Education's Library:

Actions Needed to Improve Its Usefulness

HRD-91-61: Published: Apr 11, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 1991.

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Linda G. Morra
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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement's (OERI) Research Library, focusing on the Library's: (1) scholastic and historic value; (2) services provided to Education employees; (3) accessibility to the public; and (4) functions and activities.

GAO found that: (1) the Library lacked a collection development policy specifying its users and its acquisition preservation priorities, which prevented it from making sound and consistent decisions; (2) OERI was developing such a policy for implementation in August 1991; (3) most Education employees and education-related organizations indicated that they rarely used the Library; (4) OERI representatives believed that better publicity and increased accessibility would improve the Library's usefulness; (5) experts believed that the Library's historical collections could be useful to historians and education researchers, and considered its contemporary collection to be less comprehensive than its historical collection; (6) from 1980 through 1989, the Library's nonpersonnel expenditures decreased by 62 percent; (7) beginning in fiscal year 1988, Congress did not fund Education technical service contracts to catalog and preserve the Library's collections, and about half of the collections remained uncataloged and generally not readily accessible to prospective users; and (8) many books in the Library's historical and special collections needed preservation.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Library's revised mission statement was approved on March 12, 1992, and the Department issued its collection development policy in September 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should determine the scope and responsibility of the Library and ensure that, in line with this determination, the OERI Library Advisory Committee revises the Library's mission statement and designs a collection development policy in a timely fashion. Thereafter, the Secretary should make sure that resources budgeted are consistent with the Library's mission and collection development policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education


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