The Library on Feb. 12 asked Congress to approve a fiscal 1998 budget of $387.6 million (including authority to use $30.4 million in receipts) to sustain basic services to Congress and the nation.
"The Library currently faces the fundamental challenge of effecting a full transition to the new electronic services and more efficient operations required for the Information Age while, at the same time, continuing to sustain its basic services," Dr. Billington said in his prepared statement.
Representing a $25.7 million (7.1 percent) increase from the fiscal 1997 budget, the proposed new budget would include:
- $14.7 million to pay for mandatory pay raises and unavoidable price-level increases;
- $6.1 million for automation projects, including $5.6 million for a modern electronic Integrated Library System that would provide inventory control and improve the efficiency of core library functions, including acquisitions, cataloging, collections security and circulation;
- $1.3 million to continue security initiatives, including additional police officers to secure newly renovated space and funds to expand the reader registration program with two reader registration stations, one in the Jefferson Building and one in the Madison Building;
- funds for additional full-time equivalent positions to ensure that service will continue to Congress and the nation after employees reach retirement age;
- a temporary increase of $500,000 for manpower to enable the Copyright Office to process copyright registrations at an acceptable pace; and
- $2.5 million for an additional 10,000 talking book machines to ensure their availability for blind and physically handicapped persons;
Dr. Billington and senior Library officials appeared before the House Legislative Branch Appropriations subcommittee, chaired by Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.), on Feb. 12.
In his prepared statement submitted to the subcommittee, Dr. Billington noted that although Congress has been "extremely supportive" of the Library during the past several austere budget years, the Library has lost 435 (10 percent) of its appropriated full-time equivalent (FTE) positions since fiscal 1992.
In its fiscal 1998 budget request, the Library seeks funding for 25 additional FTEs in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) as part of a multiyear succession plan (nearly 52 percent of the CRS staff will be eligible to retire by 2006); three additional FTEs to support expansion of the Global Legal Information Network; 14 temporary additional FTEs for the Copyright Office (a staff of 628 FTEs processed 483,000 copyright claims in 1980; a staff of 471 FTEs processed 609,000 claims in 1996); and 18 additional FTEs to reduce Library Police overtime and provide additional security coverage.
Following are excerpts of Dr. Billington's statement submitted to the Subcommittee on Legislative Appropriations, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, in support of the Library's fiscal 1998 budget request:
The Library's first priority is to make knowledge available and useful to the U.S. Congress. This primary purpose can be realized only if the Library also preserves, secures, and sustains its incomparable collections for present and future use. These two activities are the top priorities ... closely followed by the imperative to make the Library's resources maximally accessible to the American people. The Library's ability to continue meeting these priorities rests on its ability to modernize its infrastructure and to advance its use of technology.
The Library requests $387.6 million (including $30.4 million in authority to use receipts) for fiscal year 1998.
This is an increase of 7.1 percent over fiscal 1997; it includes $14.7 million to fund mandatory pay raises and unavoidable price-level increases and $11 million to meet critical growing workload increases (net of program decreases).
We are requesting this year new funds for:
- a modern electronic Integrated Library System (ILS) that will provide inventory control and vastly improve the efficiency of core library functions including acquisitions, cataloging, collections security and circulation and will ultimately save money;
- continued implementation of our highest priority security initiatives, including additional police to cover newly renovated space and additional staff for an expanded reader registration program;
- a temporary increase in additional FTEs and funds to support our staff succession plan to help ensure continuity of high-quality congressional and national services;
- a temporary increase of $500,000 for the Copyright Office to maintain registration processing at an acceptable level; and
- the purchase of an additional 10,000 talking book machines to ensure the continued availability of the equipment for blind and physically handicapped people.
The actual number of appropriated full-time equivalent (FTE) positions has declined by 435, or 10 percent, since fiscal 1992. The Library's budget has simply not increased enough to support the same number of FTEs that were funded in fiscal 1992.
In fiscal 1997 the Library will shift some resources, with congressional approval, to address general management improvements and security initiatives recommended in two recent GAO-commissioned reports (a management review by Booz-Allen & Hamilton and a financial audit by Price Waterhouse LLP). Because the Library did not receive price-level increases in fiscal 1997 and must fund several nonpayroll priorities (e.g., auditor fees) from existing funds, the shift in fiscal 1997 resources will cause a projected reduction of another seven FTEs.
