By Jessica Lundgren, director of Maine State Law & Legislative Reference Library
You might say I’m headed into the bottom of the ninth inning of my term as LRL chair. In September, I’ll transition into my final role and final year on the executive committee as the immediate past chair. Congratulations to Dana Combs, librarian and archivist at the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services Library, who is stepping up to the plate as our new secretary.
But before all that happens, it’s going to be a great summer! LRL has some fantastic events coming up in the next few months. We have a double header of information sharing calls scheduled for July where we’ll be joined by excellent faculty for discussions on “Mason’s Manual” and records retention. At Summit in Indianapolis, LRL will host a fun and informative program “Excavating Obscure Research and Sources.” Our colleagues in Minnesota are knocking it out of the park when it comes to planning the joint RELACS/LRL PDS—accommodations at a beautiful hotel, high quality and contemporary programming, and unique tours of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library and the Minnesota Twins archive and stadium. For my fellow baseball fans, let me repeat that: Minnesota. Twins. Archive. And. Stadium. Tour. Also in September, LRL will meet for its annual (remote) business meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing your faces soon and touching base with what’s going on in your libraries.
My tortured baseball references aren’t completely out of left field. My librarian mentor, who befriended me while I was doing research for an undergraduate history project, was the sports librarian for the Library of Congress for many years. We bonded over our shared interest in baseball (my project was about the Brooklyn Dodgers) and our rough-around-the-edges personalities. He traveled the world going to baseball and sports-related conferences, which I still think is amazing. I’m slowly working on visiting all Major League Baseball stadiums, so imagine how excited I was when I found out that LRL was offering me the opportunity to pursue this goal along with all of the other invaluable experiences it’s given me—visits to five cities I’d never been to, a close community of the only human beings in the country that understand the work I do and growth in my leadership and other professional skills.
LRL at Indy Summit 2023
LRL is busy planning for the 2023 Legislative Summit in Indianapolis, Aug. 14-16. Along with the traditional LRL Dutch Treat dinner, members who attend Summit will have a chance to tour the Indiana State Capitol, including a special visit to the Indiana Legislative Information Center, on the afternoon of Aug. 15. Also in the works: a tour of the Indiana State Library! Look for the Summit sessions “Leading and Managing: Strategies for Legislative Staff,” “Cultivating Your Craft: Five Secrets of an Effective Staffer,” “Public or Privileged? Preserving Legislative Records,” “Writing Like a Pro for the Public,” and don’t forget the Salute to Legislative Staff Lunch and the LRL Notable Document Ceremony!
Registration Is Open! 2023 LRL Professional Development Seminar
The LRL Professional Development Seminar will be held jointly with the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff Association (RELACS). The seminar brings together staff who are critical to the legislative process, including legislative librarians, information specialists, researchers, editors, attorneys, code revisers, bill drafters and committee and policy analysts.
This meeting will include a variety of sessions: Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Thissen (a former speaker of the Minnesota House) will discuss legislation and statutory interpretation; Bryan Vincent, division director, Louisiana Legislature, will help us explore the “Secret Grammar of Elegant Statutes”; and Minnesota staff will share their experience getting the Legislature’s website and documents into ADA compliance. In addition to these great sessions, meeting topics will include communication in the legislative environment, AI in libraries, legal ethics, copyright issues and many more!
LRL Staff Achievement Award Recipients Selected!
The LRL Award Selection Committee is thrilled to announce the 2023 recipient of the LRL Legislative Staff Achievement Award. A familiar face whose dedication and service to their legislatures, colleagues, LRL and NCSL is obvious and known across the nation. Endorsements written by their legislative library and NCSL colleagues illustrate why they were selected:
Ingrid Hernquist, Manager OLS, Library Services, New Jersey (LRL immediate past chair, 2022-23)
Maeve Pinto Singh, research librarian, New Jersey Office of Legislative Services Library: “When I started working for the Office of Legislative Services Library Ingrid was incredibly welcoming, trained me, and would stay late to make sure I was accompanied as my knowledge of how to support the work of the Legislature grew. Though I had been a librarian for a decade before taking this position, Legislative libraries are unique institutions. Because of this Ingrid encouraged me to join NCSL and specifically LRL as this professional organization offers support in ways other library-oriented professional associations cannot. Then six months into working here the pandemic started and we were sent to work from home with very little notice. Ingrid made sure that I could get the resources needed to do so effectively and would call me to check in, both professionally and to see how my mental health was doing during this tumultuous time. Ingrid does her work with compassion, integrity, and commitment and serves all who approach the library for assistance with complete dedication, whether they are a staffer on their first day or the Executive Director. In addition to her exceptional work within the Office of Legislative Services, Ingrid has also served LRL in various leadership roles for years. She has encouraged many of us to join the organization, attend Base Camp, nominate notable documents, and participate in the ListServ. I fully support Ingrid’s nomination for the Legislative Staff Achievement Award.”
