Librarian of Congress James H. Billington

Testimony to Congress

Statement of James H. Billington
The Librarian of Congress
before Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
FY 2006 Budget Request
April 19, 2005

I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the past accomplishments and future goals of the Library of Congress in the context of our FY 2006 budget request.This Committee has always supported the Library’s programs, and I ask for your help again in securing the investments we need to keep the Library as useful to the Congress in the new millennium as we have been in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

For 205 years, the Congress of the United States has sustained the Library of Congress in its efforts to acquire, preserve, and make accessible the mint record of American creativity and the world’s largest collection of human knowledge. We share this knowledge with the Congress, principally through the Congressional Research Service and the Law Library, and we protect the artistic and literary legacies of our citizens through our Copyright Office. We also serve your constituencies through our National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, through our cataloging and other services to your local libraries, and by offering rich educational content to your teachers and students through our acclaimed Internet site.

The Library Today

The Library of Congress contains more than 130 million items in more than 470 languages and in virtually every media.Every workday the Library adds more than 10 thousand new items to its collections and provides numerous specialized services.In FY 2004, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) performed exclusive public policy research and analysis for Members and Committees, covering more than 200 active legislative issues, preparing and updating nearly 1,000 reports and delivering nearly 900 thousand responses to inquiries.Of particular note in FY 2004, CRS experts responded with immediate support on matters that suddenly were on the Congressional agenda, including a comprehensive interdisciplinary response to the 9/11 Commission Report that involved 70 written products; legal analysis related to the Abu Ghraib prison controversy; and an assessment of implementation issues of the new Medicare prescription drug benefits.The Copyright Office administered the U.S. copyright laws and acquired copyrighted works for the collections of the Library while registering more than 661 thousand copyright claims in the past year.The Books for the Blind and Physically Handicapped program circulated more than 23 million books and magazines free of charge to the blind and disabled.The Library assisted the nation’s local libraries by cataloging more than 300 thousand books and serials, and providing the bibliographic records to libraries everywhere.Finally, the Library provided free Internet access to more than 75 million records and recorded more than 3.3 billion hits on its Web site in FY 2004.


Throughout FY 2004 and into FY 2005, the Library continued to reach important milestones.We moved forward with our massive film preservation facility in Culpeper, Virginia, slated to open in the fall of 2006.Phase One of the project will be completed this year, allowing the initial transfer of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division collections to Culpeper in August.Years of planning for off-site storage of other collections at Ft. Meade, Maryland, came to fruition when Module 1 opened in November 2002.This facility represents the start of the Library’s program to use custom-built offsite facilities to relieve overcrowding on Capitol Hill, and to ensure an excellent preservation environment.During FY 2004, 567 thousand items were transferred to the facility, bringing the total number of items transferred to Module 1 to 1.2 million.This module is now completely full.Completion and commission of Module 2 is scheduled for spring 2005.

Under the mandate of the Congress’s 2000 National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation (NDIIPP) Act, we continue to build a strong nationwide network of partners. We awarded nearly $14 million to eight partner institutions who agreed to provide matching funds and to help collect and preserve a diverse range of important at-risk digital material that could prove useful to current and future generations of researchers, scholars, and lifelong learners.NDIIPP also partnered with the National Science Foundation to establish the first digital archiving grants program, which will fund cutting-edge research in support of the long-term management of digital information.

In FY 2004, the Library added approximately 2.6 million new items to its collections through all sources of acquisitions, including purchase, exchange, gift, federal transfer, and copyright deposit.Through the Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK), which makes available an array of print serials, books, electronic publications and preservation services, the Library contracted with more than 100 major vendors to provide services to approximately 1,200 Federal offices participating in the program – saving the offices an estimated $8.9 million in cost avoidance benefits and more than $11 million in vendor “volume discounts.”

The Copyright Office exceeded its 90-day target for processing of claims.The Office now processes claims on an average of 80 days, a 60 percent improvement since 2001.The Copyright Office also cut average recordation processing time in half, reaching 33 days at the end of 2004, an 85 percent improvement since 2001.

The Library organized and sponsored, with funds raised from the private sector, the third National Book Festival with 85,000 thousand attendees — the most ambitious National Book Festival to date.Through other fund-raising activities this past year, the Library received a total of $11 million, representing 828 gifts from 713 donors.The Library awarded the first John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Human Sciences in FY 2004.The $1 million prize — made possible by an endowment established by the Madison Council Chairman John W. Kluge — is given for lifetime achievement in the humanities and social sciences, areas of scholarship for which there are no Nobel prizes.Finally, for the ninth consecutive year, the Library received an unqualified “clean” opinion on its FY 2004 consolidated financial statements.