Since the Library's services are extremely labor intensive (some 70 percent of our budget is for payroll costs), future economies must come primarily from reengineering our major operations and from investing further in automation; both steps will improve the productivity of our staff. The Library's fiscal 1998 budget requests an increase of $6.1 million for automation projects needed to improve internal operations and make the collections more accessible. The investment in better automation now will greatly improve service and save money in the long term. The investment Congress made during the late 1980s and early 1990s in the Library's automation program made possible both the rapid implementation of THOMAS [an Internet-based congressional database] in 1994 and the first release of a retrieval component of the Legislative Information System in January 1997.
If we are to stay at the cutting edge ... we must invest today in three automation projects -- the Integrated Library System, the Copyright Office Electronic Registration, Recordation and Deposit System (CORDS) and the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN).
Funding our fiscal 1998 budget request, including provisions for mandatory pay and price-level increases, will enable the Library to sustain its basic services while continuing to modernize its operations for the future.
It would bring the Library''s automated systems up to the level now being achieved by other major research libraries in America.
If this request cannot be granted, and we are, as a result, required to make further staff cuts before major productivity projects are implemented, we would make reductions in accordance with our priorities. We would regrettably have to begin fairly rapidly to reduce public programs -- particularly those which ... serve the nongovernmental Washington area, such as public reading room hours, reference support and local access to the Library's buildings. We would reduce further, if not eliminate altogether, exhibits, publications and other outreach programs.
Future generations will not forgive us if we fail to make electronically accessible via the Internet the Library's unique and useful materials at precisely the moment when the Library's proven technological capability to provide such access is enjoying enthusiastic public -- and growing private -- support. In short, we believe that Congress should sustain its fruitful investment in the Library and not let erode the great institution it has wisely created and supported for 197 years.
The Library of Congress Today
The core of the Library is its incomparable collections -- and the specialists who interpret and share them. The Library's 111 million items cover more than 530 miles of shelf space and include research materials in more than 450 languages and almost all media through which knowledge and creativity are preserved and communicated.
The Library has more than 26 million volumes, including 5,700 volumes printed before the year 1500; 13 million prints, photographs and posters; 4 million maps, old and new; 700,000 reels of film, including the earliest movies and television shows; 4 million pieces of music; 48 million pages of personal papers and manuscripts, including those of 23 presidents; and hundreds of thousands of scientific and government documents.
New treasures are added each year. Recent acquisitions, to name a few, include the collection of Marian S. Carson, the nation's most extensive private collection of Americana, which includes the earliest photographs ever taken of a human face and of an urban scene, as well as more than 10,000 manuscripts, rare books, broadsides, photographs, drawings, prints and other original documents; the personal papers and several hundred original drawings of cartoonist, playwright and screenwriter Jules Feiffer; the collection of jazz great Ella Fitzgerald, comprising some 10,000 music scores; and important rare books such as Antonio de Medina's Viaggio di terra Santa (1590), an extremely rare and richly illustrated Italian translation of a Spanish pilgrimage to the eastern Mediterranean.
Every day the Library's staff takes in 7,000 new items for its collections, organizes them, catalogs them and finds ways to share them with Congress and the nation -- through online access across the nation, through in-person access in the Library's reading rooms and through cultural programs that feature the Library's collections and reach across the country.
The Library of Congress programs and activities are funded by four salaries and expenses (S&E) appropriations, which support congressional services, national library services, copyright administration and library services to blind and physically handicapped people. A separate appropriation funds furniture and furnishings. Major services ... include annually providing responses to some 500,000 congressional requests, registering more than 560,000 copyright claims, cataloging some 300,000 books and serials, and circulating more than 23 million audio and braille books and magazines to blind and physically handicapped individuals all across America. The Library also now processes some 1 million Internet transactions every day (which provide access to the Library's online information files that contain more than 40 million records).
The Library has become a world leader in providing high quality content for the expanding Internet, and was recently cited by Time magazine, among others, as one of the best Web sites of 1996. Congress -- and this committee in particular -- has made it possible for the Library to help bring the legislative branch into the Information Age.
The Library's Planning Efforts
During fiscal 1996, the Library developed a Management Improvement Plan (MIP) to focus its efforts on implementing the Library's priorities:
- 1. Provide support to the U.S. Congress.
