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Since I appeared last before you, Mr. Chairman, the Library has made major progress, I am happy to report, in reducing its unprocessed arrearages. We are grateful to this Committee for its interest and support.
Under our pilot program, we are on track toward meeting our three-year target of reducing our total arrearages by 11.3 million unprocessed items.
During the past year, the arrearages were cut by 4.2 million to a new low of 36.4 million items.
Our progress to date and detailed plan for accomplishing our larger goal by the end of 1993 are illustrated on this chart. We have, so far, hired the 164 new cataloging personnel authorized by Congress in the fiscal year 1991 budget, and trained them. They are all now on the job. In the Manuscript Division alone, these new staff members accounted for more than 400,000 items removed from the arrearages.
[Three year arrearage reduction pilot program chart follows:
Dr. BILLINGTON. We improved our processing procedures in response to committee concerns. We have begun a process called copy cataloging, using catalog records which already exist on bibliographic utilities such as OCLC and RLIN. In the first three months of using this approach, the Library produced records for 2,000 books and 4,000 sound recordings, and we expect to increase this production greatly during the coming year.
We also separated out some items that don't deserve catalogingthis is always a painful thing for librarians to do, since we tend to be very possessive. But we have, for instance, archives donated by several major professional organizations, which while worthy records, have proven but of marginal usefulness to researchers. We have stopped processing them or accepting them, and have given some of them back to the donors; that has amounted to about 1.1 million items.
We redeployed an entire unit of 70 staffers, who now call themselves the “arrearage busters”, to help process the backlog.
I really would like to give the staff credit, because we had asked a number of employees in that unit to transfer to the arrearages. They were concerned about this, and through a process of dialogue and meetings, they said the whole unit will transfer. The spirit is catching. We look forward to its continuing.
As you see, we committed ourselves to some fairly drastic action-you have the bigger version of this.
COLLECTIONS STORAGE REQUIREMENTS Now, gaining control over the collections reinforces the need for space in which to store and preserve them, which has become a really serious matter. Our general collections are expanding at the rate of about 300,000 volumes each year, even as we reject thousands of books which do not meet our selection criteria.
Approximately one million books using 100,000 linear feet of shelf space will be added to the general collections through fiscal year 1994. The book stacks in the Jefferson and Adams Buildings are reaching capacity, and our chart indicates our shelving capacity will reach gridlock by the end of 1994.
COLLECTIONS SPACE NEEDS CONTINUED
Dr. BILLINGTON. Even before gridlock is reached, you start spending immense amounts of time and money shifting books around to gain ever smaller amounts of shelf space. So, for fiscal year 1993, we propose to convert our current Landover, Maryland, warehouse space to collection storage.
Moving conventional warehousing activities currently housed at Landover to new rental space and installing multi-tier shelving in the vacant Landover space will accommodate collections growth over the next five to seven years. It will meet our needs until the Architect of the Capitol gains the capability to store Library collections or until alternative long-range plans can be developed.
The top part of the chart shows that without new storage facilities, we will run out of space in 1994.
The bottom part of the chart shows that the additional space requested would tide us over until the end of the decade. We would move little-used volumes out to storage, but we could still find and retrieve them. That is the not quite so gray stuff you see at the top of the chart.
We are now almost out of space for some of our special collections, such as motion pictures and sound recordings. Storage needs for all our nonbook format materials, including personal papers, grow at the rate of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet each year.
We have, in the past year, acquired outstanding special collections, such as the papers of Averell Harriman.
That is one of the most heavily used collections in the Library. Without additional space, we will have to forgo such opportunities in the future, and the ability of Americans to examine their past will suffer.