Jackie Curro from Maryland discussed an issue that faces all of our libraries – reaching the members of our legislatures. Of their 188 member offices, about 30 are constant library users. A few never contact the library. About three years ago they decided to talk with members in their offices. The library is required to provide copies of the Annotated Statutes, which is now up to 50 printed volumes, to all members. They offered to have a librarian come to member’s offices to tell them how to use the statutes (and hopefully encourage them to use them online!). Each session is about thirty minutes, and effective because the librarian can address just what the member needs to know about searching. About 20 members have signed up each of the three years. They feel it´s been successful, especially since they have made contacts with many staff members too. Jackie’s question to the group was, ‘Should we be moving on to podcasts to try to reach more members?” The group´s advice was to look into online tutorials. Short webinars can be very effective. Mary Camp noted that many people have come to rely on the library, but it’s because of the personal contacts. It’s a balancing act – making as much as possible online, yet maintaining the personal contacts that lead to effective delivery of services.
Mary Camp, Director of the Texas Legislative Library, noted that the Texas Legislature meets every other year, Jan-May. Their staff complement is library has 26 fte, 31 during session. They are creating an all-time legislator database, but it is still internal only as they complete it. They are undergoing a project to digitize all bills from the first session to the present, in-house, as time permits. An outside consultant predicted that it would take 20 years to scan the mountain of paper, but they are 13 years ahead of schedule! They continue to maintain their extensive news clipping service, a veto database, an executive order database, and a state of the state speech page.
Shelley Day from Utah is involved in a bill scanning project for bills from 1896-1989; the State Archives is doing the scanning. She reported that 3/4 of her time is taken up with helping people with legislative histories, so she created web pages to help users get to as much information online as possible. She also developed a popular staff directory application to help legislators quickly identify and contact staff. On their secure site, the staff directory allows searching by first or last name, and area of work, and is formatted for Blackberries.
Frances Thomas from Louisiana talked about the subject indexing that the librarians do for bills and acts. The indexing application, which was developed by outside consultants,is easy to use, but the task is enormous, involving constant changes as bills are amended. “It’s fun, though,” Frances claimed!
Minnesota librarians were told, “One minute each!” as they quickly showed the library’s main page blog (not really a blog, because comments are not solicited), the Legislators Past & Present Database, the Executive Orders database, the Veto database, and to discuss our move to online newsclip files.