Washington eBulletin – June 2018

A Look Ahead

AALL Advocates for Law Library Of Congress in Response to Library Realignment

On May 3, 2018, AALL wrote to Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden to raise concerns about the impact of the Library’s Special Announcement 18-5 “User-Centered Realignment” on the Law Library of Congress. The Special Announcement was shared with Library of Congress staff, including Law Library staff, on April 12. The realignment repositions the Law Library of Congress from a stand-alone service unit to a subunit under a new Library Collections and Services Group (LCSG). The plan raises questions about the independence of the Law Library under the new structure.

In her response dated May 18, Dr. Hayden addressed most of our concerns, including that the Law Library will maintain custody of its collections; that the Law Librarian will maintain her title and position on the Library’s Executive Committee; and that the Law Librarian will continue to develop her budget requests and maintain responsibility for collection development and reference service. We are pleased to receive assurances that the reorganization will not significantly change the operations or mission of the Law Library. We will continue to seek more information about how the new Deputy Librarian for LCSG will interact with the Law Library and the other units within LCSG. The realignment is expected to be fully implemented by October 1.

Senate Votes to Restore Net Neutrality; Will House Follow?

On May 16, the Senate voted 52-47 in favor of the Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval (S.J.Res.52) that would overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) unpopular 2017 repeal of net neutrality protections. The resolution would restore net neutrality and prevent the rule change from taking effect on June 11.

The measure will next move to the House of Representatives, where an identical resolution (H.J.Res.129) already has more than 160 co-sponsors. While passage in the House will be challenging, recent polling shows that more than 80 percent of Americans oppose repealing net neutrality. The issue is likely to come up in the midterm elections and advocates, including law librarians, need to keep the pressure on elected officials. You can write to your representative in support of the Congressional Review Act Resolution through AALL’s Legislative Action Center.

Act Now

Join the New AALL Advocates Community

The new AALL Advocates Community keeps members in the know on the latest federal and state policy news with weekly updates from the Government Relations Committee and timely action alerts from the Government Relations Office. This new community replaces AALL’s Advocacy Listserv, which was retired on April 27, 2018.

Mark Your Calendars for Advocacy Leadership in Baltimore

Be sure to save room on your Annual Meeting schedule for AALL’s advocacy training, Advocacy Leadership: Law Librarians Ignite Change (C7) on Sunday, July 15, 2018 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. You’ll learn how to use your knowledge, passion, and research skills to combat attempts to erode freedom of information, net neutrality, privacy, and access to justice. You’ll also have an opportunity to join AALL’s Advocacy Team, a network of law librarians who are committed to championing legal information. This year’s program will be preceded by the AALL Public Policy Update, which will inform participants about the Association’s legislative priorities and activities.

AALL in the States

LLAW Opposes Legislative Reference Bureau Library Cuts 

Submitted by Diane Duffey, Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin Government Relations Committee Chair

The Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin (LLAW) is making an effort to advocate for protecting library services at Wisconsin’s Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB). The LRB is required by state statute to collect, maintain and make available legislative and government information to not only Wisconsin legislators but “citizens generally.” Recently, the positions of two LRB librarians were eliminated. LLAW is urging its members to contact their State representatives, and will be sending letters to various officials and a local newspaper which reported on the job cuts.

California Chapters Advocate for County Law Libraries 

Submitted by Rachel Green, San Diego Area Law Libraries Government Relations Committee Chair

Government Relations Committee (GRC) Chairs David McFadden (Southern California Association of Law Libraries), Judy Janes (Northern California Association of Law Libraries), and Rachel Green (San Diego Area Law Libraries) have been working together to urge the State of California to provide permanent funding for the state’s county law libraries. Until now, county law library budgets have relied on a portion of civil filing fee revenue from the courts, an amount that decreased nearly 40 percent between 2009 and 2017. On behalf of their memberships, the GRC chairs submitted letters signed by all three chapters’ presidents to Governor Brown and to state legislators, advocating for a permanent budget appropriation in the 2018 state budget. While the governor did not include such funding in his “May Revise” (an update to the annual budget), the state legislature has moved forward with an allocation in its latest state budget bill, which multiple budget committees have now approved. The GRC chairs are continuing to work together and with their memberships to advocate for this very crucial support of California’s county law libraries.

MALL Supports FDLP Modernization Act 

The Minnesota Association of Law Libraries (MALL) wrote to U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in support of the FDLP Modernization Act (H.R. 5305). AALL thanks MALL for its support.

