By EDWARD OHNEMUS
Dr. Billington asked a House panel on Feb. 3 to support the Library's budget request for fiscal 1999 of $369.3 million in net appropriations and $27.7 million in authority to use receipts from the Copyright Office and the Cataloging Distribution Service.
The budget request represents a net increase of 6.5 percent from the Library's fiscal 1998 net appropriation of $346,912,000 and $30,295,000 in receipts.
The new fiscal year will begin Oct. 1. The Librarian appeared before the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.).
The major component of the increase that Dr. Billington requested is funding for mandatory pay raises and unavoidable price-level increases at $12.8 million. Other key items in the Library's request include: $2 million to replace outdated personal computers, $2.5 million for security improvements, $1.3 million to fund off-site storage, $871,770 to fund a succession plan for the Congressional Research Service and $1.25 million for cassette book machines for blind and physically handicapped users.
Members in attendance, in addition to the chairman, were: ranking member José E. Serrano, (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and Vic Fazio (D-Calif.).
Associate Librarian Donald Scott, CRS Director Daniel P. Mulhollan, Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters, Frank Kurt Cylke, director of LC's National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and Associate Librarian for Library Services Winston Tabb all joined the Librarian in answering questions from the committee. The members on the panel asked many questions, including some about progress on arrearages and the National Digital Library Program, the program for blind and physically handicapped readers and the CRS succession plan.
Following are excerpts from Dr. Billington's written statement submitted to the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee:
The Library's mission is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.
The Library's first priority is to make knowledge available and useful to the United States Congress. This primary purpose can be realized only if the Library continues to acquire, organize, preserve, secure and sustain its incomparable collections for present and future use. These are the top priorities in the Library's 1997-2004 Strategic Plan, ... closely followed by the imperative to make the Library's unique collections and resources maximally accessible to the American people.
Funding the Library's fiscal 1999 budget request is critical to our current efforts: to provide and enhance service to Congress, to add content to the National Digital Library, to continue arrearage reduction, to maintain a modern copyright system, to ensure strong collections security, to maintain service to blind and physically handicapped persons and to implement preservation improvements, particularly for the Library's audiovisual materials.
The Library's budget request for fiscal year 1999 -- $369.3 million in net appropriations and $27.7 million in authority to use receipts -- supports these and other strategic priorities. This is a net increase of 6.5 percent over fiscal 1998, which includes $12.8 million to fund mandatory pay raises and unavoidable price-level increases and $9.6 million to meet critical growing workload increases (net of program decreases). ... The historic investment Congress has made in the Library's staff, collections and facilities is now ... increasing benefits to people in their localities all over America as access grows daily to the Library's information about Congress and to the content of the Library's collections via the Internet. ... [In fiscal 1997, Internet transactions doubled over the previous year.] By late 1997, the Library was receiving some 2 million Internet electronic transactions every workday; in addition, more than 500,000 internal electronic transactions ... are handled every workday.
The National Digital Library Program is our major gift to the nation, which will make millions of interesting, important items in a variety of media available online in local communities throughout America by the year 2000. ... Congress, through its library, is ensuring that the tools of learning -- and of learning about America -- will be universally accessible in the next millennium.
To continue to move forward ... the Library requests funding for the following major new items or initiatives in the fiscal 1999 budget:
- additional automation hardware, software and services to ensure that the Library's operations continue and that online access is available electronically after the year 2000 century change;
- implementation of key elements of our security plan, including additional security aides to operate X-ray scanners at public building entrances and antitheft devices for the collections;
- additional funds for the Congressional Research Service to support a staff succession plan to help ensure the continuity of high-quality congressional services;
- funding for off-site collections storage of print materials at Fort Meade, Md., and of audiovisual materials at Culpeper, Va.; and
- the purchase of an additional 5,000 talking book machines to ensure their ... availability for blind and physically handicapped persons.
During this time of budget constraints, Congress has continued [to support] the Library, increasing its budget over the past several years. However, the actual number of appropriated full-time equivalent (FTE) positions has declined by 539, or 11.9 percent, since fiscal 1992.
The Library's fiscal 1999 budget asks for a partial recapture of the FTEs lost since fiscal 1992 by requesting funding for 42 additional FTEs (net of program reductions) -- a level that is still 424 FTEs, or 9.3 percent, lower than in fiscal 1992. The Library is not requesting additional FTEs to operate off-site collections storage sites. We plan to use contract support for these new activities.
The Library is working on ways to carry out its mission in a more economical manner by reengineering major business processes. Because the Library's services are ... labor intensive (some 70 percent of our budget is for payroll costs), future economies must come primarily from redesigning or modifying our major operations and from investing further in automation; both will improve the productivity of our staff.
