Washington eBulletin - August 2017

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Vol. 2017 Issue 08

A Look Ahead

Congress Pursues Changes to Title 44

The leadership of the House Committee on House Administration has recently signaled its strong interest in updating Title 44 of the U.S. Code on Public Printing and Documents, including Chapter 19 on the Depository Library Program. The Committee has hired the former head of the Government Publishing Office (GPO) Robert C. Tapella (2007-2010) as professional staff to lead its review of Title 44. Since May, the Committee has held two oversight hearings of GPO where Title 44 revision has been raised, and more hearings are expected over the coming months. 

With possible changes to Title 44 as the backdrop, Director of GPO Davita Vance-Cooks has charged the Depository Library Council (DLC) with making recommendations to her on potential revision to Title 44. DLC has issued a public call for "comments and suggestions for modernizing the Federal Depository Library Program's (FDLP) statutory authority. What changes would you make to Chapter 19? Where does your depository operation need more flexibility?". DLC will present its draft recommendations at the Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference in October 2017.

The last major attempted update to Title 44 occurred twenty years ago with the Wendell H. Ford Government Publications Reform Act of 1998 (S. 2288). The bill, which was developed in close coordination with the library community, was reported out of the Senate Rules Committee but never received a vote on the Senate floor. 

It is essential that AALL members make their voices heard during this review of Title 44 by submitting your ideas to Depository Library Council and to AALL Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren by August 31, 2017. Your comments will help AALL develop its position on any proposed changes.

There are many questions to consider when thinking about possible updates, including:
  • What parts of Chapter 19 must remain in order to ensure the future success of the FDLP? What should change?
  • What updates could be made to strengthen permanent public access to government information?
  • What changes to Title 44 as a whole would benefit law libraries?
Whether you think no changes are necessary, specific revisions should be made, or a wholesale update is what is needed at this time, we want to hear from you. Thank you in advance!

Act Now

Thank You for Championing Government Information!

Our appreciation goes to the many 110th AALL Annual Meeting and Conference attendees who sent postcards, tweets, and emails to their members of Congress in support of the funding requests of GPO and Library of Congress. Hundreds of messages were sent to Capitol Hill in support of these essential legislative branch agencies, and your messages to Congress helped secure adequate funding levels in the House-passed Legislative Branch Appropriations bill.

It's not too late to speak out in support of access to government information and to encourage Congress to pass a fair final funding package for GPO and the Library of Congress. You can send an email to your members of Congress right now through our Action Center and show your support on social media by using #ChampionInformation, #ChampionJustice, and #ChampionKnowledge.

Roundup and Review
  • AALL filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rulemaking.
  • The House passed the Fiscal Year 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill with AALL-supported language to require the Congressional Research Service to make its reports publicly available.
  • Senators introduced bipartisan legislation to reform outdated electronic privacy laws.
  • The Committee on House Administration held an oversight hearing on strategic planning at the Library of Congress.
  • Members of the House introduced the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (H.R. 3427), which AALL supports. The legislation provides the public with increased access to the results of research funded by the federal government.