WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, October 24, American Library Association (ALA) President-elect Jim Rettig will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives’ House Administration Committee at an oversight hearing on the Library of Congress.
Traditionally, the Library of Congress has served as a de facto national library, upon which thousands of libraries across the country rely for bibliographic records and services to the blind and physically handicapped, among other things. Countless users rely on the Library’s records every day to find the books and materials they need.
“The diminution of the quality and quantity of Library of Congress cataloging has had an enormous financial impact on the nation’s libraries,” Rettig states. “Cataloging that the Library previously provided must now be performed by multiple libraries, often doing duplicative work, thereby wasting tax dollars.”
“ALA strongly recommends that the Library of Congress return to its former practice of broad and meaningful consultation prior to making significant changes to cataloging policy.”
The Library of Congress’ communication efforts are a theme that runs through each aspect of Rettig’s testimony. Rettig also expressed concerns about the need for more funding for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), which serves more than 750,000 people, and surely more in the near future, as the baby boomer generation ages.
“[The NLS also serves] thousands more Americans – our military veterans who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with new access needs – who need and deserve fully funded NLS services.”
Jim Rettig currently serves as University Library at the University of Richmond, Virginia. During 2007-8, he is President-elect of the American Library Association, the world’s oldest and largest library association.