Implementation of the Legislative Information System (LIS), the Integrated Library System (ILS), the Electronic Cataloging in Publication (ECIP) system, the Copyright Office Electronic Registration, Recordation and Deposit System (CORDS) and the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) will make it possible for the Library to do more for less in the future. However, these initiatives will not provide significant financial savings in fiscal 1999.
Funding our fiscal 1999 budget request, including provisions for mandatory pay and price-level increases, will enable the Library to sustain its basic services while continuing to build more modern operations needed for an increasingly electronic future. In short, we believe Congress should sustain its fruitful investment in the Library, which has historically been a gift to the nation and will be even more important during the next millennium.
Major Accomplishments During FY 1997
During fiscal 1997, the Library developed a 1997-2004 Strategic Plan, a Security Plan and a Year 2000 Plan; provided objective, timely, nonpartisan and confidential legislative support to Congress on a wide range of issues; reduced our uncataloged backlog by another million items; completed key provisions of the Library's longstanding Cook class action settlement agreement, making back-pay awards, promotions and reassignments; received an unqualified "clean" audit opinion on the Library's fiscal 1996 consolidated financial statements; strengthened the security of our collections; celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Thomas Jefferson Building; and inaugurated the Library's bicentennial efforts.
The Library improved services to Congress and the nation through technology, installing the first release of the legislative information retrieval system, recording dramatic increases in Internet usage and receiving many Internet awards. The Library is making tangible progress toward meeting our Strategic Plan objectives and preparing for the 21st century.
Bicentennial and Information Age
Planning for the Bicentennial commemoration in 2000 began in 1997 with the appointment of a steering committee of senior Library managers under the leadership of the Librarian of Congress. The bicentennial goal is "to inspire creativity in the century ahead by stimulating greater use of the Library of Congress and libraries everywhere."
The Library's 200th anniversary is a unique opportunity to revalidate the historical role of libraries as centers of learning and to reinvigorate the nation through greater use of libraries and wider access to knowledge. The bicentennial theme of "Libraries -- Creativity -- Liberty" reflects the essential role that the Library of Congress and all libraries play in a dynamic democracy.
To ensure that the Library's operations continue and materials remain available electronically after the year 2000, to improve automation security and planning and to continue critical automation projects, the Library is requesting an increase of $3,281,395 ... for the Integrated Library System. [This represents a net reduction of $2,040,000 from the amount budgeted for fiscal 1998.] Major elements of this increase are:
- Computer Workstations and Equipment: The Library is dependent on computer workstations as the primary tools to perform most tasks and requires an increase of $2,000,000 to. . . [replace] 700 computer workstations. The year 2000 century change makes a number of early-model computers unusable and requires the Library to accelerate their replacement. The Library also requires $1,200,000 to purchase additional server and storage equipment. The growth in online content and the transition from the traditional computer mainframe environment to the more modern client-server model, which utilizes large UNIX servers and magnetic disk storage devices, require more equipment to store, process and deliver ever-increasing quantities of current and historical information.
- Computer Security: The increased ... dependence on computer technology and [the] integration and connection of automated systems via networks have increased the importance of computer security. The Library is requesting $668,784 to fund two FTEs, software and disaster-recovery contract services. The Library needs to focus additional resources on both preventing a potential disaster through improved security and implementing disaster recovery plans.
- Information Technology Services FTEs: The Library's workload has increased in areas such as legislative information retrieval system support, technology planning and electronic mail support. The Library requests funding for six FTEs and $506,352 to ensure that critical automation projects for Congress and the Library have sufficient technical support.
- Law Library Automation Support: LC is requesting three FTEs ($240,201) and $100,000 in contractor support to make possible the Law Library's transition to an increasingly digital environment. Twenty percent of the legal information used to respond to congressional requests is now available only in electronic form, and this percentage is growing. Automation support is crucial if the Law Library is to keep up with this rapid change and provide more access to more information with limited resources.
- Integrated Library System: Implementation planning for an Integrated Library System (ILS) began in 1997. An ILS will provide a computer platform that is year 2000-compliant and ... improve Library operations and collections security. Library staff are evaluating responses to the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued last year and will present an implementation plan for congressional approval prior to procurement of the system. The fiscal 1999 budget includes $3,544,000 (a reduction of $2,040,000 from fiscal 1998) for annual system maintenance charges and software fees, for additional computer equipment and for contract services to convert massive manual files.
Security of Staff, Collections and Facilities
A highlight of fiscal 1997 was the completion of a comprehensive Library Security Plan. The plan provides a framework for the physical security of the Library's collections, facilities, staff, visitors and other assets. Collections security is the centerpiece.
