An Initiative (5.3) of the Cataloging Directorate's strategic plan calls for the Directorate "to seek or reallocate resources to meet the needs of Congress." One such need identified by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) is improved access to the pre-1970 Congressional hearings. Despite their age, there is still considerable demand for these hearings. For example, during the hearings on the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, Congressmen and committee staff were interested in the hearings held during World War II on agencies being proposed in response to that emergency situation, and during the recent hearings on reorganizing the Securities and Exchange Commission, there was a need to access hearings on earlier efforts to reform the SEC. These older publications also contain valuable historical source material, such as a 40 volume set of hearings held in the 1930s on United States military preparednes;this set was represented in LC by only a skeletal record.
Despite the demonstrated need for ready availability of these materials, access to the pre-1970 hearings is difficult at present for the following reasons:
The project involves identifying and then retrieving all the pre-1970 hearings from the Library's generalcollections. This is being done with the assistance of the Collections Access, Management and Loan Division (CALM), which has agreed to do this, based on lists of LC bibliographic records supplied to them by Bibliographic Access divisions' staff.
The hearings are being reclassified so that they all file in Class KF, and records are being upgraded as necessary. This phase of the process is being done by cataloging staff familiar with the processing of hearings. A parallel effort is underway to add the Congressional Information Service (CIS) microfiche number to each bibliographic record. With assistance from Congressional Research Service staff, Lavette Lee of the Regional and Cooperative Cataloging Division has now added these microfiche numbers to all records for the Senate hearings and most of the House hearings.
The last step in the process involves re-labeling the volumes. The Library of Congresss Law Library is doing this as well as assuming custody over them.
BEAT Hopes to complete this project (which is estimated to encompass some 6500 hearings) in calendar 2005. To date, approximately 700 hearings have been reclassed.
In addition, the project will also investigate the possibility of optically scanning those hearings, focusing initially on those that are unbound or in poor physical condition and then perhaps on the entire collection as part of the Congressional mandate to digitize all government legacy publications. Discussions have been held with the Government Printing Office (GPO)on how this might be accomplished through a collaborative effort. An outgrowth of these discussions has been closer cooperation regarding the cataloging of current hearings and GPO catalogers have begun assigning LC class numbers to hearings and other legislative documents.
This page updated on June 20,2005
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