March 12, 2007
The Honorable José E. Serrano
Chair, Subcommittee on Financial Services and
House Committee on Appropriations
Room 1040A Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative Serrano:
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is pleased that the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government is holding a hearing on the FY 2008 funding request for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The President's proposed FY 2008 budget eliminates all funding for the NHPRC. AALL strongly supports the important work of the NHPRC and we urge you to ensure FY 2008 funding at the fully authorized level of $10 million for grants, plus $2 million for staffing and related program administration.
The American Association of Law Libraries is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5000 members nationwide. Our members serve the legal information needs of legislators, judges, and other public officials at all levels of government, corporations and small businesses, law professors and students, attorneys, and members of the general public. AALL's mission is to promote and enhance the value of law libraries, to foster law librarianship and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy.
Created in 1934 as part of NARA, the NHPRC has supported a wide range of activities to preserve, publish and encourage the use of documentary sources relating to the history of the United States. Over the past 42 years, the Commission has awarded over $160 million to over 4,000 institutions, including many libraries, to preserve and publish important historical records that document American history. By leveraging private sector contributions with federal funding, the Commission has funded a wide variety of programs, papers and projects, such as Ken Burn's "The Civil War," one of the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. Moreover, without critical NHPRC funding, the award winning biographies from such noted historians as David McCullough, Michael Beschloss, James Patterson, Joseph Ellis and others might have never found their way to library shelves nationwide.
Promoting the preservation and use of America's documentary heritage is essential to understanding our democracy, history and culture. As the only federal agency charged with this task, the NHPRC has been an essential leader in preserving our nation's history and making it more accessible to the American public. NHPRC makes grants each year to institutions across the country to preserve historical records, publish historical papers and make historical materials more accessible. Its grants help state and local organizations to:
- Edit and publish historical documents;
- Develop archival programs;
- Promote the preservation and use of historical records; and,
- Promote regional and national coordination in addressing major archival issues.
While NARA focuses on federal records, the NHPRC helps archivists, documentary editors, and historians by making available non-federal records that are also essential to our national story and to the daily functioning of our democracy and our economy. Through NHPRC grants, access is provided to records and documentary editions that sustain the work of biographers, classroom teachers, documentary filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, land surveyors, historians, genealogists, community historians, museum exhibit designers and others. In the digital age, one of the greatest challenges is the life-cycle management of electronic records. NHPRC grants provide essential funding for electronic records management projects which develop solutions and "best practices" for implementation at all levels of government. The very modest investment in this grants program results in a significant contribution to electronic records management.
The American Association of Law Libraries strongly encourages you to restore the NHPRC funding for FY 2008 at the full authorized level of $10 million for grants, and an additional $2 million for staffing and related program administration. Please include this letter as part of the Subcommittee's record for the hearing on the NHPRC's FY 2008 funding. Thank you very much.
Sarah (Sally) Holterhoff
American Association of Law Libraries