The plan was developed by a team of security professionals, curators and senior librarians. The plan articulates a collections prioritization scheme that establishes five different levels of risk, providing the strongest protection for the Library's treasures and other rare items and appropriate degrees of security controls for other parts of the Library's collections.
The process of assessing the status of collections security within custodial divisions has been initiated, and the completed assessments enable the Library to prioritize the use of limited security resources.
Consistent with security planning, the Library is requesting an increase of $2,458,331 to enhance entry security, to record ownership markings on materials as early in the acquisition process as possible and to conduct additional detailed risk assessments within areas [where collections materials are processed, stored and transported].
For entry security, the Library needs 13 additional FTEs ($355,331) to staff X-ray scanners and metal detectors at public entrances, which would bring our entry security up to the standards outlined in our plan. The budget also includes funding for X-ray scanners and upgraded metal detectors ($627,000).
The security plan highlights the vulnerability of items that are in process prior to their marking and tagging. The Library is requesting $993,500 in the Copyright Office appropriation for theft-detection devices and contract staff to apply them.
Off-Site Storage and Preservation
The Library's preservation and arrearage-reduction efforts are linked to the development of secondary storage sites to house processed materials and to provide for growth of the collections through the first part of the 21st century. The first storage module at the Fort Meade, Md., campus, which employs cardboard boxes on wide-span shelving and houses paper-based collections (primarily books) is scheduled for occupancy by the end of fiscal 1999.
In addition, the Library's Audio Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Va., is scheduled for acquisition by gift during 1999. The Library is requesting $1,320,724 for start-up costs at Fort Meade and for six months' funding at both of these off-site storage locations.
The Architect of the Capitol is also requesting a new operating allotment for the Culpeper Center in the amount of $119,000 and an increase of $81,000 for electricity and fuel oil costs in the "Capitol Power Plant" appropriation to cover the Culpeper facility's utility costs.
The Library is requesting an increase of $643,000 for the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound (MBRS) equipment base (from $232,700 to $875,700) to replace old, failing equipment. MBRS equipment provides research access for media formats [that] are no longer produced, and the replacement of equipment is critical to continuing access to audiovisual materials by researchers and staff. The current base cannot handle the replacement of 70 equipment pieces that are either in danger of imminent failure or approaching that category.
The Law Library of Congress maintains the largest collection of legal materials in the world and also houses a unique body of foreign-trained lawyers to supply legal research and analysis, primarily for Congress, on the laws of other nations, international law and comparative law. More than 200 jurisdictions are covered -- some 80 percent of the sovereign entities of the world that issue laws and regulations. The Law Library utilizes this talent to maintain and develop the breadth and depth of a demanding collection, as well as to provide reference services whenever and for as long as either chamber is in session (as mandated by Congress). These are daunting responsibilities. The U.S. Courts, the executive branch and the legal community also depend heavily on the Law Library's collections.
The Law Library's FTEs have declined from 98 in fiscal 1992 to 91 in fiscal 1998. While the Law Library has been creative in attempting to meet its responsibilities, particularly with the development of its Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), a multinational legal database, funding for five FTEs ($251,750) is crucial . ... The five FTEs would restore reference services to an acceptable level, increase the number of legal research courses taught to congressional staff, improve book retrieval services, which improves all activities, and expedite legal report preparation for Congress.
The Library's Copyright Office promotes creativity and effective copyright protection, annually processing more than 620,000 claims, of which 560,000 are registered for copyright, and responding to more than 420,000 requests for information. More than 850,000 works received through the copyright system are transferred to the Library, forming the core of the Library's immense Americana collections.
The Library is requesting an increase of $1,266,000 to improve the security of the collections by tagging and marking Copyright Office materials upon receipt, by conducting additional risk assessments and by implementing the automated reader registration system. All of the Copyright Office's security initiatives are consistent with the Library's security plan (discussed above) and are critical to the protection of the nation's intellectual heritage.
The Library is requesting two changes in its authority to use Copyright Office receipts. First, a reduction of $2,340,000 is requested to reflect the end of receipts accompanying filings from the GATT Uruguay Round Agreements Act (P.L. 103-465). Second, an increase of $1,000,000 is requested for additional discretionary fee charges (e.g., special services). The Library is requesting authority to use the additional $1,000,000 in projected receipts to support the Copyright Office Electronic Registration, Recordation and Deposit System (CORDS) project ($356,058) and to improve the registration process ($643,942). The additional receipts for CORDS would expand development and testing efforts.
CORDS is the electronic future of the Copyright Office and provides the public with an electronic means to submit copyright claims and documents, which streamlines internal processing. Development as well as testing will continue through successive phases, culminating in a significant number of electronic registrations over the Internet in fiscal 2000. During the year 2004, LC expects to receive at least 100,000 works in digital form: census data, films, music, encyclopedias, scientific papers, legal documents and much else.