Roundup and Review

Washington eBulletin – May 2018

A Look Ahead

Fiscal Year 2019 Funding for GPO and the Library of Congress 

Just a week after AALL President Greg Lambert testified before the House of Representatives Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee in support of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget requests of the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Library of Congress/Law Library of Congress, the Subcommittee marked up its FY 2019 appropriations bill. The bill includes the requested level of funding for GPO, and an increase of $40 million above the FY 2018 enacted level for the Library of Congress. The increase for the Library is provided specifically for the development of new public programs and outreach, and for information technology modernization for the Library, the Copyright Office, and the Congressional Research Service. Though the Law Library’s requests are not specifically cited in the bill, they may be referred to in forthcoming report language.

The Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee hasn’t yet released a FY 2019 funding bill, which is unsurprising given the body’s more deliberative nature. Unlike its House counterpart, the Senate Legislative Branch Subcommittee doesn’t usually hold public witness hearings. AALL submitted written testimony to the Subcommittee in support of GPO and the Library of Congress/Law Library of Congress.

The Senate Legislative Branch Subcommittee recently experienced a leadership change, with Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) assuming chairmanship in April. Sen. Daines became chair after former chair Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) moved over to lead the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Judiciary. The subcommittee shifts occurred following the retirement of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss), chair of the full Appropriations Committee. The Committee is now chaired by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), with whom AALL previously worked in his role as chair of the Rules and Administration Committee. The Rules and Administration Committee has jurisdiction over GPO and the Library of Congress.

AALL will keep you informed about the potential impacts on GPO and the Library of Congress/Law Library of Congress as the House and Senate continue to consider appropriations for FY 2019.

Act Now

Join the New AALL Advocates Community

The new AALL Advocates Community will keep members in the know on the latest federal and state policy news with weekly updates from the Government Relations Committee and timely action alerts from the Government Relations Office. This new community replaces AALL’s Advocacy Listserv, which was retired on April 27, 2018. The new community is open to all AALL members.

Mark Your Calendars for Advocacy Leadership in Baltimore

Be sure to save room on your Annual Meeting schedule for AALL’s advocacy training, Advocacy Leadership: Law Librarians Ignite Change (C7) on Sunday, July 15, 2018 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. You’ll learn how to use your knowledge, passion, and research skills to combat attempts to erode freedom of information, net neutrality, privacy, and access to justice. You’ll also have an opportunity to join AALL’s Advocacy Team, a network of law librarians who are committed to championing legal information. This year’s program will be preceded by the AALL Public Policy Update, which will inform participants about the Association’s legislative priorities and activities.

AALL in the States

NOCALL News

Submitted by Judy Janes, Northern California Association of Law Libraries Government Relations Committee Chair

The Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL) joined with California library chapters, the Council of California County Law Librarians (CCCLL), the San Diego Area Law Libraries (SANDALL) and the Southern California Association of Law Libraries (SCALL), to support the FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 (H.R. 5305). It represents a collaborative effort among law librarians at the California chapters to advocate collectively for library supported legislation. The FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 would ensure that members of the public have effective and long-term access to government information. It would modernize and streamline the FDLP and add reporting requirements to strengthen oversight and increase transparency. Through the work of the chapter GRC chairs, California chapters have joined forces to provide a unified and strengthened position on proposed legislation of interest to libraries.

On another note, Michele Finerty, NOCALL chapter member, and AALL Government Relations Committee chair, was awarded NOCALL’s prestigious Professional Achievement Award, for her work and commitment to advocacy over the years. Her work continues to inspire others to advocate on behalf of libraries and librarians to support free and public access to government information.

LLAW Supports FDLP Modernization Act

We are grateful to the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin (LLAW) which, in addition to the California associations mentioned above, wrote to House leadership in support of the FDLP Modernization Act.

Roundup and Review

  • On April 12, 2018, the House Committee on House Administration favorably reported the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, or ACMRA (H.R. 4631) alongside the FDLP Modernization Act. AALL strongly supports ACMRA and we are hopeful it will pass the House
  • The UELMA Preservation Group, an informal group of experts from states grappling with how to best preserve official electronic legal materials, released a white paper about electronic preservation strategies and case studies from California, Minnesota, and Washington, DC
  • AALL joined a letter to Senator Hatch (R-Utah) to express concern that language being developed to address access geospacial data would be detrimental to the public’s right to know

Washington eBulletin – April 2018

A Look Ahead

FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 Would Ensure Greater Access to Government Information 

After nearly a year of hearings, stakeholder meetings, and much anticipation, AALL celebrated the introduction of the bipartisan FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 (H.R. 5305) on March 15, 2018.

