ARCHIVED: FY 1997 Appropriations for the Library of Congress

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Statement of
Betty J. Turock
Chair and Director, Library and Information Studies
Rutgers University
on behalf of the American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
and the American Association of Law Libraries
before the Subcommittee on Legislative,
House Committee on Appropriations
on the FY 1997 Appropriations for the Library of Congress

March 6, 1996


I am appearing today on behalf of the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the American Association of Law Libraries. I am President of ALA, a nonprofit educational organization of 57,000 librarians, library trustees, and other friends of libraries dedicated to promoting the public interest in a free and open information society. ARL is an Association of 119 research libraries in North America. ARL programs and services promote equitable access to and effective use of recorded knowledge in support of teaching, research, scholarship, and community service. AALL is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5,000 members dedicated to serving the legal information needs of legislators and other public officials, law professors, and students, attorneys, and members of the general public. I appreciate the opportunity to appear again before the Subcommittee on Legislative, a Subcommittee that has a long history of continuing support for the Library of Congress and for libraries across the Nation.

Mr. Chairman, libraries throughout the United States are the primary points of access for the public to participate in the information age. Libraries and librarians are investing in the needed resources and information services, and in particular, in the training of our staffs and our user communities, to ensure that the citizens of the United States are well equipped with the necessary skills and information to succeed in this information-based economy.

The Library of Congress through many of its programs plays an important role in this endeavor. Programs and activities such as the National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, those relating to preservation and cataloging, and electronic information services such as the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), all serve constituencies throughout the Nation. These and other programs of the Library merit your support. They also promote collaboration within the library community and provide public access to needed information services.

We are in the midst of a massive transition in how we manage and access information. Thus it is important to strengthen those institutions which will be key players in this information-based economy. The Library of Congress FY 1997 budget request of $373 million (including the authority to obligate another $28.3 million in receipts) positions the Library to move into the digital library arena while at the same time, ensuring that important programs and services are maintained. We believe that the request for an increase of 5.8% is needed to fund mandatory increases, to provide the necessary continuity for many programs, and to target selected strategic activities such as the electronic initiatives and collection security measures.

I will focus my remarks on seven LC program areas :

* Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped;
* Electronic Initiatives; % Preservation;
* American Folklife Center and the National Film Preservation Board;
* Arrearage Reduction and Cooperative Cataloging;
* Collection Security; and
* Copyright Office

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) is a critically important service to the Nation. This national library service provides recorded and braille materials to 785,000 blind and physically handicapped persons and is accomplished via a cooperative network of 143 regional and subregional libraries (state, regional, and public libraries throughout the nation) that circulate these resources to eligible borrowers by postage-free mail. Some 23 million items are borrowed annually. The network of libraries also serves as distribution points for specialized playback equipment and accessories.

We note that as in past years, the budget request for NLS can barely, if at all, meet the needs of the population that it serves. The growing elderly population in the United States relies heavily upon NLS service; thus we strongly request the Subcommittee's full support for this much needed national program. We also ask for your support for the implementation of a centralized braille book storage anddistribution system. This system will both improve the services available to patrons and lower the costs for participating libraries.

Finally, in conjunction with the ALA's Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies, the NLS has revised the standards for network library activities. Included in the revision are principles of service covering issues such as resource and management development and public education.

Electronic Initiatives Mr. Chairman, within the past year, there has been a great deal of focus and excitement concerning the building of digital libraries. In a number of arenas we have made progress in achieving the goal of building a networked- based, distributed program of access to library collections throughout the country, and indeed the world. One important lesson that we have learned is that it will take many years of sustained support to realize this vision. It will also require changes in how libraries select and collect resources, how these collections are managed, and more importantly, how users access these resources.

A variety and diversity of collaborative projects are underway to explore the potential of digital libraries. Given the number of institutions, collections, and differing constituencies that must be served, there is a need for many models. A number of collaborative projects and programs are exploring these models with an array of public and private partners. The Library is participating in many of these projects. For example, one digital library effort within the Library is the Global Legal Information Network or GLIN. GLIN is an international cooperative program in which participating nations share the work of indexing and abstracting each Nation's Official Gazette with the Library of Congress' Law Library (the de facto national law library serving 100,000 users annually) in exchange for electronic access to the laws of other nations. GLIN permits timely and effective access to laws and regulations of other countries.

