Fun_People Archive
24 May
HR3491 and the American Folklife Center

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 24 May 96 13:39:59 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject:  HR3491 and the American Folklife Center

[I hope this is the final word on this subject... -psl]

Forwarded-by: (Jef Jaisun)

From: Fri May 24 07:51:29 1996
Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 10:44:50 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Alan A. Jabbour" <>
Subject: HR3491 and the American Folklife Center

         Statement by Alan Jabbour Regarding H.R. 3491

      Our office has received a number of calls about H.R. 3491, a
bill in the House of Representatives to repeal the American
Folklife Preservation Act and authorize the Library of Congress
to continue to provide the functions of collection, preservation,
reference, and archiving with respect to American folklife.  I
want to let people know that this bill should not be considered
an attack on the work of the American Folklife Center.  Based on
the Library's wish for uniformity among its special collections,
such as the Music Division, Manuscript Division, and Geography
and Map Division, the folklife division will continue its
position of national prominence but reserve the use of
appropriated funds from Congress for the basic collections
functions:  acquiring, preserving, cataloging, and providing
public reference services.  Like the other special collections
divisions, it will continue to raise private funds and enter into
public-private partnerships to provide public programs.

      In essence, the Folklife Center has already evolved into a
regular division of the Library.  Its authorization, which served
the noble purpose of launching it and protecting it in 1976, has
made it more visible and vulnerable in recent years in the face
of continuing budgetary pressures in the Legislative Branch and
throughout the Federal government.  At present the Center lacks
authorization -- the legislation in question expired last October
and is no longer in effect, though we do have our budget for this
fiscal year.  As recently as last summer there was discussion
about eliminating the Center entirely and transferring its budget
to another agency.  The budgetary pressures have not subsided, so
we have every reason to expect similar moves in the future.  Thus
I have supported the Librarian's proposal to convert the Center's
collections to a division of the Library, removing it from the
process of periodic formal Congressional reauthorization and
incorporating its budget within the larger Library of Congress

      The Committee on House Oversight approved H.R. 3491 on May
23rd.  Chairman William Thomas (R-California) expressed his
support for the Library's folklife collections and activities,
saying that the bill creates uniformity with other special
collections in the Library.  Mr. Thomas emphasized his belief
that the chances for survival of the folklife collections and
staff are enhanced by this restructuring, since it removes the
Center as a line-item; subjecting the Center to continuing
reauthorizations could be an imprudent "roll of the dice."  There
was bipartisan support from other members of the committee for
the Library's continuing to support its folklife collections.

      The Librarian of Congress and the Library management have
struggled to preserve the folklife collections and staff, as have
I and the Center's Board of Trustees.  In my judgment, the
strategy of regularizing the Center as a division of the Library
offers the best assurance that the incomparable collections of
our Archive of Folk Culture will be preserved and strengthened,
and that the continuity of our outstanding professional staff --
the continuity of the folklife enterprise, which has flourished
at the Library of Congress since 1928 -- will not be destroyed.

          Alan Jabbour, Director
         American Folklife Center
           Library of Congress
       Washington, DC  20540-8100
  Phone (202) 707-6590 Fax (202) 707-2076

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