The introduction follows decades of discussion and debate within the library community about the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The bill represents a strong compromise that will continue to benefit many types of libraries and strengthen the role of the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and libraries in providing permanent public access to information. The bill:

  • Clearly states the public’s right of no-fee permanent access to government information and the government’s responsibility to disseminate and provide permanent public access to information, which AALL has long held as essential principles of the program
  • Allows flexibility for Federal Depository Libraries while ensuring opportunities for participation and input from many types of libraries, including law libraries
  • Strengthens the Superintendent of Document’s responsibilities to authenticate and preserve government information
  • Adds reporting requirements to strengthen oversight and increase transparency.

AALL has released a section-by-section analysis of the bill to help our members learn more about the proposed changes. On March 28, GPO announced its support for the bill, stating that, “The bill affirms the principle that the free flow of Government information is fundamental to the health of our democracy, and acknowledges the important role Federal depository libraries play in ensuring free public access to that information.”

Markup of the bill is scheduled for April 12, falling on AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day. We’ll make it easy for you to contact your representative that day in support of the FDLP Modernization Act and permanent public access to government and legal information. In the meantime, you are invited to register to join our free, 30 minute online advocacy training on April 11, which will update you on AALL’s policy priorities and prepare you to take action during Virtual Lobby Day. See “Act Now” below for more information.

GPO, LC, and Access to CRS Reports Fare Well Under Omnibus 

Thanks in part to your postcards and emails, GPO and the Library of Congress fared well under the omnibus appropriations act (Public Law No: 115-141) to fund the government through the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. GPO received their requested $117 million. The Library of Congress received an additional $38 million over FY 2017, for a total of $669.9 million, including funds to support technology upgrades for the Library, the Copyright Office, and the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

AALL is pleased that the omnibus included a requirement that the Library of Congress publish all non-confidential CRS reports on a publicly accessible website within 90 days. This will apply to approximately 3,000 reports annually. The omnibus directs the Library of Congress to publish these reports in searchable, sortable, and downloadable format, along with an index of all reports. Following enactment of the omnibus, GPO announced that it considered CRS reports reports within the scope of the FDLP, and thus will catalog and make the reports available via the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

AALL has advocated for access to CRS reports for more than two decades and it is one of our policy priorities for the 115th Congress. We have worked with many Congressional offices over the years, most recently including Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). We are thankful for the leadership of House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who held a public hearing allowing testimony on access to CRS reports in May 2017 and included access language in their draft appropriations bill for FY 2018. We are also grateful to the hundreds of AALL members who have take action in support of access to CRS reports, responding to our calls for action over many years. As is often the case with advocacy, this effort was a marathon, not a sprint!

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Legal Services Corporation (LSC) also saw funding boosts under the omnibus, despite facing threats from President Trump. IMLS received $240 million, which is $9 million about FY 2017 enacted levels. LSC received $410 million, an increase of $25 million from FY 2017 and its highest appropriation since 2010.

While funding for FY 2018 has just wrapped up, the appropriations process for FY 2019 is already well underway, with hearings already scheduled by the House Appropriations Subcommittees. AALL will be offering our testimony in support of GPO and the Library of Congress/Law Library, and we will keep you informed of progress and opportunities for action.

Act Now

Register by Monday, April 9

Members of Congress are currently debating key information policy issues that could change how law libraries access, use, and preserve government and legal information. Issues include how GPO provides permanent public access to tangible and electronic information; how the FDLP should function in the digital age; and whether government data and government-funded research should be more open to the public. Join AALL’s online advocacy training to learn how you can influence your members of Congress to modernize current laws to benefit law libraries and their users. The training will prepare you to take action during AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day the following day, April 12, 2018.