- 2. Preserve, secure and sustain a universal collection.
- 3. Make the Library's collections maximally accessible.
- 4. Enhance the educational value of the Library's collections.
The MIP also addressed the useful recommendations contained in two reports commissioned by GAO and completed in 1996 -- a management review conducted by Booz-Allen & Hamilton and a financial audit conducted by Price Waterhouse LLP. The MIP contains nine parts: plans and programs; security (of people, facilities, collections and data systems); management-employee communications; training and development; accountability mechanisms; support functions' efficiency and responsiveness; streamlined management processes; financial management; and broader understanding and appreciation of the Library.
The updated [strategic] plan focuses on maintaining high-quality service to Congress; on continuing our investment in technology to modernize operations and provide more information to the broader public; on improving security for our staff, collections, facilities and the public; and on improving our human resources management. The Library's vision for the 21st century is to "lead the nation in ensuring access to knowledge and information for Congress and its constituents in order to educate and enrich society." The United States has, and must continue to have, the finest national library in the world.
With that background, I am happy to present the Library's fiscal 1998 budget request, relating it to our priorities:
1. Support to the U.S. Congress
The first priority of the Library of Congress is, and will remain, to serve the information and research needs of Congress. The Congressional Research Service, the Law Library, the Loan Division and other elements of the Library of Congress provide a cost-effective, shared resource that serves all committees and members in a nonpartisan manner.
[The Library] seeks funding for 25 additional FTEs in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) as part of a multiyear succession plan. By 2006 nearly 52 percent of the CRS staff will be eligible to retire. This poses a significant threat to the ability of CRS to maintain its current analytic and information services unless training of replacement staff can begin soon, under the tutelage of the senior staff who are eligible for retirement.
As directed by the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act of 1997, the Library and CRS worked with the House, the Senate and legislative agencies to put into production the initial release of a new retrieval component of the legislative information system (LIS). The committee's recent approval of the Library's fiscal 1997 reprogramming request will permit the continued improvement of the retrieval component during fiscal 1997 and 1998... The purpose of the LIS is to improve the efficiency of dissemination of information for the legislative branch and to avoid unnecessary duplication of information. The LIS will provide Congress with far greater online access to a variety of legislative documentation, including: full-text legislation, bill summaries, committee reports, floor schedules, and the Congressional Record.
In addition to the retrieval component of the LIS, the Library has participated in a number of discussions and meetings with legislative branch staff to support the establishment of a program for the exchange of information between legislative branch entities... The Library is awaiting further direction from the Committee on House Oversight and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
CRS also completed a major initiative during the past year to improve online delivery of its products and services. All CRS issue briefs are now available electronically to congressional offices through the CRS home page... CRS continuously updates, refines and improves the availability of information on the CRS home page to ensure that we remain responsive to congressional needs.
For its part, the Law Library is rapidly expanding its multinational electronic database, called the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), to ensure that Congress has rapid and reliable information on foreign, international and comparative law. GLIN made its debut on the Library's home page in July 1996. Member nations are contributing abstracts and full text of laws at the rate of 15 entries per day and growing. Eleven members are participating via the Internet, and the Library projects that GLIN membership will soon increase to 15-20 nations.
The fiscal 1998 budget requests $223,362 and three additional FTEs to support the expansion of GLIN. The Library has been funding GLIN so far by reallocating existing resources, and NASA has provided satellite communications support. In addition, international agencies (e.g., the World Bank) have provided support to participating nations.
We project that GLIN will attract at least 50 members by 2002 and will create an easy-to-use database, allowing faster service to Congress. It should eventually produce savings to the Library's budget as other nations begin sharing the costs to acquire, catalog and make accessible international laws.
2. Preserve, Secure and Sustain a Universal Collection
The second priority of the Library of Congress is to preserve, secure and sustain for the present and future use of Congress and the nation a universal collection of human knowledge, including comprehensive records of American history and creativity.
