ACRL

College & Research Libraries News

WASHINGTON HOTLINE

by Carol Henderson ALA Washington Office

An analysis of the fourth round of Higher Education Act Title II-C research library awards indicates that more institutions are receiving grants than ever before in the program’s history. The thirty grants this year include three joint projects, bringing the number of libraries receiving funds to 41 institutions in 25 states. Almost half of the grantees have not previously participated in the program.

Dissatisfaction within the library community about the small number of grants awarded (previously about 23 per year), congressional criticism, and slight changes in the regulations for II-C have all played a part in enlarging the number of participants.

Some potential grantees complained to congressional funding committees with the unfortunate result that in FY 1981 the House refused to go along with the $1 million increase requested by the Carter Administration, and funding for II-C remained at $6 million. More constructively, concerns were voiced to the congressional authorizing committees which have the power to make changes in the workings of the program. When the Higher Education Act was extended last year in PL 96-374, no statutory changes were made in II-C, but the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee report (S. Rept. 96-733) on the legislation indicated the committee believed that at least 50 grants should be made and that the same small number of institutions should not continue to receive grants year after year.

The one substantive change in the “interim” final regulations for II-C published last December was a change in the selection criteria to conform with the Education Division General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). The EDGAR criteria shifted the point balance from the previous 60 points for significance as a major research library and 50 points for the nature of the project, to 48 points for eligibility and 62 points for the project itself. Since then, the II-C regulations have undergone further review, and a new set of proposed revised regulations will be published soon for public comment.

These combined influences have called for a larger number of grants, and this year's results (funds received by 41 institutions compared with last year's 27 on the same amount of funds—$6 million) indicate that the Education Department has been responsive.

Academic and research librarians should watch for the new regulations which will be published in the Federal Register, and comment on their effectiveness and the degree to which they implement the purposes of the program. Those purposes are to assist the nation's major research libraries "in maintaining and strengthening their collections, and in making their holdings available to other libraries whose users have need for research materials."

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