Why does the government want to know how many toilets are in my house?

There’s a battle in Congress over funding the Census, and especially the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks a subset of U.S. residents a LOT of questions (currently, 72) about housing, education, income, internet and energy usage, to name a few topics.  On Tuesday, June 16, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Kathleen Dunn Show devoted an hour to the Census, in a program called Why the Census Matters.  Dunn’s guest was Phil Sparks, co-founder of the advocacy organization The Census Project.  The radio program is a good introduction to the Census long form, sampling, and how it evolved into the American Community Survey.  It’s also interesting to hear what people who don’t work regularly with the Census–people like the radio host, and callers to the show–think about the Census.  The program was inspired in part by an article, Republicans Try to Curtail the Census, on the Atlantic Monthly‘s website on June 9, 2015.  The Atlantic piece referred to this article, Will a kinder, gentler census survey placate congressional foes?, posted on Science’s website on April 28, 2015.

Have you heard from your users one way or another on reduced funding for the Census, or making the ACS optional?


Government Information Day 2015 Round Up, Part III

“Time for Change? UW-Madison Re-evaluation of Regional Federal Status Discussion.” This presentation/discussion features Doug Way, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Research Services at UW-Madison.

In November of 2014, the UW-Madison’s Vice Provost for Libraries/University Librarian charged Doug Way with re-evaluating UW-Madison’s status as a regional federal depository library (FDLs). UW-Madison is one of two regional FDLs in the state, the other being Milwaukee Public Library. UW-Madison is seriously considering becoming a large selective FDL rather than a regional FDL. Since November UW-Madison has been reaching out to stakeholder groups around the state. The discussion at Government Information Day was one such opportunity to talk with and listen to depository librarians and other library staff interested in government information; however, it will not be the last. UW-Madison is currently having conversations with Milwaukee Public Library and the Government Publishing Office. In the fall depository library directors in Wisconsin will be contacted by letter and invited to give feedback, and forums will be held for faculty and staff at the UW-Madison campus. Way expects to have a recommendation to the University Librarian by the end of the calendar year.     Submitted by Beth Harper

Government Information Day 2015 Round Up, Part II

Below is a summary by Keely Merchant, Wisconsin Government Documents Librarian at the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, of her presentation on the new Legislative Reference Bureau Digital Collections:

In early 2015, The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau Library launched a digital repository for legislative publications and reports. We have created collections for each of the Wisconsin legislative agencies as well as a collection for press releases and one for legislatively mandated reports. You are likely familiar with the publications from legislative agencies that are in their respective collections, so I would like to draw your attention to the latter two collections.

The Press Releases and Public Relations collection is for capturing legislative press releases before they disappear off the internet. We are currently adding the press releases that are already in our print collection, of which we have the years 1999-2003. We are also going through our News Clippings collection (available on the legislative network only) to find press releases and move them to the new collection. Going forward we would like to capture press releases from legislators’ websites as they come out. This collection has been getting a lot of interest from patrons researching political history.

The Legislatively Mandated Reports collection contains reports mandated by the Wisconsin Statutes and are submitted to the legislature by state agencies. We are especially excited about this collection because many of these reports have not been readily available outside of our library before. We are adding metadata to each record for the Wisconsin Statute and the law that created the statute, as well as which legislative biennium the report covers. For example, this issue of the Concealed carry annual report is for 2013, so 2013-2014 is in the “Biennium” field. You will also see that the statute and the act that created the statute are entered into the “Law & Legislation” field. Another metadata field to note is “URL”, clicking on the link there will open another window or tab that lists all the issues of this report.

The browse all mandated reports page allows for sorting by agency, biennium, law & legislation, subject, and date. Some statutes require more than one agency to submit reports so when you expand the “Law & Legislation” facet you will see that it is organized by quantity (and that there are always two that have the same number because they are in the same records). If you select “1991 Wisconsin Act 273” or “Wis. Stats. s. 1.11(2)(j)” you will get a list of reports submitted under that law/statute. If you then expand the “Agency” facet you will see that we have reports under that statute from five agencies. [screencast]

Many of the newer items in our digital collections will be on the Wisconsin Document Depository Program Digital Shipping List, all items have OCLC records that can be added to your library’s catalog. If your library has a page for government information, please add a link to the entire digital collections and/or to individual collections themselves:

Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau Digital Collections

Legislatively Mandated Reports

Press Releases and Public Relations

Please contact the LRB library if you have any questions about the digital collections!


Government Information Day 2015 Round Up, Part I

Government Information Day was held on Friday, May 29, 2015, in Madison. The conference was well-attended, with approximately 30 participants. For the afternoon program, we asked fellow GIRT members to submit ideas for short (20 min.) talks, sharing interesting resources or practices that they use in their daily work, that they think others might find useful. This “best practices exchange” format allowed for discussion between the audience and the presenters, and we hope it helped broaden everyone’s knowledge of what’s happening around the state, as well as presenting useful ideas. Presentation summaries and/or links to PowerPoint slides for the afternoon sessions can be found below.

Wisconsin Document Depository Program (WDDP) Update, Abby Swanton, WDDP Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: PowerPoint slides

County Legal Resources Database, Carol Hassler, Web Services Librarian at the Wisconsin State Law Library: PDF of PowerPoint slides, handout.

Knowledge sharing at the reference desk with wikis, Lisa Winkler, Outreach Services Librarian at the Wisconsin State Law Library: PDF of PowerPoint slides.

County and municipal Archive-It collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Eileen Snyder, Wisconsin Government Publications Librarian, Wisconsin Historical Society: PowerPoint slides.

Part II of the Government Information Day summary will include a description of the program given by Keely Merchant of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau.