Hunting in Wisconsin

With the first weeks of school behind us, many in Wisconsin are looking forward to the fall hunting season. Hunting is part of the fabric of Wisconsin culture, going back generations. Since 2003, the right to hunt has even been enshrined in the Wisconsin Constitution (Article I, Section 26).

For a timeline on hunting in Wisconsin, see “A chronology of Wisconsin deer hunting from closed seasons to record harvests” on the Wisconsin DNR web page. The DNR has a great deal of information about hunting, from regulations to hunter safety training, to statistics on harvests of various animals. provides a unique perspective on the history of hunting in Wisconsin. While this web site wouldn’t pass muster as an authoritative source (there is almost no information about the person running the site), the images of old deer and other hunting tags and the anecdotes that go with some of them are interesting and fun to look at. I never knew that deer tags were collectible!

On top of all that, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press has published a number of books and articles about hunting, most recently Hunting Camp 52: Tales from a Northwoods Deer Camp. You can find them for purchase on the WHS web site, or in your local library!

Summertime in the outdoors


Earlier this week, I went into my backyard about 90 minutes before sunset. Thanks to the mosquitos (and other flying insects), I lasted about a minute! This was the worst I’d seen the mosquitos all summer. So, I tried to figure out WHY there were so many of them. My theory: a whole bunch of mosquito eggs were laid in the aftermath of storms that dumped 2.79 inches of rain on Madison on July 21 and caused flooding around the city. Maybe those mosquitos were now mature and looking for blood. As I related this theory to a colleague, I realized I could look up information on a mosquito’s life cycle. Lo and behold, one of my first results was from the federal government, the Environmental Protection Agency to be exact. Its website on Mosquito Control includes a page on the Mosquito Life Cycle. Given the life cycle of the mosquito, it’s possible my theory is correct, though I’m not sure I’ve had enough standing water in my backyard to hatch many mosquitos.

When discussing government publications about mosquitos, I feel it’s my duty to mention Dr. Seuss’s contribution to the “genre,” a pamphlet entitled This Is Ann: She’s Dying to Meet You. You can learn more about this publication from an April 12, 2012 post by Erin Rushing on the Smithsonian Libraries blog Unbound.

Wisconsin Outdoor Report

On a more pleasant note, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issues an Outdoor Report each Thursday. There’s a general report, followed by five regional reports, for Northern, Northeast, Southeast, South Central, and West Central Wisconsin. The reports tend to be heavy on fishing news, at least in the spring and summer, but do include some information on bug populations, plant life, and general water conditions. In the fall, these reports have information on the state of fall foliage.

National Park Service Centennial

August 25, 2016, marks the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service. In Wisconsin, there’s a John Muir Centennial Event on August 6, at the Ice Age National Scenic Trail at John Muir County Park in Marquette County (about seven miles south of Montello. Registration is required to attend the festival, which will feature a children’s art exhibit, workshops, hikes and poetry recitation by Wisconsin State Poet Laureate. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through this park.

Beth Harper, Government information/reference librarian, Memorial Library, UW-Madison

New draft document on industrial sand mining in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking feedback on a new strategic analysis of the industrial sand mining (ISM) industry in Wisconsin. Comments may be submitted via email, or by US Mail to: ISM SA Coordinator, WDNR OB/7, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921. Comments must be submitted by August 22, 2016.

The DNR held a public informational hearing on the draft strategic analysis on July 26, 2016, in Eau Claire. You can listen to the audio transcript at the hearing at this

Flags at half-staff

There have been too many occasions recently that the U.S. has been flying its flags at half-staff.  According to’s page on the American flag, the U.S. flag flies at half-staff when the nation is in mourning. These periods of mourning occur by Presidential proclamation.

The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs has a page on Flag-Lowering Orders in Wisconsin. Not only does it give the current flag status and explain under what situations the flag is lowered, it also lists US and state flag lowering proclamations going back to 2009.

In the news…


Jim Church, International Documents Librarian at University of California-Berkeley, has a page on European Union: Brexit. It links to some non-government publications, and resources specific to UC-Berkely.  It also has nice sections with links to

  • EU Selected Statements & Links
  • Official Publications: Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, & Northern Ireland

Civilian/police shootings

President Obama’s statements on

In his statement on the fatal shootings of Sterling and Castile, President Obama referred to the recommendations in the final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server

The FBI’s July 5  blog post includes a link to Director James Comey’s full remarks made on the matter on that day.

On a somewhat (?) lighter note

On June 24, 2016, President Obama designated Christopher Park in New York City the  Stonewall National Monument.

