Supporting an Informed Citizenry with State Legislative Research Strategies and Tools

While most attention if focused on the actions (or lack therof) of the U.S. Congress, the nation's state legislatures are increasingly deciding the issues that affect citizens most directly, including voting rights, access to health care, and education. If "a democracy presupposes an informed citizenry" (as stated by the ALA's Core Values of Librarianship), librarians can and must support citizens in finding nd evaluating legislation, so that they have the opportunity to advocate for and against these critical bills.

State legislative bodies vary greatly, ranging from full-time professional legislatures to part-time institutions with limited staff, and their websites reflect these difference. This session focuses on researching state legislation, including navigating state websites that are not necessarily designed with the average citizen in mind. It will highlight alternative sources of state legislative information and strategies for finding additional information and much-needed context, background, and rationales for bills.

By the end of this webinar, the participant will be able to:

  • Recognize the increasing importance of state legislative actions on their daily lives
  • Identify features on legislative websites that facilitate research by casual users, including plain-English summaries, keyword searches, and subject lists.

In the absence of these features, participants will learn about alternative search strategies, including identifying key stakeholders, searching on legislation aggregator websites, and utilizing national and state-level policy organizations to find additional information, context, and background.

The presenter, Jennifer Horne, is the Business, Economics and Government Information Librarian at the University of Kentucky. In this role, she supports the schools of business, public policy and administration, and diplomacy. 

This webinar is appropriate for public, academic, and special librarians, as well as students.