Magazine article American Libraries

Boorstin Defends Choices at Budget-Cut Hearing

Magazine article American Libraries

Boorstin Defends Choices at Budget-Cut Hearing

Article excerpt

Boorstin defends choices at budget-cut hearing

Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin came under attack during a Congressional hearing May 7 when members of Congress questioned his reduction of reading room hours from 77 1/2 to 54 1/2 hours a week. The cut was one of many made March 9 to comply with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act.

At the Congressional Joint Committee on the Library of Congress budget hearing, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) demanded to know why reading room hours were cut 35 percent [ed. note: actually 30 percent] when the overall Gramm-Rudman-Hollings reduction was only 4.3 percent. Representatives William Frenzel (R-Minn.) and Al Swift (D-Wash.) also questioned the early closing.

Boorstin responded: "The outcry of people about reading room hours is an outcry of one very small part of our constituency.' He said the shorter hours "are a small sacrifice to ask' to prevent more extensive damage to the library's acquisitions program.

Committee Chair Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.) defended Boorstin. "I want the record to show that everybody is tightening his belt, and it takes guts,' he said. In addition to the reading room hours, cuts were made in LC's work force, acquisitions, cataloging, preservation, automation, and books for the blind.

Asked which reduction hurt the Library most, Boorstin said they were all equally unfortunate. Deputy Librarian William J. Welsh named the loss of skilled staff members and the 22 percent cut in acquisitions as the worst. The foreign materials not being purchased now, he said, would be almost impossible to replace.

Committee member Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio), who considered the LC committee hearing the most important she could attend, commented that the staff cuts are a particular problem not only because their skills are lost, but because librarians in general are "undervalued in their pay.'

Witnesses detail impact

The hearing had been called to discuss LC's proposed FY 1987 budget of $260.7 million, which would restore the $18.3 million cut and cover increased costs. The discussion centered on the impact of the cut, and the committee staff had summoned three panels of witnesses representing the library community, the "historical-academicians,' and the general public.

ALA President Beverly Lynch, Association of Research Libraries Executive Director Shirley Echelman, and Georgetown University Law Center Library Director Robert L. Oakley spoke for the libraries.

Lynch said the Library's revised request "is only nine percent above the level of two years ago, restoring the cuts and barely keeping pace with increased costs. The American Library Association strongly recommends approving this level of funding. …

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