The fiscal 1998 budget request supports this priority by funding several major items:
A price-level increase of $1,161,000 is necessary to sustain purchasing power at fiscal 1995 levels and to recoup fiscal 1996 and 1997 price-level increases for books, machine-readable works and other materials. Many of these are foreign publications -- on all subjects -- that are purchased from countries with high rates of inflation. The amount of material we can afford to purchase from appropriated funds has declined seriously -- from 930,747 pieces in fiscal 1992 to 707,695 pieces in fiscal 1996. We cannot permit further erosion in these acquisitions -- particularly since these reductions disproportionately hurt precisely those foreign acquisitions which only the Library of Congress makes and which often have growing importance for our international competitiveness. We should not risk depleting what is, in effect, the nation's strategic information reserve. It will have many uses tomorrow that we cannot even imagine today.
The fiscal 1998 budget request also supports a growing workload increase of five FTEs and $304,179 to continue implementation of the Copyright Office's pioneering Electronic Registration, Recordation and Deposit System (CORDS). We have reached a critical point in the development and implementation of CORDS. The Copyright Office has proved during its pilot of 1996 that electronic registration and deposit works... CORDS will both (1) help the Copyright Office streamline its complex internal registration, recordation, and deposit processes; and (2) provide the Library with copies of new copyrighted works in digital form for its collections.
Reengineering the Copyright Office's registration processes and integrating them with the Library's acquisition and cataloging processes is critical to the long-term cost-effectiveness of operations. Electronic publishing is growing exponentially; and the Library must be a leader in testing and demonstrating the means to acquire, authenticate, store securely and provide authorized access to this vast body of new copyrighted works in electronic form. CORDS is a crucial component.
For many years, the Copyright Office has been steadily increasing overall productivity even as its staff has shrunk. In fiscal 1980, a staff of 628 FTEs processed 483,000 claims; in 1996, a staff of 471 FTEs processed 609,000 claims representing more than 700,000 works. At the simplest level, the staff in 1996 is 25 percent lower than in 1980, yet it processed more than 26 percent more claims. More recently, however, the Copyright Office has been able to keep up ... only by using overtime and additional temporary help. By the end of fiscal 1995, the steady loss of trained staff (particularly examiners, whose number fell from 64 to 49 FTEs in three years) ... resulted in growing backlogs. The registration processing period has grown alarmingly from a norm of five to seven weeks in 1993 to more than 18 weeks now.
To stem this growing backlog, the Copyright Office requests additional funding of $538,953 and 14 FTEs. Fiscal relief can come in the future through a legislated ability to increase the fee schedule, but a temporary increase for fiscal 1998 is needed to cope with the current workload.
A fiscal 1998 increase of $1.3 million is requested to improve security. A number of needed security improvements have been funded by changing the priority for existing resources and by reprogramming resources, such as the recently approved reprogramming of fiscal 1997 funds that has enabled us to hire our new director of security. We have made major efforts here, as supported by Congress.
A key component of the collections security program is the reader registration program. Under this program, each researcher using the reading rooms is required to provide positive identification. Once such identification, such as photo ID with address, is presented, the Library issues a Reader Identification Card to the individual with the person's photo and signature, as well as a machine readable card number. Thus, patron information is available for management -- including the ... Office of the Inspector General, if necessary.
The funding requested ($393,410) will permit the operation of two reader registration stations, one in the Thomas Jefferson Building and one in the James Madison Building. The Library anticipates issuing 100,000 Reader Identification Cards annually.
The fiscal 1998 budget proposes $417,035 and 18 FTEs for additional police officers. Seven additional police FTEs are needed to staff posts in the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building when it reopens after renovation in 1997... Authorization for a total of 11 additional police FTEs is also necessary to reduce the present police overtime rate. In fiscal year 1996, the Library contracted with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) to conduct a comprehensive survey... CSC's report indicated that Library police are currently understaffed to accomplish their mission and must work excessive overtime, which reduces their effectiveness. The Library's goal is to reduce police overtime, now computed at approximately 26,000 hours per year (roughly 25 percent of total scheduled hours), to approximately 10,000 hours (roughly 10 percent of total scheduled hours).
Funding for $268,000 in nonpersonal increases is also needed to train and uniform the new police, to support contract staffing for two new cloakrooms, for installation and maintenance of security equipment and for contract support of some nonpolice functions.
The copyright system is a major source of acquisitions for the Library. The high volume and great variety of materials that come in daily ... and are temporarily stored in tubs, on book trucks and on open shelves while awaiting processing create a point of serious vulnerability... A key need ... is to gain item-level control at the earliest point of entry into the Library.
