April 30, 2018

Law Library of Congress

ABA President Hilarie Bass emphasized last month that the “extent and breadth of the work performed by the Law Library of Congress cannot be overstated,” and she urged Congress to approve the Law Library’s funding request of $17.129 million for fiscal year 2019. The amount, part of the total request of $672.655 million for the Library of Congress, would be a 12.4 percent increase for the Law Library. Bass, in a March 30 letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and Ranking Member Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), acknowledged that the Library of Congress received added support in fiscal year 2018 after several years of reduced budgets. She pointed out that the ABA and its Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress have a particularly strong interest in and expertise regarding the services offered by the Law Library and have enjoyed an almost 90-year relationship serving as a resource for the institution. Bass also emphasized that, while the Law Library supports all branches of government, the executive branch’s reliance on the Law Library’s foreign law expertise is steadily increasing, with requests last year for legal opinions reflecting a 40 percent increase over the past four years. Examples of the issues on which the Law Library provides expertise include labor disputes, medical malpractice, legislation on border crossings, landlord-tenant law, marriage and child custody law, tax law, patent law, and real estate law. Numerous nonprofit organizations and law firms receive assistance obtaining information about foreign laws, and congressional offices obtain analyses of various American and foreign laws. “Clearly, the Library of Congress and its Law Library are important components of business development, job creation, and international relations,” she said. She added that the ABA supports the priorities for next year, which include preserving hard copies and further developing online access of legal materials.

Back to the April 2018 Washington Letter