The Library is also participating in the National Digital Library Federation. The Federation is a cooperative program among 16 public and academic institutions. The National Digital Library program focuses on American history and culture, adding an important dimension to the work of the Federation and to the building of global digital libraries. We are grateful the Subcommittee has supported the Library's digitization efforts.

Finally, the Library is engaged in a collaborative effort between ARL and the Association of American Universities. These associations are pursuing a networked-based distributed program for coordinated development for foreign acquisitions of research materials. Three pilot projects are underway for materials that originate in Latin America, Japan, and Germany. The Library of Congress has taken a leadership role in the German pilot project, the cornerstone of which is building the collections and electronic infrastructure to improve access to and delivery of German research resources. This is but one example of the Library's leadership in the acquisition of foreign research resources. The overseas offices service libraries throughout the United States thus assist in the building of these collections. Continued investment in these initiatives will enable the Library, with other partners, to build digital libraries that will greatly enhance the education, research, and life-long learning opportunities for the public.

Preservation Activities I thank the Subcommittee for its much needed and welcome leadership role with regard to initiating and supporting the Library in its preservation activities. These activities must move ahead. The deterioration of our intellectual resources has not stopped, nor even slowed down. Timely solutions to this pressing problem are critical and complement the digital library initiatives underway at the Library. The continuation of the Bookkeeper program -- to test this mass deacidification process -- in addition to initiating a pilot project to treat 36,000 books, is an effort that benefits the entire library community.

The Library of Congress continues to provide leadership in researching and developing mass deacidification as an effective preservation tool for its own collections as well as for those of the nation's research libraries. The process of "deacidifying" or stabilizing paper is a cost-effective preservation measure that can significantly increase the longevity of acidic library collections.

American Folklife Center and the National Film Preservation Board The American Folklife Center and its Archive of Folk Culture are uniquely qualified to collect and preserve the sound recordings, photographs, histories, and traditions that document the threads that make up our distinctly American society. The Center plays a key role in preserving and presenting American Folklife to the Nation. ALA, ARL, and AALL support the request for $1.187 million for this important program and also support the ten-year reauthorization of the National Film Preservation Board. The NFPB, in cooperation with archivists, film makers, educators, and members of industry, has supported and developed a national preservation policy.

Arrearage Reduction and Cooperative Cataloging The Library of Congress, in collaboration with others in the library community, continues to reduce the volume of unprocessed materials. The Library was able to reduce the arrearages this year by 2.9 million items. Cooperative programs with others in the library community, and in particular, the utilization of cataloging copy from other institutions has continued and indeed has increased this past year. For example, the substantial increase in the number of NACO (name authority) libraries from 140 to 203 is also notable. These libraries with the Library of Congress have produced a significant number of contributions -- bibliographic records, series, name, and subject authorities, and LC classification numbers -- to the national database.

Collection Security Ensuring that the collections of the Library are secure has received a great deal of attention recently. As in past years, we support the Library's request for additional funding to enhance the security of the collections. Funding security measures is yet one more important facet in making the resources of the Library publicly available.

Copyright Office Mr. Chairman, we would like to raise one final concern. Sen. Lautenberg has introduced legislation (S. 1458) that would establish an official copyright policy function at the Patent and Trademark Office. Although not mentioned specifically in S. 1458, we are concerned that the Copyright Office could conceivably become a part of an executive branch independent patent and copyright-related agency. We strongly oppose such a proposal. The placement of the Copyright Office in the Legislative Branch permits the Office to be a neutral voice on copyright and intellectual property issues. We believe that it is important to maintain the link between copyright deposit (for both published and unpublished works) and the Library. We must note that there would be a significant new cost to the Library's budget and a detrimental effect on the depth and breadth of the Library's collection if the Copyright Office were spun off from the Library. The richness of these collections is a direct result of the fact that the Library has been designated as the repository for U.S. copyright deposits for nearly 150 years.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today. ARL, ALA, and AALL look forward to working with you and we appreciate your continuing support for the Library and it programs that seek to provide public access to the Library's varied and unique resources.