Last of the Navajo “Code Talkers”

Chester Nez, of Albuquerque, New Mexico died June 4 at the age of 93. He was the last of the original 29 U.S. Marine Code Talkers. Nez was in the 10 grade when he was recruited in 1942 by the Marines, who had come to his Arizona boarding school looking for Navajo speakers. The code developed from the Navajo language proved impossible for the Japanese to decipher.

The Navajo Code Talkers were prohibited from speaking of their war service until 1968 when the Code Talkers operation was declassified. In 2001, the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing in 2001 on the Code talkers which provided the men the opportunity to testify about their wartime service.

Code Talkers; hearing before the Committee on Indian Affairs, Untied States Senate, One Hundred Eighth Congress, second session on the contributions of Native American Code Talkers in American military history, September 22, 2004, Washington, D.C.

It is available in print and microfiche at Federal Depository Libraries under
SuDoc. number Y 4.IN 2/11:S, HRG. 108-692, or available online at:

If you want to see what the code was like and create a message of your own, check out the following declassified document:
Navajo Code Talkers’ Dictionary at:

Government Information Day: Researching Legislative History in Wisconsin

The final speaker of the day at Government Information Day was Kristina Martinez from the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, who spoke about researching legislative history in Wisconsin. This was Kristina’s second presentation to Government Information day; last year she presented a lightning talk on the work she does at the LRB as their bibliographic instruction librarian.

Kristina gave an excellent and engaging presentation on how to research legislative history in Wisconsin, pointing out that it is a very different process from researching federal legislative history. She chose particular statutory language, removing the requirement for a special license to make Limburger cheese, to demonstrate how to find legislative history. The PowerPoint slides for her presentation are available here (the slides are also available in PDF format). She also co-authored a guide to researching legislative history in Wisconsin, which is available from the LRB website.

Government Information Day – WISEdash Presentation and Demo

Melanie McCalmont and Tessa Michaelson Schmidt of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction gave an excellent and informative presentation on DPI’s new database for public school statistics, WISEdash. It replaces the old WINNS system. DPI has not yet migrated all the data from WINNS to WISEdash, but the WINNS data is easily accessible through the WISEdash portal. It is clear that a lot of hard work, thought, and care went into creating the database and its interface, making a vast array of data about Wisconsin public schools readily available at your fingertips.

The demonstration was all done on the live site, so there’s no PowerPoint presentation for me to post. But WiseDash is available from DPI’s website: – take a look and try it out for yourself!

GPO PURL Referrals: UW-L Catalog vs. Primo

At Government Information Day, last Friday June 6, 2014 at UW-Madison Memorial Library, there were several 10-minute “Lightning Talks” given.  Mine was entitled: “GPO PURL Referrals: UW-L Catalog vs. Primo”

Here are the slides I presented: GPO PURL Referrals

A PURL is a Persistent URL maintained by the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) as part of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).  GPO catalogs and keeps track of tens of thousands of online Federal government resources, and those resources are made available as components of the collections of Federal depository libraries.  PURLs are part of the strategy of making sure those resource links continue to work over time.

I presented preliminary PURL referral data comparing the usage of FDLP e-resources by way of the UW-La Crosse library catalog with usage of such resources via the UW System’s new “resource discovery” tool, Search@UW (Ex Libris Primo).

Data is inconclusive so far because the transition away from providing library catalogs at individual campuses to providing a single search tool across System is not yet complete.  But available data is intriguing.  In fall 2013 at UW-La Crosse we chose to continue offering the library catalog alongside the new Search@UW.  Despite Search@UW being the most prominent search on the library home page, we managed to generate more PURL referrals through the library catalog than ever.  Furthermore, that usage was almost 40% of that generated across the entire System via Search@UW, well out of proportion for UW-L.  Then, things appeared to change again for spring 2014.

Does moving to “resource discovery” affect the amount of use of online government information through UW libraries?  The next step is to collect historical PURL Referral data for all UW library catalogs, and compare that sum total with ongoing PURL referral data generated by users of the resource discovery tool.  Stay tuned — the data will tell the story!