Virginia Mattingly's blog

2014 Kentucky Legislative Update

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Last night, I attended the Greater Louisville Sierra Club's annual legislative update, presented by Tom Fitzgerald, Director of the Kentucky Resources Council (KRC) and an adjunct professor at the law school.

The Kentucky legislature convened for its regular session on January 7 and will adjourn on March 31. Tom provided a list of legislation that the KRC is monitoring. Many pertain to power providers, coal mining, ethics, and eminent domain. The one Fitzgerald's watching closest is SB 99 relating to telecommunications, aka "The AT&T Bill". The latest version would end the obligation to offer basic local exchange phone service for exchanges with over 15,000 or more housing units in rural Kentucky, thereby increasing the digital divide.

Tom said the state's budget shortfall has been especially difficult for conservation programs because they aren't governed by federal mandates. He also mentioned that each agency's expenses have increased since the pension reform that was passed last year.

The following may be of particular interest to environmentalists and social justice advocates:

HB 28: relating to the Code of Legislative Ethics, to amend KRS 6.611 to implement the "no cup of coffee" rule for legislators.

HB 31/SB 14 & HB 60/SB 21: each relating to eminent domain. 

HB 36: relating to tax credits for noise abatement, to establish a tax credit for noise insulation installed in a residential structure that is located within a designated airport noise contour.

HB 63: relating to utilities, to create a new section of KRS Chapter 278 to require retail electric suppliers to maintain a 30-day supply of fuel for electricity generation. Opposed by the Sierra Club (watch recap at KET).

HB 195: relating to energy, to create new sections of KRS Chapters 278 and 96 to require retail electric suppliers to use increasing amounts of renewable energy.

HB 203 & HB 394: both relating to outdoor advertising devices. Tom referred to HB 203 as the perennial "trees v. billboards" bill that has yet to leave a committee. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, quoted the late Representative Paul Mason, D-Whitesburg, who also opposed the bill, “Laws are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”

HB 241: relating to the disposal of coal combustion wastes. 

HB 288: relating to surface mining, to prohibit disposal of overburden in streams. Written by Tom Fitzgerald.

HB 376: relating to tax credits promoting land conservation.

HB 381: relating to the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, to remove for-profit water company representative from Kentucky Infrastructure Authority Board.

HB 387: relating to natural gas liquids pipelines.

HCR 17/SCR 95: to urge Congress to propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America authorizing legislation to establish reasonable limits on contributions and expenditures in political campaigns and to prohibit noncitizen contributions and expenditures. One of the Sierra Club members in the audience who authored the orginal version of the bill, referred the group to Bill Moyer's collection of reports on campaign finance reform

HCR 93: to direct the LRC to establish a Timber Theft and Trespass Reduction Task Force to study issues regarding timber theft and trespass and to develop consensus recommendations to address those issues.

HR 126: a simple resolution to urge the Transportation Cabinet to withdraw recently filed administrative regulations covering outdoor advertising devices and work with the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation and Economic Development and Tourism to craft regulations with public input prior to the drafting of regulations.

SB 10: relating to voter identification. If passed, Kentucky would become a "strict" voting law state.

SB 31: relating to the prohibition against implementing the United Nations Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

SB 35: relating to the Public Service Commission. Tom said this was a reaction to serial rate increases by power providers.

SCR 131: to establish a task force to study the costs of administering the death penalty in Kentucky.

The list of proposed legislation is quite exhaustive and runs the gamut from alcoholic beverages & casino gaming (HB 52), to dog ownership (SB 78), medical cannabis (SB43) and even a few related to attorneys and the bar association. HB 1, a proposal to raise the state's minimum wage, has received a lot of press. One that hasn't received enough in my opinion is SB 5, which relates to controlled substances and would increase treatment options for heroin and other opiate addiction.

Those that interest me most pertain to civil rights. HB 70 seeks to restore voting rights for felons. Oddly, an amendment to HB 8 that would allow dating partners to obtain domestic violence orders also calls for strict changes to Kentucky's abortion laws.

Since I'm concerned about the future of my family's farm, I'm also monitoring some agricultural bills, especially those related to eminent domain that Tom mentioned and hemp production. As a librarian, I'm also intersted in legislation relating to education. HB 341 would provide funds for the "Books for Brains" project, SB 20 seeks to increase anti-bullying awareness, and SB 16 would allow computer programming language courses to meet foreign language requirements in the public schools. 

At last year's meeting, Tom Fitzgerald implored the crowd to action by stating, "It's never been easier to get involved." This year, he reiterated that the Commonwealth is one of the more favorable states with regards to welcoming citizen input. He provided the following tips for contacting your legislators and mentioned that phone calls and personalized correspondance are much more effective than online petitions and pre-packaged messages. Since we're already half way through the current session, it's best to call or email rather than send snail mail.

How to Take Action

Computers for Girls

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During the first two weeks of August 2013, I'll be volunteering with the World Computer Exchange (WCE) as part of their eCorps Liberia technology training team travelling to Monrovia. I and other members of this team will assist with education and technology training of teachers and school staff at their partner organizations. This particular project is part of the Computers for Girls initiative, which seeks to provide better opportunities for women and girls in developing nations by using technology to remove the barriers to education and advancement.

I received a small grant which covers a portion of my flight and administrative fees. I’m seeking donors to help cover the additional costs. Donations are tax-deductible. Each sponsor who provides me with a mailing address will receive a handwritten postcard from Liberia. When I return, I plan to post a report and photos from the trip on my faculty blog.

If you’d like to contribute to this project, please choose one of the following methods:

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about this project.  Any and all donations, no matter how small, are greatly appreciated! I’m extremely grateful to my parents, friends, employer and colleagues for their encouragement.

2013 Kentucky Legislative Update

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This past Tuesday, I attended the Greater Louisville Sierra Club's annual legislative update, presented by Tom Fitzgerald, Director of the Kentucky Resources Council (KRC) and an adjunct professor at the law school.

The Kentucky legislature convened for its regular session on January 8 and will adjourn on March 30. Since there are no major elections this year, the process is expected to move along quickly. Tom provided a list of legislation that the KRC is monitoring. They pertain to power production, sustainability, timber, telecommunications and more. His favorite is SB 145 proposed by Bob Leeper, the legislature's only Independant Senator, which would amend Kentucky's Constitution to repeal annual sessions.

The following may be of particular interest to environmentalists and social justice advocates:

SB 29: relating to surface mining, written by Tom Fitzgerald for the Kentucky Resources Council.

SB 46: relating to biomass. Passed on February 21.

SB 50: relating to industrial hemp and HR 33: relating to industrial hemp and making an appropriation therefor. It has bipartisan support, but is opposed by law enforcement. Fitzgerald pointed out that all the bill serves to do is set up a framework for regulation, but that it's essentially useless because hemp production is still federally prohibited.

SB 53: relating to nature preserves and Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead specifically, KY's only urban nature preserve.

SB 80: relating to the prohibition against implementing the United Nations Agenda 21, a non-binding action plan pertaining to sustainable development. Tea Party activists assert that it will deprive Kentucky of its autonomy.

SB 88: relating to telecommunication. Supported by AT&T and two dozen lobbyists. Opposed by the AARP and the KRC because it would impose a hardship for impoverished and rural areas. To follow the "Phone Deregulation Debate", visit KET.

SB 134: relating to sand and gravel operations.

SB 190: relating to water quality. Would require more transparency from the Energy and Environment cabinet. There was a public hearing for input on the Floyds Fork watershed on February 19.

SJR 118: directs the Department for Environmental Protection to establish a water quality advisory group. Fitzgerald objects to the fact that the group is comprised soley of industry representatives and no environmental experts.

HB 53: relating to consumer protection. Essentially, it would re-regulate AT&T, but it's unlikely to pass.

HB 110: relating to utility rate adjustment for fuel costs. Might reduce coal dependency, but would increase fracking because natural gas production is becoming cheaper. Because of the high clay content, nitrogen fracking is preferred to hydrofracking in Kentucky.

HB 111: relating to the economic and environmental sustainability of forest lands. Would allow family forest land owners to receive Forest Stewardship Council designation. Passed in the House on February 21.

HB 126: relating to the Petroleum Tank Environmental Assurance Fund. Fitzgerald supports its reauthorization, which would extend the period for gas tank removals and other contamination site cleanups. Passed in the House on February 21.

HB 165: relating to rock quarries. It was criticized in an op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader on February 3, "Breaking the rules with few consequences; Unauthorized quarrying in rural zone."

HB 170: relating to energy. Would require Kentucky's power producers to use increasing amounts of renewable energy. A hearing has been scheduled in the Tourism Development & Energy committee on February 28.

HB 348: relating to the reclamation of oil and gas well sites and making an appropriation therefor by establishing the oil and gas well reclamation fund.

HB 363: relating to fuel use for electric generation. Attempts to prevent utilities from using natural gas for base load power, which is more efficient and less polluting.

HJR 41: directs the Department of Housing, Building and Construction to form a Task Force to conduct a study of the energy consumption in manufactured housing in Kentucky. The reading was adopted on February 21.

HCR 42: would establish a Timber Theft and Trespass Reduction Task Force to study issues regarding timber theft and trespass.

HR 78: urges LG&E to consider alternative coal ash storage and to preserve the Wentworth Limestone Cave in Trimble County, which may have been part of the Underground Railroad.

Other items that I found interesting include a couple of amendments to exsisting legislation that would provide gender-neutral language; penalties for animal abusers (HB 374); HB 7 that authorizes a bond for the expansion of UofL's Student Activities Center, which has already been signed into law; SB 91 & HB 70 an amendment that would restore voting rights to some felons; several bills relating to alcoholic beverages including HB 310 that seeks to permanently prohibit grocery stores from selling wine and spirits and HB 440 that would allow microbreweries to sell malt beverages on their premises. There are also a few pieces of legislation that relate to attorneys, the Attorney General, and Commonwealth Attorneys.

Tom Fitzgerald implored the crowd to action by stating, "It's never been easier to get involved," then provided the following tips.

How to Take Action

Scholastica vs ExpressO

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In today’s episode of Law School Tech Talk, they discussed Scholastica, a multidisciplinary open access journal submission tool.  Scholastica claims to be gaining popularity among law reviews as an alternative to bepress’s ExpressO, which our law school uses. The list of publications currently available includes 54 journals, yet the panelists stated that the Iowa Law Review is the only one they know of that is using Scholastica exclusively at this time. Most law reviews still use ExpressO and some are using both.

Most of the discussion about Scholastica is presented from three perspectives: publishers & editors, faculty, and students.  Some concerns that have been addressed are escalating costs due to faculty blasting mass submissions to a large number of journals. A caveat to this is that because it's so easy to point, click, and submit, editors are over inundated with submissions and are using automation tools to deselect submissions based on certain criteria, such as one’s history of publication. Scholastica argues that it's going to provide more tech support and enhancements and some welcome the competition. One example is the ability of the author to submit their articles with anonymity. Other issues include concerns about authority. One panelist pointed out that career impacting publishing decisions are being made by law students who are not yet professional scholars. One tip for faculty is to better target your submissions and to make a better argument for your article and its placement in a particular journal. These issues are likely to be addressed at the next National Conference of Law Reviews in March.

A post at Law Prof Blog on February 5 notes that Professors Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit have revised their article, “Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals,” which includes charts about law school journal submissions.

Librarians are REAL Faculty

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At a recent conference that I attended, Jennifer Bartlett presented “You’re Not REAL Faculty! The Issue of Librarian Image on the College Campus”. Unfortunately, the relevance of her presentation was made all too apparent at our recent faculty meeting. On the agenda, were proposed changes to the faculty’s governance documents. Section 5 of the bylaws details the voting rights of the various faculty groups. Full-time permanent tenured or tenure-track librarians essentially receive the same voting rights as Visiting Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Term Faculty and the Student Bar Association representative. The debate that ensued after one of my law library colleagues proposed a discussion was divisive and derisive. The strongest opponent wasn’t even aware that half of the law librarians teach credit-based, ABA-required courses at the law school.

Librarians have always had to advocate for recognition of their education, skills and services, especially during today’s tough economic climate. According to Ms. Bartlett’s research, the library profession’s push towards attaining a higher status began in the 1930’s. Today, most colleges and universities provide faculty status for their librarians and require that they possess a MLS or MLIS, which is the terminal degree in library science, from an accredited institution. I’m no exception. I received my Masters in Library Information Science from the University of Hawaii, which is accredited by the American Library Association.

At the University of Louisville, where I’m employed, librarians have faculty status and though we do have a separate governing document, we are held to similar rigorous standards pertaining to our tenure. Those include: 1) teaching, 2) research and publication, and 3) professional development. Each of the law library’s six faculty members possess a MLS or MLIS, half have a second Masters degree in another subject, and three have JDs.  Fifty-percent of the law library’s faculty teaches courses at the law school including all of the Basic Legal Research classes, as well as Advanced Legal Research, Legal History, Computers and the Law, Copyright, and even Domestic Relations. For the three of us that don’t possess the Juris Doctorate, our teaching comes in the form of reference and bibliographic instruction. For the purposes of attaining tenure, we too are required to publish our research in peer-reviewed journals. One of my colleagues has had his research published in journals outside of the legal and library professions. Another maintains a blog that’s considered one of the premier resources for Brandeis scholars. And yet another is the editor of the state library association's quarterly publication. Lastly, we must engage in professional development. We attend conferences, enroll in webinars, teach continuing education courses and hold board positions in our professional organizations.

