Thanks to Annanamoi Sams for sharing this on our regional list. I thought others might be interested also so I am posting it here. Auburn Steward, MLIS, AHIP Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health 4301 W. Markham--Slot 767 Hendrix Hall--Suite 100A Little Rock, AR 72205 501-614-2834 501-614-2835 (fax) [log in to unmask] http://www.cteh.uams.edu ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline Volume 8, Number 90 September 16, 1999 In this issue: September 14 House Hearing on Commerce Department Plans to Close NTIS On September 14 the Subcommittee on Technology of the House Science Committee held an oversight hearing on the Commerce Department's proposal to close the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). The hearing was called in response to the August announcement by Commerce Secretary William M. Daley to close NTIS. (See the August 6 ALAWON at http://www.ala.org/washoff/alawon/alwn8081.html ) In August, Daley stated that NTIS' core business -- the sale of government documents in microfiche and on paper -- "is rapidly becoming less of the necessity it was as agencies and groups have begun to post their reports on the Internet for free." The Commerce Department proposes transferring NTIS archives to the Library of Congress; government agencies would then provide technical and business reports to the public via the Internet for "long periods of time." The statutory mandate for NTIS to be self-supporting was one of the key issues raised at the September 14 hearing. All the witnesses spoke about the need to thoughtfully and systematically approach the closing of NTIS and how to retain its important functions and addressing the questions about fugitive documents and permanent public access. Testifying on behalf of five library associations was Caroline C. Long, assistant university librarian for collection services at George Washington University Library. In addition to ALA, Long testified for the American Association of Law Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Library Association. "It is imperative the essential functions and services that NTIS provides continue, whether at NTIS or at other federal agencies," Long said. "These core functions...inherently governmental...are identifying, collecting, disseminating, and archiving scientific, technical and business information." Other witnesses included Deputy Secretary of Commerce Robert Mallett, who was asked critical questions about how the Department came to its decision, and even if they had consulted with the Library of Congress before announcing their proposal. (They had not.) Public Printer Michael DiMario testified about the importance of including STI in the Federal Depository Library Program. He also emphasized that "the similarities in function between GPO and NTIS, the fact that both are experienced in operating on revolving funds, the potential for valuable synergies of technologies and staff expertise that could benefit public access to Government information -- all of these are reasons for a realignment of NTIS functions with GPO." Ken Allen, chair of the NTIS advisory committee, spoke about the importance of the scientific and technical information (STI) provided by NTIS and the need to have both electronic and tangible/paper formats continuing to be available. Speaking as an independent consultant, Bonnie Carroll, president of the Information International Associates, Inc., also argued the need for continuing to have paper and electronic materials available during these infancy stages of the Internet. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington wrote for the record: "Given adequate resources, [LC could] be a logical successor to NTIS for those functions that compliment the Library's mission...However, such NTIS functions as high volume document distribution, brokering agency databases to the information industry, and publication...of information products...are beyond the Library's current mandate." Subcommittee Chair Constance Morella (R-MD) indicated that there would continue to be a "study" of this proposal as discussion moves forward. She asked all the witnesses to continue to work with Congress on determining how to handle NTIS' core functions. It is expected that there will be vigorous discussions in the coming months about NTIS and where its core functions should go; clearly the Library of Congress and GPO are part of that potential mix. ALA and the other library organizations will continue to closely monitor this situation. It is an important opportunity to bring more coherency to the overall discussions on access to federal government information, especially in this increasingly electronic era. ****** ALAWON (ISSN 1069-7799) is a free, irregular publication of the American Library Association Washington Office. All materials subject to copyright by the American Library Association may be reprinted or redistributed for noncommercial purposes with appropriate credits. To subscribe to ALAWON, send the message: subscribe ala-wo [your_firstname] [your_lastname] to [log in to unmask] or go to http://www.ala.org/washoff/alawon. To unsubscribe to ALAWON, send the message: unsubscribe ala-wo to [log in to unmask] or go to http://www.ala.org/washoff/alawon. ALAWON archives at http://www.ala.org/washoff/alawon. ALA Washington Office, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite 403, Washington, D.C. 20004-1701; phone: 202.628.8410 or 800.941.8478 toll-free; fax: 202.628.8419; e-mail: [log in to unmask]; Web site: http://www.ala.org/washoff. Editor: Lynne E. Bradley; Managing Editor: Deirdre Herman; Contributors: Sally Benson, Mary Costabile, Peter Kaplan, Carrie Russell, Saundra Shirley, Claudette Tennant and Rick Weingarten.