Monday, 3 August 2009

House passes bill to boost funding for the law library of Congress

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that on Friday the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HR 2728, the William Orton Law Library Improvement and Modernization Act. The bill, aimed at boosting funding for the Law Library of Congress, was named in honor of former Utah congressman Bill Orton who died in April in an ATV accident. The proposal would change the Library's name to the National Law Library and
provides new financial support mechanisms for the Law Library. In addition to other funds available for financial support of the Law Library, the bill authorizes a onetime appropriation of $3,500,000.00 to be used for maintaining and administering Law Library services and provides for the cataloging and archiving of nonproprietary material in the collection of the Law Library.
The bill also provides for a line item appropriation for the Law Library. Currently, funding for the Law Library is drawn from the Library of Congress's general budget; the bill gives the Law Library a separate appropriated amount beginning in fiscal year 2011. In addition, it creates the "William Orton Program," to solicit outside donations and create partnerships between the law library and other government and private entities, "including the American Association of Law Libraries and the American Bar Association (ABA)", to provide enhanced or special services and programs for the Law Library and otherwise support the mission of the Law Library.
According to House Report 111-170,
The Law Library occupies a unique position, not just with respect to library science or the legal profession, but within the nation as a whole. H.R. 2728 will provide the Law Library the resources necessary not just to maintain this distinctive position but also to offer new and innovative services for years to come. The Law Library is currently in the process of organizing all materials using the uniform K classification system as university law libraries do. Law Library estimates state that this process could be completed in 6.5 years with 6 full-time catalogers. The line item appropriation will ensurethat all funds for the Law Library are received by the Law Library and the William Orton Program and will ensure the continued availability of and access to this amazing collection of legal materials for future generations."
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif, who sponsored the bill, said that "Bill Orton was a tireless advocate for the law library and this legislation is a fitting way to honor his memory. He understood that it wasn't flashy, but it was important. And actually that is just like Bill, a guy who wasn't flashy, but who was serious and did important things for his country."
The bill will now go before the Senate.

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