–Submitted by Beth Harper, UW-Madison’s Memorial Library

What an actuary has to do with baby names

Have you ever used, or pointed users to, the Baby Name section of the Social Security web site?  Do you know the section’s history?  I learned about it this weekend from the What’s in a Name episode of the radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge.  The segment “What Not to Name Your Baby” features an interview with Michael Shackleford, an actuary working at the SSA’s Office of the Chief Actuary, talking about what motivated him to write the program tabulating which were most popular at a given time.  Shackleford’s efforts were first publicly documented in the government publication  Actuarial Note #139, Name Distributions in the Social Security Area, August 1997.  This publication was distributed to Federal Depository Libraries under item number 0516-F (online), with the SuDoc number SSA 1.25:139 .

On the current Baby Name site, you can look up

Not sure what an actuary does?  According to the entry in the Department of Labor’s 2016-2017 Occupational Outlook Handbook,

“Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur, and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk.”

You may want to investigate this profession further, because, according to the OOH, “Employment of actuaries is projected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

(Both quotations from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Actuaries,
on the Internet at (visited June 21, 2016).)
Beth Harper, Government information/reference librarian, Memorial Library, UW-Madison

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

We’ve still got a few more days of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.  Why was May chosen for this commemorative month?  According to, 

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

From About Asian/Pacific Heritage Month, , accessed May 24, 2016.

The Asian/Pacific Heritage Month site , sponsored by a number of federal cultural agencies and hosted by the Library of Congress, has links to images, audio and video, exhibits and collections, and resources for teachers.  The About section links to a comprehensive inventory of the Public Laws, Presidential Proclamations and congressional resolutions related to Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

One of the partner agencies in the Asian/Pacific Heritage Month site is the National Park Service, which has its own Asian-Pacific American Heritage site.   One of the (physical) sites related to Asian-Americans the NPS maintains is the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, which is in Washington DC.  You can learn more about this memorial at the (non-governmental, non-profit) National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.

The Census Bureau has put together a fact sheet on Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: May 2016, with demographic and business statistics.

One of the lesser-known Smithsonian museums, the National Postal Museum, has a page, Asian and Pacific Americans in the Postal Service and Philately, which links to exhibits on this topic.

What government resources would you recommend for this commemoration?

–Beth Harper, Government information/reference librarian, Memorial Library, UW-Madison

Who knew? US gov collects some stats on travel

Did you know that the U.S. government has a a National Travel and Tourism Office?  I didn’t till this spring, when I came across the office as I worked on a reference question.  NTTO is part of the Dept of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

You can see what kinds of data the Travel and Tourism Statistical System for the United States collects and analyzes at .

The statistics that really intrigued me were

You can get a sense of international visitation to the U.S., and international visitor spending in the U.S. (both to a monthly level!), and a list of the top states, cities, and regions visited. (alas, Wisconsin and its fine cities do not make those lists).

You can also find annual Profiles of U.S. Resident Travelers Visiting Overseas Destinations back to 2008, and Monthly U.S. Outbound Air Travel to International Regions.

Have you come across information that you were surprised to know federal, state, or local governments published?  Let us know!

Beth Harper

Government information/reference librarian

Memorial Library, UW-Madison

Did you spot any snowy owls during the Christmas bird count?

The winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 saw an unusually large number of snowy owls coming through Wisconsin.  What about this year?  Check out the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources’s page on snowy owls:

(A co-worker of mine, who is an Audobon Field Trips coordinator and leader, strongly recommends paying special attention to the “Viewing Considerations” tab.)

In November the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted “8 Fascinating Facts About Snowy Owls:”

And the Christmas Bird Count?  It’s not a government thing; it’s an Audobon Society thing (though quite a few counts take place on government refuges.  You can read about the history here.

Beth Harper
Government information reference librarian
Memorial Library, UW-Madison

Rescuing an e-document

By Laurie Wermter
Memorial Library Reference Department

I am a reference librarian at Memorial Library on the UW-Madison campus & I am also the creator of the Wisconsin Labor History Bibliography (WLHB).

In 2006 I created an entry for my on-line bibliography of a new Wisconsin government document:  The History of the Wisconsin Civil Service, 1905-2005.  This book had been prepared by the Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations (OSER) to mark the centennial of the creation of the Wisconsin civil service system. The work appeared in both a print edition and an electronic edition.  (Please see the end of this post for the annotation I wrote describing this 61-page centennial history.).

I had learned of the publication of this centennial history from a website created by the Office of State Employment Relations in 2005 to celebrate the centennial of the WI civil service system. [Note: that OSER centennial website had been available up until September 2015 at, but as of today, is not available.] As I acquired a copy of the print edition at the same time, I can tell you that the two versions–the print edition and the e-edition–are the very same, except for the PDF edition lacking the ‘title cover’ of the print edition.

This summer, someone referred a reporter from a Wisconsin daily news source to me, for bibliographical suggestions about the civil service system of the state, and one of the best sources of which I am aware is this centennial history from OSER.  Although the OSER centennial website itself was still available on the web when I checked during the first week of August, I found that the URL in that website for the PDF of this title was now dead.

