Ridley R. Kessler, Jr.
Testimony before the Subcommittee on Legislative on the FY 2000 Appropriations for the Government Printing Office
February 10, 1999
Good afternoon, Chairman Taylor and members of the Subcommittee. I am Ridley Kessler, and I have been the Regional Documents Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1973. I appear before you today on behalf of five national library associations to urge your support for GPO's FY 2000 budget request of $31,245,000 for the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses appropriations.
I'm especially delighted to be here to congratulate you, Chairman Taylor, on assuming the chairmanship of this important Subcommittee. The future of the Federal Depository Library Program in the electronic age is very important to the citizens of North Carolina--and to your constituents in the 11th District. It is through the North Carolina network of 34 depository libraries located in every congressional district that our students, teachers, businessmen, researchers and members of the public have local, efficient and no-fee access to Federal government information.
I'd like to focus on three key points this afternoon:
First, our associations believe that GPO's proposed budget increase of $1.98 million is essential to support the FDLP Electronic Collection, including the future development of GPO Access.
Second depository libraries provide significant services and investments to maintain tangible collections and to facilitate public access to the growing array of electronic Federal government information.
And third, our users are frustrated when the government information they need is fugitive, or when electronic publications disappear from agency web sites. Librarians are committed to ensuring that valuable electronic government information is available to the public today, and that it will be preserved for future generations.
First, GPO's Budget Increase is Essential
We commend the Government Printing Office for its transition to a more electronic FDLP. Last year, approximately 34% of all titles disseminated to federal depository libraries were in electronic format, mostly through GPO Access. GPO Access is an award-winning digital collection of more than 70 official government databases from all three branches of government. Each month, users download between 10 to 15 million documents from GPO Access. We believe that the proposed increase of $1.98 million for FY 2000 is both appropriate and necessary. It will support the maintenance and growth of GPO Access. And it will enable GPO to fulfill its strategic plans for the FDLP Electronic Collection, including the permanent public access of electronic government information.
Second, Depository Libraries Provide Important Services and Investments
My formal testimony provides you with a brief description of our regional depository library collection at UNC Chapel Hill, as well as some cost data. Our depository collection--dating back to 1884--is housed in 19,000 square feet. It includes almost 2 million print documents and over 1.4 million microfiche. Our six computers dedicated to electronic government resources provide public access to a significant collection of CD-ROM as well as to the online FDLP Electronic Collection. Our annual budget includes:
- personnel and administrative costs;
- new computers--these need to be upgraded every two years--to support CD-ROM and Internet access;
- connectivity charges;
- necessary software;
- new cabinets to house the microfiche and CD-ROM collections;
- cataloging and binding costs;
- space costs;
- and in addition, FDLP libraries purchase additional indexes, microfiche and supporting reference materials to enhance their collection. Many depository libraries, including our regional at UNC Chapel Hill, expend $90,000 or more each year for these materials.
Third, The Need for Permanent Public Access
Each year in our testimony before this Subcommittee, we express concern with the failure of some government entities to comply with U.S.C. Title 44, either through increased fiscal constraints or a lack of understanding of their responsibilities under the law. We also express concern that agencies often remove important publications from their web sites, without capturing them for permanent public access. These actions have fiscal implications because they increase the costs to government and to libraries in providing access to government information, and to the public in locating and using the government information they need.
The Federal Depository Library Program is the most efficient system to provide the American public with government information. Participating libraries provide the national technological infrastructure that is necessary in the electronic age to assist your constituents in accessing electronic government information. The Federal government must invest in systems and services that provide the public with government publications in all formats, and must ensure that valuable electronic government information created today will be preserved for future generations. The S & E increase of $1.98 million will assist GPO in meeting this responsibility for the FDLP Electronic Collection. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, we respectfully urge you to continue to support the Federal Depository Library Program by approving the full S & E budget request of $31,245,000 for FY 2000. Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today, and I'd be very pleased to answer any questions that you might have.