Legislative Assembly Mace Legislative Assembly of Alberta


1999 Annual Report

Information, Reference, and Co-ordination Services: Legislature Library
Sandra E. Perry, Legislature Librarian

Organizational Chart for Information, Reference, and Co-ordination Services

Function Statement

  • Provides information and reference services to the Legislative Assembly
  • Co-ordinates a number of co-operative programs among Alberta government libraries

The Library expanded the electronic services available to members and staff this year. The creation of a new digital services librarian position and access to new full-text databases contributed to this expansion of service. To keep members and staff up-to-date on the Library's services, staff posted information on the web site, created a new Library brochure, and held an open house in the spring. The branch also co-ordinated changes to Library space, continued preservation of historical materials, and supported several Assembly events.

The Library continued to provide timely and accurate information services to members and responded to their demands for technology-related services in a definitive way. The Library's 1999 budget and electronic data processing (EDP) plan were built with the primary goal of responding to members' needs for more electronic information services. The Members' Services Committee approved a position to co-ordinate digital services and to further automate the library processes for 1999-2000. Consequently, a digital services librarian was hired in May, and a clerical position was restructured to provide part-time technical support to this position.

Access to new full-text databases such as InfoTrac allowed staff to frequently improve upon the standard 48-hour turnaround. In urgent circumstances and depending on workloads, staff were sometimes able to deliver information within the hour. With appropriate budget planning, which forecast inflation and exchange rates, staff made every effort to maintain the currency and comprehensiveness of the collection, including tracking and acquiring in a timely manner relevant reports mentioned in the press. In addition, the arrival of the digital services librarian increased the Library's ability to provide research services in French. The quality of the Library's research tools was improved by moving from dumb terminals to personal computers for all staff and by preparing to move from the DOS-based Dynix system to the Windows-based Horizon software for the catalogue interface.

The Library also provided clients with greater access to electronic services through subscriptions and appropriate licensing arrangements and through the development of the Library's Intranet site, which members can access directly from their desktop. To serve members' needs for immediate access to news stories in their jurisdiction and across the country, the Library obtained a licensing agreement with QuickLaw to provide daily access to Parliamentary Daily News Digest (PDND), a service highlighting the day's news of interest to legislators from major news sources across the country. The full text of these news items is available at the Library or by going to the online version of the newspaper from the links on the Library web site. Library staff took a more proactive approach to anticipating members' needs by producing full-text bibliographies on high-profile topics. These were initially e-mailed to members but are now available on the Library Intranet site.

Also now on the web site are Library updating services, such as New Books in the Library (NBIL), Selected Periodical Articles in the Library (SPAL), and Webwatch, which were formerly e-mailed monthly to members and LAO staff. Hot Topics includes the new full-text bibliography service previously mentioned. The third series of these bibliographies, based on questions the Library received, was begun in December. There are also links to web sites of interest to members, including links to legislation and other publications from Legislatures across the country and internationally; links to government sites; links to other libraries; and ready access to all sorts of speech-making tools. Library staff hope that for those who prefer to get their information electronically, the Library's web site will become their primary portal to information resources. Of course, staff are still able to respond to members' requests using more traditional methods of communication whenever necessary. A key element of the Library's ability to increase these electronic services was to ensure staff received the necessary training. This year, staff received training in Windows 95, HTML, and Internet searching.

The move to new computers necessitated some reworking of Library space. The public area of the Library was redesigned to create both a more consolidated and client-friendly micromedia/copier centre and a separate work area for technical and clerical staff. Revamping an old storage area created a new office in the Library proper for the digital services librarian. A plan to renovate the reference area was developed to provide a more ergonomic work space for reference personnel and more client-friendly access to Library staff. Greater automation of staff desktops created a need for more ergonomic workstations, and staff received new chairs this year as a first step in meeting that need. A modular reference desk unit, designed to fit with the decor of the rest of the Library, was under construction at year's end.

As the Library made these changes in its method of doing business, it kept the members and their staff up-to-date on all developments. In May Library staff produced a colourful new brochure outlining hours of operation, staff information, Library services, and procedures. It was updated in December. Another communication vehicle was the Library's first and, hopefully, annual Spring Tea and Open House held in early May. Large quantities of homemade goodies, along with brochures and descriptions of individual Library services, greeted the 150 guests who attended.

In December, at the LAO's constituency staff seminar, Library staff gave a presentation about Library services that was well received. Throughout the year Library staff were also involved in overall LAO planning and co-operative ventures. They contributed enthusiastically to ideas for Alberta's centennial and devoted significant time and effort to the United Way campaign, Under the Dome, ladies of the Legislature Christmas party (co-chair), and the staff recognition dinner. A new co-operative committee, formed under the auspices and leadership of Information Systems Services (ISS), was the web committee. Because of past expertise developing web sites, the Library's representative was able to contribute substantially to this effort.

The Co-operative Government Library Services Section (CGLS) continued to publish the Alberta Government Libraries' Newsletter and the Directory of Alberta Government Libraries and Resource Centres, with an electronic version of the latter being posted on the Library's home page. CGLS staff also maintained the Union List of Serials in Alberta Government and College Libraries and administered a client survey to help determine future directions for the service. Document delivery service and maintenance of the government's periodical storage facility continued to be responsibilities of the section; staff reorganized the storage facility during the summer.

The section's manager served as ex-officio member of the Alberta Government Libraries' Council executive, contributing to the work of the council's performance measures committee and the design of a brochure on government library services for distribution at the Building Our Future Conference and Knowledge Fair in December.

Newspapers being microfilmed for the 1999-2000 fiscal year included those from the communities of Huxley, Legal, Sibbald, Waskatenau, the MD of Starland, and the French language newspaper, L'Union. As well, the Library, in partnership with the Sexsmith Museum Society, embarked on microfilming the Sexsmith Sentinel, 1949-1954. In cases where the Library has either microfilmed a newspaper or purchased newspapers on microfilm, the Library has offered the original papers to the local community. This year the Library donated print files of the Camrose Canadian for the 1980s and 1990s to the Camrose Museum Society.

In May the Library welcomed two students who contributed to a variety of special projects over the summer months. It was the first time the Library participated in the Alberta/Quebec exchange program. A computing science student from Quebec City worked with the digital services librarian to create web pages for some Library publications that had previously existed only in print format and helped improve access to Quebec government publications. A Grant MacEwan library technology student helped serials staff gather information to enhance the related records in the Library's Dynix system. The students, as well as the Library pages, were instrumental in reorganizing and updating the Library's periodical storage facility in the Terrace Building.

The Library made a commitment to devote more time and effort to preserving the legislative and historical records of Alberta, but suffered a setback this summer when renovations to the first floor of the Legislature Building caused considerable water damage to the collections. One hundred and fifty boxes of materials had to be restored. The staff, including a temporary staff person hired specifically for this purpose, and student assistants devoted almost an entire month to the recovery and shipping of materials. At year's end those materials still awaited reintegration into the collection. Despite this setback there were several positive outcomes. Staff now have considerable expertise in disaster recovery from water damage, which developed as a result of consultations with experts from across the country on best practices in this field. This kind of in-house knowledge is useful wherever collections are housed in older buildings. Library staff have made a point of sharing knowledge and expertise on this subject and others with institutions locally and across the country.


The electronic copy of the Legislative Assembly Office Annual Report is UNOFFICIAL and is provided for information purposes only. The printed version is the OFFICIAL Annual Report.

Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Copyright (c) 2000 Legislative Assembly of Alberta