Association of College & Research Libraries

Washington Hotline

Lynne E. Bradley Lynne E. Bradley is deputy executive director of ALA s Washington Office; e-mail:

Falling programs

In Washington, federal programs are falling by the wayside as fast as the leaves are falling off the trees. Some major issues for library advocates are described below.

Intellectual property.

Legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress to implement the allegedly narrow recommendations on intellectual property taken practically verbatim from the White Paper. These bills, H.R. 2441 and S. 1284, are a mixed bag for libraries. (The White Paper is officially called “Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure.”)

On the positive side.Both bills clarify that libraries may use digital techniques to preserve works and increase the number of permissible preservation copies from one to three. In contrast: other proposals are sufficiently broad and vaguely worded to create troubling uncertainty for libraries. Examples include: defining distribution by transmission as publication; recognizing temporary reproduction of a document in computer memory as a possible infringement; and criminalizing prohibited importation, decryption, and management information offenses. Both bills permit nonprofit reproduction of large-format material for the visually impaired. However, the copyright owner is granted a full year to decide to market such material before such nonprofit activities are allowed. The bills are likely to be subject to hearings, perhaps as early as this November but it is unclear how much priority will be given to this legislation by leadership in the House and the Senate during a presidential election cycle.

Appropriations.The Senate Appropriations Committee approved H.R. 2127, the FY96 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill in September. The Committee Report (S. Rept. 104-145) recommends a total of $131,503,000 for library programs, a significant increase above the House level of $101,227,000. While the Senate committee would fund LSCA I and III at the same levels as the House, the Senate also included $16,329,000 for LSCA II, library construction. LSCA VI, literacy, would be funded at $7,384,000.

Also approved.The Higher Education Act Title IIB, library education and training, was approved at $4.5 million; and II-B, library research and demonstrations, at $2 million. Research and demonstrations would be limited to two specific projects ($1,000,000 to the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and $1,000,000 for the final phase of the Portals demonstration project). The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science would receive $829,000—compared with the House’s $450,000—but less than the current $901,000. Report language stated the reason for the decrease was in keeping with the rest of the bill; the committee has reduced funding by eight percent.

LSCA and NEA/NEH reauthorizations.A redesigned Library Services and Construction Act was passed by the Senate as an amendment to S. 143, the Workforce Development Act, on October 11. The amendment, sponsored by Senators Claiborne Pell (D-RI) and James Jeffords (R-VT), passed by voice vote and consisted of the library and museum portions of S. 856.

The library-museum piece, as amended onto S. 143 by the Senate, includes the Library Services and Technology Act proposal, with only minor modifications, as developed by ALA and other library groups to update and replace the expiring LSCA. In addition to the state-based LSTA, the amendment includes a national leadership program in library science and joint library-museum projects.

S. 856, the original vehicle proposing to establish an Institute of Museum and Library Services, still includes reauthorizing language for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Arts and Artifacts Indemnity Act (originally Title III of S. 856) was attached to S. 143, with its administration changed from NEA to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Technically, the Senate passed H.R. 1617, substituting S. 143 as amended. In this way, the House and Senate can convene a conference committee to work out the differences between their proposals. The House-passed H.R. 1617 is the CAREERS Act, a block grant bill that includes an LSTA Consolidation Grant as an abbreviated block grant of the ALA version of LSTA. ALA will report further as debate proceeds in Congress and elsewhere on these issues.

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