AALL in the States

NOCALL Spring Institute

Submitted by Judy Janes, Northern California Association of Law Libraries Government Relations Committee Chair

The NOCALL Spring Institute was held on March 16th at the California Museum in downtown Sacramento. The program focused on librarian advocacy and various speakers throughout the day addressed the group. Patrick Sweeney, from EveryLibrary, provided the keynote in which he
emphasized the importance of librarians to become involved in government and to take action. He offered an advocacy “boot camp” all afternoon which was focused on helping County law librarians with their funding crisis. Additional program highlights included a discussion led by California state lobbyist and litigator Chris Micheli who, along with Michele Finerty, David McFadden and Judy Janes, provided tips for advocating with state legislators. And the folks from the California News Publishing Association, Tom Newton, Executive Director, and legal counsel Jim Ewert and Nikki Moore, led an interesting discussion highlighting current cases in the news regarding the public’s right to know and open access to information. The California Museum provided a wonderful venue, with its engaging and educational display about California’s rich history, and its diversity and influence in the world of innovation. It is home to the many Californians who have been inducted.

Roundup and Review

Washington eBulletin – March 2018

A Look Ahead

Advocating for Openness during Sunshine Week 2018

For more than a decade, Sunshine Week (March 11-17) has been celebrated annually to highlight the importance of access to information and an open government. A commitment to openness in government is a key part of AALL’s government relations policy and one of our public policy priorities for the current Congress. AALL supports legislation and policies to provide greater access to legislative and executive branch information, strengthen FOIA, release the results of government-funded research, and open up government data. We’ve recently spoken out against attacks on transparency and a free press, and we will continue to push back against secrecy in government. Only with an open government and access to trustworthy government information can we adequately support our justice system and ensure a strong democracy.

Title 44 Modernization Bill Coming Soon

AALL continues to work with the American Library Association and Association of Research Libraries to provide feedback to the House Committee on House Administration on a draft Title 44 reform bill that represents a major rewrite of the section of the U.S. Code governing the Government Publishing Office and Federal Depository Library Program. The Committee has provided AALL with several opportunities to comment on the draft, and Committee staff have incorporated many of our suggestions. We expect the bill to be introduced soon.

AALL in the States

UELMA in New York

Submitted by Amy Emerson, Association of Law Libraries of Upstate New York Government Relations Committee Chair

The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) continues to make its way through the New York State Legislature (SB 6136 and AB 1922). Uniform Law Commissioner Mark Glaser recently conducted productive meetings with sponsors in both houses and states that he is hopeful that 2018 will be the year that UELMA is enacted in New York.

Maryland Library Day at the Legislature

Submitted by Joan Bellistri, Law Library Association of Maryland Government Relations Committee Chair

The Anne Arundel County Public Law Library hosted the Maryland Library Association’s Library Day at the Legislature breakfast briefing – breakfast, as always, provided by the Law Library Association of Maryland. We have nothing going for libraries in the legislature this year so visits were made just to say thank you and to talk about the value of libraries.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL participated in Operation #OneMoreVote, which drove hundreds of thousands of calls and emails to the Senate to save net neutrality. You can still help by urging your Senator to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s bad net neutrality vote.
  • AALL Spectrum features The Ins and Outs of Advocacy by Stacy Etheredge, Peggy Roebuck Jarrett, and Karen Westwood. The article serves as inspiration for law librarians looking to get involved in advocacy and is filled with ideas on how to get started, no matter your interests or past advocacy experience.

Washington eBulletin – February 2018

A Look Ahead

House Committee Continues Work on Draft Title 44 Reform Bill

Late last year, after months of hearings, the House Committee on House Administration (CHA) released a draft Title 44 reform bill that represents a major rewrite of the section of the U.S. Code governing public printing and documents. The Committee gave the major library associations, including AALL, an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft. The Government Publishing Office (GPO) also released the draft to the federal depository library community, asking libraries to provide their views. We thank the many members who shared their views with AALL, GPO, and CHA.

The draft bill includes a number of important elements that have been discussed by GPO and federal depository libraries for years, including requirements to strengthen access and preservation through the Federal Depository Library Program, the creation of a national collection of government information, and flexibility for depository libraries within the program. The bill incorporates several of AALL’s specific recommendations for reform, including dropping the requirement that a depository have a minimum of 10,000 books, giving grant-making authority to GPO to expand permanent public access to information, allowing libraries the option for digital deposit, and prohibiting fees for GPO’s online repository. Unfortunately, the bill also includes some troubling language that could weaken GPO’s role in providing permanent public access to Congressional information. AALL is working with committee staff and representatives from other library associations to improve the draft.

Keep an eye on your inbox to learn more about next steps in the effort to update Title 44. AALL will keep you informed about opportunities to speak out in support of permanent public access to official, authentic government information.

