6.0089 American Folklife Center (1/147)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 18 Jun 1992 18:19:36 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0089. Thursday, 18 Jun 1992.

Date: Wed, 17 Jun 92 23:07 PDT
From: Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 213-458-9811 <ENQ8BKG@UCLAMVS.BITNET>
Subject: American Folklife Center

Originally FROM: Jo Radner, Professor, Department of Literature,
American Univesity

As you probably know, the American Folklife Center in the Library of
Congress, set up by act of Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American
folklife," has become since that time the most significant repository of
American traditional culture--including manuscripts, sound recordings,
photographs, and other materials--in the United States. In addition, the
Center has supported folklore field projects, conferences, and exhibitions
throughout the nation, and has provided researchers with important information
resources and equipment loans.

Right now, however, through what seems a political fluke, the continued
funding of the American Folklife Center is in jeopardy, since the U.S. House
of Representatives voted last week to defeat the bill H.R. 5058, which would
have extended the Center's authorization for five years.


Here is some information about the situation:

Periodically the American Folklife Center is subject to
reauthorization as a division of the Library of Congress. The current
authorization expires at the end of the current fiscal year, September 30,
1992. Legislation extending this authorization for an additional five years
was introduced early in the year in both the U.S. Senate and the House of
Representatives where it was favorably received by the appropriate committees.
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee held a hearing in March and is
expected to report the bill later this month. The House Committee on Rules
and its subcommittee on Libraries and Memorials responded favorably to the
five year proposal with modest increases in program activity. The bill H.R.
5058 was brought up on the consent calendar in the House of Representatives on
June 9, only to get caught up in the "balancing-the-budget" debate.
Unfortunately, it did not receive the required two-thirds vote and was
defeated. The bill will be revived under other procedures, and it is hoped
that all members of the House will have a clear understanding of the Center's
mandate and the issues at hand.

In the effort to bring about reconsideration the Center can use the
support of its many friends in the field. I urge you to call or write your
representative or those you may know, urging reconsideration in this matter.

Please feel free to contact the American Folklife Center at (202)
707-6590 should you have any questions regarding the Center, its activities
in your area, or to learn of the appropriate congressperson in your area to

Thanks for your help; the attachment below may be useful to you.


H.R. 5058

(companion legislation under review by
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration)


* The five year proposal corresponds to the traditional
five-year planning process. After five successful
reauthorization requests in the past 15 years, the Center
and its programs are now firmly established. The
proposal now before the Congress provides for
authorization levels for each of the next five fiscal
years, 1993 through 1997. No other amendments or changes
are proposed.

* The current reauthorization proposal calls for increases
of approximately $150,000 per year providing modest
growth in programming and staffing, including an
inflation factor for the next five years.


* The American Folklife Center was established in the
Library of Congress by Public Law 94-201 in 1976 "to
preserve and present American folklife."

* These broad goals are accomplished through documentation
and preservation; assistance to the field of folklore and
folklife programs; cultural conservation; public
education; and an active publications program.

* The Center began with a modest operating budget of
$295,000 and a staff of eight in FY 1977. At the present
time the Center has a permanent staff of 17 and a budget
of $1,109.488.

* In 1979, the administration and responsibility for the
Archive of Folk Song and its collections were transferred
to the jurisdiction of the American Folklife Center.
Through its 64 years of collecting, the Archive, now
named the Archive of Folk Culture, has become the most
significant repository of American traditional culture --
of manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs, ephemera
and other materials -- in the United States.

Program Goals

* A staff of 25 professional and support staff by FY 1997
will enable the Center to proceed with a slightly
expanded program, at a level which seems reasonable for
the foreseeable future, subject to economic and
inflationary considerations. It will allow the Center to
manage an expanded public reading room in the Library's
Jefferson Building in FY 1995. Through a slightly larger
staff, the Center will be able to better process and make
available to the public more than 1 million items
currently in the collections of the Archive.

Services to the States

* The American Folklife Center has provided consultant
services and access to its equipment loan program to its
constituencies in all 50 states. Major field projects,
surveys, conferences, exhibitions, and Board of Trustees
meetings have been conducted in most states.

* The American Folklife Center contributes to and expands
the services offered by the Library of Congress and the
federal government to state and local agencies and
private citizens everywhere. The Center is frequently
called upon by other agencies at the state, regional, and
national level to provide cultural perspective and
technical assistance with economic recovery and
development, reference services, and to assist ethnic and
Native American communities.

Board of Trustees

* Public Law 94-201 created a Board of Trustees comprised
of representatives of Federal agencies and eight members
from private life, four each appointed by the Speaker of
the House of Representatives and the President pro
tempore of the Senate. Appointments since 1977 have
represented the states of Arizona, California, Florida,
Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New
Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South
Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and the District of