After 20 years, House hearing focuses on depository libraries

Picture of the Government Publishing Office from the street.On September 26, Congress’ Committee on House Administration held a hearing to discuss the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) – the first such hearing in 20 years.

The hearing was part of the committee’s initiative to examine Title 44 of the U.S. Code, which is the basis for the FDLP and the Government Publishing Office (GPO). While much of the law has not been substantially changed since 1962, today’s meeting is further evidence of growing momentum in Congress to develop legislation that will bolster the FDLP and help libraries connect Americans to their government.

The committee heard today from four librarians, testifying as individual experts rather than for their institutions, about their ideas for strengthening the program to improve the public’s access to government information. In addition, Laurie Hall, GPO’s acting Superintendent of Documents (and a librarian!), testified about the office’s oversight of the program.

Appearing before the committee were:

  • Mike Furlough, executive director of HathiTrust Digital Library, whose members include 128 Federal Depository Libraries
  • Celina McDonald, government documents & criminology librarian at the University of Maryland, the regional depository library for Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia
  • Stephen Parks, State Librarian of the Mississippi State Law Library, which is a selective depository
  • Beth Williams, library director at Stanford Law School, a selective depository

Testimony highlighted the enduring value of the FDLP in ensuring that Americans can access the documents of their government, not just today but in the future. The witnesses also discussed several ideas for facilitating collaboration between GPO and libraries, preserving publications over the long term and improving digital access to government publications.

Committee chairman Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS3) described the hearing as an opportunity “to see how we can make something that we like, better.” ALA extends our thanks to Chairman Harper and the committee members for their interest in modernizing Title 44 and their thoughtful questions today.

About Gavin Baker

Gavin Baker is an assistant director of Government Relations. He advocates for library priorities on government information and transparency issues. Previously, he worked at California Common Cause, the Center for Effective Government / OMB Watch and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Gavin earned his M.S. in library and information studies from Florida State University and his B.A. in political science from the University of Florida.

One comment

  1. Next hearing in the series is tomorrow, October 11: https://cha.house.gov/hearing/transforming-gpo-21st-century-and-beyond-part-4

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