Act Now

Help Save Net Neutrality

Despite the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to overturn net neutrality, millions of internet users−including hundreds of law librarians−continue to speak out to protect the principles that have ensured an equitable internet.

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can reverse a change in a federal regulation by a simple majority vote within 60 working days after that regulation is published in the Federal Register. That means Congress can vote to overturn the FCC’s rule change.

Tell your members of Congress: Now is the time to save net neutrality.

AALL in the States

UELMA Advocacy in 2018

As state legislative sessions begin, AALL continues to work with our state advocates and Uniform Law Commissioners to support the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA). UELMA bills are currently pending in Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Utah. On January 31, 2018, AALL member Melissa J. Bernstein, library director and professor of law, James E. Faust Law Library, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, testified before the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee in support of UELMA.

If you’re interested to contributing to UELMA advocacy in your state, please contact Emily Feltren.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL expressed opposition to the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act (S. 139). Unfortunately, the bill passed without the needed privacy protections.
  • We continue to urge action on the bipartisan Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act.

Washington eBulletin – October 2017

Vol. 2017 Issue 10

A Look Ahead

Congress Considers Extending Surveillance Authority

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorizes the U.S. government to collect, use, and disseminate communications content and metadata. It covers electronic communications stored by internet service providers, as well as phone calls. Section 702 was promoted as a narrow surveillance authority limited to the collection of communications of non-U.S. persons located outside of the United States for terrorism-related purposes, but the public has since learned that 702 has been used to collect the communications of tens of thousands of people for purposes unrelated to terrorism. Section 702 will expire on December 31, 2017, unless Congress reauthorizes it.

AALL supports efforts to strengthen privacy protections in the law and increase transparency about how the government uses its authority. On September 7, 2017, we joined a broad coalition of privacy, civil liberties, and transparency organizations to urge members of Congress to vote “No” on reauthorization of Section 702 if it is not significantly reformed. We expect more debate about reauthorization through the end of the year.

House Committee Turns Attention to the FDLP

On September 26, 2017, AALL members Beth Williams and Stephen Parks, director of the Robert Crown Law Library and senior lecturer in law at Stanford Law School and state librarian of the State Law Library of Mississippi, respectively, joined Laurie Hall, acting superintendent of documents at the Government Publishing Office (GPO); Mike Furlough, executive director of HathiTrust Digital Library; and Celina McDonald, government documents and criminology librarian at the University of Maryland to testify before the House Committee on House Administration for its hearing on “Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 3 – Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)”. This was the third in a series of hearings on modernizing the GPO.

Hall presented a number of themes for Title 44 reform that GPO has identified as priorities from the FDLP community:

  • making GPO responsible for the lifecycle management of digital and tangible Government information;
  • redefining “Government publication” to explicitly include reference to digital information;
  • protecting the national asset that depository collections represent for present and future generations;
  • providing for more flexibility for depository libraries to elect to receive Government information in the form and formats that best meet the needs of the communities they serve; and
  • ensuring accountability by federal agencies for supplying the FDLP with the information products they issue.

After Hall’s testimony, the Committee heard from stakeholders themselves about the need for reform. Beth Williams recommended three major changes to Title 44: amending 44 U.S.C. § 1901 to include non-print formats; amending 44 U.S.C. §§ 1902/1904/1905 to include legal deposit; and further amending 44 U.S.C. §§ 1902/1904/1905 to include preservation. Stephen Parks recommended that Congress offer federal depository libraries more opportunities to partner with GPO to preserve information; allow additional flexibility to permit regional libraries to partner with selective libraries and to share materials with each other and across state lines; and amend § 4102 to assure no-fee public access. AALL included similar recommendations in our letter to the Committee on Title 44 modernization. Witness testimony is available via the Committee’s repository.

The next hearing on GPO modernization is tentatively scheduled for October 11, 2017, and a bill may be introduced shortly thereafter. It’s important that AALL members prepare to take action to ensure that any changes to Title 44 guarantee permanent public access to official, authentic government information. If your representative serves on the Committee on House Administration, please email Emily Feltren, AALL’s director of government relations, as soon as possible. And stay tuned for future news and alerts on how you can get involved!


Act Now

Attend the 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting & FDL Conference – Virtually!