Congress revised the structure by which statutory fees are determined three months ago (P.L. 105-80, Nov. 13, 1997). The new law authorizes the Register of Copyrights to increase statutory fees; to do this, a cost study is required along with an economic analysis of the proposal, which explains the various considerations, for example, in addition to cost, operational factors and public policy concerns. Taking into consideration the timetable for comments from public hearings, the economic analysis and congressional review, the Library did not include a statutory fee increase in the fiscal 1999 budget.
Congressional Research Service
As a shared source of nonpartisan analysis and information, CRS is a valuable and cost-effective asset to Congress. CRS provides every member and committee with support at all stages of the legislative process, from the formulation of ideas through oversight of programs previously created. In expanding the CRS mission in 1970, Congress embraced and implemented the concept of a cost-effective, pooled research effort in support of lawmaking at all stages. Now, more than ever, CRS's importance to Congress has grown as Congress grapples with increasingly complex legislation, does so with fewer committee staff and seeks efficient ways to acquire the objective analysis and information needed to conduct its legislative business.
The Library is requesting $871,770 to support the hiring of 20 additional CRS analysts to ensure the continuity of congressional services. Half of CRS's staff will be eligible to retire by the year 2006, and according to a staff survey, nearly two-thirds of those eligible plan to do so in that time period. The loss of such a large number of experienced staff poses a threat to CRS's ability to maintain the current level of service to members and committees in a wide variety of subject areas. The succession plan is designed to provide time to train entry-level staff and build their expertise and knowledge of the legislative process in time for them to take over from specialists who have provided such research and analysis for 20 to 25 years.
I am continually impressed with the uniqueness of the services that CRS provides and its importance to Congress. No one else does or can do what CRS provides you daily: namely, impartial analysis ... combined with a range of opinions representing diverse scholarship. The expertise required to provide these services has to be learned in the act of doing it -- because this type of work is simply not done anywhere else. Therefore, if we are to provide future Congresses with what you have today, we must be able to initiate this replacement process and mentoring plan.
The Library administers a 66-year-old cooperative effort with state and local agencies and the United States Postal Service to provide a free national library program of braille and recorded materials for blind and physically handicapped persons. The Library selects and produces full-length books and magazines in braille and on recorded discs and cassettes and provides special playback equipment. Reading materials and playback machines are distributed to a network of cooperating regional and subregional (local) libraries, where they are circulated to eligible borrowers and returned to libraries by postage-free mail.
The current budget level (fiscal 1998) for talking-book machines would provide for the purchase of some 56,000 cassette book machines (CBM) in fiscal 1999, but the Library projects that $1,250,000 is necessary to purchase another 5,000 CBMs to ensure the continued availability of the machines for blind and physically handicapped individuals.
Library Buildings and Grounds
The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is responsible for the structural and mechanical care and the maintenance of the Library's buildings and grounds. In coordination with the Library, the AOC has requested a capital budget of $6,474,000, an increase of $3,964,000. The AOC capital budget includes funding for 11 projects totaling $4,002,000 in appropriations that were requested by the Library.
In addition, the Library is proposing, as another project, the transfer of $1,500,000 in gift funds to the AOC for the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Va.
Library-requested projects, as well as AOC-identified projects, are prioritized based on critical need and in accordance with both the Library's Strategic and Security Plans. The projects (1) improve the security of our staff and the collections by providing additional electronic card readers, sensor devices and other protections; (2) support the preservation of LC's collections, including improved environmental conditions; and (3) ensure the life and safety of LC's staff and visitors. Properly storing the Library's collections in a secure, safe and environmentally sound facility is the most important step toward preserving our collections for future generations.
I urge the committee to support the Architect's Library Buildings and Grounds budget and his position that reinvestment in the existing infrastructure is necessary and prudent to support program operations and to avoid future costly facility costs.
The Library has submitted two legislative proposals to our authorizing committees. First, the authorization for the American Folklife Center (AFC) expires on Sept. 30, 1998. The AFC's Board of Directors and the Library are seeking permanent authorization for the AFC. There is consensus within the folklore community on the need for this legislation. Second, in connection with its Bicentennial, LC is seeking legislation that would provide appropriate congressional oversight for the observance and all activities associated with it.
The Library appreciates the committee's support of a new revolving fund for the Cooperative Acquisitions Program and is planning to request ... further authorization of a revolving fund for other fee-based activities as recommended by the General Accounting Office. ...
Mr. Ohnemus is assistant editor of The Gazette, the Library's staff newspaper.