Jordan Shedlock, librarian, New Jersey Office of Legislative Services Library: “I’d like to offer my support for the Legislative Staff Achievement Award to Ingrid Hernquist, my supervisor for the past six years. Ingrid is a supportive and respectful boss who affords her staff a good deal of autonomy and encourages us to attend classes, talks, and other continuing education and professional development events. She uses her experience and relationships at OLS to support employees’ initiatives, such as our legislator biography database and new staff outreach. As an attorney, she’s a helpful sounding board for assignments that veer into the legal profession or trickier questions of law. She’s also very respectful of work-life balance: she was supportive when I took parental leave for my children’s birth and is very understanding when I need to be out for a school event or trip to the pediatrician. We’re fortunate to have Ingrid here.”
Jessica Lundgren, LRL Chair, director, Maine State Law & Legislative Reference Library: “I strongly support Ingrid Hernquist’s nomination for an NCSL Legislative Staff Achievement Award. I have served on the Legislative Reference Librarians (LRL) executive committee with Ingrid for the past three years and have had the privilege of getting to know her at several NCSL events, including StaffHub and Summit. Ingrid has been a model LRL officer, whose shoes I am not filling! She is effortlessly knowledgeable about how NCSL, LRL, and LSCC operate, and she is a hard worker, always volunteering to do research, take on additional roles and assignments, and attending NCSL and LRL programs. Ingrid is exceptionally kind, intelligent, accomplished, and determined in her professional and personal lives. She is a valuable asset to LRL and to our profession.”
Betsy Haugen, LRL Chair 2018-2019, reference Services Manager, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library: “It is my pleasure to write in support of a nomination for Ingrid Hernquist for the 2023 Legislative Staff Achievement Award. I served on the LRL executive committee for a year with Ingrid and have been at several NCSL events with her over the years. Ingrid is sharp, organized, hard-working and has dedicated a truly admirable amount of time to the Legislative Research Librarians Staff Association. I have fond memories of hanging out with Ingrid and her family at various 2018 NCSL Los Angeles Summit activities.”
2023 Notable Document Award Winners!
By Elizabeth Lincoln, Notable Document Award Selection Committee Chair, Minnesota
LRL is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Notable Document Awards! Fourteen documents were chosen in nine categories from 51 total entries submitted by 18 states. My fellow judges—Ingrid Hernquist (New Jersey), Jenna Steward (Louisiana), Stephanie Heyroth Wilcox (Nevada), and Laura Bell (Minnesota)—and I were quite impressed by the nominations submitted this year.
Look through all 14 2023 Notable Document Awards winners for any standout documents from your state and to learn more about what's happening in state governments around the country.
Miller v. Alabama and Juvenile Life Without Parole Laws
Significant court rulings during the past decade continue to reshape juvenile justice policy.
Early In-Person Voting
Forty-six states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands offer early in-person voting to all voters (this includes states with all-mail elections). Three states—Alabama, Mississippi and New Hampshire—do not offer early in-person voting, though they may provide options for eligible absentee voters.
Workforce and Data System Strategies to Improve Public Health Policy Decisions
States are taking steps to modernize their public health data systems and improve their capacity to provide data analytics.
WIC Fact Sheet
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutrition education, supplemental food, healthcare referrals, and breastfeeding support to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five. The WIC Program is a short term resource for some of the country’s most vulnerable populations.
District Offices in State Legislatures
District offices provide legislators and their staff with a space to conduct work, hold meetings and retain close ties to the communities they represent.
Investing in a Strong Teacher Workforce: New State Policies Promoting National Board Certification
National Board Certification, offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, supports teachers in enhancing their practice and provides recognition for meeting the profession’s standards of accomplished teaching.
Lawmakers Turn to Data Systems to Guide Vaccine Decision-Making
As the nation continues to execute the largest immunization campaign in history with COVID-19 vaccines, states have relied on their immunization information systems more than ever to identify trends and inform resource allocation and immunization policies.
Rural Emergency Hospitals
Rural emergency hospital (REH) is a new Medicare provider designation established by Congress through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. REHs are meant to reinforce access to outpatient medical services and reduce health disparities in areas that may not be able to sustain a full-service hospital.
Welcome Dana Combs, New LRL Secretary
LRL is excited to announce and welcome our new LRL secretary for 2023-2024.
Dana Combs is a librarian and archivist at the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services Library. She obtained her master's degree in library and information science from Rutgers University in 2012 and began her career as a reference assistant at the New Jersey State Archives. Joining the OLS Library in 2013 as a library assistant, her dedication and expertise led her to become a full-fledged librarian and archivist. Her involvement with LRL started in 2018 when she attended her first PDS in Harrisburg, connecting with counterparts from across the country. Now, she is honored and excited to be considered for the position of secretary for the upcoming year. When not immersed in her professional pursuits, she cherishes spending time with her husband and daughters, indulging in baking, participating in online adult ballet classes, and immersing herself in the works of Jane Austen, WWII historical fiction, and cozy mysteries. Her diverse interests extend to being an avid fan of K-pop, as well as symphonic and folk metal.
