Resolution on the Library of Congress

Adopted at 1993 Annual Conference

Whereas, the effectiveness of the Library of Congress as a center for scholarly research has been diminished by the recent restrictions on stack access, closing of the Manuscript Reading Room on Saturdays, and reduced hours for use of all research facilities;

Whereas, the Library of Congress has served as the storehouse for over a century of this country's knowledge and contains unique items that cannot be found elsewhere;

Whereas, the Librarian of Congress made a unilateral decision to close the stacks following unfavorable publicity in the press and refused to consider implementing an improved security system that might protect collections from theft and damage but still allow screened researchers access to their sources;

Whereas, there is conclusive evidence that the Library of Congress failed during the last ten years to enforce even rudimentary security measures;

Whereas, there has been no evidence in reported thefts implicating any researcher engaged in a bona fide scholarly historical research project;

Whereas, stack access makes it possible for researchers to pursue their work rigorously and efficiently and at a level of detail that is not easily achieved through standard finding aids;

Whereas, members of the Library of Congress staff have been restricted from the stacks, and act which inhibits staff members' professional development and serious morale problems throughout the Library of Congress;

Whereas, Saturday closings of the Manuscript Reading Room place a hardship on both out-of-town scholars and Washington residents, for whom Saturdays are often their only opportunity to use the manuscript collection;

Therefore Be It Resolved that the Social Responsibilities Round Table urges the Librarian of Congress to recognize that closed stacks, Saturday closings of the Manuscript Reading Room, and reduced hours for use of other research rooms severely imperil the research of some scholars and hinders the day-to-day work of the Library of Congress staff, and urge the Librarian of Congress to reopen the Library on Tuesday and Friday evenings, and to seek a middle ground on access to the stacks that would reflect the needs of security concerns, scholars, and Library of Congress staff.

SRRT Newsletter Issue 109, p. 5