Researching Taxation in Wisconsin

It’s tax season and Wisconsin residents can stay informed and do research about taxation in Wisconsin by searching the Wisconsin Digital Archives.  As tax laws continue to change, access to information about how taxation impacts Wisconsin residents is important. The Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue does extensive reporting about how taxes in Wisconsin impact the economy. There are reports and statistics about topics such as sales tax, property tax, tax assessment, income tax, and the taxation of goods such as alcohol and beer, automobiles, and fuel just to name a few.

Click on this quick search link to access all publications in the Wisconsin Digital Archives published by the Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue. To learn more about searching by publisher and format, access the Search Tips guides online.

Post written by: Abby Swanton, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning


Accessing Agricultural Impact Statements

As our state continues to grow and change, it’s important to have access to information that allows us to be informed residents of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Digital Archives provides access to agricultural impact statements from 2012 to current that provide information about how development projects around the state impact farmland.

According to the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection(DATCP), agricultural impact statements (AIS) are prepared for public projects that involve acquiring farmland through outright purchase or easements. AIS analyze the economic impact on individual farms, identify the acreage potentially lost or affected, and convey land owner concerns.

Project initiators include local governments, state agencies, and private companies building utilities. Public projects include roads, airports, electric transmission lines, pipelines, parks and wastewater treatment plants.

AIS are required when the project initiators have condemnation authority and the project will take more than 5 acres from any one farm, regardless of land ownership. An AIS may be prepared when a project would significantly affect a farm, even if it take five acres or less from any one farm, or the project is located within the boundaries of a city of village, but would still significantly affect a farm.

As AIS become available, they will be added to the Wisconsin Digital Archives. Search by format using the term ‘Agricultural Impact Statements’ to see all AIS available in the collection. For more information on searching the Wisconsin Digital Archives use the Search Tips Guides online.

Post written by: Abby Swanton, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Finding Wisconsin Health Statistics

Are you doing research on health related topics and looking for authoritative statistics about Wisconsin? The Wisconsin Digital Archives is your source for statistics related to the health of Wisconsin residents! State agencies collect data and produce reports on a wide variety of health related topics including child and elder abuse, alcoholism and drug use, death and infant mortality, oral health, lead poisoning, Lyme disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, population growth and life expectancy, mental health, environmental health, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, breastfeeding, obesity, chronic disease, cardiovascular disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Wisconsin Digital Archives provides convenient access to health statistics with a quick link on the homepage. If you want to do a more advanced search in the Wisconsin Digital Archives, there is a guide available to help users search for ‘Statistics’ as a format and then narrow the results down by state agency, topic and date.

If you cannot find the statistics you’re looking for, feel free to email for assistance.

Post written by: Abby  Swanton, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Searching for Biennial Reports in the Wisconsin Digital Archives

2015-17 biennial reports are due in October 2017, and as they become available, these reports will be added for long-term access through the Wisconsin Digital Archives. State agencies are required under s. 15.04(1)(d) to submit to the governor and the chief clerk of each house of the legislature a biennial report on or before October 15 of each odd-numbered year. Biennial reports provide information on the performance and operations of the department or independent agency for the preceding biennium and projects goals and objectives for the upcoming biennium.

Easy access to biennial reports is available through the Wisconsin Digital Archives going back to 2001/2003 biennium. Biennial reports can be used as a way to narrow results by format. Use this Searching by Format training guide to search for ‘biennial reports’ and other format types. A complete list of format types is included in the training guide.

Post written by: Abby Swanton, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Direct Link to the Wisconsin Digital Archives


Make it easier for your users to get to the Wisconsin Digital Archives by placing a direct link to the collection on your library’s webpage. If you already have a link to the Wisconsin Digital Archives from your webpage, please update the link to . The old URL will automatically redirect to the new site, however the site was recently redesigned to a responsive site that is more accessible and allows for better functionality on mobile devices and tablets.

If you would like to hyperlink to the Wisconsin Digital Archives using a logo, both small and large logos are available online. The code allows libraries to embed the logo into their websites.

