ARCHIVED: Publication of Hearings on "Public Access to Government Information in the 21st Century"

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January 3, 1997

Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1515 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20071

Dear Sir:

We are very pleased that the Maryland General Assembly has inaugurated its home page ("Assembly Returns to Work, Just a Point and Click Away," January 2, 1997, Montgomery Weekly). Maryland has long been a leader in providing its citizens with access to electronic information. The SAILOR project, developed by the state's Division of Library and Development Services, allows citizens to access library or government resources through a local telephone connection. In July 1995, Governor Parris N. Glendening ambitiously directed state agencies to develop Internet access to agency information by December 1995. The Maryland Electronic Capital home page now provides links to 24 principal agencies.

The unveiling of the new Maryland General Assembly home page is a significant and timely addition in Maryland's evolution to a fuller cybergovernment. Although your article mentions that the new site is not especially "flashy," Internet users who need government information are looking for content, not info-entertainment. This new legislative home page offers valuable and timely information, and we hope that in the future enhancements will include committee hearings and reports.

It is regrettable, however, that while citizens of Maryland now have access to the latest bills and information about House and Senate proceedings, they do not have low-cost electronic access to the Code of Maryland Regulations or the Maryland Register. This past fall, with the approval of the Attorney General, the Maryland Division of State Documents entered into a licensing agreement with a private vendor to produce these titles electronically as a means of generating revenue. Despite the strong urging of our association, other non-profit organizations and members of the information industry to make these titles available at low cost to the public, state legislators chose instead to limit electronic access to these important titles. We hope that they will reverse this decision, and that the Code of Maryland Regulations and the Maryland Register will be made available to the public through this newest home page.

Sincerely,

Robert L. Oakley
American Association of Law Libraries
Washington Affairs Representative M