ARCHIVED: Support for the FY 2002 Budget Requests of the Law Library of Congress

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June 12, 2001

The Honorable Charles Taylor, Chairman
Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Legislative
H-147 Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515-6025

Dear Chairman Taylor:

On behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries, I respectfully urge your support for the FY 2002 funding requests of the Law Library of Congress. Recognizing that the availability of legal and government information to all people is a necessary requirement for a just and democratic society, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5000 members nationwide. Our mission is to promote and enhance the value of law libraries, foster law librarianship and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy.

AALL strongly supports the FY 2002 funding request of $9,091,712.00 for the Law Library, which is essential to the ability of the Law Library to fulfill its mission effectively. As the Federal Government's only comprehensive legal and legislative research collection, it serves the unique role of being our Nation's de facto national law library. Its collection of more than 2.3 million volumes comprises the largest collection of legal materials in the world. Using this extensive collection of U.S. federal, state, international, foreign and comparative law derived from more than 200 jurisdictions, the Law Library's multilingual attorneys, researchers, and reference librarians serve more than 100,000 users each year. In addition, the Law Library serves a rapidly increasing number of remote users with electronic legal and legislative information through its web sites.

The Law Library has included new program requests for 3 FTEs and $1.03 million that are crucial to the ability of the Library to continue its high level quality services to the Congress, the Congressional Research Service, the courts, other government officials and the legal community. Over the past decade, a decrease in number of FTEs at the Law Library has been accompanied by a substantial growth in the collection and the successful development of the Library's important digitization projects.

One full-time position is for a curator to manage and oversee the preservation of the Library's rare legal materials. The Law Library requires a preservation specialist, a position that it has lacked for more than 6 years, to maintain adequate physical control over and security of its unique, priceless, and irreplaceable historical collection of legal materials. Hundreds of these items are shelved in the Law Library's non-rare collections, thereby compromising the integrity and security of these items. A rare book librarian is needed to identify and segregate these materials into an appropriately secure facility. It is critically important that these valuable historical titles be identified and cataloged, so they can be made accessible to the Library's users, and that they undergo proper conservation review and repair. In addition, the Library has requested one full-time position to implement a workforce re-engineering initiative that will continuously monitor staff needs and develop a strong recruitment and retention plan, and an Administrative Assistant for program support.

Thanks to the past support of this Subcommittee, the Library of Congress and its Law Library have been able to pursue important digital projects with distinguished success. Indeed, the award-winning digital initiatives of the Library of Congress and of the Law Library are as outstanding as they are unique, and they demonstrate the value and importance of providing public access to the ever-growing body of digital resources. The Law Library has developed two highly successful digital library initiatives. The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) is a multinational legal database of official, current foreign law resources that is uniquely important to our government in the rapidly changing global economy. A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation, U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873 (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lawhome.html) offers Congress, the nation, and the world unprecedented access to historical congressional debates and documents. Your continued support for this important project is needed so that the Law Library will be able to complete the nation's Second Century of Lawmaking, covering 1873 to 1972.

The specialized resources, important services and digital projects of the Law Library of Congress allow the Library to fulfill its mission to serve Congress and to develop state-of-the-art technologies to make available to our citizenry many of its priceless collections via the Internet. We respectfully urge you to approve the Law Library's FY 2002 budget request in its entirety and ask that you please include this statement as part of the June 13th hearing record. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Robert L. Oakley
President
American Association of Law Libraries