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HathiTrust Emphasizes Importance of Collaboration at US House Hearing on the GPO Federal Depository Library Program

By Heather Christenson, Program Officer for Federal Documents & Collections

On September 26th, HathiTrust Executive Director Mike Furlough testified at the House Administration Committee Hearing Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 3 – Federal Depository Library Program.

The Committee is conducting oversight hearings on Title 44 of the U.S. Code, which is the authority for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and the Government Publishing Office (GPO). There have been previous efforts to reform Title 44 that have been ultimately unsuccessful (and in fact, HathiTrust contains digitized versions of hearings on this topic). Currently at issue is the need for “modernization” of the FDLP to reflect our now digital age. HathiTrust and our member libraries have an important stake in this issue, as many HathiTrust partners also participate in the FDLP.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Mike testified that “Title 44 should support comprehensive digital access to future and retrospective government documents, and should provide measures that support the privacy of users who access digital government documents” and, that “free access to U.S. government information is imperative.”

He also emphasized that the Government Publishing Office’s (GPO) programs should be aligned with the realities that many libraries face in the digital age: the increasing cost of managing large print collections and emphasis on coordinated collection management and “services to help individuals create, find, and use information.” He spoke to libraries’ progress in partnering to digitize over a million federal documents, and in implementing collaborative solutions for print management such as HathiTrust’s Shared Print Program.

He closed by stating that the GPO should be empowered to collaborate with library initiatives and make use of the results of library collaboration (such as HathiTrust’s US Federal Documents Registry), and concluded that “preservation and access is our business, and we’re ready to work with GPO and other organizations to help ensure that public information endures.”

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