For this issue of Newsline we asked you two questions:
1: How are IT services provided for your library/office. Do you have your own IT staff, is it provided by a central office, chamber specific, etc.?
2: Have there been any measures or procedures that your library/office implemented due to COVID but you’re planning on keeping as you move(d) back into normal operations?
Check out the responses from library across the nation below:
1: Here at LSA, we have one internet technician on staff; this position is hired internally. The responsibilities of our internet technician vary from general bugs to system configuring and occasionally collecting data with me. Other technicians that we have in the capital and statehouse are hired by the senate, I am unaware of their duties.
2: Covid procedures regarding the library are not much. We ask, now that our state has rolled back some of the safety requirements, that all attorneys notify me when and how long they intend to keep a book. Just in case an employee comes within contact or contracts the virus.
Alaska Legislative Reference Library:
1: IT services for the library (and legislature as a whole) are provided by the agency’s IT section.
2: We plan to continue encouraging phone/email/Teams contact over walk-ins, emphasizing digitized materials, and retaining a hybrid work schedule.
Alaska State Library:
1: Although we serve all state employees, including legislative ones, we’re in the executive branch. We have one IT person located in our facility and we pay his salary, but he is managed through IT at our parent agency, which itself is now part of statewide IT (OIT).
- For part of the time, we were open by appointment only. Now, appointments are no longer required, but we do request them for people using the Historical Collections, so we can pull materials from our vault ahead of time.
- Reference desks still have a clear barrier.
- Most staff still wear masks most of the time and the public is encouraged to, although this hasn’t been required most of the time.
- We still use Teams a lot and will likely continue to. Often meetings are via Teams even when most or even all the participants are in the office. Some don’t like it, but it helps to be able to easily share screens.
- Telework is down from what it was during the pandemic, but up from what it was before the pandemic. I think it will likely stay at about the current level for the foreseeable futur
California Office Of Legislative Counsel:
1: We have a person who belongs to our IT division who is a liaison to the library. We contact them for any IT related purchases/updates/issues.
2: Working on a hybrid schedule. We have discontinued some of our print services.
California Research Bureau:
1: CRB is part of the California State Library and IT services are provided by the State Library’s IT staff.
2: CRB began working remotely from home due to COVID mid-March 2020 and we anticipate continuing to do so for at least the next four to five years during the Capitol building renovation. Once it is complete, CRB anticipates returning to the Capitol building and for staff to resume rotating shifts onsite in the Capitol branch library. It is anticipated that staff will be (or go) onsite for specific purposes or reasons, such as meetings, or to access print materials not available electronically, for example. This mindset has drastically shifted over the past two years—working onsite was the normal expectation before, and staff could only get approval for working from home once a week. CRB started operating virtually due to COVID, seeking to try out and implement new tools to enable greater opportunities to communicate, such as with Teams, Zoom, Miro, surveys, etc. during this transition, as we adjust, settle in to creating our new normal.
1: Our library receives IT services from the Legislative Council's Information Technology (IT) Staff, which provides IT services to all legislators and legislative staff and supports and maintains the General Assembly's computers, printers, networking equipment, servers, storage systems, and wireless network. The IT Staff also manages services pertaining to a centralized file storage system, website support, and development and maintenance of various custom software applications used by legislative staff.
2: Our library is operating under the safety protocols issued by the Executive Committee of the Legislative Council issued on Feb. 25, 2022, which can be found here.
1: The Connecticut General Assembly’s Information Technology Services works with all offices throughout the legislature, including the Legislative Library.
1: The Delaware General Assembly’s IT services are centralized at the executive branch Department of Technology and Information (DTI) and managed by the Assembly’s IT Directors. They are not chamber- specific. Services provided by DTI are procured on usage basis and provided for in the General Assembly budget. Services outside the provision of DTI are contracted directly with the General Assembly, through the IT Directors. IT projects are governed by the Delaware General Assembly IT Governance Board, made up of the four caucus Chiefs of Staff, one clerk from each chamber, the Director of the Division of Research and the Controller General.
2: We implemented technology during the lock-down that allows us to work and meet from home.
- If one’s position allows them to do so, they can now choose to telecommute up to three days per week. Telecommuting was a rare occurrence before the pandemic.
- All our full staff meetings are held virtually. They are also held with greater frequency. Instead of conducting such meetings twice per year, we typically have two to four per month.
1: The Capitol Branch Library operates as a branch of the Division of Library and Information Services which is under the Florida Department of State (DOS). The Department of State IT staff provides IT services for all agency employees. The DOS, IT staff helps Capitol Branch Library staff both remotely and/or in person as needed with IT issues.
2: During COVID, the library staff provided USPS. mail delivery, interoffice mail delivery and in- person delivery and pickup of Library resources to patrons in all formats, and we have decided to continue this service.
1: IT services are provided by the Legislative Services Office, Information Technology Division.
1: In Kansas, we are in the process of hiring a replacement for our IT person who took a job with another state agency. This position works in the State Library and is the sole technical support person for our agency, which is part of the executive branch. By statute (and because we like them) we assist the legislature and their staff with legislative researching, indexing and archiving physical legislative material.
2: Since Covid we have been in the process of providing staff with VPN access, but we’re not quite done with that process. The next tech support person will have to finish the process.
1: IT support is by a private company for the entire legislature. Our catalog software is Inmagic DB/Textworks & Presto.
2: Our library serves the legislature and staff of the Louisiana Legislature. There is no public access. We are under House Legislative Services. Our physical location is the 13th floor of the State Capitol. We have long used mainly email for research requests and other contact with our users. It is more efficient than riding the elevator to the chambers and committee rooms. Committee staff and legislators sometimes come to the library, but most communication is by phone and email. Library staff each of their own office and there is little traffic from users in our library. We are back to normal operations.
