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May 31, 2017

Law Library of Congress

The ABA highlighted the work of the Law Library of Congress this month in a May 3 letter urging House appropriators to approve the modest increases included in the fiscal year 2018 budget request submitted by the Library of Congress. ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman noted that the ABA, through its Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, has enjoyed an 85-year relationship with the Law Library and is aware of the special challenges the library faces in serving Congress, the American public, and the world. A recent report to the ABA committee from the Law Library shows that during a five-month period ─ from Oct. 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017 ─ the Law Library’s Public Services Division responded to 7,743 inquiries through its Ask A Librarian program, in person or by telephone, including 448 requests from congressional offices and the Congressional Research Service. During that same period, the Law Library’s Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Divisions responded to 173 requests from Congress and 149 from executive-branch agencies. “The informational resources provided by the Library of Congress and its Law Library support business development, job creation, and international relations,” Susman said. “In addition to specific patron requests, the Law Library’s role in restoring world governments through the repatriation of legal materials cannot be overemphasized.” Approximately half of the collection consists of foreign legal materials, he said, and the library is being called upon more and more to do important comparative studies across multiple legal systems. Recognizing the challenges Congress faces in prioritizing funding requests, Susman stressed that funding cuts in the coming year to the Library of Congress and its Law Library may negatively impact members’ constituents, including schoolchildren, teachers, scholars, lawyers, small business owners, as well as Congress. “The priorities identified by the Law Library for next year are important to fulfilling its mission to serve the Congress and the nation effectively, both in preserving hard copies of legal materials and in further developing access to these materials online,” Susman emphasized.


Back to the May 2017 Washington Letter