Bibliophiles and researchers should be aware of this New York Times article describes imacts of budget cuts on the Library of Congress.
Just as military contractors, air traffic controllers and federal workers are coping with the grim results of a partisan impasse over the federal deficit, the Library of Congress, whose services range from copyrighting written works — whether famous novels or poems scribbled on napkins — to the collection, preservation and digitalization of millions of books, photographs, maps and other materials, faces deep cuts that threaten its historic mission.
Of the $85 billion in federal cuts for the current fiscal year, known as sequestration, half will come from military spending, and half from domestic programs like health care, research, education and the library. The library’s budget for the year has declined to $598.4 million, a 4 percent cut that is likely to slow its digitalization effort and has already caused copyright applications to back up. The worry spreads far beyond Washington because the Library of Congress — founded in 1800, burned and pillaged by the British in 1814 and replaced by Thomas Jefferson’s personal library — is home to an unrivaled history of the nation’s wars, presidencies, culture and place in the world.
A tour of the library’s vast operations, spread across three large buildings in a sprawling Capitol Hill complex, reveals the enormity of its mission to preserve manuscripts for the future and to get at least some of them online.
On a recent morning, a pair of workers toiling in a room that seemed more like a pharmaceutical lab than like a library were carefully sifting through the library’s collection of historical meeting notes and other manuscripts from the N.A.A.C.P.
The papers, like roughly 250,000 books and one million manuscript sheets each year, were undergoing a process that removes the acid that causes them to discolor and disintegrate. Because of the looming cuts, the deacidification process, ideally carried out before older books and documents are stored, could be reduced by 40 percent over the next five years.
“What all these things have in common is that they are going to decay,” said Mark Sweeney, the library’s director for preservation.
During the 2012 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, nearly six million items from the library’s collections were bound, repaired, mass-deacidified, microfilmed or reformatted for restoration. Most of these programs will experience cuts in coming months.
To read the complete article, see:
As Works Flood In, Nation’s Library Treads Water
Wayne Homren, Editor
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