ARCHIVED: FY 2001 Appropriations for the Government Printing Office

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Ridley R. Kessler, Jr.
Regional Documents Librarian
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

on behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association, Special Libraries Association

before the Subcommittee on Legislative of the House Committee on Appropriations on the FY 2001 Appropriations for the Government Printing Office

February 2, 2000

Good morning. I am Ridley R. Kessler, Regional Documents Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a position that I have held since 1973. Once again, I am honored to appear before the Subcommittee on behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association to support the Public Printer's FY 2001 budget request of $34,451,000 for the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses appropriations. This includes $29.8 million for the Federal Depository Library Program, $3.3 million for the Cataloguing and Indexing Program, $.9 Million for the International Exchange Program and $.5 million for the By-Law Distribution Program.

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is the most efficient system to provide the American public with government information, and participating libraries provide the national technological infrastructure that is necessary in the electronic age. Throughout the ongoing transition to a more electronic FDLP, the channels of public access to government publications must remain open, efficient, and technologically relevant.

FY 2001 Budget Increase Essential

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I would like to begin by emphasizing again that public access to government information, created with our tax dollars, has been provided through the collections and services of local depository libraries since January 28, 1857. At that time Congress passed Resolution 5 (34th Congress, Third Session-11 U.S. Statutes at Large, 253) which established a depository program under the Secretary of Interior. This resolution provided that the journals and Congressional documents be distributed to libraries. The next year this was amended by a public law �Providing for Keeping and Distributing All Public Documents on February 5, 1859� (11 U. S. Statutes at Large, 379-35th Congress, 2nd Session.) This public law included all documents and made the House and Senate responsible for the designations of Depository Libraries by congressional district. The United States Congress and libraries have together been united in providing public access for a very long time.

In fact, our relationship is even older that this and dates back to 1813 when Congress passed Resolution 1 on December 27th, 1813. This resolution provided that the journals of the House and Senate and documents published under their orders, be distributed (200 copies) to the �executives of the several states and territories and� to each university and college in each state'.� (3 U. S. Statutes at Large, 140-141, 13th Congress). I point out to you that this took place in the middle of the Second War with England. As a matter of fact Resolution 2 gave the �thanks of Congress to Captain Oliver Hazard Perry for his victory gained on Lake Erie,� so your predecessors in Congress took time from discussions of the war with England, to create this valuable program.

Resolution 1 doesn't say �libraries� but I take it as a matter of faith that that was the intention. Colleges and universities certainly located these materials in their libraries. I am fairly certain that our copies of the American State Papers came to our library though this manner. So, the Congress of the United States has been the key body behind the distribution of �no fee� information to the general public through libraries for 187 years.

Let me emphasize again that this program is a joint effort and partnership between Congress and libraries. Without the two of us working together the American people would not have the basic rights to this information created by their government nor could they carry out their rights of basic citizenship without the knowledge and power that this access grants them. It is recognized by Congress and by the American public, that access to government information is a basic right of the American people based on principles that has long affirmed as essential to our democratic society. The FDLP is a unique program and is one of the most effective, efficient and successful partnerships between the Federal government and the American public providing your constituents with equitable, ready, efficient and no-fee access to Federal government information. It is providing access to government Information created with tax dollars and provided through the collections and services provided by local depository libraries.

Today Congress, government agencies, and the courts are increasingly using state-of-the-art technologies to create and disseminate more government information through the Internet. We in the library community and your constituents continue to celebrate the vision Congress had when you enacted the GPO Electronic Information Access Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-40) mandating the creation of GPO Access, a central access point within the Government Printing Office (GPO) for electronic government information. GPO Access has developed into an award-winning digital collection of more than 70 official government databases from all three branches of government. It includes timely access to official documents such as legislation introduced by Congress, the Congressional Record, the Federal Register, and the Code of Federal Regulations. Just as the government has an affirmative obligation to provide current access to its information, in the digital arena this obligation extends to ensuring the preservation of and permanent public access to electronic government publications. The government's responsibility to make available to depository libraries government publications in both tangible and electronic formats is successful because of the necessary partnerships developed between the Federal government, the GPO, and the Federal Depository libraries.

Growth and Increased Usage of the GPO Access System Impressive

In order for GPO to continue to increase the amount of government information available for current and future public access through the Internet and in order for the Federal government to fulfill its responsibilities of the partnership, it is critically important that Congress provide adequate funds to support this transition to a more electronic program. The demand for government information and the usage of GPO Access are rapidly increasing. During FY 1999 there were over 228.3 million documents downloaded from GPO Access, a 53% increase over FY 1998. Currently an average of 21 million documents are downloaded per month, increasing at a rate of 4 1/2 percent per month.

The Federal Depository Library Program and the GPO Access system are vital to the dissemination and access of federal government information to our citizens. With heavy demand for these services from the American public, we respectfully urge this Subcommittee to approve the Public Printer's full appropriations request of $34,451,000 for the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses for FY 2001. This amount includes an increase of $3,409,000 that is necessary to support the continued operation of the Federal Depository Library Program, its electronic transition plans, and the increased demands upon GPO Access. Of this amount, $1,624,000 is requested under miscellaneous services to fund expenses associated primarily with GPO Access operating and hardware costs, resulting from the continuing addition of new products and capacity to GPO Access as well as ensuring permanent public access to the FDLP electronic collection. The library community also supports the GPO request for $1,029,000 under the depository and international exchange printing to fund increases in depository printing expenses, as the result of the reprinting and distribution of the U.S. Code. We also support an increase of $582,000 for five additional depository library program positions including three for GPO Access, development and new product outreach; one for library inspections; and one for FDLP Electronic Collection development. We also urge funding of four additional cataloguers in the cataloguing and indexing program. (We understand the balance of the requested workload increase, $214,000, is for materials and supplies to support the continuing expansion of GPO Access.)

