Library move resisted

Moving the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) from the Government Printing Office to the Library of Congress has its pros and cons, according to the General Accounting Office, but one major hurdle is resistance from the two offices involved.

GAO's March 30 report explored issues surrounding the dissemination of electronic documents. It also examined the feasibility of transferring the FDLP — a system of 1,300 depository libraries nationwide that allows the public to access government documents — to the Library of Congress.

In the report, "Information Management: Electronic Dissemination of Government Publications," GAO noted that the library's mission — to be a useful resource to Congress and the public and preserve knowledge — is "not inconsistent" with FDLP's goal of ensuring public access to government information. Also, a transfer might help library and FDLP administrators address issues such as the acquisition and dissemination of digital information.

The library is lukewarm to the transfer, and GPO downright opposes it.

"Transferring the FDLP will increase costs, impose additional burdens on [the library] and not result in any improvement in the public's ability to access government information," wrote GPO Public Printer Michael DiMario in a letter included in the report.

He said FDLP's massive dissemination operations — 12.2 million copies of 29,000 government titles last year — wouldn't correspond with the library's mission.

Librarian James Billington said GAO's suggestion to form an FDPL transition team is premature. The GAO report "does not concentrate on the larger policy issues involved in providing citizens with useful and persistent access to government information," he wrote in a letter also included in the report.

Jim Forbes, a spokesman for Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee, said committee members will make a decision on the move in coming weeks.

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