January 3, 1997
The Honorable John W. Warner
Chairman, Committee on Rules and Administration United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Chairman:
On September 12, 1996 I wrote to you on behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries to commend you and your colleagues on the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration for the series of hearings on "Public Access to Government Information in the 21st Century." The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5,000 members nationwide. Our members respond to the legal and governmental information needs of legislators, judges, and other public officials at all levels of government, corporations and small businesses, law professors and students, attorneys, and members of the general public.
The public record of your committee's hearings and last year's congressionally-mandated study by the Government Printing Office (GPO) together provide the framework for revising USC Title 44. We believe that this legislative revision must become a priority issue for the 105th Congress to ensure that the use of advanced technologies results in improved permanent public access to information produced by all three branches of government.
Rep. Bill Thomas, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, introduced H.R. 4280 in the waning days of the 104th Congress as a starting point for discussion on revising Title 44 and the Federal Depository Library Program. Enclosed for your information are copies of three documents prepared by AALL, the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries that enumerate our serious concerns over many provisions of this now defunct bill.
We understand that further legislation revising Title 44 will be introduced in both the House and the Senate by late spring or summer of this year. Along with representatives from the other national library associations, we hope to work with you and with Rep. Thomas to ensure that any proposed legislation achieves the desired goal of enhanced public access.
In view of the fact that your committee's hearings this past summer play such a pivotal role in these discussions, we respectfully request that the full record of these hearings, including follow-up questions and answers, be published as quickly as possible either in print or, at the very least, on your committee's website. It is critically important that members of the depository library community and the general public have access to the important testimony and discussion raised during these hearings.
Thank you again, Senator Warner, for your strong commitment to the public's access to government information and the Federal Depository Library Program. We look forward to working with you and members of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration as legislative proposals develop. Thank you very much for your consideration in this matter.
Robert L. Oakley
American Association of Law Libraries
Washington Affairs Representative
The Honorable Wendell H. Ford, Ranking Minority Member, Senate Committee on
Rules and Administration
Rep. Bill Thomas, Chairman, Committee on House Oversight
Michael F. DiMario, Public Printer, Government Printing Office