Washington E-Bulletin - October 2013

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Vol. 2013, Issue 10

A Look Ahead

The federal government officially shutdown at midnight this morning following the failure of Congress to pass appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2014 or a stopgap Continuing Resolution to allow government agencies to continue normal operations.  The “shutdown showdown” over government funding is just the first in a series of fiscal battles facing Congress, which must extend the debt ceiling by October 17 or face default. While it remains uncertain how Congress will proceed, here’s what the Government Relations Office (GRO) knows about the status of those agencies whose services are integral to providing access to government information:

The Library of Congress (LC) is closed to the public and researchers. All public events are cancelled. Like most federal entities, the Library is not be able to blog, post to Facebook, tweet, or respond to inquiries during the closure, and all websites except for THOMAS.gov and Congress.gov are inaccessible.  

All National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) facilities are closed and public events are cancelled, with a few exceptions: Federal Records Centers are operating on a limited schedule and the Federal Register will continue to be published daily.

According to Judge John D. Bates, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, federal courts can continue to operate for approximately 10 days with reserve funds. After the reserve funds are depleted, only essential employees will continue to work. Each court has flexibility in determining which employees are essential— with the exception of judges, who will work. Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) will remain in operation for the electronic filing of documents with courts.

The Institute for Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) continues to operate with only four employees deemed exempt from the shutdown—the general counsel, chief information officer, chief operating officer, and director. The IMLS’s grant-making ability will be impacted in the near term; grants that have already been awarded will be honored, but applications are idled with no employees on hand to review them or disburse awards.

As a result of the shutdown, Government Printing Office (GPO) employees may only work on activities directly related to the legislative process and on activities for an orderly shutdown and to protect property and assets. All staff of Library Services and Content Management (LSCM) has been furloughed. GPO will not be updating gpo.gov, FDLP.gov, the Catalog of Government Publications, Ben’s Guide, or be responding to askGPO questions until funding is restored. Depository libraries will not receive shipments. Congressional materials will continue to be processed and posted to FDsys. Federal Register services on FDsys will be limited to documents that protect life and/or property. The remaining collections on FDsys will not be updated and will resume after funding is restored.

AALL urges Congress to act quickly to restore federal funding so that GPO, LC, NARA, IMLS and other agencies may continue to provide access to government information. Their uninterrupted operations are essential to informing the American public about their government and promoting a healthy democracy. 

Act Now

GRO Open House and Annual Dinner for Law Librarians During FDLP Conference
The 2013 Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference will take place October 21-23 at the U.S. Government Printing Office’s historic location in Washington, D.C. A preliminary schedule is available for download and includes a number of focus groups on topics identified in the FDLP Forecast Study.

Law librarians attending the DLC Meeting and FDL Conference are invited to a special Open House at AALL’s Government Relations Office on Tuesday, October 22 from 5:30-6:45pm, followed by the annual law librarians and friends dinner at 7pm.  Please RSVP to Larry Meyer by October 21 and indicate whether you will be attending the Open House, dinner, or both. Register for the conference by Tuesday, October 15th.

Register for State-Based Advocacy Online Training Oct. 29
On Tuesday, October 29 from 12:00-12:30 pm EDT the GRO will host our next online advocacy training, "Advocating at the State Level: Tips and Tricks for Success". With Congress in a state of gridlock, state governments have recently provided a unique opportunity for law librarians to influence policymaking in their own backyards. From enacting the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) to fighting proposed budget cuts, law librarians have been on the front lines of some of the most important decisions impacting access to legal information.

In this 30 minute training, AALL's Government Relations Office staff will offer tips to help you raise the profile and visibility of law libraries in your state. Learn how to build effective coalitions, help introduce pro-law library bills, and form relationships in your legislature.  As state budgets rebound from the shortages of the last several years, there are more opportunities to enact a proactive library agenda. Register today to learn how you can help.

AALL in the States

Upcoming ORALL Program on UELMA
On October 17, AALL director of government relations Emily Feltren will join the Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries (ORALL)’s Government Relations chair Mary Jenkins to present a program on UELMA at the ORALL Annual Meeting. Moderated by Margie Maes, this program will provide an overview of UELMA, the current status of adoption in the states, the status of the movement in ORALL states, and how law librarians can help to move this important legislation forward. Speakers will also discuss other pending library-related legislation.

Roundup and Review