This posting is prompted out of concern for the need to provide open, online access to public documents including CRS reports, two e-mails received during the past two weeks, and two recent requests for recent CRS report referenced in a previous post to this blog.
First the e-mails. About a week ago I received a widely distributed e-mail from Emily Feldman, Advocacy Communications Assistant for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) framing the issues related free online access to CRS Reports and emphasizing the urgency of taking action now to help get this accomplished. Emily can be contacted at either 202-942-4233 or email@example.com This was followed up today by an e-mail from a law librarian Susan Nevelow Mart responding to Emily's e-mail and reinforcing Emily's call for action. Here are the two e-mails
From Emily Feldman:
Last week, AALL held a free online advocacy training session, Join AALL’s Advocacy Team: How to Deliver Our Message, with Director of Government Relations Mary Alice Baish, Advocacy Communications Assistant Emily Feldman, and “Advocacy Guru” Stephanie Vance. Many of you on this listserv participated, and we thank you for making this Webinar a success! Webinar resources are now available in AALL’s Advocacy Toolkit and the recorded Webinar will soon be available on AALL2go.
Whether or not you were able to participate in the Webinar, we need your help to keep the momentum going on one of the key topics we covered: free online access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports. In the Senate, we need you to put pressure on Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, to bring S. Res. 118 before the committee immediately. In the House, we need your help in getting additional co-sponsors for H.R. 3762.
We have issued an Action Alert that makes it easy for you to write to your senators and House representatives. The Alert includes our specific asks, sample emails, and links to the Webmail forms of your members of Congress so that you can start writing an email with just a click of your mouse. Please help us ensure access to these valuable, tax-payer funded reports by writing to your members of Congress today!
Advocacy Communications Assistant
American Association of Law Libraries
Susan Nevelow Mart's followup:of 10/28/2009:
About a week ago, Emily Feldman posted an action alert about CRS reports, with a link: http://www.aallnet.org/aallwash/aa10162009.pdf. If you care at all about getting public access to CRS reports, take a look at this link. It not only tells you what is going on in Congress with CRS reports, it lists the sponsors of the legislation, and what to say to them. The alert lists the committee members, and what to say to them. And if your senators and representatives are not sponsors and not on the relevant committees, there’s a message for every other legislator. And it’s all linked. In other words, the alert makes it so easy, if this is an issue you’d like to be heard on, there is no excuse. Please take a look, and just cut and paste and click send your legislators an email.
As for me, I have long been concerned both as a librarian and a concened citizen about the accessibility of public documents including CRS Reports. That concern has been reinforced by the inability of readers to gain access, online or otherwise, to a CRS Report I discussed in a recent posting on this blog,, CRS Report-Juvenile Justice: Life Without Parole., September 14, 2009. Although the Report is summarized at some length, I was unable to post a link to it because no link was yet available. Almost immediately I started receiving inquiries from readers as to how they could obtain a copy of the entire Report. They too were unable to obtain a complete copy. This example points up the need for online access to very recent CRS reports as well as those that have been around awhile.