May 16, 2000
Honorable David R. Obey
Ranking Member, House Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-4907
BY FAX: 202.225.3240
Dear Representative Obey:
On behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries, I thank you for your comments last week during the Appropriations Committee mark-up of the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill for FY 2001. I urge you to fight for full funding for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The FDLP is a successful partnership between Congress and American citizens who have a right to access and use the government information created by their tax dollars in the most appropriate format for their needs.
In 1999, according to the recent Bicentennial Survey, over 8.7 MILLION requests for depository materials were made at the 1300 depository libraries, including more than 19,000 requests per week at law libraries who serve the public as depository libraries by providing access and services to law and law-related government materials. This figure does not include the millions of Americans who download documents each month from the GPO Access system. It is a myth to believe that all government information can or should be in electronic formats only. We urge you to oppose this myth and to fund important print titles that are core to our democracy, such as the official U.S. Code, the daily Congressional Record, the daily Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, and other important congressional materials such as hearings.
The FDLP is today approximately 50% electronic, and yet there are no government wide policies in place to ensure the permanent public access of electronic information, nor to ensure that electronic information is certifiable as authentic. Before Congress can agree to cut all print depository materials from the program, as proposed in the current draft of the FY 2001 appropriations for the Superintendent of Documents Salaries & Expenses, it should work to ensure that these two crucial issues are resolved�if not, the historical record of today's congressional activities is at risk of being lost forever.
Thank you for your support of the Federal Depository Library Program. In 1990, you stated that "Government ought to be based on fairness." The FDLP provides government information equally and fairly to all our citizens, no matter where they live or their economic status--it is the very foundation for our democratic society that our forefathers carefully envisioned, that our citizens have a right to know. The proposed cuts threaten the FDLP and will be a barrier to full and equal access to government information.
Mary Alice Baish
Associate Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries