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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
STATEMENT OF JAMES H. BILLINGTON, LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS
DONALD L. SCOTT, DEPUTY LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS
OPENING REMARKS Senator BENNETT. Our fifth panel is headed by the Honorable James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, and Mr. Dan Mulhollan, Director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS). General Scott, you are going to join us, and we appreciate that, as well.
Gentlemen, we thank you for your patience as we have worked through the other witnesses.
We understand from the GAO, Dr. Billington, that the Library has been working hard to solve its year 2000 problem. And we commend you for getting in front of the curve on this issue. We understand that the Library has been busy taking steps to respond to all of the requirement of the electronic age, not just the year 2000.
I should report that I have had a meeting with the CRS, outside of this formal hearing process. And I have been impressed with how the CRS is managing its work force to be responsive to the Congress, and designing a plan to address the problems of responsiveness. We look forward to hearing the details of that plan, particularly with respect to the succession problem that has been referred to otherwise.
Now, with the darkening of the room, I understand you have some show and tell, in the true spirit of the electronic age, in electronic fashion, so, Dr. Billington, we are in your hands, unless, Senator Dorgan, you have any comments.
Senator DORGAN. Why don't you proceed.
OPENING REMARKS OF DR. JAMES H. BILLINGTON
First, I think everyone who is here has previously appeared before the committee, with the possible exception of Elizabeth Zaic, Acting Director, Integrated Support Services, in the Library. And I do have, first, an announcement, Mr. Chairman. We have just received in writing from the General Services Administration confirmation that our rent bill will be reduced by $800,000. And as a result, our budget request for fiscal year 1999 can be reduced by subtracting the $800,000 from our "Rental of space” account. We ask that this savings be applied to our request for additional talking book machines. We will provide the committee with further information on this matter.
Senator BENNETT. I congratulate you for reducing the budget by the full $800,000. There are many agencies that would reduce a vy $200,000, and consider they are a bero.
Dr. BILLINGTON. Well, thank you
Senator BENNETT. According to the ciod and the buzzers, were going into the end of morning business. Al ng good Dr. BILLINGTON. Well
, let me just has just a few points from my full statement before showing the coesittee a very short video on the electronic aspects of the Library, and then asking me magnificent Deputy, General Scott, to make a few brief remarks if that is agreeable, Mr. Chairman We try to keep this very
LIBRARY'S MISSION The Library is, as you know, a totally unique institution, with a use of the world's knowledge for the good of our Nation.
national mission to serve the Congress and to facilitate the creative thing for us to do is simply recess the subcommittee, run over and
Senator BENNETT. There is a rollcall vote. And I think the best vote, and return as quickly as we can.
(A brief recess was taken.)
. trude on the business of the Senate. That is one of the scheduling
Our apologies. The business of the Senate sometimes does in problems we wish we could solve, but we cannot. So we are in your
Dr. BILLINGTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
A key problem in our time is that the very nature of collections municated in electronic and ephemeral forms. With a growing flood
is changing. Knowledge is increasingly being generated and comof unsorted electronic information that is becoming available today, the Congress and the Nation, I believe, needs more than ever, a of Congress to be to help sustain our knowledge-based democracy.
trusted knowledge navigator—which is what we believe the Library moving back down the evolutionary chain from knowledge to infor
Our public culture, moreover, is, Mr. Chairman, in danger of mation, from information down into miscellaneous and often totally that even, just to an unsorted and often ungrammatical stream of unfiltered broad and unverifiable raw data, and perhaps, beyond consciousness that is flooding into the Internet. So there is really We may be sinking down rather than rising up to the twin peaks
plateau of knowledge
a major problem here.
ed in knowledge and had some of those qualities. After all, the whole country was invented by people who were root
To sustain all this, basically, a knowledge-based democracy, in an information-inundated and unvalidated world, the Library of Congress has to collect, preserve, make secure and accessible this rapidly proliferating, often confusing, electronic universe, while mandate and, at the same time, continuing to collect and service
property rights—our constitutional
still protecting intellectual
onelectronic materials, the volume of which also continues to inrease, as whole new streams, cultures, participants in the intellecial knowledge-generating business come all over the world.
This gives us a daunting set of challenges. And I am glad to reort that, overall, we are doing more, for more people, with 12 perSent fewer staff than in 1992. We are enormously grateful for this -"ommittee's support, and particularly for the integrated library sys-tem last year, which is enabling us to build a platform on which all further progress will be based.
The institution is, however, severely stretched by its necessary commitment both to sustain traditional services and to effect our transition to an increasingly electronic world.
We are, I think, in many ways, national leaders, and even world leaders, in some of our electronic delivery activities. We are getting
500,000 hits internally, here in Washington, and another 2 million 2:3 hits every day more broadly from around the Nation and the world. :::$ We need the committee's continued support, including funding
2.- mandatory pay increases and unavoidable price level increases, Sv: which is well over one-half of our increased request this year, plus
$2 million for the replacement of personal computers that will not
Our theme for the bicentennial is gifts to the Nation, which is what the Congress has done by creating, sustaining and sharing with the broader American public both the mint record of America's creativity, through the copyright deposit, and the greatest collection of knowledge ever assembled in one place on this planet, which is one way of defining the nearly 113 million items in all formats and languages the Library has.
We hope to both dramatize and demonstrate the essential role that the Library of Congress and all libraries of our unique library system, of which we are an integral key part, play in keeping democracy dynamic. I hope we can have the committee's support. We appreciated your support in the past, and I would appreciate it continuing so that the Library can head into the 21st century, with expanded digital holdings and with the systems in place that can maximize service to the Congress and to all Americans in the localities where they live across this Nation.
Each of you have a packet of materials providing further information about the Library. We have a short video to give the committee a quick look at the real progress we are making, and explaining one of our emerging electronic services to the Congress and to the Nation.
PREPARED STATEMENTS And then General Scott will have a few words. And then we will be glad to answer your questions, Mr. Chairman.
(Whereupon, a videotape was shown.) [The statements follow:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JAMES H. BILLINGTON The Library of Congress, the oldest Federal cultural institution in the country, will be 200 years old on April 24 in the year 2000. With congressional support and direction, the Library has developed a massive collection of more than 113 million items, a superbly knowledgeable staff, and cost-effective networks for gathering in the world's knowledge for the nation's good.
The Library has a proven record of making knowledge and information accessible to users everywhere evidenced by the exponential rate of growth in the Library's Internet transactions and the wide public acclaim of its website. The Library directly serves the Congress and the entire nation with the most important commodity of our time: information. The Library's critical role as a trusted knowledge navigator for the Congress and the nation is made more important than ever by the growing flood of unsorted information available today.
The Library's mission is to make its resources available and useful to the 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 (see attachment 1), 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 the 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 people, and to implement preservation improvements, particularly for the Library's audio-visual 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).
As the Library moves towards its Bicentennial in the year 2000, we are working to develop a substantive program focused on leveraging private-sector support that will result in significant Gifts to the Nation. The Congress has made its Library over the years a cornerstone in our unique national library system. The Library provides services that save other libraries millions of dollars a year: inexpensive cataloging information, free surplus books, free inter-library loans, and 23 million free items every year to the blind and physically handicapped. All of this and more are directed to, and reach the American people through, other libraries.
The historic investment the Congress has made in the Library's staff, collections, and facilities is now bringing rapidly increasing benefits to people in their localities all over America as access grows daily to the Library's information about the Congress and to the content of the Library's collections via the Internet. In the scant three-and-one-half years since we launched on-line the National Digital Library, the popular response to the content we are offering has continued
to astound us. In fiscal 1996, our Internet transactions numbered 134 million; in fiscal 1997, they more than doubled to 345 million. By late 1997, the Library was receiving some two million Internet electronic transactions every day (in addition to more than 500,000 internal electronic transactions that are handled every workday).
The National Digital Library program is our major gift to the nation, which will make millions of interesting and important items in a variety of media available online in local communities throughout America by the year 2000. Open access is the basic principle of our public library system—and is more important than ever in helping prevent a division between information "haves" and "have-nots" in the electronic age. The Congress, through its library, is ensuring that the tools of learningand of learning about America—will be universally accessible in the next millennium.