Webinar and Information Sharing Call
We wanted to take a moment to invite you to an upcoming webinar and information sharing call that may be of great interest to you. The purpose of our webinars and information sharing calls is to facilitate discussions and information sharing on a variety of topics of interest with a Q&A segment at the end.
LRL - Mason’s Manual Webinar
I am happy to invite you to register for the upcoming LRL - Mason’s Manual Webinar: Wednesday, July 12, 2023, at 12 p.m. MT! Join fellow legislative librarians and library staff to hear from the 2030 Mason’s Manual Commission about Mason’s Manual, how to access and best practices for conducting research! Everyone is encouraged to come with questions or case studies and be prepared to share your own ideas, experiences and tips with your peers. Here are the designated topics to be covered.
- How to use Mason’s (both print and digital) to do research.
- How to order Mason’s.
- Overview of the relationship between Mason’s and chamber rules.
- A Mason’s 101 style overview.
You must register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
LRL - Records Retention Information Sharing Call
We are also happy to invite you to register for the upcoming LRL - Records Retention Information Sharing Call: Monday, July 17, 2023, at 12 p.m. MT! Join fellow legislative librarians and library staff to discuss several important questions related to records management and retention! Everyone is encouraged to share their current practices, aspirational practices, and interesting ideas you’ve heard through the grapevine. Below are a few questions to consider before the call.
- Guidance on records vs. non-records.
- Classification of records against retention schedules.
- Best practices for capturing/retaining social media posts and messages from state accounts.
We also intend to explore how collaboration platforms like Teams fit into the records management landscape, particularly regarding channels, chats, and policies that ensure records taken off-site for remote work are properly accounted for.
You must register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
- William Clark, NCSL, Center for Legislative Strengthening
- Bethany Clark, National Archives and Records Administration, Records Management Policy and Outreach
- Andria Leo, National Archives and Records Administration, Records Management Policy and Outreach
LRL Business Meeting
Mark your calendars! The annual LRL business meeting is just around the corner. The meeting will be held via Zoom, allowing all members to participate from the comfort of their own locations.
Please join us on Sept. 12, 2023, at noon MT, for an engaging and informative session. To ensure a smooth experience, we kindly request that you register in advance by following the Zoom registration link below:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. We look forward to your participation and valuable input during the annual business meeting.
NC LEGISLATIVE LIBRARY DELVES INTO BUILDING HISTORY
By Anthony Aycock, Secretary, Legislative Librarian for North Carolina General Assembly
Standing at the intersection of Jones and Wilmington Streets in Raleigh–in fact, it takes up the whole block, a feature common to edifices of its type–the North Carolina Legislative Building represents a temporal transition as well: from the comfort and conformity of the postwar 1950s to the Dionysian revels of the swinging sixties.
Having outgrown its home for the prior 118 years (the colonial-era capitol was destroyed by fire in 1831 and rebuilt in 1840), the General Assembly in 1958 formed a commission to create a plan for a new statehouse, which would be the first in the nation to be devoted exclusively to legislative activity. The architect was Edward Durrell Stone, who had designed New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center, and other illustrious structures. Finally, on Feb. 6, 1963, the first legislative session opened in what became known as, simply, “the LB.”
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the LB’s advent. The place is a popular tourist draw in our city, and when the idea arose to commemorate those six decades, I knew the Legislative Library would play a major role.
After lots of discussion, the plan that was approved consisted of two parts:
- A poster in the LB’s gallery.
- A website gathering historical documents, pictures, news articles, and other items that could be scanned and uploaded as exhibits.
Julia Covington, one of our reference librarians and a longtime LRL member (she was LRL chair from 2017-2018), designed both the 72” x 42” poster and the corresponding website. The poster sits on the third floor of the LB alongside displays from the North Carolina State Parks, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and other North Carolina agencies.
The website involved several library staff tracking down and scanning photographs, news articles and other documents, such as Building Commission reports, a brochure from the 1963 open house, the program from the 1964 dedication, and black-and-white photos showing legislators smiling, voting, and, of course, smoking. It also links to a timeline we created, as well as a short film, The Ayes Have It, made in 1963 by the now-defunct North Carolina Film Board.
As a team that spends its days helping researchers with legislative history, we enjoyed our foray into legislative building history. Can’t wait to see what my successor does for the LB’s 75th!
We have a new deputy director! Our long-time reference librarian, Alex Burnett, was chosen for this position. Prior to working for the Maine State Law & Reference Library, he led a grant-funded digitization project at the Rhode Island State Law Library and worked at the Pell Marine Science Library at the University of Rhode Island while obtaining his MLIS. He holds an undergraduate degree in history and a certificate in environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alex was born in Rhode Island and raised there and in Massachusetts but spent summers in Maine since he was a child. Alex currently lives in Augusta, where he can see the State House from his bedroom window, with his wife and son. He enjoys trying to keep up with his toddler, spending time at his family’s lake house, and watching movies.