AALL Legislative Priorities for the 117th Congress
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) advocates for legislation and regulations that support law librarians and legal information professionals, promote greater access to legal information, protect the privacy of law library users, and improve access to justice. AALL will continue to monitor legislation related to COVID-19 and provide guidance to members about how this legislation impacts law libraries and the legal information industry. The following issues are AALL’s legislative priorities for the 117th Congress:
FUNDING TO SUPPORT THE LEGAL INFORMATION INDUSTRY
Federal funding supports the legislative branch agencies that provide permanent public access to and preservation of essential government information. Federal funding also supports grant programs that promote public access to legal information. AALL supports:
- Funding for the U.S. Government Publishing Office, the Library of Congress, the Law Library of Congress, and the National Archives and Records Administration to provide free access to legal information and to preserve essential legal materials produced by the federal government. Funding for these agencies is especially important as their workload has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Continued investment in federal programs that may help law libraries address issues related to COVID-19. This includes funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ grant programs that are available to eligible academic law libraries and public law libraries. AALL also supports the Small Business Administration’s Payment Protection Program designed to help small businesses, including eligible solo and small law firms; nonprofits; independent contractors; and self-employed individuals.
- Funding for the Legal Services Corporation to support programs that provide access to legal resources and promote access to justice.
EQUITABLE ACCESS TO OFFICIAL LEGAL INFORMATION
Equitable access to official legal information—including laws, regulations, and court opinions—is essential to the legal information profession. AALL supports:
- Updates to the Federal Depository Library Program to provide additional flexibility for law libraries to meet the government information needs of their users and their organizations.
- Improvements to the organization and usability of the United States Code to enhance access to the general and permanent laws of the United States.
- Increased online access to federal court records, including changes to the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system that promote access to records at reasonable or no fees.
- Expansion of broadband internet programs and net neutrality protections to ensure equitable online access to information.
- Updates to the Freedom of Information Act to encourage disclosure of government information and to support government transparency.
BALANCED COPYRIGHT LAWS
Effective copyright laws and policies balance the needs of both information users and copyright owners. AALL supports:
- Protections for fair use and the library exceptions in copyright laws that enable law libraries to lend, digitize, and preserve copyrighted materials.
- Continued modernization of the U.S. Copyright Office’s information technology systems to be easier to use and to provide greater access to current and historical copyright records.
PRIVACY PROTECTIONS FOR LAW LIBRARY USERS
Balanced privacy laws enable law libraries to safeguard the personal information of their users. AALL supports:
- Laws that protect the privacy of law library users, including users’ personal data and library records.