Register to participate in the 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference right from your desk! The theme of this year’s event, which will be held October 16-18, 2017, is “Safeguarding Government Information Access for All”. There will be several opportunities to hear from GPO and the Depository Library Council about recommended changes to Title 44 and to provide your input on the recommendations. You’ll also hear keynote presentations by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sanchez, and Director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom James LaRue. The final schedule is now available for download.

AALL in the States

UELMA Advocacy in 2018

The Uniform Law Commission is collecting its 2018 legislative enactment plans and Commissioners in nearly a dozen states have included the Uniform Legal Electronic Material Act (UELMA) on their plans. As state legislatures return to session next year, AALL advocates will work to identify UELMA sponsors, usher the bill through the legislature, and advocate for enactment. If you’re interested to contributing to UELMA advocacy in your state, please contact Emily Feltren.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL filed an amici curiae brief with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, calling on the judicial body to ensure that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts makes electronic federal court records freely available “to the greatest extent possible.” The brief was filed in response to National Veterans Legal Services Program et al v. United States of America.
  • We also joined sixty-six library associations, nonprofit organizations, legal technology companies, former senior government officials, librarians, innovators, and professors of law as amici curiae in response to American Society for Testing and Materials et al. v. Public.Resource.Org. The case concerns Public.Resource.Org’s copying of model building codes and educational testing codes which have been enacted into federal law and regulations. The brief urges the court to find that the copying is not infringing.
  • AALL signed on to a letter to Congress opposing the expansion of types of records not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
  • We expressed our support for the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act (H.R. 3427, S. 1701), which would expand access to the results of federally-funded research.

Please note: Publication of the Washington eBulletin will be on a short break until the start of the new year.

Washington eBulletin – September 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
Congress Prepares to Return from Recess
AALL Recommends Modest Changes to Title 44
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 09

A Look Ahead

Congress Prepares to Return from Recess

Members of Congress will return to Washington after Labor Day to face a full agenda, including raising the debt ceiling and keeping the government funded past September 30, 2017. AALL is carefully watching the next steps in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 appropriations process, particularly for the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and Library of Congress.

The current House and Senate bills fund GPO at the requested levels, while the Library of Congress receives slightly lower levels than requested. Given the continued lack of regular order in the appropriations process, these Legislative Branch Appropriations agencies are faring relatively well.

AALL will also be tracking how the House and Senate reconcile their different language on access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports included in their Legislative Branch Appropriations bills. AALL prefers the Senate language, which specifically directs CRS to make its reports available through GPO. The House bill is slightly weaker, only “encouraging” CRS to consult with GPO in developing their plan “when practicable.”

AALL Recommends Modest Changes to Title 44

AALL submitted recommendations to GPO’s Depository Library Council (DLC) on the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Our recommendations came in response to DLC’s call for comments on needed changes to Title 44 of the U.S. Code on Public Printing and Documents, including Chapter 19 on the FDLP. AALL is supportive of the existing structure of regional and selective depository libraries, but we acknowledge that Title 44 could be updated to reflect the digital age.

We recommend:

  • Explicitly expanding the scope of the FDLP to include publications in all formats, including digital. §1901
  • Repealing the requirement that a depository library have a minimum of 10,000 books. §1909
  • Allowing for flexibility in the number of regional depositories, under certain requirements and with guidance from the Superintendent of Documents. §1912
  • Giving grant-making authority to GPO so that it may support preservation and cataloging projects and other initiatives that expand permanent public access to federal government information.
  • Allowing libraries the option for digital deposit. Wide distribution of government information helps to ensure preservation.

Many individual AALL members and several law and university libraries also submitted comments to DLC. Thank you for participating in this important process! DLC will present its draft recommendations at the Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference in October 2017.

AALL is also preparing to submit comments this month to the House Committee on House Administration, which is driving the effort to update Title 44. Our comments will be submitted to the Committee by mid-September and shared with membership.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL signed on to a letter to Attorney General Sessions to express concerns with the Department of Justice’s demand for information associated with the website DisruptJ20.org, used to organize protests on Inauguration Day 2017
  • AALL has joined Re:Create, a diverse coalition of trade associations, not-for-profits, advocacy groups, and think tanks advocating for balanced copyright rules

Washington eBulletin – August 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
Congress Pursues Changes to Title 44
ACT NOW
Thank You for Championing Government Information!
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

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.