The fiscal 1998 budget requests $242,072 and six FTEs to apply magnetic strips and accession labels to all works as soon as they enter the Library through copyright.
We are developing a Library Security Management Plan to integrate recommendations from CSC and others into a management level framework for ... implementation of efficient, cost-effective solutions. The Library's ... new director of security will oversee the implementation of this plan.
Integrated Library System (ILS)
Essential to improved security and overall process improvements is the Library's request for a $5.6 million increase to purchase and install an Integrated Library System.
This initiative builds on our previously identified need to provide inventory control over our collections through the conversion of two very large manual files -- our shelflist of over 12 million cards and our serial record file with cards for almost 900,000 serial titles. These files constitute the only comprehensive record of which book and serial copies have been added to the Library's collections over the course of nearly 200 years.
An integrated library system is essential... Currently, there is no Library-wide system for recording what we have and where it is. The security of the Library's collections depends to a very large degree on our procuring an automated system that will allow us to document and to track collection materials on a continuing basis from the point they enter the Library.
The time has come when we must begin the systematic and overall replacement of our several separate, outmoded computer systems. These systems have served us well for over 25 years... But these legacy systems are simply not adequate to support us [now]... We need a single system that integrates all major functional areas, such as cataloging, acquisitions and circulation.
Better automation support will enable Library staff to be more productive, permitting the Library to deliver existing products and services with a smaller work force. For example, by streamlining cataloging, by eliminating inefficient and error-prone rekeying in several areas, by reducing duplicate acquisitions and by minimizing the handling of materials, we expect to be able to reallocate substantial resources to other critical mission work, such as collection security. We estimate that we will be able to reallocate approximately $6 million per year to high-priority mission work once the new system is fully in place in six years.
Overall, systems replacement will result in greatly improved service by providing a simple yet powerful public catalog, up-to-date information about the status and availability of materials in our collections and easily traversed connections to a wide variety of research tools, including the rich resources of the National Digital Library.
Congress approved our plan two years ago to expend no-year funds previously appropriated for mass deacidification development in order to work with a private firm to improve the Bookkeeper process and then to begin deacidifying books on a limited scale. For the first time since we began our search for a mass deacidification process 20 years ago, the Library moved beyond research and testing during the past year and began deacidifying books from the Library's collections, committing ourselves to deacidifying 72,000 books using the Bookkeeper process. We successfully treated 25,000 books in fiscal 1996 from the general collections, the Law Library and the Asian Division and expect to treat an additional 47,000 books in fiscal 1997.
There is more good news on the preservation front. As a result of installing a state-of-the-art audio preservation system to digitize audio materials, the Library took a giant step in 1996 toward preserving and increasing access to these hitherto little-used materials in the Library's collections. This system's impressive features will allow the Library to preserve and restore at least 80 percent of its audio collections, including more than 98 percent of the audio cylinders, at an unprecedented level of quality and to undertake research essential for the preservation of digital audio data.
Arrearage reduction efforts remain a major Library enterprise. Despite steady reductions in staff, we continued during fiscal 1996 to reduce the backlog of unprocessed materials -- by 1.5 million items -- while remaining current with new receipts. As of Dec. 31, 1996, we have achieved a cumulative 48 percent decrease in our backlog since the arrearage reduction project began... [but] we have reached the point where any further reductions in staff (before the cataloging process is reengineered), which would result from not funding mandatory pay increases, would seriously slow -- and could reverse -- the continued success in this major effort.
3. Make the Library's Collections Maximally Accessible
Congress ... established in 1931 a program in the Library of Congress that creates and supplies free library materials to blind and physically handicapped readers throughout the country. Administered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, this service actually began in 1897 when the new Library of Congress building opened with a special reading room for blind patrons.
The fiscal 1998 budget request includes a growing workload increase of $2,500,000 for procurement of audio cassette book machines. Approximately 10,000 units will be added to those currently scheduled. These machines will permit service without interruption and waiting lists.
Congress approved and funded the National Digital Library program as part of the fiscal 1996 budget. This is a public-private partnership to digitize the most important and interesting historical Americana materials from the Library for viewing by American citizens, in schools, libraries and homes everywhere. The overall plan is to digitize 5 million items by the year 2000 -- the Library's bicentennial. We are increasingly working in collaboration with other great American repositories with unique materials; and we are on schedule with our public-private partnership for raising the $60 million needed over the five-year period from 1996 to 2000: $15 million from Congress and $45 million from the private sector.
