Washington Brief - June 2006

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Dateline: April 17, 2006

Congratulations to the 2006 PAGI Award Winners!
This year, the Government Relations Committee (GRC) received eight nominations for the 2006 AALL Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award that has been given since 1999 to recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to protect and promote greater public access to government information. The AALL Awards Committee just announced that it concurs with the GRC's recommendations submitted by Chair Timothy L. Coggins that two awards be given this year. AALL will honor the National Indian Law Library (NILL) and Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists during the Awards Ceremony in St. Louis on Sunday afternoon, July 9th. Please join us as we honor these two outstanding PAGI Award recipients who have promoted and championed greater public access to government information and the public's right to know.

The National Indian Law Library (www.narf.org) is the most comprehensive and valuable collection of Indian law resources including tribal constitutions, codes and federal Indian law resources. Equally important is the NILL's strong commitment to serving all members of the public and providing important services to assist people with their Indian law-related information needs. Library director David Selden and associate director, Monica Martens, are to be commended for their commitment to increasing public access to the NILL's print and electronic collections. Funded by the Native American Right Fund and grants, the NILL has made a significant impact in providing access to government information to Indian tribal members, librarians, legal researchers and the public.

Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists (www.fas.org) is equally deserving of the 2006 PAGI Award for his effective voice in defense of openness in government and against unnecessary government secrecy. Senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists and director of its Project on Government Secrecy, Steve has for the past fifteen years worked diligently to reduce the scope of government secrecy, to accelerate the declassification of cold war documents, and to promote the reform of official secrecy practices. He writes and edits the Secrecy News, a valuable and timely email newsletter that informs the public, the news media and government officials of the latest developments in secrecy, security and intelligence policies. Congratulations to Steve and the National Indian Law Library for receiving AALL's prestigious 2006 PAGI Award!

Meet Us in St. Louis for the
2006 Legislative Advocacy Leadership Training

With the clock ticking, there is still time for you to register for our annual Legislative Advocacy Leadership Training which takes place Saturday, July 8th, from 8:30 am to noon at the Renaissance Grand. GRC Chair Timothy L. Coggins and I cordially invite you to join your colleagues to learn more about AALL's legislative agenda and how you can help us promote our positions on crucial policy and legislative matters. It's also a great opportunity to network with other activist law librarians and make a real impact on the future of our profession.

This year's half day workshop will focus on three areas of special concern to AALL and our members: public law library funding issues, changes to the Federal Depository Library Program, and "Orphan Works" legislation. While there is no cost for this important training session, we ask that you please register right away by contacting me at baish@law.georgetown.edu.

After welcoming comments by Tim Coggins, GRC member Marcus L. Hochstetler, Law Librarian and Director of the King County Law Library, will moderate a panel on public law library funding issues. Judy Meadows, Director of the State Law Library of Montana, and Angela Baldree, Director of the Lake County Law Library, will speak about their recent funding challenges and give practical tips on how to improve outreach. I'll provide my usual summary of our legislative policy agenda for the 109th Congress, focusing on several hot topics.

Last but far from least, we are honored this year to have Kennie L. Gill, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the Senate Committee on Rules & Administration, join us to talk about the nuts and bolts of working with legislators and, even more importantly, their staff. Kennie will also give us a roadmap on how to develop the long-term relationship with your representatives that is crucial to your successful advocacy efforts. All politics is local and we need your help so please join us for this important event. Past participants will tell you how much fun these sessions really are�we hope to see you there!

Important New Statement on Openness by U.S. Archivist
I'd like to briefly follow up on last month's column where I wrote about President Claire Germain's March letter (www.ll.georgetown.edu/ aallwash/lt03072006.html) to U.S. Archivist Allen Weinstein, thanking him for issuing a moratorium on the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) reclassification of approximately 9,500 documents that had previously been available to the public. In a press release issued today (www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2006/ nr06-92.html), Weinstein announced that he has declassified two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) that NARA had with the Air Force and the CIA dating back to 2001 and 2002. The secret MOUs allowed the agencies to re-review open records that may have been inadvertently or improperly declassified. Speaking out in strong support of the need for transparency by NARA, Weinstein further stated in the press release that, "There can never be a classified aspect to our mission. Classified agreements are the antithesis of our reason for being. Our focus is on the preservation of records and ensuring their availability to the American public while at the same time fulfilling the people's expectation that we will properly safeguard the classified records entrusted to our custody." Kudos once again to Professor Weinstein for his strong track record in support of open government during his first year as Archivist of the United States.

Continuing the Fight to Save EPA Libraries
Also last month I noted that the President's FY 2007 budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) eliminated the $2.5 million that funds the Headquarters Library as well as many of its 27 regional and laboratory libraries. In late February, we submitted a joint library letter to the appropriate House Appropriations Subcommittee opposing this cut (www.ll.georgetown.edu/aallwash/lt02242006.pdf). Since then, we have received word that two regional libraries�Chicago and Dallas�are being closed. Along with my colleagues at the ALA Washington Office and SLA, I'll be meeting next week with Ms. Linda Travers, acting administrator of the EPA's Office of Environmental Information. We will discuss with her the impact of these closures and argue for the public's right to access the important resources�many of which are unique publications available nowhere else�that are held in EPA libraries across the country. Stay tuned.


Mary Alice Baish
Associate Washington Affairs Representative
Edward B. WIlliams Law Library
111 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-1417
202/662-9200 * FAX:202/662-9202
email:baish@law.georgetown.edu

 


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