Budget cuts over the past five years have hurt the effort to digitize the Library of Congress contents.
Besides holding the President’s Book of Secrets, as we learned in National Treasure 2, the Library of Congress holds 160 million items, give or take a book or two.
Along with books, the Library of Congress holds historic photographs, recordings, maps and manuscripts that detail the history of the United States of America.
And almost all of those collected works are in their original form, which means paper, or vinyl, or even parchment.
Now it is true that the Library of Congress does have a great deal of its material available online, including recordings from 100 years ago. It is estimated that one quarter of all of the Library’s holdings are digitalized and available in some form on the Internet, but one quarter is not enough.
The Library of Congress was established in 1800 to provide materials in support of the works of Congress. It was originally aimed at being a research facility. Its Law Library was established in 1832, and the Library provides many other services to arms of the U.S. Government.
Recently, the Office of Strategic Initiatives was created to direct the overall digital planning for the Library in order to provide long-term preservation of digital cultural assets.
Complicating that effort is that the Library has tried to stay up with the times in the past. Converting materials first to floppy discs and then .wav files, the Library has to try to keep up with technology while continuing to build its trove of items.
The effort has been further hampered by budget constraints, as its budget provided by the U.S. government has been cut by 8 percent in the past five years. In fiscal 2014, the budget for the Library of Congress was $618.8 million, and it had more than 3, 7000 employees and 380 IT workers.
Recently, the Government Accountability Office sent a scathing critique of the library, saying it “does not have the leadership needed to address” issues related to internet technology. The Library is responding, looking for more help in that area. It is looking to hire its first permanent Chief Information Officer (it has had five temporary ones since 2012).
The Library spent $119 million on IT needs in 2014 but many departments used their budget to purchase IT needs piecemeal, increasing the cost based on the theory that bulk buying is less expensive. The Washington Post estimated the library is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year due to the inefficiency of its IT departments.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.