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Changes in AALL's Washington Affairs Office

In September 2007, the library community lost one of its brightest stars when AALL Washington Affairs Representative and Georgetown University Law Library Director Robert L. (Bob) Oakley died unexpectedly.

Robert L. (Bob) OakleyAt the time of his death, Bob was serving as AALL's Washington affairs representative and as director of the law library and professor of law at Georgetown University. Besides chairing numerous committees, Oakley served on the Executive Board and was elected as AALL president in 2000-2001. He was instrumental in establishing AALL's government relations program. For 18 years, Oakley served as Washington affairs representative, AALL's advocate on Capitol Hill.

It is largely through Bob Oakley's vision and leadership that AALL has become a leading voice in national and international legal information policy. The 2008 Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award honored his outstanding career. And in Oakley's honor, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) created the Robert L. Oakley Memorial Scholarship.

Government Relations Office StaffMary Alice Baish, former AALL associate Washington affairs representative, was named acting Washington affairs representative following the passing of Bob Oakley. As acting representative, Baish is responsible for directing AALL's advocacy efforts and for managing the Washington Affairs Office.

Also new to the AALL Washington Affairs staff this year was Emily Feldman, advocacy communications assistant. In January Feldman launched the AALL Washington Blawg, where she regularly updates members about policy news, action alerts, resources, and more.

Special Committee to Review Washington Affairs Office

With Bob Oakley's tragic death, President Ann Fessenden appointed the Washington Affairs Office Review Special Committee to tackle this new challenge for the Association.

The special committee assessed the evolution and current role of the WAO as the center of AALL's government relations activities and proposed recommendations for the future direction and continuity of those efforts. The committee considered a number of factors, including staffing for the WAO, the role of the WAO in advocacy, succession planning, and whether the WAO should continue to be located at Georgetown Law School.

The committee developed a short-term blog as one of several ways to gather feedback from AALL members. The AALL Beyond the Beltway Blog was active through July 2. Each day, a new question was posted for discussion; members of the committee served as responders.

AALL Continues National Leadership on Digital Authentication

AALL is a recognized leader on the authentication of online legal information. Since AALL's successful National Summit on Authentic Legal Information in the Digital Age in April 2007, we have worked closely with our outside delegates to promote these important issues and find allies in developing digital authentication solutions. We are very pleased with the increased interest in digital authentication as a result of our leadership. Most noteworthy is the decision by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to create a Study Committee on "Online Authentication of Legal Materials" to investigate the issues and discuss the feasibility of a uniform law or model act. The chair and members of the new study committee were appointed in August 2008, and AALL was invited to name an observer.

Judge Herbert B. Dixon, Jr., wrote "The Lack of Effort to Ensure Integrity and Trustworthiness of Online Legal Information and Documents" for the summer 2007 issue of The Judges' Journal. Judge Dixon also spoke in New Orleans at program E-1: "AELIC's Survey on Authentication of Government Information: A Year Later and Still Challenging," where he acknowledged the importance of AALL's 2007 State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources.

This year, Mary Alice Baish joined Sally Holterhoff, Tim Coggins, and Keith Ann Stiverson, on panels to discuss our authentication report and the national summit at three important conferences of outside stakeholders�the National Association of Legislative Information Technology's 11th Annual Seminar in Springfield, Illinois; the 10th National Court Technology Conference in Tampa, Florida; and the Federal Depository Library Conference and Fall Depository Library Council Meeting in Arlington, Virginia.

Washington Affairs Office

  • AALL's Washington Affairs Office hosted theThird Annual Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy on March 19, 2008. As in past years, AALL co-sponsored the event. This year, the national program consisted of two panels of experts who addressed executive branch power and secrecy, Congressional rights and responsibilities, and new and exciting ways to find and use government information.
  • On October 24, 2007, President Ann Fessenden testified before the House Committee on House Administration about current issues in management of the Library of Congress. She spoke in support of the Law Library of Congress and its mission to provide timely access to legal information. She also joined witnesses from the ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress in recommending a new funding authority to improve the fiscal situation at the law library. Her full testimony is available on AALLNET.
  • The AALL Washington Affairs Office created a new blog this year. Named AALL's Washington Blawg, this tool highlights bills the WAO is tracking in Congress, Action Alerts, interesting articles and Web sites, exciting events, and more. Members can subscribe to the RSS feed or visit the blog for the latest news.
  • Through the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), AALL has been involved in intense negotiations on the Hill for the House and Senate orphan works bills (H.R. 5889/S. 2913), which intend to enable the use of copyrighted works without permission when their copyright owners cannot be identified. This legislation must address several key issues in order to create a feasible program that benefits libraries, particularly in the area of mass digitization projects. AALL Acting Washington Affairs Representative Mary Alice Baish has been working closely with the AALL Copyright Committee in monitoring developments during the negotiations. When they conclude, the committee will make the decision whether AALL should support, oppose, or remain neutral on these bills.
  • AALL Acting Washington Affairs Representative Mary Alice Baish testified before the House Appropriations Committee's Legislative Branch Subcommittee on May 7, 2008, in support of the fiscal year 2009 budget request of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). She strongly supports GPO's salaries and expenses budget ($43.42 million), which funds the Federal Depository Library Program, and Congressional printing and binding budget ($97.92 million), which funds the print publication of bills, hearings, reports, and other congressional materials.
  • AALL's Washington Affairs Office staff monitored the reopening of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) libraries. At the end of 2007, AALL was pleased to learn that the fiscal year 2008 appropriations omnibus bill (H.R. 2764) gave $1 million to the EPA along with an order to reopen five libraries the agency had closed by September 30, 2008. This development was a victory for AALL and other groups that had opposed the library closures since they were first announced more than two years ago.

CRIV Visited Oxford University Press in May

This year, Oxford University Press invited AALL's Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV) to visit its facilities in Cary, North Carolina. CRIV's Site Visit Subcommittee, chaired by JoAnn Hounshell, director of bibliographic services for Chicago-Kent College of Law, was in North Carolina May 6-7, 2008, to meet with company executives about a number of topics. A summary report on the meeting was published in The CRIV Sheet following the visit.

Public Access to Government Information

Established in 1998, the Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award is presented annually by AALL to recognize persons or organizations that have made significant contributions to protect and promote greater public access to government information. This year, the Government Relations Committee and the Awards Committee chose OMB Watch, led by Executive Director Gary Bass, as the 2008 PAGI winner. OMB Watch is well deserving of this prestigious award, having spearheaded many notable projects over the past 35 years to promote greater government transparency and accountability, as well as citizen participation.

New PACER Pilot Project

On April 1, 2006, the AALL Executive Board endorsed a "Resolution on No-Fee FDLP Access to PACER." The resolution was endorsed by the American Library Association in June 2006. It requested that the Government Printing Office work with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to allow users of federal depository libraries to have free access to PACER. The Judicial Conference of the United States met in September, 2007, and approved the establishment of a joint pilot project with GPO that will involve approximately 15 federal depository libraries. AALL Government Relations Committee member Larry Meyer deserves special recognition for his tireless advocacy for many years to bring PACER into the Federal Depository Library Program.