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LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress
years: libraries. While LC’s function as a source of interlibrary loan materials has actually been relatively modest, it has led in setting standards and leading collaborative enterprises. LC’s history of consolidating and standardizing the cataloging of library materials has been distinguished, and it has played an important part in making librarianship here and abroad more economical and more effective. Now the challenge is to find appropriate ways to participate in the planning and execution of new standards and the creation of new infrastructure. The committee heard repeatedly from librarians around the world that LC must take the lead role in this area, but defining that role takes some thought and decision making in the new environment libraries face.
Organizing the services and infrastructure of LC to respond flexibly and efficiently to the new challenges is the last area this report addresses. The committee naturally offers some observations about specific technical directions, but at the same time it has studied closely the organizations and interactions that bring technology to the librarians and users. Technical questions are not solved well unless there are planning and implementation structures in place to optimize outcomes. At present there are both a central ITS Directorate and IT-specialist personnel in units throughout the Library. Do those units interact as well as they could and should? Are technology decisions made according to a broad strategic view of the future? Are technology decisions made in a way that is open and transparent to the library’s management as a whole? Do those decisions successfully anticipate need or only respond to it? The committee was particularly asked by LC’s senior managers to revisit a question raised by an earlier study: Does LC need to appoint explicitly a chief information officer to oversee management of its technology resources?39
It is important to emphasize at this point what should be obvious from the way in which the problem has been stated: namely, the committee judges the limitations and challenges LC faces to be structural and strategic, and they need to be thought of in that way. The committee did not approach this study by looking for things that are broken and trying to find ways to fix them, much less by seeking to assign blame for shortcomings. It is most concerned about those limitations that appear to be most intractable: human resources policies and practices that limit inno-
In December 1995, the Government Accounting Office, at the request of the Senate Appropriations Committee, contracted with the consulting firm Booz-Allen & Hamilton to perform a management review of LC’s operations and to deliver a report within 6 months. This report was delivered in May 1996. Along with relevant congressional testimony and an accompanying Price Waterhouse financial statement, it is available online at <http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/loc.htm>.