As is true for many important libraries, the Library of Congress is a complex organization with multiple purposes and stakeholders. Over time, a distinctive organizational culture has developed, evolved, and become institutionalized at the Library. In Chapter 2, the present-day organization and structure of the Library is surveyed, with some emphasis on the Library Services unit, which most laypersons would regard as “the Library.”

For physical artifacts—such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, recordings, films, and numerous other records of the cultural heritage—the core processes for libraries are well established. Materials have to be acquired. They are then organized for two purposes: internal management and use by clients. In the course of organizing, mechanisms such as cataloging exist to make it easy to find materials. Access to the materials is provided by making them available for borrowing and for on-site use in reading rooms. Preservation procedures are implemented to ensure that materials will be available indefinitely. The advent of digital information challenges many of these long-standing practices and raises many questions. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are dedicated to an exposition of how the core processes of libraries need to evolve, within the special context of the Library of Congress.

In the final chapters the committee’s focus returns to the Library of Congress as an organization. Chapter 6 discusses the Library’s role within the larger context of the library community and the information industry. Historically, the Library has led or been involved with major initiatives in the library community. How should it continue to do so in the future? Chapter 7 addresses the questions of whether the Library is prepared to play an important role in the larger community today and how it needs to evolve to ensure that it remains a leading institution in the digital future. In addressing these questions, the chapter discusses critical organizational issues such as human resources management and strategic planning. Key operational issues surrounding the information technology infrastructure are addressed in Chapter 8. The revolution in information technology raises a host of questions with regard to networks, databases, computer and communications security, and how LC should manage its development projects—through internal development, the purchase of off-the-shelf software, or contracts with integrated systems vendors.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement