Press Contact: John Sullivan (202) 707-9216, Lucy Suddreth (202) 707-9191
April 6, 1993
Library of Congress Suspends Interlibrary Loan to Foreign Libraries
The Library of Congress has announced the suspension of its practice of lending books to foreign libraries free of charge. This action has been taken as a result of a lack of funds to cover the program's postage costs. The Library does not receive a direct appropriation to support this program, which costs more than $55,000 per year.
Faced with the possibility of a no-growth budget, the Library has been forced to curtail services that do not directly complement its principal priorities of reducing the backlog of cataloging acquisitions and improving the security of the collections.
The Library currently lacks legal authority to recover postage costs by billing foreign borrowers. This authority is included in fund legislation recently introduced in the Senate by Senator Claiborne Pell. If legislative approval is granted, the Library would most likely reinstitute foreign lending as a cost-recovery service similar to that of other national libraries.
According to Donald Curran, Associate Librarian for Constituent Services, "The Library regrets the suspension of this service, but it will result in improved service to American libraries. Staff time that has been spent working on requests from foreign libraries will now be devoted to providing rapid turnaround for U.S. libraries, especially those using electronic networks such as the OCLC and RLIN networks."
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