Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217; Ernie Shannon, Goddard Space Flight Center (301) 286-6256

April 18, 1996

Library of Congress and NASA Sign Agreement To Upgrade Global Legal Information Network

The Library of Congress and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center today signed an agreement to upgrade and enhance the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) to serve Congress better. The memorandum of understanding signed by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and NASA Administrator Dan Goldin will increase accessibility of legal data from around the world for the Library's legal specialists, who provide information to Congress.

GLIN is a cooperative database administered by the Library of Congress's Law Library that provides access to laws of foreign countries and the United States to its 10 member countries over the Internet. Today's agreement will enable GLIN partners without Internet access to receive and transmit data using a satellite system being tested by Goddard. The agreement also calls for Library and NASA staff to work together to upgrade the speed and flexibility of GLIN.

Specifically, the agreement calls for, by the year 2000:

  • Using satellites "to provide sufficiently high bandwidth communications to insure interactive usage of the [GLIN] database as a digital legal library anywhere in the world."
  • Establishing a technology infrastructure that "supports current or de facto standards to provide basic access to any country of the world desirous of participation."
  • Increasing usability of the system by designing better indexing and searching tools.

"The Library of Congress is pleased to enter into a cooperative agreement with NASA that will benefit both agencies," said Dr. Billington. "NASA's technology and expertise will help make GLIN more responsive to the needs of Congress."

GLIN is a system developed by the Library of Congress and its Law Library to improve service to Congress, which often needs information on the laws of foreign countries. For example, when writing treaties, the Senate needs to know the legal environment in which the treaty will be implemented. Congress also often asks the Law Library for examples of laws in other nations that address issues faced by the United States as well. All of GLIN's members have access to one another's databases.

Goddard researchers are developing systems to manage quickly large volumes of satellite data. The cooperative agreement joins the Library's need for an advanced data management system with Goddard's desire to test its systems inexpensively.

According to Dr. Milt Halem, head of Goddard Space Data and Computing Center, "This is a unique opportunity and may very well be the first time that Goddard or NASA has provided such significant information-network technology to an organization in the legislative branch."

Rubens Medina, Law Librarian and GLIN Director, praised NASA for its willingness to offer its expertise and technology. "The Law Library staff look forward to a fruitful relationship. Together, we will make GLIN an even better system that is more widely accessible and easier to use."

The Law Library is the largest such library in the world. It was established in 1832 by the U.S. Congress to answer congressional inquiries and prepare reports and other documents for U.S. lawmakers. Its staff of legal specialists track legislation from around the world.

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PR 96-58
ISSN 0731-3527

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