When I went to consult with the OSER staff about the dead link, I found out that OSER had very recently been folded into the Department of Administration, so it was uncertain as to whether that website would be continued or not.  I was told that the PDF files for the centennial history could not be located or recovered at this point, although the staff person with whom I spoke said that it would be brought to the attention of the department’s administration in the coming weeks that there had been an inquiry from someone wanting to use this Wisconsin government document, in case something could be done to restore public access to the e-version.

At this point, I checked the Google Books website as I thought their project might have digitized this title. A search of the phrase (with the quotation marks):

“history of the wisconsin civil service”

did bring up the fact that the print edition of the book was included in the Google Books website; however, it is only available in their ‘snippet’ view (which lets one look at up to three lines of text around a particular word for which one has searched within the book)–not very usable. (It is ironic that the Google Books website includes this title in PDF, yet will only provide what Google defines as their ‘snippet’ view. By rights, the e-book should be provided for open viewing in Google Books, as Wisconsin government documents, generally, cannot be copyrighted. Google, however, has decided to treat all materials published after 1923 as covered by copyright, so this is the situation with which users must put up. The Hathi Trust, on the other hand, is making an effort to determine which government documents are not covered by copyright, and make those available in full view in the Hathi Trust digital library.)

In addition to searching the website of the Wisconsin Digital Archives, which did not, at that point, have a record of the e-document, I also scoured the Internet thoroughly to see if the e-version of the document had, perhaps, been made available anywhere else.  I found that, although there are multiple library webpages on the Internet which seemed to indicate the PDF of the title was available there, all of those pages also led to dead links.

At that point I was wondering if a reporter could file an Open Records request with the Department of Administration to get the PDF.

Certainly, numerous libraries in Wisconsin do have the print edition available; however, a PDF version would be so helpful to the users of today. If only the print copy is available, users will have to go through a lot more steps to get access to it.

Upon more consideration, I decided to try searching in Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, although, as their métier is to provide access to webpages through time, I was skeptical that their website would pick up the content of PDFs linked in those webpages.

I was delighted to find that the Wayback Machine had trolled the website of the Wisconsin civil service centennial and included the content of the PDFs on that page!  As I had the contact info for the person who had asked the reference question, I was able to send that person the link to the e-version.

As a follow-up, on Friday, September 11, I sent a message to the Wisconsin Digital Archives (WDA) website about the unavailability in their database of the PDF version of this WI government document. (The WDA is dedicated to preserving the digital government documents of Wisconsin.) I am happy to report that, on Wednesday, September 16, one of their librarians replied to me with the information that she had contacted the OSER office and that they had promptly supplied her with the 61-page PDF of the document and that she would be cataloging it soon for the Wisconsin Digital Archives website.

When I checked on Friday, September 24, I saw that the PDF of the e-book was already available in the WDA.

Finally, I note that, as of at least Monday, September 28, when I looked on the Internet for the OSER centennial website, that the entire centennial website appears to have been taken down.  If you would like to look at that full website of the centennial, you will find it archived here in the Wayback Machine:

Entry from the Wisconsin Labor History Bibliography, prepared in 2006:

Wisconsin.  Office of State Employment Relations.  The History of the Wisconsin Civil Service, 1905-2005. Madison, Wis.:  Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations; [2005].  vi, 61 p.

This is an official history prepared and published by the Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations to mark the 2005 centennial of the creation of the Wisconsin state civil service system, tracing the development from June 17, 1905, when then governor Robert M. La Follette signed Wisconsin Statute Chapter 363 into law to create the state’s civil service system; the new civil service system was designed to ensure that ‘the best shall serve the state’ with hiring to be based on merit as determined through open and competitive examination. Following the U.S. federal government, New York, and Massachusetts, Wisconsin was the third state to abandon the patronage, or ‘spoils’ system, wherein government employees had been chosen based almost solely on the political affiliation of the job applicants.

Created in 1905, the Wisconsin Civil Service Commission was re-organized in 1929, during the governorship of Walter Kohler, Sr., as an independent agency known as the state Bureau of Personnel under the direction of a three-member Personnel Board. In 1959, the state Bureau of Personnel became a bureau within the Department of Administration, where it stayed until 1977, when new legislation changed the bureau into the Department of Employment Relations (DER), along with a separate Personnel Commission to handle review of appeals of personnel decisions.  Then, in 1978, the state Department of Employment Relations was given cabinet-level status and remained so until 2003, when the Department of Employment Relations was re-created as the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER) and was attached to the Department of Administration for administrative purposes, where it remains today.

Two chapters of special interest are Chapter V, “Wisconsin State Employee Labor History” (p. 35-41) and Chapter VI, “Wisconsin Affirmative Action History” (p. 43-51).

The published version of this history should be available at any of the many public and university libraries which are part of Wisconsin Depository Libraries program–see there under the following Wisconsin Documents Number: WI ADM. 2: C 53/ 2005.

A digital version (in PDF) of this history may be found at a website created in observation of the Wisconsin Civil Service Centennial–see the following URL: