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MAP TO PROSPERITY: Blue Book reflects changes in state government size

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GEORGE HOHMANN / The State Journal. Consultant Karl Lilly, left, and Assistant Clerk of the Senate Lee Cassis look over a complete set of Blue Books in the Legislative Library at the Capitol. GEORGE HOHMANN / The State Journal. Consultant Karl Lilly, left, and Assistant Clerk of the Senate Lee Cassis look over a complete set of Blue Books in the Legislative Library at the Capitol.
GEORGE HOHMANN / The State Journal. Assistant Clerk of the Senate Lee Cassis carefully handles a 1916 Blue Book — the first year the book was published. GEORGE HOHMANN / The State Journal. Assistant Clerk of the Senate Lee Cassis carefully handles a 1916 Blue Book — the first year the book was published.
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The West Virginia Blue Book, described as "a comprehensive record of all levels of government in West Virginia," has been published annually since 1916 by the clerk of the state Senate. 

Thanks to modern technology, the size of the 2011 edition, which includes some photos and features not found in the 2012 edition, is only 286 pages longer than the 1916 version.

But a peek inside shows many differences. Examples include: 

  • It takes just 3 1/2 pages in the 1916 edition to introduce Gov. Henry Hatfield and all of the offices and staff under his purview in the Executive Department. The governor and related offices occupy five pages in the 2011 edition. 
  • Information about the secretary of state occupies one-third of a page in the 1916 edition. It occupies three pages in the 2011 edition.
  • The 2011 listing of the state boards and commissions that license professions ranging from accountants to veterinarians takes up 30 pages.
  • The book, known by the color of its cover, was officially titled the "West Virginia Legislative Hand Book and Manual and Official Register" when first published by Senate Clerk John T. Harris. The shorter title was adopted in 1933 by then-Clerk Charles Lively.

Karl Lilly III helped compile and edit the Blue Book from 1975 to 2006. He came out of retirement to work on the 2011 edition and continues to serve as a consultant to the Senate clerk. 

As Lilly notes in a West Virginia Encyclopedia entry he wrote, the Blue Book lists "officers and employees of all state, county, and municipal governments, the Legislature and courts, West Virginia's congressional delegation, federal agencies in the state, and all major institutions.

"Pictures and biographies of officials of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as the U.S. president, congressional representatives, federal district judges, and state chairs and officers of political parties are included in editions printed in odd-numbered years.

"The Blue Book also includes the federal and state constitutions, directories of newspapers and broadcasting stations, zip codes, place names not covered by the postal directory, statewide election results, historical data about counties and municipalities, officers of clubs and organizations, plus a section dedicated to departmental, statistical, and general information."

"The first individual index was included in the book in 1944," Lilly said. "We compiled that using index cards." 

Now the process is computerized. Lilly said the biggest change he has seen is in the technology used to compile and publish the book. In fact, the entire book is now available both in print and online. The online address is www.legis.state.wv.us/Senate1/clerk.cfm

Although the process is more efficient, Assistant Clerk of the Senate Lee Cassis said compiling the information is still a year-round job. 

"For the boards and commissions section, for example, we reach out and ask them for updates," he said. Some promptly reply. Some take months to reply with updated information.

Each member of the Legislature receives 75 copies of the book. Also, two copies are mailed to each high school and junior high school and one copy is mailed to each elementary school.

Cassis said a total of $150,000 was appropriated by the Legislature for the paper, printing, binding, distribution and mailing of the 2012 Blue Book.