Maine State and Legislative Reference Library:
1: Our library does not have its own IT staff. IT functions are provided centrally through the Office of Legislative Information Technology.
2: There are a few changes that we’ve kept/adapted:
- When we went to work-from-home, we changed how we scheduled reference shifts: from two, two-hour shifts per day to one, four-hour shift per day. We’ve continued to do that now that we’re back in the office.
- We started doing remote research training sessions and orientations. We will continue to do them.
- When we went to work-from-home, we set up the library’s voicemail for reference requests (this had never been done). We continue to use it.
- Though we’re back in the office full-time, we can work from home in exigent circumstances
1: Our IT services are provided by a Department of Legislative Services office called the Office of Information Systems (OIS). OIS serves the Department of Legislative Services, the Maryland Senate, and the Maryland House of Delegates. According to the Department of Legislative Services website, “the services of IS include design, development, maintenance, telecommunications, and support of custom legislative systems such as legislative bill drafting, bill status, and chamber automation. OIS supports about 1,200 personal computers in the Annapolis complex and operates a legislative data center including Windows Servers hosting Exchange, SQL Server, IIS Server and other related facilities. In addition, most members of the General Assembly have personal and laptop computers supplied and supported by IS with an integrated legislative office computing package. OIS has dedicated user-support and training activities and a core team that develops and supports DLS and MGA applications. OIS is structured and operated as an ‘in-house’ consulting group.”
2: Before the pandemic, no one in the library had teleworked before. We started teleworking by necessity during the early stages of the pandemic and learned best practices along the way. Nowadays, there is an official Department teleworking policy and many of the librarians telework regularly, splitting time between the office and home. We have come to enjoy the flexibility as well as this new way to work. As well, we are ramping up our digitization efforts, which had begun pre-pandemic and that we now realize were invaluable during our time when we were not in the office at all.
As well, we also now use Microsoft Teams, a change that was implemented during the pandemic that we are continuing now.
IT: We have an IT Unit (part of our Admin Division) that serves most all the Legislative Counsel Bureau, the Houses, and the legislators. Our Legal Division has their own IT unit for their unique needs.
- We will continue to offer intermittent remote work days as an option for staff. (Downside: we no longer get snow days or late starts because of weather.)
- Remote/hybrid training and meetings for staff being the norm instead of a rarity.
- Our use of Microsoft Teams (something we transitioned to during the very beginning of the lockdown).
New Jersey Office Of Legislatives Services:
1: In the NJ OLS Library we have one librarian whose job title is Librarian/Digital and Information Resources. He is currently converting our in-house historical legislator database and our archival database into one public internet site. He also posts items that the library is responsible for on the internet and intranet sites. We have an Information Technology Unit that provides computer and technology services to all legislators and legislative staff.
2: In NJ, the whole agency is back to the office full time and is not mandated to wear a mask any longer. Our digitization project continues as it makes items easier for legislators and legislative staff to access information on their desktops.
New Jersey State Library:
1: We do have an IT staff that provides services to us directly. While we work in the same building, our IT staff report doesn’t report to the State Library, but instead reports to the IT section of Thomas Edison State University, our parent organization. Much of the service they provide is client-based with some of our services hosted by outside vendors. They want us to have almost all our services hosted, but we aren’t as interested.
2: Because we had been making a big push to digitize high value collections prior to COVID and found that those digitized collections were a lifesaver while we were all remote, we are really doubling down on getting more and more of our state documents digitized and uploaded with links from our catalog for easy access by staff and library patrons. We plan to invest both staff and resources to significantly expand our state digital document holdings. Our digital documents collection is not hosted, which is a point of contention between us and our IT section.
Also, some units of the State Library (not the public facing roles of Reference, Law Library, Circulation) are continuing with a hybrid office schedule of two (or three) days remote and three (or two) days) in the office each week.
1: Our IT services are through an IT department for the Legislative Council Service agency—the library does not have a separate IT staff.
2: Since COVID started we’ve implemented VPN access for staff to work from home, but the library does require one person to be in the library each day. The LCS director is working on a formal work-from-home policy for the interim.
New York State Legislative Library:
1: IT Services are provided to the NYS Legislative Library by Senate Technology Services (STS).
- The NYS Capitol, where the Legislative Library is located, was closed to the public due to COVID and has been slowly reopening since January 2022. Members of the public still must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result to enter. Face coverings are now optional, but many employees still wear face coverings as a precaution.
- The NYS Legislative Library launched a website in November 2021 to better serve the research needs of the Legislature remotely. We have also invested in the technology we use to serve our Legislature, including modern ST ViewScan microform machines and a Zeta overhead book scanning system for document delivery.
1: Central joint office, Legislative Information Systems.
2: Not so much library procedure but legislative procedure; we’re doing more bill and resolution review in electronic form rather than paper copies being handed around.
1: In Virginia, we have a separate agency created by statute that handles all our IT services, the Division of Legislative Automated Systems (DLAS). They manage our bill drafting system, the Legislative Information System, and legislative agency websites. The House and Senate both have their own IT staff as well to handle livestreams and chamber-specific needs.
All our systems were shut down for about a week in December, just before session, after a ransomware attack on DLAS. It was dire, amid-bill drafting season! But they got things restored and running in time for session.
2: Our office had a mandatory telework policy in place during the pandemic, after being almost entirely in-person prior to the pandemic. We now have a permanent, flexible telework policy in place going forward, and the library is now open by appointment only outside of session, rather than open full time for drop-in visitors year-round.