This pathbreaking public-private partnership has so far generated the direct contribution by the private sector of $23.4 million, matched by the congressional appropriation of $3 million per year beginning in fiscal 1996.
The Library has 18 large and unique collections online, fascinating archives of American history that have drawn wide public acclaim. They attract more than 3 million electronic hits a month. The National Digital Library Program was featured at the National Educational Summit attended by all state governors in April of 1996 and has been cited by ... [many] sources as one of the best of all Internet Web sites.
To date we have multiyear contracts in place for digitizing more than 1.7 million digital items in addition to the more than 300,000 already archived. We have established a dozen ways to process and convert collections materials to digital form and to develop new technical standards for storing and sharing these items electronically. Operationally, we have built an efficient organization which will work to integrate this five-year public-private effort into the internal functions of the institution. Our pioneering work in making high-quality content electronically available in a reliable and user-friendly format is providing valuable experience for our (and other libraries') overall programs of electronic modernization.
Standards and best practices will be crucial to the handling of electronic materials. Our Copyright Office is creating a system and technical architecture that will also handle full documents (digital objects) and is working closely with Library Services and the National Digital Library Program to develop an infrastructure for the future.
4. Enhance the Educational Value of the Library's Collections
Through interpretive and educational programs, the Library shares its rich collections of printed books, manuscripts, prints and photographs, maps, sound recordings and films with the nation's citizens. The Library's World Wide Web site has been particularly useful in reaching its various constituencies, including the general public.
Electronic exhibits, one of the most popular areas on the Web site, permit people who cannot journey to Washington to view in their own localities materials from the Library's exhibits and to learn about their significance in the history of mankind. Electronic exhibits are cost-effective -- permitting the public everywhere to enjoy and benefit from them long after the physical exhibit has been dismantled. Library-developed publications are also becoming increasingly available on the Web, and active collaboration with publishers has resulted in an increased public awareness of the extraordinary and unique materials in the collections.
The Library's interpretive and educational programs are fourth-priority activities and have thus been made heavily dependent on private funding for their operation. ... The Library's private fund-raising has resulted in generous contributions from donors and from the James Madison Council in support of exhibits, scholarly programs and publications. In fiscal 1996, we raised $10.6 million in new pledges and nonpledge philanthropic gifts with one of the smallest development offices of any major national cultural institution.
In the year 2000, the Library of Congress will celebrate its bicentenary. Our 200th birthday provides the opportunity to heighten the nation's awareness and utilization of the Library as a major resource for Congress and the American people as we enter the new millennium in the midst of the Information Age.
Planning is under way for a national celebration with advice and participation from Congress as well as the library, scholarly and educational communities. The National Digital Library Program, through which the Library's collections directly reach American citizenry, is a key element of the celebration.
Preliminary plans include on-site and digitized exhibitions on Thomas Jefferson, democracy and knowledge, and on the history of the Library of Congress in American life; an illustrated history of the Library; the issuance of a commemorative stamp; congressional authorization of a Bicentennial Advisory Commission and a commemorative coin series; national television and radio programming; and events at local levels. Most of the funding will come from private sources.
The Enabling Infrastructure
The key [strategic plan] objectives are motivating and mobilizing human resources, efficiently delivering electronic services and using space and equipment, and providing modern financial and information systems.
In December 1996 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia approved the final settlement of the Cook class-action lawsuit, which dates back to 1982. The Library has already put in place many of the agreement's provisions, including changing the selection process to ensure that it is fair and equitable; training all managers and supervisors in diversity awareness; promoting 39 class members; and reassigning three others. We are working closely with the Departments of Justice and Treasury to effect cash payments totaling $8.5 million to class members. Above and beyond the implementation of this settlement, the Library has a continuing commitment to ensure equal opportunity and fairness in all our activities.
Library Buildings and Grounds
Each year, the Library suggests priority capital improvement requirements to the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), and the AOC is responsible for submitting the budget request. The Library Buildings and Grounds budget request for fiscal 1998 totals $15,755,000 -- a $6 million increase from fiscal 1997, primarily for capital improvements required to support Library programs.
