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.
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