By AUDREY FISCHER
The year 1997 was marked by historical milestones as well as major achievements. The magnificently restored Thomas Jefferson Building reopened to the public and celebrated its centennial (1897-1997).
In a major step toward the future, the Library published a comprehensive Strategic Plan (1997-2004) and established a Planning, Management and Evaluation Directorate to synchronize the planning and budgeting processes. Planning efforts were rewarded by KPMG Peat Marwick's unqualified "clean" audit opinion on the Library's 1996 Consolidated Financial Statements. The Library reduced its arrearage of uncataloged items by more than 1 million items, increased physical security (collections, facilities, staff) and computer security and improved service to Congress and the nation through its growing National Digital Library Program.
The Thomas Jefferson Building reopened to the public on May 1 after more than a decade of renovation, with the opening of the largest permanent exhibition in the Library's history, American Treasures of the Library of Congress." A "Festival of Cultures" was held on May 4 to welcome the public to the "most beautiful public building in America," as it has often been called. On Nov. 4, the Library celebrated the centennial of the Jefferson Building with a commemorative postal cancellation and the lighting of the gilded Torch of Learning (cast from the original) that crowns the building's dome.
Plans to celebrate the Library's bicentennial in the year 2000 are well under way with the appointment of a steering committee, a legislative effort toward a commemorative coin and the establishment of a theme -- "Libraries, Creativity, Liberty" -- with a goal to stimulate greater use of libraries everywhere.
Legislative Support to Congress
Serving Congress is the Library's highest priority. Congressional Research Service (CRS) staff supplied timely, objective analysis for the legislature during a busy year marked by complex reform proposals in many fields, notably welfare, health care and education, and efforts to reach a balanced budget agreement. In 1997, CRS delivered approximately 530,000 research responses to members and committees of Congress. A new, networked automated Inquiry Status and Information System is used to track these requests.
The Law Library answered nearly 4,500 reference requests from congressional users. Law Library research staff produced 902 written reports for Congress, including comprehensive multinational studies on issues such as legislative ethics, human cloning and telecommunications laws.
In August, the Copyright Office delivered two comprehensive reports to Congress in the areas of cable and satellite compulsory licensing and intellectual property protection for databases. In November, Congress passed legislation that would give the Copyright Office greater discretion in setting fees for its services, subject to congressional approval.
Improved Service to Congress and Nation Through Technology
The Library continued to improve its cataloging, copyright, research, management and information delivery systems through the development and use of technology. Specific achievements in 1997 include:
Since Jan. 5, 1995, THOMAS, an Internet resource, has provided the public with the ability to search and access legislative information. Named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, THOMAS is available free 24 hours a day. Usage increased nearly fourfold in 1997 -- from 2.6 million to upward of 10 million monthly transactions. As of Dec. 31, 1997, more than 136 million transactions had been processed by the THOMAS system since its inception. A redesigned home page, upgraded search engine (InQuery 4.0), and addition of files such as the Bill Digest dating back to the 93rd Congress all contributed to the system's enormous popularity.
- Legislative Information System
Working with the Committee on House Oversight and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, in consultation with the House and Senate subcommittees on legislative branch appropriations, the Library developed a plan for a single integrated Legislative Information System (LIS) to serve Congress. Delivered on Jan. 7, 1997, the first phase of the new LIS provides information to Congress on current legislation, floor action, amendments, the full text of the Congressional Record and the Congressional Record Index, committee reports on bills for recent Congresses, summaries of legislation, CRS Issue Briefs, and links to House and Senate information.
- Online Delivery of CRS Products and Services
Sharing of electronic resources enhanced the comprehensiveness and timeliness of CRS support for Congress. The CRS home page on the World Wide Web provided members and their staff with 24-hours-per-day access to legislation; the "CRS Guide to the Legislative Process," the full text of CRS online products; guides to Internet resources by topic; and the "CRS Legislative Alert," a list of selected CRS products that focus on legislative issues expected to receive floor action in Congress (also faxed weekly to all member offices).
- National Digital Library Program
During 1997, the Library gained momentum toward its ambitious goal of digitizing millions of items by the year 2000, the Library's bicentennial. As of Sept. 30, 1997, more than 400,000 digital files were available online or in digital archives. In addition, some 3 million digital files from both the Library's collections and from other repositories are now being digitized as part of a national collaborative effort. In the first year of a multiyear competition made possible by a $2 million gift from the Ameritech Foundation, the Library awarded 10 institutions more than $500,0000 to digitize unique American history collections and make them available on the Library's American Memory Web site.
During 1997, 10 multimedia American Memory collections were added. Three new Library exhibitions were made available online, including "American Treasures of the Library of Congress" exhibition, which will be updated periodically to reflect the rotation of items through this permanent exhibition. On April 1, the "Today in History" service was added and soon became one of the more popular features on the Library's Web site. Each day, a notable event that took place on that day is featured in a short essay, illustrated by documents from the American Memory collections.
The National Digital Library effort continued to reach out to the education community. The pilot American Memory Fellows Program, funded by the Kellogg Foundation, enabled 25 teams of K-12 humanities teachers and school media specialists from across the country to learn about electronic primary sources and to create exemplary teaching units that can be shared online with other educators.
- Internet Resources
The Library continued to provide Congress and the nation with a growing amount of information through its Internet-based systems. As a result, use of the Library's public electronic systems grew exponentially. Having tripled between 1992 and 1996, the average number of monthly transactions doubled to more than 40 million during 1997. In October 1997, the Library logged a record 56 million transactions.
The Library's Internet-based systems were continually cited for excellence in 1997: a Feb. 16 New York Times article called the Library of Congress Web site an "Internet Hit"; PC Magazine rated both American Memory and THOMAS in its Top-100 list, making the cut for the fifth time since July 1996; the History Channel On-Line included American Memory among its recommended history Web sites; the Library's Web site was given the Lycos "Top 5%" of the Internet Award; American Memory was awarded five stars by the Net Guide Best of the Web.
- Global Legal Information Network (GLIN)
GLIN is a cooperative international network in which member nations contribute the full text of statutes and regulations to a database hosted by the Law Library of Congress. The Library demonstrated a new input/update system to the Fourth Annual GLIN Project Directors Meeting in August 1997 and is testing the new GLIN software release prior to the production phase. The Library also began requirements analysis for conversion of existing abstract data into a new format required for production release of the system. There are 11 members currently participating via the Internet, with GLIN membership projected to increase to 15 to 20 nations in the near future.
- Geographic Information System
The Geography and Map Division (G&M) is a leader in the cartographic and geographic communities through its work in geographic information systems (GIS). Working closely with private sector partners, G&M put into production the capability to create large-format digital images and the ability to transmit and display these images through the Internet. In 1997, a collection of more than 450 panoramic maps (1,700 images) of 19th century American cities was released worldwide, inaugurating a new chapter in the Library's efforts to make its collections available to a broader audience. The project was made possible through the integration of Multi-Resolution Seamless Image Database (MrSID) technology, donated by LizardTech.
Technology Projects in Test Status
Congress approved the Library's fiscal 1998 budget request for an Integrated Library Systems (ILS) to improve automation support for bibliographic control and inventory management activities. The ILS project will implement a single system that uses a shared bibliographic database to integrate all major Library Services functional areas such as acquisitions, cataloging, serials management, circulation, inventory control and reference. A dedicated Project Team has been assembled and is proceeding with the procurement of the system and implementation planning. A formal Source Selection Process is under way for the procurement. Following congressional review, the selection of a commercially available system is scheduled for this spring.
The Copyright Office Electronic Registration, Recordation and Deposit System (CORDS), a major new system for digital registration and deposit of copyrighted works over the Internet, uses the latest advances in networking and computer technology. It is being developed by the Copyright Office in collaboration with national high-technology research and development partners (Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives). CORDS will streamline the copyright registration, recordation and deposit processes, as well as provide the Library with copies of new copyrighted works in digital format for its National Digital Library repository. Two new external test sites were opened in 1997 at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.
The Electronic Cataloging in Publication (ECIP) project is enabling the Library to obtain texts of forthcoming publications from publishers via the Internet, catalog them entirely in an electronic environment and transmit the completed catalog records by electronic mail to the publisher for inclusion on the copyright page of the printed book. Sixty-four publishers are now participating in this project. Staff cataloged 1,076 titles last year, bringing the total since the experiment's inception to 2,158.
The Office of Security was established and the Library's first director of security was appointed in February 1997. Several hundred of the recommendations of the comprehensive physical security survey of the Library and its collections, conducted by Computer Sciences Corp., were implemented. Many of these involved key and lock control, installation of closed-circuit surveillance and intrusion-detection systems, and access control measures for areas housing collections. The highlight of the Library's security efforts during the year was the development a comprehensive Security Plan that provides a framework for the physical security of the Library's collections, facilities, staff, visitors and other assets. The Library also developed a Computer Security Plan for safeguarding valuable electronic resources and computer systems, and a Year 2000 Plan to ensure that these systems will function properly at the turn of the century.
The Library reduced the total unprocessed arrearage by more than 1 million items while keeping current with new receipts. This represented a cumulative reduction of about 50 percent -- 39.9 million to 19.9 million -- since the initial arrearage census in September 1989. Processing of print materials continued at record high levels -- staff created cataloging records for 289,154 volumes. Building on the momentum generated in fiscal 1996 through the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, member libraries reached a high of 239 participants and contributed record-breaking totals in fiscal 1997: 57,446 bibliographic records (29,907 for monographs and 27,539 for serials); 137,494 name authorities; 9,364 series authorities; 2,088 subject authorities; and 685 classification numbers.
On Nov. 4, the Library's Cataloging Directorate celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Name Authority Cooperative (NACO) Program, which produced more than 1 million authority records since 1977.
Linked to the Library's arrearage-reduction effort was the development of a secondary storage site to house processed materials and to provide for growth of the collections through the early 21st century. During the year, the Library worked closely with the Architect of the Capitol to ensure that the first storage module at the Fort Meade, Md., campus meets environmental specifications and is ready for occupancy by the end of fiscal 1999. On Nov. 13, Congress passed a bill (H.R. 2979) authorizing the Architect of the Capitol, on behalf of the Library, to acquire a 140,078-square-foot building in Culpeper, Va., for the storage and preservation of audiovisual materials. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation agreed to provide the funds for the acquisition of the property.
Important New Acquisitions
The Library receives millions of pieces each year, from copyright deposits, federal agencies, purchases, exchanges and gifts. Notable acquisitions during 1997 include: Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun's personal papers; the personal papers of cartoonist and dramatist Jules Feiffer; the papers and theatrical designs of Peggy Clark, one of the foremost lighting designers in the American theater; additions to the Ned Rorem Collection, devoted to one of this generation's most celebrated musicians; additions to the papers of lyric poet and biographer Muriel Rukeyser; approximately 1,200 radio transcription discs donated by the University of California at Los Angeles Film and Television Archive, including extremely rare radio recordings of Ed Wynn broadcasts from 1934; Helen Keller's personal copy of the Bible; and a splendid 1745 edition of Horace, owned by Thomas Jefferson, who annotated the inside cover with the meter scheme of each of the poems.
The Library in 1997 improved the preservation of its vast and diverse collections by:
- developing a strategy for unified preservation of audio and video collections in digital as well as analog formats;
- completing the mass deacidification treatment of 67,000 additional books from the general and special collections using the Bookkeeper limited-production contract and obtaining congressional approval of a plan that will make deacidification a permanent preservation activity, enabling the Library to deacidify many more books in the next four years;
- implementing the emergency response plan by planning for advance contracting in the event of a disaster, initiating risk assessments in collections storage areas, training Library staff, refining emergency notification and communication systems, and replenishing response and recovery supplies;
- producing protective enclosures using the computer-driven, automated box-making machine;
- increasing labeling output by using an improved automation program and transferring labeling duties to the technicians in the Cataloging Directorate;
- completing the microfilming of telephone directories from as early as 1884 through 1987; and
- contributing to the National Digital Library by training staff and contractors in the proper handling of materials during the treating, preparation and scanning of collection items.
The Copyright Office received nearly 630,000 claims and made some 570,000 registrations in 1997. Through its Web site, the Copyright Office disseminated public information and provided electronic access to its registration and recordation databases.
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) distributed more than 23 million items to some 777,000 readers in 1997. Outreach to Native Americans continued to be a priority area for NLS, along with adding more Native American literature to the collection.
Bringing LC Treasures to the Public
The Library's collections were shared with tens of thousands of Americans through exhibitions, special events, symposia and traveling exhibitions. The major exhibition of the year was "American Treasures of the Library of Congress," which opened in May 1997 as a permanent installation of Library treasures showcasing America's past, including a rotating display of "Top Treasures." A special exhibition, "The Thomas Jefferson Building: Book Palace of the American People" (Nov. 4, 1997-April 30, 1998) celebrates the centennial of the Thomas Jefferson Building.
Co-publishing arrangements with trade publishers included American Treasures in the Library of Congress: Memory/Reason/Imagination, published by Harry N. Abrams; Eyes of the Nation, published by Alfred A. Knopf Inc.; and The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building, published by W.W. Norton & Co. American Treasures in the Library of Congress was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternative selection for May 1997. Eyes of the Nation was selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club.
The Library's bimonthly Civilization magazine, commercially published under a licensing agreement, completed its third year of publication with some 250,000 paid subscribers, who are also Library of Congress Associates.
Restoration and Renovation
The Library continued to execute its multiyear plan to outfit and occupy the remaining renovated spaces of the Jefferson and Adams buildings. The renovated spaces of the Jefferson Building include the African and Middle Eastern, Asian, European, Hispanic, Main, and Rare Book and Special Collections reading rooms, a new Visitors' Center and permanent exhibition space. The Coolidge Auditorium reopened on Oct. 29 with a performance by the Juilliard String Quartet, now in its 35th season as the Library's resident chamber music group.
Human Resources Improvements
The trend toward a downsized staff continued with 4,070 permanent Library employees on board during 1997. The Library enhanced the efficiency of its merit selection system by reducing the average time required to fill positions by 35 percent -- from 168 workdays to 110. The Library implemented key provisions of the Cook class-action settlement agreement, including back-pay awards, promotions and reassignments. A three-day facilitative leadership training program strengthened the management skills and abilities of all Library managers and supervisors, and the Library established, as a part of the Office of the Librarian, an Internal University office to coordinate and enrich Library-wide training and development efforts and activities. The Library also continued to provide diversity awareness training to staff. In August, four Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities interns completed the National Internship Program, now in its second year.
Gift and Trust Funds
Private gifts supported a variety of new and continuing programs, including: the National Digital Library; the Junior Fellows Program; the "American Treasures" exhibition, and three major exhibitions scheduled to open in 1998 ("The African American Odyssey," "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic" and "Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture"); the Bicentennial Gala, the first benefit in the 197-year history of the Library; the National Film Registry Tour; the Center for the Book; and many other Library activities.
For the NDL program, $6.5 million in new pledges were made, bringing the total in pledges and gifts from the private sector to more than $28 million by year's end. In addition, Madison Council member Alexander Papamarkou pledged $2 million to establish the Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education at the Library of Congress.
Through the planned giving program, the Library received $1.2 million in various types of gifts. These included bequests from the estates of Rudolph M. Lessing, Lillian G. Edeliant, Dwight E. Gray and Marguerite S. Roll (a former Madison Council member) totaling more than $792,000. These bequests benefited the Library's Local History and Genealogy Collections and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. A five-year charitable remainder trust of $100,000 was created by Edward and Joyce Miller to benefit the Library's general collections. Income of more than $278,000 received by the Library from various Charitable Trusts and planned gift vehicles benefited programs of the Music Division, Library curatorial projects and maintenance of the Hispanic Reading Room.
Ms. Fischer is a writer-editor in Information Technology Services.