Building a 21st Century Library

Shifting media formats, the greatly increased flood of important material available only in perishable digital form, and increasingly complex data rights issues have combined to create immense new challenges for the Library.At no other time has the emergence of technology so directly affected how the Library acquires, catalogs, preserves, serves, and secures its vast collections and holdings.

In order for the Library to continue fulfilling its historic mission, we must embrace the rapidly unfolding technology revolution, build and maintain an internal infrastructure, and recruit, educate, and train a new staff of knowledge navigators to sort out, prioritize, and help mediate to Congress and the nation what is worth saving from the increasingly unfiltered information online.

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The Library’s FY 2006 Plan

In preparing the FY 2006 budget, the Library considered the areas that will be most changed by the transition from largely print-on-paper collections to a hybrid collection that incorporates great numbers of digital materials.As we shape the Library of the future, we recognize the need to concentrate on three areas:technology,acquisition, and preservation. Specifically:


  • Develop an infrastructure to support the digital library.
  • Build a stronger connection between the Library of Congress and other libraries to create a national digital library. This would make more material available through the Internet, even if it is not physically housed at the Library of Congress.
  • Redefine the Library's leadership role in describing and organizing information —adjusting cataloging methods and setting standards for the digital environment.


  • Preserve at-risk “born digital” materials and work in partnership with educational and corporate partners to keep such materials available for subsequent generations.


  • Reconceptualize our special collections development policies to include the creations of writers, artists, cartographers, photographers, and musicians that are available only online (or born digital).

FY 2006 Budget Request

Our FY 2006 budget represents in many ways a transition to closure on several multi-year projects that are essential for building a 21st century library.

The Library is requesting a total budget of $628 million for FY 2006.This includes $591 million in net appropriations and $37 million in authority to use receipts, a net increase of $43 million or 7 percent above the FY 2005 level. This total includes $24.3 million for mandatory pay and price-level increases needed to maintain current services and to prevent a reduction in staff, which would severely impact the Library’s ability to manage its diverse and complex programs.

The requested funding will support 4,365 full-time equivalent (FTEs), a net increase of 74 FTEs above the FY 2005 level of 4,291, but still 355 FTEs short of the FY 1992 total — despite the fact that we are doing far more work now than in FY 1992.

Unfunded Mandates

A total of $2.5 million and 3 FTEs is requested for two new and unfunded mandates: $1.2 million for the Administration’s Department of State Capital Security Cost Sharing program, and $1.3 million and 3 FTEs for the new Copyright Royalty Judges Program.

Two years ago, the Department of State launched a 14-year program to finance the construction of approximately 150 embassy compounds.The Library was assessed $2.4 million for FY 2006 based on the number of staff we have in overseas acquisition field offices attached to embassies.The Library has argued for a reduction in the assessment, based on the services provided to the Library by the Department of State in diplomatic facilities, but the matter has not been resolved.We hope the amount requested by the Department of State will be less, but until a decision is reached, the Library must request full funding.It is essential that we not risk losing our overseas offices, which collect vast amounts of important and otherwise unavailable material from many of the world’s trouble spots.

The Copyright Royalty Distribution Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-419), signed into law on November 30, 2004, created a new program in the Library to replace most of the current statutory responsibilities of the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels (CARP) program.The new Copyright Royalty Judges (CRJ) program will determine distributions of royalties that are disputed and will set or adjust royalty rates, terms and conditions, except satellite carriers’ compulsory licenses.The Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act, signed into law on December 8, 2004, extends satellite compulsory licenses and requires CARPs, rather than CRJs, to set new rates for satellite retransmission.The CARPs will be funded by participants in the proceedings and/or by royalties.Unlike CARP, the new Copyright Royalty Judges program will be funded by new permanent net appropriations and nominal filing fees.Funding supports the salaries and related expenses of the three royalty judges and three administrative staff required by law to support this program.

Major Projects

The Library is requesting $7.284 million and 45 FTEs for projects that are either in the last year of development or on a time-sensitive schedule that must be maintained if the entire project is to be successful.The projects support preservation, electronic delivery of services, acquisitions and access functions.The first of these projects is the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC) in Culpeper, Virginia.

A gift of $120 million from the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) three years ago launched the National AudioVisual Conservation Center, an unparalleled conservation facility for the special formats that are uniquely held by the Library of Congress.The construction project at Culpeper, Virginia is proceeding well, and the collections from five disparate storage collections will be moved to Culpeper during the summer 2005. The staff will be relocated to Culpeper in 2006.

