June 12, 2001
The Honorable Charles Taylor, Chairman
Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Legislative
Washington, D.C. 20515-6025
Dear Chairman Taylor:
On behalf of the American Library Association (ALA), the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), we write today in support of the FY 2002 budget request of the Government Printing Office (GPO). Collectively, these three associations represent thousands of individuals and institutions serving communities throughout the Nation, including the more than 1300 federal depository libraries located in nearly every congressional district.
ALA is a nonprofit educational organization of 61,000 librarians, library trustees, and other friends of libraries dedicated to improving library services and promoting the public interest in a free and open information society. AALL is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5,000 members dedicated to providing leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy. ARL is an Association of 123 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.
We urge your support for the Public Printer�s FY 2002 budget request of $126.5 million for the GPO that includes $29.6 million for the Salaries and Expenses (S&E) appropriation of the Superintendent of Documents. The S&E request includes $24.2 million to fund the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), $4.3 million for the Cataloguing and Indexing Program, $.7 million for the International Exchange Program and $.4 million for the By-Law Distribution Program. This amount includes necessary increases to support the continued operation of the FDLP, its electronic transition plans and the increased demands upon GPO Access. We urge you to approve it in its entirety.
The FDLP is a unique program and one of the most effective, efficient and successful partnerships between Congress and the American public. The FDLP provides your constituents with equitable, ready, efficient and no-fee access to Federal government information in an increasingly electronic environment. Today Congress, government agencies, and the courts increasingly are relying on state-of-the-art technologies to create and disseminate government information through the Internet. One of the critical keys to GPO's successful transition to a more electronic program has been the growth of GPO Access, a central access point within the GPO for electronic government information. Created by Public Law 103-40, GPO Access has grown into a unique digital collection of official government databases from all three branches of government including the Congressional Record, the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. Currently an average of 30 million documents are downloaded by the public each month, a substantial increase from last year that attests to the importance and value of this award-winning system to the American public. In particular, we would like to commend GPO for the many important enhancements to GPO Access achieved during the past year, including providing the necessary infrastructure and technical support to host the U.S. Supreme Court's new web site.
The FDLP and GPO Access are vital to the dissemination and access of Federal government information to our citizens. We believe that the FY 2002 S&E budget request is essential to the continued transition to a more electronic program and the continued success of GPO Access. We urge you to approve the requested increase that includes the hiring of 8 additional staff, 6 in the Cataloging and Indexing Program and 2 to work in developing the Electronic Collection, and necessary equipment and services to strengthen digital archiving and migration capabilities. The addition of these 8 FTE positions is a necessary expansion to support the cataloging and collection maintenance of online government publications in the increasingly electronic environment.
GPO has developed a blueprint for its Electronic Collection that will be achieved only if adequate resources and staff are available to continue the excellent work that has been done to date. In terms of content, GPO constantly adds new data and products to the system, building a current collection of valuable new electronic resources. At the same time, GPO provides permanent access to equally valuable older materials. Each year, the historic electronic collection grows, requiring GPO to meet its responsibility for ensuring permanent public access. This function presents probably the most difficult challenge of the networked electronic environment. Just as the government has an affirmative obligation to provide current access to its information, in the digital arena this obligation extends to ensuring the preservation of and permanent public access to electronic government publications.
FDLP libraries and your constituents are doing their part by investing in technologies to assist them in accessing electronic government information. Depository libraries serve as important channels of public access to government publications and contribute significantly to the success of this program. The government's responsibility to make available to depository libraries government publications in both tangible and electronic formats is successful because of the necessary partnerships developed between the Federal government, the GPO, and the Federal depository libraries. In order for GPO to continue to increase the amount of government information available for current and future public access through the Internet and in order for the Federal government to fulfill its responsibilities of the partnership, it is critically important that Congress provide adequate funds to support this transition to a more electronic program.
The investment in systems and services that provides the public with government publications in all formats will ensure that valuable electronic government information created today will be preserved for future generations. We respectfully urge your support for GPO's FY 2002 appropriation request and ask that you include this statement as part of the June 13th hearing record. Thank you very much.
Mary Alice Baish
American Association of Law Libraries
Lynne E. Bradley
American Library Association
Prudence S. Adler
Association of Research Libraries