Early last month I mentioned what was happening to NDIIP funds with the impending passage of what became Public Law 110-5 [PDF] and posted a copy of a letter I sent to my senators urging them to reconsider the funding rescission. Of course, I wasn't the only one who asked congress to reconsider. Strangely (I thought) the Library of Congress has been silent on the topic. Silent until last week, that is.
On March 20th, Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, was in front of the House Subcommittee on Legislative Branch for a hearing titled "Future of Digital Libraries". At the hearing, he made a well-reasoned, thorough argument for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). You can read his comments yourself, but here is what I thought was the high point:
When Congress created NDIIPP in 2000, it appropriated $100 million in no-year funds to sustain this enormous effort in a decade-long program. In order to complete funding for other critical priorities in FY2007, NDIIPP's unobligated funds were tapped. Prior to the rescission, we were on the verge of making our next set of investments for the work of our current partners, as well as reaching out to new communities. At risk is not only the work of partners across the nation but essential infrastructure and content for the Library's mission to serve Congress. The fuller extent of the lost investment as a result of the rescission is $84 million — $47 million in direct funding plus $37 million in matching funds already committed to the pending investments.
So, it would seem, NDIIP is hurting but not completely out to pasture yet. Keep your eyes and ears open for ways we can help get the funding restored so the work can continue.
(By the way, at the same hearing there was an update and a future look at Copyright by Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights.)
The text was modified to update a link from http://www.loc.gov/about/welcome/speeches/digital/digitalage.html to http://www.loc.gov/about/librarianoffice/speeches/032007.html on January 19th, 2011.