2014 DLC Meeting and FDL Conference April 30 – May 2

April 30, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

The 2014 Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Conference kicks off today at the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C.. AALL’s Government Relations Office staff is attending and will report back on major developments after the conference.

In addition to educational sessions offered by government agencies and librarians, the Government Printing Office present its Forecast Study Final Report and the National Plan for the Future of the FDLP. These sessions and others will be streamed online for virtual conference participants. Click here to view the virtual conference agenda (PDF) and to register

The Government Printing Office will be taking questions from the virtual audience, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to participate! You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the conference dedicated hashtag 


AALL and Coalition Urge White House to Support ECPA Reform

April 29, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

AALL joined over 80 signatories on a letter sent yesterday to President Obama advocating for a clean update to online privacy laws. The letter urges the president to support updates to the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that would guarantee Americans’ full constitutional and statutory protections for electronic communications like text messages, emails, photographs, and documents stored online. The letter also warns against carving out any exceptions in ECPA that would give some government agencies warrantless access to online communications. The Securities and Exchange Commission has been actively seeking such an exception, which would substantially weaken ECPA privacy reforms.

The letter’s signatories represent a diverse coalition of interests, including libraries, consumer protection organizations, civil liberties groups, tech companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Congressional support for ECPA reform continues to grow; five new members of the House of Representatives signed as co-sponsors of the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 1852) this week, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to a whopping 205. As our letter concludes, the White House has “a rare opportunity to work with Congress to pass legislation that would advance the rights of almost every American.” We urge President Obama to support meaningful privacy reform today.


Increasing LSC Funding Increases Access to Justice

April 15, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

Law libraries provide access to timely, reliable, and accurate legal information and services that can be used by anyone, regardless of background.  As trusted institutions, law libraries play a fundamental role in providing members of the public with the resources needed to preserve their legal rights and helping to ensure the effective functioning of the judicial system.  With the number of self-represented litigants steadily increasing, law libraries, particularly public law libraries, have positioned themselves as key contributors to ensuring access to justice for all.

AALL is again working to support the funding request of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC is the country’s single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans. LSC is a grant-making organization, distributing nearly 94 percent of its federal appropriation to eligible nonprofit organizations that deliver civil legal aid.  With more than 800 offices nationwide, LSC promotes equal access to justice by funding high-quality civil legal assistance for millions of low-income individuals, children, families, seniors, and veterans.

Adjusted for inflation, the LSC budget is near its lowest funding level in its 40-year history. Congress provided the LSC with $365 million this fiscal year, a meaningful boost of $25 million from the previous year. Still, that number is far below the $420 million appropriated in FY 2010. President Barack Obama’s budget request of $430 million would enable LSC to better meet the overwhelming demand for legal aid.

Earlier this month, the White House convened a “Forum on Increasing Access to Justice” with LSC. Administration officials including Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler, Associate Attorney General Tony West, and Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady Tina Tchen underscored the administration’s commitment to increasing access to justice, while LSC Program Counsel for Technology Glenn Rawdon gave an inspired speech about the role of technology in achieving this goal.

The American Bar Association also came out in strong support of increased funding for LSC with an op-ed published in The Hill this week. In it, President James Silkenat writes, “Access to justice is not an abstract right…Congress can help Americans live safer, more productive lives by giving them access to legal aid.”

AALL members, including President Steve Anderson, urged their members of Congress to support the FY 2015 funding request of the Legal Services Corporation as part of AALL’s Lobby Day event on March 27. The Associations’ Access to Justice Special Committee is working to complete a White Paper on the participation of law libraries in the access to justice movement for presentation to the Executive Board. You can lend your support by writing your member of Congress in support of LSC funding for FY 2015.


Call for ECPA Reform Puts Pressure on SEC

April 11, 2014

By Elizabeth Holland

With the House proposal to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) garnering 200 co-sponsors this week, the members of the Digital Fourth coalition — the ACLU, Heritage Action, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Center for Democracy & Technology — sent a letter to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) calling out the agency’s “contradictory or misleading statements” about its work to oppose the popular proposed reform. The SEC has been a vocal opponent of bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1852, S. 607) that would reform ECPA to establish a search warrant requirement for the government to obtain the content of Americans’ emails when those communications are stored with a third-party service provider for more than 180 days.  While this legislation has gained broad bipartisan support in both chambers, the SEC has dragged its feet, claiming an update would interfere with the way it conducts investigations.

In the letter, sent to the commission on Wednesday, Digital Fourth proposed an amendment developed with the lead sponsor of the bill, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), to assuage these concerns and implored the SEC to compromise. The amendment would assure that “ECPA cannot be used to shield data in the cloud from ordinary discovery techniques” by allowing the SEC and other regulators to use a subpoena to obtain information held by third-party service providers during the course of an investigation.

AALL strongly supports these proposed reforms to ECPA, which ensure important protections to the privacy of library users. As a member of the Digital Due Process coalition, we advocate for reform that would balance the government’s interest in protecting national security with the protections of privacy and freedom from government surveillance the Constitution requires. As such, we echo the call to the SEC to back these widely-supported commonsense reforms and urge Congress to enact ECPA reform this year.


House Appropriations Committee Approves Legislative Branch Bill

April 9, 2014

By Emily Feltren

Today, the House Appropriations Committee favorably reported its Fiscal Year 2015 Legislative Branch bill, which includes funding for the Government Printing Office (GPO) and Library of Congress. Given the continued fiscal constraints facing appropriators, the two agencies fared reasonably well this year.

The bill provides GPO with $122,584,000, an amount $3.3 million above the FY 2014 level but $6.3 million below the request. Most notably, the bill meets GPO’s request for the Revolving Fund, providing $11,348,000 for development of FDsys, replacement of the Composition System, and much-needed facilities repairs.

Government Printing Office (Amounts in thousands of dollars)

Congressional
Printing and Binding
Salaries and Expenses Revolving Fund Total
FY2014 Enacted 79,736 31,500 8,064 119,300
FY2015 Request 85,400 32,171 11,348 128,919
FY2015 House Bill 79,736 31,500 11,348 122,584

The bill provides the Library of Congress with $594,952,000, a remarkable $16 million above the FY 2014 level and $1.9 million above the request. Importantly, the Draft Committee Report emphasizes the need to address the preservation challenges facing the Library. The bill includes funding for the Preservation Directorate, including support for mass deacidification. The bill also provides additional funding for the purchase of law books and for the Copyright Office to improve its technologies. It also directs the Government Accountability Office to review the steps the Library has taken to manage its information technology.

Library of Congress (Amounts in thousands of dollars)

Salaries and Expenses Copyright Office Books for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped
Total
FY2014 Enacted 405,702 18,180 49,750 578,982
FY2015 Request 414,502 19,486 50,696 593,066
FY2015 House Bill 417,707 20,721 50,429 594,952

AALL thanks the House Appropriations Committee for addressing many of the funding priorities of GPO and the Library, several of which we highlighted in our written testimony.  We will continue to support as close to full funding as possible for GPO and the Library as the appropriations process proceeds in the House and Senate.


April Washington E-Bulletin

April 1, 2014

The April issue of the Washington E-Bulletin is now available on AALLNET.

IN THIS ISSUE

Vol. 2014, Issue 04

A LOOK AHEAD

ACT NOW

AALL IN THE STATES

ROUNDUP AND REVIEW


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