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Let Our MO Libraries Serve - No to HB986 and the Amendment

An amendment to HB 986, filed by Representative Lovasco, would have a devastating impact on Missourians' ability to access meaningful and relevant resources from the public libraries. The amendment would limit what libraries may purchase for their collections to materials cataloged by the Library of Congress. This would prevent libraries from loaning many types of materials that citizens use to grow their businesses, innovate, and solve challenges in their lives. Please do not support HB 986 or the amendment.

The Library of Congress is not a catchall institution to catalog everything published or printed. It has a curated collection of materials intended to serve the wide and varying needs of the individuals across the United State of America, not just those in Missouri. This highly conflicts with the individualized needs of Missouri's communities and what resources their libraries can provide to them.

The following list is an example of some but not all materials that would be greatly impacted and which many libraries in Missouri already provide.

  • New materials (any new book or eBook)
    • New materials would be greatly delayed and potentially unavailable for many months after being published, if they are ever sent to the Library of Congress for Cataloging. Many publishers including big publishers do not send their materials to the Library of Congress for cataloging, and even if they were sent it does not mean they are cataloged. The Library of Congress has its own mission for its collection development policies and goals.
  • Multiple editions of an item.
    • Libraries would not be able to purchase an item's latest edition. This could also cause problems for libraries to acquire great materials where the first edition is out of print and not for sale anywhere. The Library of Congress only catalogs one edition and does not add others in most cases.
    • Large print would most likely disappear from Missouri's library shelves as it is not cataloged by the Library of Congress. This would be a regrettable disservice to the visually impaired, especially senior citizens who rely on their library to provide materials they can use.
  • Small press/Indie publishing materials would cease to be carried by MO libraries.
    • Small press materials and independently published materials usually are not cataloged by the Library of Congress. Much of the stories that Missouri's communities share and find relevant would not be available in local libraries, such as local history and local genealogy.
    • As stated above, this would also affect authors and titles published by the big 5 publishers as they are increasingly using small press/indie for publication.
  • Big name authors are also purchasing the rights to their works and/or creating new works and self-publishing or publishing through their own publishing company. These would not be cataloged by the Library of Congress.

  • No Wi-Fi Hotspot lending
    • Wi-Fi Hotspot devices are not cataloged by the Library of Congress and are not part of Electronic Resources.

  • No Computer/device lending
    • Computer and device lending (such as iPads, eReaders, laptops, etc.) would not be allowed to be purchased as they are not cataloged by the Library of Congress and they are not part of Electronic Resources.
  • Oral history kits
    • Libraries in Missouri offer these to their communities so that families and communities can record their stories and history digitally before it is gone. These devices such as audio recorders and other equipment are not cataloged by the Library of Congress and are not Electronic Resources.
  • Special collections (such as local genealogy, genealogy from societies/newsletters)

  • Databases are considered Electronic Resources, but they are not cataloged by the Library of Congress. 
    • Research databases that help many to research their businesses, gain new skills for their careers, research for school projects, and much more would no longer be able to be provided to Missouri's communities.

  • Ebooks are Electronic Resources but they are not all cataloged by the Library of Congress and face many of the issues that print materials face as discussed above.
    • Depending on which database or vendor these are being purchased from, they may come as a collection which means part or most of what is purchased may not be cataloged by the Library of Congress. There is no way to parse items out of purchases such as this.

Additional Issues for libraries with HB 986 and the amendment:

How would librarians look up to see if materials being purchased have been cataloged by LOC? One at a time? That's an insurmountable task which would grind library work to a halt in Missouri.

LOC only has 171 million items in its collection/catalog. There are at least 4 million books published each year alone. This is a devastating hindrance on what libraries can collect.

Issues for libraries providing Special Collections:

Having a special library collection of things, such as tools, provides the community with resources they may not be able to otherwise afford to get their businesses started, improve their skills for their career, start a new career, work on school projects, improve their livelihoods, and much more. 

One library in Missouri provides a special collection called the Library of Things which allows community members to check out power tools. In one instance, a customer who would not have been able to afford to buy or even rent an electric drill from their hardware store was able to check out one from this special collection and change their locks which saved them from an abuser who had keys to the old locks.

Libraries providing special collections beyond books are community specific responses to community requested needs. Not every library in Missouri has or needs a Library of Things. And the communities that have them in their libraries, these special collections, are not competing with local businesses. Local businesses provide the newest products and maintain stock for everyone to purchase or rent a tool to keep or use for a short period of time. Libraries provide one or just a handful of these kinds of items to supplement the growing needs of a community with individuals who may not be able to afford them at the time. Just as with a book, many customers purchase books they really like or find themselves checking out multiple times. The book industry is stronger because libraries exist. The same goes for any other special collections materials.

Lastly, special collections are just that, special. They are neither the entire collection nor a majority of the collection. They meet the needs of the community when they need them.

Again, please, let each community define how its library should serve them best, not a federal institution. And then, please, let them serve the community!


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