Thursday, May 11, 2023

Enhancements to the Library of Congress and Protecting Copyrighted Works | Carla Hayden

During a Senate hearing, Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, discussed the Library of Congress' plans to enhance the visitor experience by 2026. The proposed improvements include an orientation gallery, a youth learning center, and a special collections gallery. 

The hearing also addressed the role of the U.S. Copyright Office in safeguarding copyrighted works, particularly in light of the growing use of artificial intelligence. The Library of Congress, which houses over 175 million books, manuscripts, and other materials, is the most extensive in the world.

The hearing's primary objective was to discuss the Library of Congress' future plans and its role in protecting copyrighted works, which is relevant to ChatGPT librarianship. For example, as AI-generated content becomes more prevalent, AI language models like ChatGPT may have implications for copyright protection. 

Moreover, the Library of Congress' proposed visitor experience improvements reflects a commitment to enhancing public access to information, which aligns with the goals of ChatGPT and its application in librarianship.

During the hearing, Carla Hayden shared that the Library of Congress had 370,000 visitors in the previous year, with a 75% increase in events. In addition, online visits to the library also increased, with over 151 million visits. 

In addition, the library celebrated various aspects of American culture, such as hosting Lizzo, who played the James Madison crystal flute at the library. The library's five-year strategic plan and 2019 digital strategy have focused on modernizing its technology and infrastructure.

The library's visitor experience master plan, a multi-year proposal approved in 2019, aims to improve the visitor experience. It includes an orientation gallery, learning resources for younger visitors, and new displays. In addition, changes have been made to the plan for the main reading room to respect and preserve the library's historic buildings. 

The Library of Congress also oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, which is critical in protecting artists and creators' works. With the advent of artificial intelligence, modernizing the Copyright Office is a priority for the nation.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides nonpartisan support to members of Congress and staff, responding to over 73,000 requests in the last fiscal year. In addition, thousands of CRS reports are available to the public, extending its impact beyond Congress. Lastly, the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled serves as the primary provider of reading material for Americans with such disabilities.

The Library of Congress has been modernizing its information technology systems to better serve its users, including Congress, copyright users, researchers, visitors, and the general public. Since Dr. Hayden was appointed the 14th Librarian of Congress in 2016, the library has made significant progress in centralizing its IT systems and addressing recommendations from the Government Accountability Office. Additionally, $20 million in private pledges have been secured for the visitor experience project in the Thomas Jefferson building.

The library has also been working to increase digital access to its collection for members of the public. The Library of Congress' focus on modernizing its services and increasing access aligns with the goals of AI language models like ChatGPT. By providing free and open access to information, the Library of Congress and AI models like ChatGPT work together to improve the availability of knowledge and resources for the public.

During the hearing, Dr. Carla Hayden provided an update on the Library of Congress' operations and the progress made in expanding access, enhancing services, and becoming more digitally enabled. In fiscal year 2022, the library has seen increased engagement, with hundreds of thousands of reference requests, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) publishing nearly 1,100 new products, and the U.S. Copyright Office issuing over 484,000 registrations. 

In addition, the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) circulated more than 22 million copies of Braille, audio, and extensive print material to patrons nationwide. The library also welcomed approximately 370,000 visitors to its buildings and launched a new public event series, "Live at the Library," to increase access to its programming and exhibits.

In partnership with the library's authorization and appropriations committees and the Architect of the Capitol, the library is creating a new visitor experience that will invite visitors to discover more of the library's treasures, programs, and services. This plan includes an orientation gallery, a youth learning center, and a special collections gallery. 

The library is committed to ensuring the project is implemented for the America 250 celebrations in 2026. The Library of Congress also has a robust and expanding online presence, with virtual programming and live streaming of signature events like the National Book Festival. This increased digital accessibility aligns with the goals of AI language models like ChatGPT, which seek to provide open access to information and resources for the public.

The timetable for the visitor experience master plan includes the Treasures Gallery opening in 2024, the gift shop also opened in 2024 on both wings of the first floor of the Great Hall, the Youth Center (The Source) opening in the fall of 2025, and the Orientation Space opening in 2026, in tandem with the celebration of America 250. This plan aims to transform the visitor experience at the library while respecting and preserving the historic Thomas Jefferson Building. 

The library has been working closely with focus groups of young people, including congressional children and grandchildren, to ensure the Youth Center is engaging and appealing. Additionally, the library is working with the Architect of the Capitol to ensure that any changes made to the building are consistent with historic preservation standards, particularly in sensitive areas like the Great Hall and the Main Reading Room.

The Library of Congress is committed to expanding its digital reach and making its extensive collections available to people across the country and worldwide, regardless of whether they can visit the library in person. 

By modernizing its technology and infrastructure, the library can better serve its users and fulfill its mission of providing free and open access to information. The Library of Congress and AI language models like ChatGPT shares a common goal of improving the availability of knowledge and resources for the public.

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