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Why Silicon Valley Cares So Much About Who Will Lead the Library of Congress

Accepted submission by Phoenix666 at 2015-10-05 13:37:53
Digital Liberty

Separately, a wide-ranging group of librarians, technology companies, and policymakers have also raised questions about the library’s stewardship of the US Copyright Office [] – which currently stores most of its valuable records in rows of paper volumes.
The debate over the Library’s relationship with technology has long been viewed as fraught. In the 1990s, the Library was seen as an early adopter of the Internet, bringing troves of Congressional records online in 1995 with the service

But since then, questions about the library’s own technological struggles – including reports that it did not know how many computers it owned, lacked a dedicated person in charge of technology and did not have full control over the Copyright Office it was tasked with overseeing – have fueled questions about Billington’s leadership. Unlike almost every high-level government position except the Supreme Court, the Librarian of Congress is a lifetime appointment, leading some critics to suggest that Billington, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, has possibly overstayed his welcome.

“It used to be the king of all libraries,” Suzanne Thorin, dean emerita of Syracuse University and Billington’s former chief of staff, told the Washington Post in March, following the release of two scathing reports by the Government Accountability Office pointing to the library’s lack of management over its own IT infrastructure. “Maybe it’s benign neglect, but I don’t see it at the center anymore.”

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