic mail is intended for fast and efficient communications. However, personal use of electronic mail should be limited in the same manner as local telephone calls so as not to interfere with the employee's duties.
No person shall use legislative computers and computer system to:
- violate any state or federal law or regulation;
- promote any commercial venture, political campaign, or personal purpose;
- raise funds or engage in public relations activities that are not directly related to state business;
- intentionally disrupt network or system use by others, either by introducing worms or viruses or by other means;
- misrepresent oneself, a state agency, the Legislature, a legislator, a state employee, or the state (including unauthorized use of another's password or login code); or
- transmit or, with foreknowledge, receive pornographic, racist, sexist or harassing material.
by Marilyn Guttromson, North Dakota
Developed from a library-to-library document exchange program, the State Information Network works as a cooperative venture between NCSL and the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the legislative research librarians. Its goal is to build and provide access to publications produced by the 50 states and U.S. territories. Legislative librarians now serve as the primary conduit for publications of substantive research or reference value to the two national service organizations. Please remember to send CSG and NCSL two opies of those publications your office produces that have substantive contemporary value. Under the State Information Network auspices, legislative librarians also provide CSG and NCSL with acquisition lists, bibliographies, or publication checklists. As a final component of the State Information Network, librarians exchange acquisition lists/checklists with each other. With active participation in the State Information Network, legislative librarians become the key component in an arrangement that benefits all who need the resources unique to legislative research.
As technololgy improves information access, NCSL asks that documents be submitted to LEGISNET in electronic format. If meeting the NCSL requirements is not feasible for your office, please continue sending in two copies of the printed documents. The LRL staff section maintains ongoing dialogue with NCSL staff about the future of LEGISNET and the librarians' part in it. As you consider LEGISNET and the electronic format recommendation, please send comments regarding your experience or your suggestions to Clare Cholik in South Dakota with copies to Doug Sacarto and Jeri Ambrosio at NCSL.
Following is a relevant portion of NCSL's directive to legislative service agencies regarding delivery of documents:
To: Legislative Staff Directors
From: Doug Sacarto
Date: September 22, 1997
Topic: State Legislative Documents and NCSL Online Services
Compiling State Legislative Reports
NCSL has compiled state legislative reports into the LEGISNET databases for more than 10 years. Legislative offices in the states forwarded the printed copies of reports to NCSL and we abstracted and indexed them for online searching. When LEGISNET users (mostly specialists in the various legislative research offices) found documents of interest, we filled their requests by mailing a copy of each document to them. Longer documents were only loaned and needed to be returned.
This system carried a large overhead, which became increasingly unsupportable as the number of legislative documents expanded. Technology also changed, however, and the Web enabled us to offer a searchable archive of new state reports, but in full text and for a much wider and more diverse set of users.
We continue to request documents, but now we need them in an electronic format. If your reports are published on your legislature's web site, we need only to access (URL) where we can access them. If they are not currently available online, then we request that they be sent on an IBM-compatible diskette in one of these four formats: HTML (preferred), WordPerfect, Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (RTF). We convert the documents to HTML and index them for full text online searching.
We have been accepting printed reports, but for the last several months we have only been able to catalog them without adding them to the online archives. When we have only a print version, we plan to scan title page and summary, but we will not abstract the document or offer it full text. These reports will be processed last and will continue to lag behind elecronic versions in being added to our searchable archives.
I strongly encourage you to verify that reports produced by your office or department are being forwarded to us and, if possible, in electornic format. Send documents to: Jeri Ambrosio, NCSL, 1560 Broadway, Suite 700, Denver, CO 80202.
Newsline is resurrecting a previous column. This time What's New? will include articles on lessons learned in your legislative libraries, useful Internet sites, new publications, book reviews, answers to quirky questions, problem solving, innovations, and any news of interest to legislative librarians. Please send your contributions to Rita Thaemert.
New in D.C.
by Marianne Reiff
State Services Organization Library
Automation Project - 2nd Generation Software
State Services Organization Library automated the library's collection using Data Trek software in 1992. Data Trek Professional Series maintained the full MARC record and allowed the library to automate monograph records, as well as newspaper and periodical citations produced by library staff.
By 1997, it was time to upgrade the on-line catalog. The advent of Windows technology and the introduction of Web OPACs by various library automation companies suggested an attractive new way to offer access to the library's catalog - via the World Wide Web.
Offices in the Hall of the States connect to the World Wide Web through a fast T-1 connection, and staff felt that Web access would help tenants utilize the library's collection more often.
After attending exhibits at the ALA Midwinter Conference, and seeing various demonstrations at the Computers in Libraries Conference, we decided to purchase International Library Systems Sydney software. Sydney offers integrated modules including cataloging, circulation, Web OPAC, and a MARC interface. In the summer of 1997, the library upgraded all computers, loaded the Sydney software, and transferred all records from Data Trek to Sydney. ILS sent a trainer in October, and the library staff was trained to use the new software.
We are pleased with the Sydney software. The cataloging, circulation and serials modules are more flexible and reliable than Data Trek's modules were. The Windows interface is user friendly, and library patrons find the catalog easy to search. Our next project is to load the Web OPAC, and transfer our records to the Web server. We hope to accomplish this in the beginning of 1998.
Moving to a second-generation automation system turned out to be a positive experience for our library. Because we chose systems that conformed to the MARC standard migrating from one system to another went smoothly. Our patrons are comfortable using the Windows format and the library staff finds the modules easy to use. We are excited about loading our catalog on the Web, and anticipate many years of service from the Sydney system.
Copies of all NCSL publications listed below are available from the Marketing Department at 303/364-7700, unless otherwise noted.
Electric Industry Tax series
Consumer Information Disclosure series
School-Based Health Centers Booklet and Video
Training Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants: How Important is State Financing?
A Guide to Local Option Taxes
Hope Scholarships, Vol.5, No.43
The Aging of America, Vol.5, No.44
Coordinated School Health Programs, Vol.5, No.45
State Property Tax Relief in 1997, Vol.5, No.46
Motorcycle Helmet Use, Vol.5, No.47
The Brown Amendment: Affirming State Legislative Authority, Vol.5, No.48
Good Samaritan Laws and the Duty to Render Aid, Vol.6, No.1
Are Insurers Liable for Medical Decisions? Vol.6, No.2
Let's Get Physical: Physical Activity and Obesity Among Adolescents, Vol.6, No. 3
Lodging Taxes, Vol.6, No.4
Mixed-Oxide Fuel, Vol.6, No.5
Privatization of State Government Services, Vol.6, No.6
State Cigarette Taxes, Vol.6, No.7
Global Warming, Vol.6, No.8
Emergency Medical Services for Children, Vol.6, No.9
Direct Shipments of Alcoholic Beverages to Consumers, Vol.6, No.10
Partial Birth Abortion, Vol.6, No.11
Graduated Licensing for Teens, Vol.6, No.12
STATE LEGISLATIVE REPORTS
Balancing Land Use Management with Protection of Property Rights and the Environment, Vol. 23, No.1
The deadline for the Spring edition of Newsline is April 1, 1998. Send news about your library or significant legislative events in your state to your regional coordinator or Rita Thaemert at NCSL.
Thanks to the many staff section members who submitted columns and information for this issue. Newsline is published four times a year by the Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section of NCSL.