Washington eBulletin – July 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
House Appropriations Committee Approves Public Access to CRS Reports
ACT NOW
Be a Champion of Information
AALL IN THE STATES
LLAGNY Sends Letter in Support of Access to CRS Reports
LLNE Calls for UELMA Advocacy
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 07

A Look Ahead

House Appropriations Committee Approves Public Access to CRS Reports

The House Appropriations Committee took a major step last week to make non-confidential Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports available to the public. During its markup of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill on June 29, 2017, the full Committee approved language directing CRS to report back to the Committee within 90 days of enactment with a plan to make its non-confidential reports available to the public. The Legislative Branch Appropriations bill must still pass the House and there must be a companion bill in the Senate. However, the report language in legislative branch appropriations bills is generally adhered to even if not passed into law, so there is a good chance that CRS might respond to the House Appropriations Committee even if the language is not enacted.

Public access to CRS reports is one of AALL’s Public Policy Priorities for the 115th Congress, and we’ve been advocating for greater access for more than 20 years. Most recently, we requested that these reports be made public in our written testimony in support of the FY 2018 budget requests of the Government Publishing Office and Library of Congress. This progress would not have been possible without the support of the hundreds of AALL members who have called, emailed, tweeted, and met with their members of Congress to advocate for access to these reports.

For many years, we had heard concerns from members of the Appropriations Committee, including former chair and ranking member of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl.), that providing public access to CRS reports would strain the agency and weaken its role in providing Congress with nonpartisan analysis. Former CRS employees effectively refuted those arguments in letters and talking points. The members’ concerns have also been addressed by other members of the Appropriations Committee, including open government advocate Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who has been working with AALL, Demand Progress, R Street, and others on this issue for several years.

While the House Appropriations approval is a win for public access, we’re not out of the woods just yet. AALL will continue to work with our friends in Congress and in the open government community to make sure the language is included in any final appropriations package for FY 2018. As we learn more about how the budget and appropriations process will unfold, we’ll keep you informed about any opportunities for action.

Act Now

Be a Champion of Information!

As Congress considers Fiscal Year 2018 funding levels for the Government Publishing Office and the Library of Congress, your representatives need to hear from you. When you arrive in Austin, check your registration bags for postcards to send to Capitol Hill in support of access to official, trustworthy legal information. Simply fill out the postcards and add your own stamps, or drop them at the Member Services Pavilion in the Exhibit Hall and we’ll send them for you. While you’re at Member Services, don’t forget to pick up an advocacy pin to show that you’re proud to support access to legal information. You can also send an email to your members of Congress right now through our Action Center. Show your support on social media by using #ChampionInformation, #ChampionJustice, and #ChampionKnowledge.

We look forward to seeing many of you at Advocacy Leadership: Skills for Influence and Action, which will be held on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 from 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (CDT) and the AALL Public Policy Update (C5) on Sunday, July 16 from 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. (CDT).

AALL in the States

LLAGNY Sends Letter in Support of Access to CRS Reports
The Law Library Association of Greater New York (LLAGNY) sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) before the House Appropriations Legislative Branch markup urging her to support access to CRS reports. Thank you to LLAGNY for helping to move this issue forward!

LLNE Calls for UELMA Advocacy

The Law Librarians of New England (LLNE) posted an update calling for member action in support of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in Massachusetts.

Roundup and Review

    • AALL submitted comments to the Administrative Conference of the United States’ Committee on Administration and Management in response to its study on Adjudication Materials on Agency Websites, urging the Committee to strengthen its recommendations on the online dissemination of decisions and supporting materials issued and filed in federal adjudicative proceedings.
    • The Copyright Office released a new report on Section 1201 of Title 17, recommending the Congress keep the basic framework of Section 1201 while making certain legislative updates to allow for circumvention in certain circumstances, including for the use of assistive reading technologies, as AALL had recommended.
    • AALL will join major websites, internet users, and online communities in a mass day of action to save net neutrality on July 12, 2017. Don’t want to wait until July 12 to get involved? You can write to your members of Congress in support of net neutrality today using our Action Center.
    • AALL signed on to a letter to the Congressional Budget Office to urge them to follow digital best practices in providing access to its work products.

Washington eBulletin – June 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
The Impact of President Trump’s Budget on Our Priority Agencies
ACT NOW
Mark Your Calendars – Advocacy Leadership Session in Austin
AALL IN THE STATES
SANDALL on Law Librarian Advocacy
LLNE Update on Massachusetts UELMA and More
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 06

A Look Ahead

The Impact of President Trump’s Budget on Our Priority Agencies

As expected, President Trump’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget proposes eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), giving these agencies just enough funding to conduct “an orderly closeout” beginning in 2018.