There are of course fundamental, educational, and administrative differences between the teaching faculty and library faculty. For example, the teaching faculty receives 10-month appointments, while the librarians work year round. The teaching faculty is required to have a JD, which is reflected in their compensation. The salaries of permanent teaching faculty range from $65,000-$260,000, while librarians’ salaries range from $38,000-$151,000. Despite my substantially smaller salary and lack of a JD, I find it offensive to be considered “second class faculty”, as was the sentiment that was expressed at our meeting. Therefore, I wonder if this isn’t really a debate about professionalism, but instead one of classism.

In her presentation, Bartlett advocated that librarians and teaching faculty be “integral partners in the education process”. I also assert that an environment that fosters collegiality and one that is built upon mutual respect better serves the entire community. By working together collaboratively and cooperatively, we can supply our student body with the education, skills and experience that they need to be successful in their chosen careers and as leaders in their communities, which is a common thread that unites us all in academia.

Celebrate National Library Week

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Each year, the American Library Association celebrates of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians. This year's theme is "Communities Thrive @ your Library". On April 13, the House of Representatives passed H.RES.1222, a resolution to support the goals and ideals of National Library Week. This Saturday, ABC World News will air an interview about Twitter with Roberta Shaffer, Law Librarian of Congress. Next week, the law library's staff and faculty will celebrate the contributions and graduation of our library's student workers.

The March 2010 issue of the LBA's Bar Briefs includes an article by Charles E. Ricketts Jr., '68 entitled "Louisville's Public Law Library" (p. 6). The Jefferson County Public Law Library is a non-profit organization supported solely by private donations and fees allocated under KRS 172.180 and KRS 453.060. It's currently located in the Old Jail Building at 514 W. Liberty. In his article, Mr. Ricketts' provides a timeline of important events in the library's history since its inception in 1819. He also interviews Linda Robbins, the library's executive director, who reports that the fate of her library and many of Kentucky's county law libraries are at risk because of budgetary constraints.

FREEdom to Read

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The American Libraries Association has designated September 26-October 3, 2009 as Banned Books Week. The annual celebration is designed to celebrate and show support for intellectual freedom, the First Amendment, and free and open access to information.

The University of Louisville’s Libraries celebrates each year with a read-in. Several UofL students and librarians will read samples from popular pieces of fiction as well as banned and challenged classics from a list of top 100 novels of the 20th Century. Some of my favorite authors are among them - Vonnegut, Tolkien, and Faulkner.

This year I read The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss (1984), a clever satire about the nuclear arms race that was removed from the children’s collection of several school and public libraries because of its anti-war message. I recently checked out a copy of Thomas Paine’s writings from the Louisville Free Public Library. The collection includes Common Sense (1776) and Rights of Man (1791), both of which were challenged because of their subversive messages.

Forecastle Goes Forth and Inspires

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This past weekend, I volunteered at the Forecastle Festival, an annual event that is equal parts music, art, and activism.  The festival was founded in Louisville by JK McKnight eight years ago and has grown from a small crowd at Tyler Park to a large gathering of several thousand people at the Belvedere. It's been praised by Outside Magazine as "One of the Top 25 festivals of 2009" and SPIN Magazine as "One of the Top 101 things to do in America".

Last year, I was moved by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s keynote address that encouraged  the sunburned crowd to "think globally and act locally" by becoming caretakers of the Ohio River. This year's keynote address was delivered by Christopher Childs, an environmental activist and former Greenpeace spokesperson, who wove education and spirtitual themes into his presentation. Following his talk, he signed copies of his book The Spirit's Terrain: Creativity, Activism, and Transformation.

In addition to an inspiring keynote and a plethora of great bands, highlights from this year's festival included an art exhibit by Louisville-born artist Rebecca Norton that was presented by Ohio Valley Creative Energy and a mandala comprised of natural flora and fauna that grew and evolved as festival attendees added to the creation. New additions included Lexington's March Madness Marching Band, a Heine Brothers Coffee cart, tarot card readers and face painters, a disco tent, an Oxygen bar and a booth set up by the law school's Student Animal Legal Defense Fund that included petitions, photos and information about the group's activities.