We believe that the portion of the increase over last year's budget request, approximately $926,000, is necessary to cover mandatory pay increases and price level changes. Mandatory pay increases amount to $403,000 of this total.

Expanding Electronic Dissemination

The documents librarians can observe first hand the increase in the number of titles and the volume of government information now available electronically, another reason that GPO's transition to a more electronic FDLP must continue. I note the rapid increase in the percentage of new titles disseminated electronically: In FY 1999, 46 percent of the new titles were disseminated electronically. In FY 2000, 67 percent of the new titles available to the public through the FDLP have been online. The FDLP now delivers more products than ever before because of the ability to disseminate electronic information to libraries and the public.

During FY 1999 the second highest amount of new titles, 70,340, were disseminated through the FDLP. This shift to electronic dissemination will only increase, just as usage is increasing. GPO should be commended for continuing its significant role in developing the FDLP Electronic Collection. The library community agrees that the increase of $1,624,000 of discretionary funding, as requested by the Public Printer, is necessary to provide for shifts in workload changes to maintain, improve and enhance GPO's FDLP Electronic Collection. We strongly support this request and urge you to approve it in its entirety.

These important improvements advance GPO efforts to fulfill its strategic plans for the FDLP Electronic Collection and result in broader and more efficient public access to electronic government information. The library community supports the proposed increases including funding for additional production personnel as well as the reallocation of existing staff time. GPO's blueprint for its electronic collection will be achieved only if adequate resources and staff are available to continue the excellent work that has been done to date. We fully support the increased request for personnel costs to manage the ever-expanding electronic collection.

[For further detail about GPO Access usage, we refer you to the �Biennial Report to Congress on the Status of GPO Access� published by GPO on December 31, 1999, which includes much information about the collection, services and usage of GPO Access.]

Permanent Public Access Needed in the Electronic Environment

GPO provides permanent access to equally valuable older materials. For example, while you can use GPO Access to read the most recent Congressional Record, you can just as easily search the archived volumes of the Congressional Record that go back to 1995. Each year, the historic electronic collection grows, requiring GPO to meet its responsibility for ensuring permanent public access to government information. This function presents a difficult challenge in the networked electronic environment. We believe that the proposed increase for the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses for FY 2001 appropriations is both appropriate and necessary to support the maintenance and growth of GPO Access and to affirm the requirement that electronic government information must remain permanently available to the public.

In previous testimony before this Subcommittee, we have expressed serious 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. Librarians and users continue to be frustrated by having to track down missing or fugitive documents; by the persistent removal of important government resources from the public domain; by agencies that contract with private publishers and fail to supply important government resources to the Superintendent of Documents for distribution to depository libraries; or by agencies that enter into licensing agreements that prevent or curtail the distribution and use of government information. These actions are counter to the principles of public access that we all uphold. They have fiscal implications as well in that they increase the costs to government and to libraries in administering and providing access to government information, and to the public in locating and using government information.

Even as the library community continues to work with you on how we can assure permanent public access, it is imperative that the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses appropriations for FY 2001 be fully funded in order to continue the steady and significant progress that has been made to move the FDLP to a more electronic partnership program. The Federal Depository Library Program is the most efficient system to provide the American public with government information, and participating libraries provide the national technological infrastructure that is necessary in the electronic age. Throughout the ongoing transition to a more electronic FDLP, the channels of public access to government publications must remain open, efficient, and technologically relevant. That is why we urge you to approve the $1,624,000 request.

Continued Importance of Tangible Materials

At the same time we cannot minimize the amount or importance of tangible materials, including print, microfiche, maps, CD-ROM or other formats, that continue to be distributed to depository libraries. FDLPs hold rich collections of historical materials that are heavily used by the public, students, faculty, and researchers. We are responsible for building and maintaining our valuable historic collection of tangible materials for permanent public access. One of the most heavily used printed items is the U.S. Code. Users rely on the printed code and its heavy usage in print format leads us to support the request for GPO to conduct the scheduled printing of the U.S. Code at a one-time increase of $1,029,000.

FDLP Partners' Significant Services and Investments

I have previously testified about our investment at the University of North Carolina and described our regional depository library collection and services. Our investment in this program exemplifies the substantial costs that participating depository libraries incur in order to provide your constituents with equitable, ready, efficient and no-fee access to government information in both print and electronic formats. These costs include providing highly trained staff, adequate space, necessary additional materials, costly equipment, and Internet connections. The success of GPO Access cannot be measured without acknowledging the substantial costs covered by Depository libraries.

It is not unusual for a regional depository library to expend up to $1 million each year to support its depository collections and services, and to provide access to resources for constituents in that state or region. This sum includes:

  • personnel and administrative costs;

  • space costs;

  • new computers to support CD-ROM and Internet access;

  • connectivity charges;

  • necessary software;

  • new cabinets to house the microfiche and CD-ROM collections; and

  • cataloging and binding costs.

Maintain Partnerships

The historic emphasis on partnerships must be maintained. Depository libraries continue to build and expand partnership programs by which a library or institution enters into a formal agreement to provide permanent public access to a specific electronic collection. The FDLP is a true partnership program in which participating libraries are investing substantially to successfully meet the challenge of an increase user reliance on electronic information to solve government information needs. The transition to a more electronic FDLP provides new opportunities for improved public access because of these partnerships.

FDLP libraries and your constituents are doing their part by investing in technologies to assist them in accessing electronic government information. The Federal government must fulfill its part of the partnership by establishing a framework that will remain vital and relevant in the 21st century. An investment in systems and services that provide the public with government publications in all formats, will ensure that valuable electronic government information created today will be preserved for future generations. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support for the Federal Depository Library Program.