The good news is that despite the Republican-controlled Congress, the President’s budget as a whole is largely seen as dead on arrival on Capitol Hill. Tellingly, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, issued a plain response to the proposal, stating that “the Congress, not the Executive Branch, has the ‘power of the purse.'”

Still, the President’s budget is an important guiding document, and library advocates need to stay vigilant to protect the agencies we care most about. Thankfully, IMLS and LSC enjoy widespread bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. This year, due in large part to the advocacy of librarians, a record number of Representatives and Senators signed on to “Dear Colleague” letters in support of IMLS.

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Library of Congress (LC) fare better under the President’s budget, but these agencies will continue to need your help to educate members of Congress about the important role they play in our democracy. Under the FY 2018 budget, GPO would receive the same level of funding as in FY 2017. The Library of Congress would receive a slight boost in funding, but it’s likely the Appropriations Committees will closely scrutinize the Library’s request and may not honor it in full, particularly given the current environment of fiscal austerity. AALL submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on the Legislative Branch in support of GPO and LC, commending both agencies for “transforming themselves into modern agencies for the digital world.”

It’s unclear at this point how Congress will proceed in passing FY 2018 appropriations. Recent reports suggest the members of the House are considering a proposal to combine all 12 appropriations bills and move a vote on them as a package before the month-long August recess. Given that neither the House nor Senate has written a budget resolution that would set top-line spending levels for FY 2018 and that Congress has less than 30 legislative days before recess is scheduled to begin, this scenario seems unlikely. Even if such a package did pass the House, it would likely stall in the Senate, leaving that chamber to develop its own strategy.

The coming weeks will be a fascinating glimpse at the challenges the Republican Congress faces in simultaneously working with the President and setting its own direction. We’ll continue to update AALL members on the latest budget issues impacting our priority agencies and highlight the best opportunities for action.

Act Now

Mark Your Calendars – Advocacy Leadership Session in Austin

Mark your calendars for AALL’s advocacy training in Austin, Advocacy Leadership: Skills for Influence and Action, which will be held on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Recent threats to access to government information, open government, and privacy–including debates over the Copyright Office and net neutrality–have highlighted the importance of law librarian advocacy like never before. AALL’s advocacy training will familiarize you with the issues at the top of our public policy agenda and assist you in developing the skills you need to influence policymakers at the federal and state levels.

You’ll hear from experienced AALL advocates who will answer your questions about influencing pro-law library policies, and you’ll have the opportunity to write to your members of Congress on our most urgent issues. For the first time since its inception, the advocacy training is being held during regular conference programming. Advance registration for the session is NOT required.

For a more in-depth review of AALL’s top policy priorities and a look at what’s to come, please join AALL’s policy committees and Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren at the AALL Public Policy Update (C5) on Sunday, July 16 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. During the Update, AALL’s Public Access to Government Information Award will be presented to Laura J. Orr for her impressive work on the Superseded Oregon Revised Statutes 1953-1993 Digitization Project.

AALL in the States

SANDALL on Law Librarian Advocacy

Anna Russell, a member of San Diego Area Law Libraries (SANDALL) Government Relations Committee and AALL’s Government Relations Committee, penned an inspiring piece on the importance of advocacy that is sure to inspire you to get involved. See “Urging Law Librarians to Legislative Advocacy” in the latest issue of the SANDALL newsletter.

LLNE Update on Massachusetts UELMA and More

The Law Librarians of New England (LLNE) Government Relations Committee provided an update on their blog about the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in Massachusetts and a summary of the recent AALL Virtual Lobby Day.

Roundup and Review

    • AALL posted a new issue brief discussing Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. In a 6-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an artistic feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection if it satisfies a two-step separability test. This issue brief discusses implications of the decision for libraries.
    • The Senate version of the House-passed Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 (S. 1010) was introduced on May 2, 2017. AALL opposes this bill. Read more in our advocacy one-pager.
    • A bill to ensure access to Congressional Research Service reports was introduced by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) (H.R. 2335). AALL strongly supports the bill and we have been working closely with the sponsors to move it forward.
    • The Open Government Data Act (S. 760) was reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and is now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. The bill, which AALL supports, would ensure access to machine-readable government data that must be published in an open format under open licenses.
    • For a list of the bills AALL supports and opposes, see the Bills page in our Action Center.