Chairman Ryan Statement at Hearing on Library of Congress's FY 2020 Budget Request
Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), Chair of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request for the Library of Congress:
Welcome to our budget hearing with the Library of Congress.
The Library is an incredible national and international asset. It’s the largest library in the world, with more than 168 million items in its collections. In addition to books, there are maps, films, photographs, musical recordings, the collected papers of historical figures, repositories of oral histories, and more.
While the Library’s buildings are here in Washington, an important part of its work is making its collections and resources available nationwide and beyond. The Library now has numerous collections available in digital form through the Internet, as well as programs for schools and other libraries. And its “Congress.gov” website is a preeminent source of public information about legislation in Congress.
The Library carries out several other very important missions. One is the U.S. Copyright Office—performing a service vital to creative efforts in literature, music, the arts, and sciences.
Another is the Congressional Research Service, an indispensable source of accurate, neutral, and timely information for congressional Members, committees, and staff—with much of that information now being made available to the general public as well.
There’s also the unique programs of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which provides books and periodicals in audio and braille form to almost half a million people throughout the nation.
This year’s request is for a net appropriation of $747 million—an increase of $51 million or 7 percent above the current year. That increase covers things like needed fixes to the Library’s IT systems, improvements to the legislative information systems for Congress and the public, a strategy to better exhibit the Library’s treasures to visitors, and some interesting new technology to make the written word more readily accessible to people who are blind.
We’ll take a close look at the request and see what can be done.
Now let me introduce our principal witness today. She is, of course, Dr. Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress. Dr. Hayden came to the Library of Congress in 2016 from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore where she was CEO. She has also held a number of other positions in public libraries throughout her career—a career which started as a children’s librarian in Chicago.
Dr. Hayden is joined at the witness table by Mark Sweeney, the Principal Deputy Librarian. I understand a number of other senior officers of the Library are here as well and available to help answer questions.
Before we hear from Dr. Hayden, I’ll yield to our distinguished Ranking Member, Ms. Herrera Beutler, for her opening remarks.