Looking for bookmarks or promotional materials to highlight the Wisconsin Digital Archives? Outreach materials are available for libraries to download online.

Contact if you have any questions.

Written by: Abby Swanton, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning

New Interface for Wisconsin Digital Archives

The Wisconsin Digital Archives has a newly redesigned end-user interface! The new interface includes responsive features that allow for the collection to adapt to any screen size making the Wisconsin Digital Archives easy to use on mobile devices. The new interface also includes features to enhance the usability, performance and accessibility of the Wisconsin Digital Archives in compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.  Features include text alternatives for non-text content and configurations that allow for assistive technology to better navigate the collection.

The Wisconsin Digital Archives contains more than 15,000 state government documents published starting in 2001-current from the executive and judicial branches and various boards, councils, task forces and commissions. As part of the statutorily mandated Wisconsin Document Depository Program, this collection is in active development, with new content added each month.

The Wisconsin Digital Archives has Quick Links on the homepage to most frequently used state documents including a variety of statistics, master plans from the Dept. of Natural Resources, and resources designed for teachers to use in the classroom. Looking for something more specific? We have you covered with all new search guides.  These guides are designed to make you an expert searcher in no time! Need help finding something? We’re here to help! Email .

Post written by: Abby Swanton, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Podcast episode on race, ethnicity and the U.S. Census

I learned (or was reminded) that I am a Census geek when I got excited that one of my favorite podcasts,  Code Switch, recently did an episode on the Census called “Here’s Why The Census Started Counting Latinos, And How That Could Change In 2020.”  CodeSwitch is a blog and podcast from National Public Radio.  Here’s a good description of CodeSwitch, from their About the Code Switch Team page:  “We’re a team of journalists fascinated by the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.”

The August 3, 2017, podcast on the Census not only covers the history of how the Census has (or has not) counted Latinos over the decades.  It also features an interview with John Thompson, former director of the Census (the Code Switch blog features a longer version of the interview here) and a discussion of the possibilities and implications of adding “Middle Eastern or North African” (MENA) as a category for race and ethnicity.

I learned a lot from Kat Chow’s story “For Some Americans Of MENA Descent, Checking A Census Box Is Complicated,” which appeared on Code Switch’s blog on March 11, 2017.  I’ve wondered in the past how people of Middle Eastern or North African descent have identified themselves in the Census…this story describes how some people of MENA descent have grappled with that issue.

I also learned about the (well-founded) fears of people of color regarding how Census data might be used.   Chow points out “…the U.S. government used census data to locate and deliver more than 100,000 Japanese Americans to incarceration camps,” not by using individual Census data, but by identifying areas where lots of Japanese Americans lived in 1940.

Code Switch has also published stories on whether the Census Bureau will collect LGBT data.  

Shereen Marisol Meraji, one of the hosts of theCode Switch podcast, and host of the August 3 episode, promises more coverage of the upcoming 2020 Census.  I look forward to it–Code Switch provides valuable perspective and context.  Plus, I like knowing there are other Census geeks out there!

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



DPI and LRB Join Digital Public Library of America

Guest Post by Emily Pfotenhauer, Community Liaison & Service Specialist, WiLS

More than 15,000 state government documents are now available through Recollection Wisconsin and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB). These collections are in active development, with new content added each month.

The Wisconsin Digital Archives, maintained by DPI, includes materials from the executive and judicial branches and various boards, councils, task forces and commissions as part of the statutorily mandated Wisconsin Document Depository Program. Since 1901, Wisconsin statutes have included provisions for the distribution of government documents to libraries for preservation and public access in order to “assist state offices, members of the legislature, and other citizens who are studying the growth and development of the affairs and institutions of this state” (1901 Wis. Laws, Chapter 168). The Wisconsin Digital Archives was established in 2004 to enable state agencies to participate in the Wisconsin Document Depository Program by depositing documents in digital formats.

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau Digital Collections, launched in 2015, contain documents by and for the Wisconsin Legislature and its service agencies: the Legislative Reference Bureau, Legislative Council, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau and the Legislative Audit Bureau. The Legislative Reference Bureau was founded in 1901 as a nonpartisan legislative service agency providing legal, research, and information services to the Wisconsin Legislature.