Our prime concern has been off-site storage of Library materials at Fort Meade, Md. The Library has been working closely with the AOC on the building design for Storage Module 1, the first of several storage modules to be constructed at Fort Meade. The final designs and logistics plans will be reviewed within the next few months. Construction is expected to begin by September 1997. The AOC plans to have the facility completed in time for the Library to begin occupancy by January 1999. Additional modules ... are to be constructed and occupied over the next 10 years... Additional funding will be needed in the future to support this building program as we vacate existing leased storage space in Landover, Md.
Although the Library's plans for Fort Meade originally included building a nitrate film processing and storage facility, the Department of the Army has indicated that such a facility could not be constructed there. As a result, the Library has been exploring other alternatives... The Library has developed a comprehensive plan for a new National Audio-Visual Conservation Center and is now developing a funding strategy that will likely seek congressional authorization for a public-private partnership similar to that which has made the National Digital Library Program so successful.
The Library is seeking legislation to allow the Copyright Office to set the fees for basic services, to improve the efficiency of the copyright arbitration process, to improve financial management activities, and to support the Library's bicentennial activities.
Much of the work that the Copyright Office performs is a service for which the public pays a fee. In the past, the ideal ratio was thought to be 66 percent funded by fees with the other 34 percent funded out of appropriated funds. The latter was considered to be a reasonable offset for the value of materials that the Library acquired through the copyright system.
Most copyright fees are set by Congress. From time to time Congress raises these fees, usually at the request of the Copyright Office. Each time the fees have been raised to reestablish the 2/3 fee-funded goal. The most recent increase was in 1991, when the fee was raised to $20.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed legislation that gives the Register the authority to set the basic fees, subject to congressional veto. The Senate did not act on this legislative proposal before adjournment. The legislation would also authorize the Library to pay arbitrators involved in the settlement of royalty distribution proceedings directly with funds coming from the relevant royalty pool. Currently, the parties to an arbitration proceeding pay the arbitrators. The fiscal year 1997 budget authorized the use of offsetting receipts to pay the arbitrators pending approval of the authorizing legislation. We are again requesting the authority to use offsetting receipts in the fiscal 1998 budget.
Members of the congressional committees with copyright jurisdiction have indicated that they continue to support these provisions and hope to introduce legislation to this effect early in the 105th Congress. Early passage of this legislation is critical, since the Copyright Office is severely hampered by a lack of staff in several essential areas, and the registration and issuance of certificates is unacceptably now taking more than 18 weeks.
The services provided by the Copyright Office are important both to copyright owners and to the economy. To provide these services in a reasonable time frame will require additional personnel, which in turn requires enactment of fee-setting authority early in the 105th Congress.
Early in the 105th Congress, we will also seek approval, as we have for the past several years, of legislation to implement improvements in our financial management as recommended by GAO... A key element needed to improve our financial management practices is a revolving fund to operate fee service activities.
Particularly urgent is our need for revolving fund authorization to continue operating the Library's overseas Cooperative Acquisitions Program on the same financial basis as has been done so economically for 30 years. The General Accounting Office sent a letter to the Library at the end of January which stated that the Library could not continue to retain and use all of the funds collected for operating costs without clear legislative authority. Without new revolving fund authority to operate this Cooperative Acquisitions Program, the Library would need to end a cost-effective, widely appreciated service which benefits nearly 100 research libraries throughout the nation.
Bicentennial Advisory Commission
Finally, the Library will be seeking authorization for an Advisory Commission to guide the planning of its bicentennial in the year 2000. The membership will be largely congressional, but will also include private citizens and representatives from other branches of government as well as the library and educational communities. The Congress of the United States created our oldest federal cultural institution, has sustained and improved it over the years and deserves to receive public credit and visibility at this 200th birthday as the greatest library patron of all time.
In only three years, the Library of Congress will mark its bicentenary. By funding fully the Library's fiscal 1998 budget request, Congress would prevent further staff reductions and the erosion of core programs that have already been reduced as a result of unfunded price level increases and other factors. This budget will enable the Library to improve internal operations through the use of new technology, to tighten the security of its staff and collections, and to position the Library to move into the 21st century with sufficient state-of-the-art services for Congress and the nation in the Information Age.