SLA, Part 4: Final Installment

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On Tuesday morning, members of the Information Technology Division gathered at 7 AM for one last meeting. Having fallen on the heels of the dance party, motions were passed by weary-eyed board members without much discussion.

After breakfast, I attended “Mashups: Future of Changing Content”, led by Nicole Engard, a self-proclaimed open-source evangelist and editor of Library Mashups: Exploring New Ways to Deliver Library Data.

Next, I met my SLA mentor at the Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics Division’s hospitality suite where I was introduced to several of her PAM colleagues and offered a bag of treats and souvenirs. We then returned to the convention center to attend the SLA Closing General Session Membership Meeting. Judy Woodruff moderated a panel discussion about the outlook for information and information professionals. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, author Robyn Meredith, and IBM executive John R. Patrick shared their insights for the future. Beignets were served at the 2010 SLA Kickoff and Closing Reception.

As I exited the conference, I engaged in a conversation with a friendly crossing guard about the value of library clouds to him in his pursuit of an online degree and the perception of my profession and the confusion our organization’s name invokes. I then dropped by the gift shop of The Historical Society of Washington, DC. The woman who assisted me asked if I was with the library conference and mentioned that the society is housed in a Carnegie library building, which led to a discussion about Louisville, its museums, and its rich African American history.

Later that evening, I joined members of the Kentucky Chapter, aka “Kentucky Mafia”, for dinner at Bobby Van’s Grill. Despite the negative connotation, our nickname is a testament to our chapter’s popularity whose members and guests traveled from far flung destinations such as Christchurch, New Zealand and St. Martin in the Caribbean. The night ended with the Legal Division’s Open House and a round of drinks with friends at the Rocket Bar.

Additional photos are available on my Flickr account.

SLA name tag
U.S. Capitol Building
Convention Center Artwork

SLA, Part 3: Onions and Embassies

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Despite the late night, I awoke rather refreshed and eager to embark on yet another busy day. For the morning’s first session, I dropped in briefly on “Globalization: Emerging Opportunities for the Library Profession” then moved on to “Reaching Next-Gen Users with Unified Discovery Services”. The latter provided a demonstration of a product employed by Dartmouth’s library to aggregate its entire collection within one integrated search box. While it was interesting, it didn’t fit my needs so I logged into Twitter and searched #sla2009. I noticed several people were commenting on “The Role of Social Networking Sites in Research”, so I packed my bags and headed to the other wing. By the time I arrived, it was apparent that others had followed the tweets because there was standing room only and very little of that.

Meg Smith, a researcher for The Washington Post’s Metro section, provided numerous examples of how she has mined social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, Wikipedia and about a dozen others to cull information for her newspaper’s reports and also to assist local law enforcement. She observed that because of the growing popularity of the aforementioned sites and their ability to limit searches by geographic region that local networks, like Louisville Mojo were waning. She also declared this the “Golden Age of Twitter” because users’ tweets still remain publicly accessible.

Next, I attended the Information Technology Division Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony. Unlike Saturday’s meeting, this was open to the entire group. We viewed two video entries for the centennial contest and heard an excerpt from the Student Award winner Stephanie Buck’s paper, “Emerging Technologies: Libraries in the Cloud”. It was announced to much applause that SLA has chosen Drupal for its content management system, which will be available to all chapters and divisions. This is the same CMS that the law school employs.

Following the meeting, I joined a packed house for “Onion Editor Calls for an End to Reading”. Scott Dikkers, editor and founder, provided much needed comic relief. His entire presentation was a parody replete with videos, newspaper archives, and statistics demonstrating why the Onion is America's finest news source. During the Q/A session, someone asked, “of all the vegetables, why did you choose an onion?” Scott replied that it’s a metaphor for peeling the layers of a juicy news story. Another asked if he was threatened by John Stewart to which he replied, “While they make fun of real news, we make up the news. We have a niche”. Evidently it takes one week from conception to publication for each feature, as opposed to 18 hours for The Daily Show.

That evening, I joined Ruth Kneale and Dick Kaser, editor of Computers in Libraries at the Technical Support Roundtable. We discussed cloud computing, Vista, open-source solutions and browser issues. We were later joined by Kathleen Robertson, another astronomy colleague from Hawaii. Shortly after, I reported to duty at The Embassy Ball, an annual dance party hosted by the IT and Leadership and Management Divisions.

Social networking and 
research session
Aloha Librarians
Flags of SLA membership
The Embassy Ball