March 25, 2002
The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Legislative Branch Subcommittee
Senate Dirksen 115
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Chairman Durbin:
On behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries, I respectfully urge your support for the FY 2003 funding request of the Law Library of Congress. Recognizing that the availability of legal and government information to all people is a necessary requirement for a just and democratic society, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5000 members nationwide. Our mission is to promote and enhance the value of law libraries, to foster law librarianship and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy.
AALL strongly supports the FY 2003 funding request of $13.917 million for the Law Library of Congress as essential to its ability to fulfill effectively its mission to the Congress, the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. Courts, the executive branch, the legal community and the public. As the Federal Government's only comprehensive legal and legislative research collection, it serves the unique role of being our Nation's de facto national law library. Its collection of more than 2.3 million volumes comprises the largest and most comprehensive collection of legal materials in the world. Using this extensive collection of U.S. federal, state, international, foreign and comparative law derived from more than 200 jurisdictions, the Law Library's multilingual attorneys, researchers, and reference librarians serve well over 100,000 users each year. In addition, the Law Library serves a rapidly increasing number of remote users with electronic legal and legislative information through its web site.
Thanks to the past support of this Subcommittee and the Congress, the Library of Congress and the Law Library have been able to pursue important digital projects with distinguished success. The Law Library's budget request for FY 2003 includes among its top priorities $3.684 million in funding necessary to improve the Library's technological infrastructure and digital collections. We urge you to support an increase of $3.063 million and an additional 6 FTEs to enhance the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), a multinational legal database of current, official foreign laws, regulations and other legal resources that is uniquely important to our government and to the U.S. legal and business communities in the rapidly changing global economy. The additional funding and staff for GLIN will support much-needed security upgrades, multilingual search capabilities, and the addition of new categories of legal information such as court decisions. The Law Library has developed a five-year plan to expand the GLIN database to cover 50 nations and to include historic materials for Latin American countries going back to 1950. In addition, the Law Library is requesting $213,000 and an additional 2 FTEs in order to meet the increasing demand for electronic reference services in a timely manner. We urge your support for these important digital initiatives.
The specialized resources, important services and digital projects of the Law Library of Congress allow the Library to fulfill its mission to serve Congress and to develop state-of-the-art technologies to make available to Congress and our citizenry many of its unique collections via the Internet. We respectfully urge you to approve the Law Library's FY 2003 budget request in its entirety. We also ask that you please include this letter as part of your Subcommittee's record for the March 13, 2002 hearing on the Library of Congress' budget request. Thank you very much.
Barbara A. Bintliff