During FY 2006, the Library's ability to procure, deliver and install NAVCC furnishings, equipment and infrastructure must again be carefully managed in concert with PHI's schedule for finishing, testing, and commissioning Phase Two of the facility, slated for completion by April 2006.For this reason, no-year authority is again required to accommodate unforeseen fluctuations in the construction schedule.The Library is requesting a net decrease of $-3 million and an increase of +23 new FTEs in FY 2006. This request follows the original five-year plan submitted for Culpeper.Funding supports several components for which timing and funding flexibility will be especially desirable, including the bulk of the staff relocations, the completion of collections relocations (including nitrate film), and the completion of the design, procurement, and integration of the complex digital preservation systems with the NAVCC's audio-visual laboratories.Of the total amount requested for FY 2006, approximately $11 million reflects one-time costs. After the staff and collections have been relocated, the Culpeper budget will require funding only for ongoing operations.

FY 2006 is the final year of the Copyright Office’s reengineering initiative that requires new funding.The reengineering program is an extensive multi-year effort to redesign the Office’s business processes, including the development of a new information technology infrastructure, new work flows, new job roles, and new facilities design.The new environment will support electronic delivery of copyright services, including electronic submissions of copyright registrations and receipt of digital deposits.During FY 2006, the Copyright Office will relocate staff to a temporary off-site leased space, reconfigure its main facilities, and install new furniture and equipment.Final implementation is scheduled the first half of FY 2007, after relocation of the staff to the reconfigured space in the Madison Building.A total of $4 million in one-time funding is requested in the Copyright Office’s budget to fund the temporary offsite relocation of the staff.Completion of the reengineering initiative is contingent upon the Architect of the Capitol’s budget request of $5.5 million to pay for construction costs to reconfigure existing Madison Building space.These requests will permit the Copyright Office to move forward on the facilities work so critical to the final implementation of the reengineering project.

The Library is requesting a total of $2 million for the GENPAC program and $1 million for the Congressional Research Service to recover lost purchasing power of critically needed research materials.This funding will support the purchase of serial subscriptions and/or electronic resources – ensuring that the CRS analysts and other Library staff have access to the highly specialized research materials and data needed to support the work of the Congress and other Library customers.

The boundaries of the world become ever smaller as information production increases across the globe.There are great opportunities to acquire new materials from parts of the world about which we had little knowledge until now.The Library collects little known and hard-to-find materials because it is in the national interest to have the resources that document other cultures and nations.We are interested in acquiring the emerging electronic publications from all parts of the world, including the Web sites for advocacy as well as education.In selecting the most important electronic resources, the Library places special emphasis on those databases and scholarly journals containing information to support the work of Congress in the development of public policy.

Preservation is a unique responsibility of the Library of Congress — a library that all other libraries expect to keep materials in perpetuity.The Library requests $3.375 million and the retention of 22 NTE FTEs to continue the preservation efforts required to place 4.5 million items (most of them audio-visual materials or special collections) in proper storage containers and through proper shipment to Ft. Meade, Culpeper, or other off-site repositories.

Other projects are critical to the Library’s acquisition and preservation programs.Specifically, funding of $52 million is requested by the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) to support essential and long-deferred projects specifically requested by the Library.This total includes $41 million for construction of Book Modules 3 and 4 at Ft. Meade.These modules are already designed and will provide critically needed collections-processing areas, storage space, and cold vaults for unique and growing special format collections.This program is critical to providing relief to collections storage and resulting safety problems in the Library’s Capitol Hill buildings.Of the remaining $11 million requested, $5.5 million supports the Copyright Re-engineering construction project and $5.5 million supports minor construction, design, and/or the operation and maintenance of the Library’s Capitol Hill, Ft. Meade, and Culpeper buildings.

Major Library-wide Projects

In addition to these major projects, the Library is requesting $5.5 million and 7 FTEs for several Library-wide infrastructure projects that support all organizational entities within the Library and are key to performing the Library’s mission efficiently and effectively.The first is in the all-important area of Information Technology (IT), for which the Library is requesting a total of $3.3 million and 5 FTEs needed to keep pace with rapid technological changes.Included in this total is $571 thousand and 5 FTEs for the Information Technology Service (ITS) Systems Engineering Group (SEG) to support a workload that has grown dramatically in recent years.The current staff of SEG operates with single individuals shouldering responsibilities without backup.This situation presents a high level of risk and places the Library in a serious and highly vulnerable position.The Library must mitigate this risk and protect itself against the potential loss of knowledge and breakdown of services in the event of illness or other unforeseen circumstances.The total also includes $1 million to support the increased costs associated with the IT service provider contract.Our IT staff is struggling with the vast increase in the Library’s digital services and will have to either curtail services or decrease equipment purchases if funding is not provided.Finally, the total includes $720 thousand for contract support for the certification and accreditation of the Library’s IT systems as required by the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 and $1 million to implement the next phase of the Library’s new financial management information system.