The LRB collections and the Wisconsin Digital Archives bring together a wealth of information about state government programs and initiatives through reports, plans, studies, statistics, newsletters, manuals and guides. The annual State of the Tribes addresses, the Wisconsin Briefs series and Information Memorandums published by the Legislative Council are all available through the LRB collections. Notable materials in the WDA collections include the DNR’s master plans for state parks since the 1970s and an array of statistics about life in Wisconsin, encompassing health, natural resources, environment, transportation, crime and corrections, the economy and workforce, education and agriculture.

Direct links to the content in DPLA for both DPI and the LRB are available:

Legislative Reference Bureau Digital Collections

Wisconsin Digital Archives


Written by Emily Pfotenhauer, Community Liaison & Service Specialist, WiLS

Wisconsin Heat Vulnerability Indices

The Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services collects data related to population density, health factors, natural and built environments, and demographic and socioeconomic factors to track negative impacts extreme heat can have on vulnerable populations such as elderly populations, socially isolated people and those with pre-existing chronic conditions. This data is used to create heat vulnerability indices (HVI) to identify areas of greatest risk for negative health impacts due to extreme heat for the entire state of Wisconsin, by county and for the greater Milwaukee urban area.

The heat vulnerability indices are available in the Wisconsin Digital Archives along with other resources related to managing extreme heat:

Learn more about how data is collected for the heat vulnerability indices and other heat-related health and safety tips.

Post written by: Abby Swanton, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Presidential transitions

Sources for texts of presidential actions & public remarks

As we undergo executive (and legislative)-branch transitions on a federal level, there are a few resources I’d like to highlight.

Presidential documents, including presidential proclamations and executive orders, are published in the Federal Register, which is published every weekday by the Office of the Federal Register, which is part of the National Archives. There are a few sites for the Federal Register:

In its “About the Federal Register” section, GPO says, in the “Presidential Documents Section in the Federal Register” paragraph:

This section of the Federal Register contains documents signed by the President and submitted to the Office of the Federal Register for publication. Presidential documents include Proclamations and Executive Orders, as well as other documents such as determinations, letters, memorandums, and reorganization plans. The documents are compiled annually in title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

I had to pull out my gov docs textbook, Tapping the Government Grapevine, 3rd edition, to find the distinction between executive orders and presidential proclamations.  Judith Schiek Robinson says,

Legally, proclamations and executive orders are the same…In actual use, most executive orders are working documents often used to command government agencies or officials, while proclamations address the general public (p. 130)

Periodically the Office of the Federal Register publishes The Compilation of Presidential Documents, which includes remarks made by the president that don’t have the force of law, and a bunch of other  things described here.  The Compilation of Presidential Documents is available at  GPO’s FDSys site, and its Govinfo site (

You can also look at the White House’s web site, particularly the section labelled “Briefing Room.”

There is a lag time between when executive orders are signed, and when they are published.  I don’t know if there’s ever been a standard lag time.  The Federal Register of Jan 30 contains executive orders and proclamations signed on Jan 24 and 25.

Did the old White House site just disappear?

Executive branch websites reflect the priorities of the current President, just as executive branch tangible publications do.  Congressional publications reflect the priorities of current members of Congress.  This is something I try to remember to tell patrons when I’m talking about government publications.

With tangible publications, literal “paper trails” of previous Presidential administrations’ priorities exist (thanks, in part, to the Federal Depository Library Program, in which 19 Wisconsin libraries participate).  The development of systems to keep a historical record of electronic documents is a process many of us have been alive to witness, and it’s still ongoing.  One example of a process to capture electronic government information, the End of Term Web Archive, has been led, in large part, by libraries.  It has preserved websites from administration changes in 2008, 2012, and 2016.

You can view an archived version of the White House website under Barack Obama’s administration at    I don’t know how deep it goes, but I was able to view blog posts back to July 2010  and speeches and remarks back to January 2009 .

Other archived White House Sites are available from the National Archives and Records Administration.

–Beth Harper, Government information/reference librarian, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison