ARCHIVED: Support S. 2288 to Improve Public Access to Government Publications

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AALL ACTION ALERT: CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
IMMEDIATELY AND URGE THEM TO SUPPORT S. 2288 TO
IMPROVE PUBLIC ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS

July 31, 1998

S. 2288, the Wendell H. Ford Government Publications Reform Act of 1998, was introduced on July 10, 1998, by Senator John Warner (R-VA) and Senator Wendell Ford (D-KY). The bill revises Title 44 of the United States Code to improve public access to government publications and includes key provisions to strengthen the Federal Depository Library Program.

ACTION NEEDED NOW: Phone or fax your Members of Congress immediately. Urge your Senators to cosponsor S. 2288 and support its passage in the Senate. Urge your Representative to support S. 2288 when action on the bill is taken up by the House.

Be sure to take advantage of the August congressional recess to visit your Senators and Representative at their district offices to follow up on your phone call or fax.

TALKING POINTS: Tell your Members of Congress that S. 2288 must be enacted this year because:

  1. the notification provisions in S. 2288 will make publications in all formats from all three branches of government easier to identify and locate;

  2. the enforcement mechanisms in S. 2288 will close the loopholes in the current law that lead to "fugitive documents," and will ensure agency compliance with Title 44; and

  3. the permanent public access provisions in S. 2288 will ensure continuous and permanent access to electronic government publications for future generations.

Tell your Members of Congress that S. 2288 will make it easier for the American public--their constituents--to access government publications.

Tell your Members of Congress that S. 2288 will make it easier for you, as a law librarian, to provide better services to the public in meeting their government information needs.

BACKGROUND: There is very little time remaining since the 105th Congress will adjourn in early October. S. 2288 is the culmination of 20 years of examination and discussion on the need to reform Title 44. Over the past 19 months, Senate staff have worked with the library community and other stakeholders to develop this bill, which includes important changes to Chapter 19 of Title 44, the law governing public access to government publications and the Federal Depository Library Program.

On July 29, three librarians--former ALA president Barbara Ford, IAWG chair Daniel O'Mahony, and AALL's Washington Affairs Representative, Robert Oakley--representing seven national library associations-- testified before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration in support of S. 2288. Copies of their testimony, along with other background information about the bill, are available from the Inter-Association Working Group on Government Information Policy website: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/IAWG. All three library community witnesses reiterated the importance of enacting S .2288 this year to close loopholes in the current law and to improve and enhance public access to publications in all formats from all three branches of government.

Others testifying at the hearing on July 29 in support of S. 2288 included representatives from the Government Printing Office, the Printing Industries of America, the Information Industry Association, OMB Watch, the Council of GPO Unions, and the Communications Workers of America. Statements from all witnesses are available at the Rules Committee website: http://www.senate.gov/~rules.

For the past year and a half, I have represented AALL on the Inter-Association Working Group on Government Information Policy (IAWG). Enactment of S. 2288 to critically important to the future of the Federal Depository Library Program and to the public's ability to access government publications. Every call, fax, and office visit is important so please join our library colleagues across the nation in lobbying for the enactment of this legislation.

Thank you very much,
Mary Alice Baish
AALL Assistant Washington Affairs Representative
202.662.9200
baish@law.georgetown.edu