The Library is requesting a total of $1.4 million and 2 FTEs to support space management of all the Library’s buildings — the Madison Building alone is one of the largest in the Washington DC area, with over 2 million square feet of space.With more shifts outside Capitol Hill to Ft. Meade and Culpeper and resulting shifts on Capitol Hill as space utilization is redefined, the Library must have the ability to ensure, in a timely manner, continuity of operations and to remap and maximize critical space needed for staff, collections, and business operations.The requested funding supports two additional in-house staff and the use of contracted staff support to supplement in-house resources with a full range of professional services, including project management, interior design, safety, engineering, construction administration and custodial support.Without the requested funding, valuable space will go unused or be used inefficiently, impacting the acquisition and preservation of the Library’s collections, the safety of its employees, and the operation of its programs.

For those working on Capitol Hill, the value of emergency preparedness cannot be overstated.The Library is requesting $746 thousand to implement its Continuity of Operations and Shelter-in-Place plans, and to purchase medical supplies in the event of a large scale emergency that may affect Library personnel and visitors.We continue to work with our Capitol Hill counterparts to coordinate emergency planning efforts.

Sustaining Staff Capacity

Closely related to the mandatory and price-level increases, the Library needs two critical payroll adjustments to maintain payroll purchasing power to sustain staff capacity.The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is requesting a one-time permanent base adjustment of $2.9 million to align its funding with the current staffing mix, level, and benefits costs to achieve a total capacity of 729 FTEs.This request will enable CRS to continue to fulfill effectively its mission by rebuilding and sustaining a level of research capacity that meets the changing needs of the Congress – needs which are increasingly more demanding and highly complex.CRS has proven to be a solid, long-term investment for the Congress with a high return on the investment through its shared pool of highly skilled experts who serve “around-the-clock” as the research arm of the Congress, assisting every Member and Committee of Congress in every phase of the legislative process.

Because of the FY 2005 rescission, the Library reduced pay in all offices by a total of $-3 million.The Library is requesting restoration of the $3 million in FY 2006 to maintain future payroll purchasing power needed to sustain staff capacity.Over time, the Library will be forced to reduce staff in all offices in spite of growing workloads and new challenges and responsibilities, if the payroll budget is not restored.

Other Projects

The Library is requesting $8 million and 52 FTEs for five other initiatives.Included in this amount is $493 thousand and 7 FTEs to support the new Chinese acquisition strategy in which Chinese scholars identify unique materials to add to the Library’s collections.The total also includes $445 thousand to begin reclassifying one-third of the Law Library’s legal collections from the obsolete “Law” shelving arrangements to the Library of Congress Class K international standard to ensure retrievability of invaluable and unique legal materials.

Of the $8 million total, $1.6 million in one-time funding is requested to procure and implement a comprehensive new Web-based classification and staffing system that will track all human resources functions.Replacement of the current system is needed to add new functionalities and to allow the integration with the Library’s emerging Human Resources Information System.Also included in the total is $1.5 million in no-year funding to continue the renovation and refurbishment work in the Thomas Jefferson and John Adams buildings.Maximizing available space on Capitol Hill is a priority for the Library and the restoration projects will provide much needed space for staff and programs. Finally, the total includes $4 million and 45 FTEs to continue addressing the police staffing shortfall of approximately 77 FTEs.

Proposed Changes to Legislative Language

The Library has proposed language under the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) section, to set aside $25 million of the $75 million provided under the FY 2001 appropriations act, and exempt the set- aside from the dollar-to-dollar match requirement.The set-aside is to provide competitive grant funding for state governmental entities that meet NDIIPP preservation partnership network building and digital content preservation grant guidelines to preserve significant at-risk and born digital state and local government information.

The Library has also proposed new appropriation language to address the new Copyright Royalty Judges program, authorized by the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004.

The FY 2005 administrative provision that limits the Library’s assessment for embassy construction (to an amount equal to or less than the unreimbursed value of the services provided to the Library on State Department diplomatic facilities) is also maintained in FY 2006.


The Library must continue to sustain and perform its traditional core mission for the Congress, the Nation, and the world of acquiring, preserving, and making accessible its knowledge.At the same time, we must develop new ways to perform this historic mission in light of the plethora of digital information that must be harvested and cataloged.This proposed FY 2006 budget request will enable the Library to complete crucial projects of modernization while laying the foundation for our future.

I thank the Committee for its continued support of the Library’s programs, projects, and people.Together, we can accomplish much today and more tomorrow.

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