Access to Congressional Research Service reports is important but not guaranteed

I’ve talked here before about CRS reports and how even though they’re created on the public’s dime, there’s no easy and simple way to search for and actually access them without requesting them one by one via your congresspeople. This is frustrating. Apparently, it’s not even widely known that this is not the case. Secrecy News Blog, from the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, reports that the Librarian of Congress isn’t even quite clear on this.

Members of the public enjoy unrestricted access to all reports of the Congressional Research Service, according to the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billington.

“Though CRS has no direct public mission, at present the public has unfettered access to the full inventory of CRS Reports for the Congress at no cost through the office of any Member or committee,” he wrote in an April 4 letter (pdf) to Amy Bennett of

Unfortunately, that assertion is quite wrong. The public does not have access to the full inventory of CRS Reports. There is not even a public index of CRS reports that would enable people to request specific reports by title.

If you find this sort of thing totally fascinating, please familiarize yourself with the work that OpenCRS is doing and see if there is a way you can help them. Just look at all this good stuff. [freegovinfo]

Brenda Elizabeth Moon – chief librarian, University of Edinburgh, RIP

I’ve paid particular attention to obituaries since finishing Marilyn Johnson’s excellent book Dead Beat. There are some great librarian obituaries; a life of pulbic service seems to lend itself to this. A local librarian pal pointed this one out to me and I thought it was worth sharing: Brenda Moon: University librarian who had a clear vision of the transformative effects of digitisation, here is a personal rememberance of Ms. Moon at The Guardian. [thanks Barbara!]

two slightly random-seeming UW libgrad spottings

Some of you may know that I went to the University of Washington at a point where it was “between deans” and well before it was an ischool. I thought I got a good education there. Every now and again I run into a former classmate doing something nifty. This weekend I tripped over two of them and I thought you might find this as interesting as I did.

  1. Christopher Platt who spent some time at NYPL and then at Baker and Taylor and is now back at NYPL as director of collections and circulation and is quoted [along with perrennial favorite Eli Neiburger] in this NPR story about the future of libraries and ebooks. Notable quote: The HarperCollins limit isn’t going to stick. I agree.
  2. My friend and volleyball buddy Diana Inch, now a high school librarian in Salem Oregon, won $5,000 from Yahoo for being the only one of three million entrants to correctly pick the Final Four teams in the NCAA basketball tournament. Here’s a photo of her and here’s a short interview.