Library Of Congress

Librarian of Congress Appointees Questioned

An Internet radio company has filed a straight-on challenge to the constitutionality of the Copyright Royalty Board, the three-member panel that determines the rates companies pay for statutory copyright licenses.

In a complaint filed yesterday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Live365, an Internet radio aggregator, argued that the royalty board violates the Constitution’s appointments clause, because its members are selected by the Librarian of Congress. The suit argues that because of their significant authority, these non-Article III judges are “Principal Officers of the United States” who must be selected by the president.

FYI, our current Librarian of Congress is James Billington, who was appointed by President Reagan (way back) in 1987.

There is currently speculation about the possiblity of a new LoC being appointed...see this story from Library Journal.

Interesting story with significant implications from Legal Times.

Kay Ryan, Poet Laureate

For the past year, Kay Ryan has been serving as America's 16th poet laureate, tapped by the librarian of Congress to be ambassador for American poetry. Profile, with poems written and spoken, from Voice of America.

The august marble-and-gilt halls of the Library of Congress, where Ryan has her official headquarters, seem an unlikely place for someone raised in what she calls the "glamour-free, ocean-free, hot, stinky, oil-rich, potato-rich" San Joaquin Valley of California. But then, growing up, Ryan didn't want to be poet.

"It [to declare oneself a poet] seemed like putting on airs," she says. "It seemed self-absorbed. It seemed like something that my oil well driller father wouldn't understand at all and that my mother would disapprove of, because it was just showing off."

Ryan nearly turned down the offer to become U.S. poet laureate. She says she wanted to protect her privacy and keep writing without being distracted by the job's many public duties.

"I think poetry is indestructible, and I don't worry about it, and I don't think it needs the protection of me or the advocacy of me or anyone."
Ryan likens poetry to gold coins: "You can lose it in the couch, or in the ground, or anywhere and when it's dug up its going to be valuable, so that real poetry utterly protects itself, [and] takes care of itself."

Identity Theft at the Library of Congress

Report from The Washington Post:

A 35-year-old Southeast Washington woman was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for using the purloined identities of Library of Congress employees to purchases nearly $40,000 in goods.

Federal prosecutors said Labiska Gibbs enlisted a relative, a Library of Congress worker, to access an internal database and give her the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of at least 10 employees, prosecutors said. Gibbs used that information to open credit accounts at retailers, including Target and Victoria's Secret. In court papers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn S. Leon said Gibbs made a living selling gift cards she fraudulently purchased.

Gibbs's second cousin, William Sinclair Jr., 27 (who worked in HR at the LOC), was sentenced to three years of probation for his role in the scam. Prosecutors said Gibbs approached Sinclair and that he did not receive any money for his participation.

Obama White House Not Appealing Transgender Ruling

AP: The Obama administration is not fighting a nearly $500,000 judgment for a Library of Congress hiree (Diane, formerly David Schroer) who lost the job while undergoing a gender change from a man to a woman.

The Justice Department let the deadline to appeal the decision pass Tuesday, a day after President Barack Obama hosted gay supporters at the White House and promised to be their "champion." Some activists have complained he has not led on their causes, including ending the ban on gays in the military.

The Library of Congress and President George W. Bush's Justice Department had argued unsuccessfully that discrimination because of transsexuality was not illegal sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.

Diane Schroer, a retired Army Special Forces commander from Alexandria, Va., had been offered a job at the Library of Congress when he was a man, David Schroer. The job was rescinded the day after Schroer told a library official he was going to have an operation to become a woman.

Previous LISNews reports on the case: here, here, and here.

Hey U, Tune In: The LOC Is Now on iTunes U

Library of Congress iTunes. Blog. Twitter. YouTube. iTunes. Yeah, we speak Web 2.0.

You nation’s Library has millions of stories to tell, so we’re trying to tell them as many places and to as many people as possible–whether on our own website or elsewhere. And now you can add another biggie to the list: iTunes U.

For those who don’t know, iTunes U is an area of the iTunes Store offering free education audio and video content from many of the world’s top universities and other institutions. (The iTunes application is needed to access iTunes U, and is a free download from www.apple.com/itunes.)

The Library’s iTunes U page launched today with a great deal of content, with much more to come. (Link opens in iTunes.) A nice bonus, for those in the know, is that the content is downloadable and even includes materials such as PDFs.

So as long as people keep finding new ways to get information, we’re going to keep finding ways to get it to you!

Congressman Complains of Library of Congress Interference

From The Washington Post: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) charged today that top officials at the Library of Congress have interfered with investigations conducted by its independent watchdogs and have frequently admonished investigators for the tone and focus of their investigations.

"Your office's attempts to influence and/or control the OIG appear to be in direct contravention of the principles underlying the creation of the Inspectors General," Grassley wrote in a sharply worded letter delivered today to Librarian of the United States James H. Billington. "Independence is the hallmark of the Inspectors General throughout the country."

Library of Congress YouTube Channel Up and Running

The Library of Congress YouTube Channel that Birdie previously reported on is now live. So far, it includes historical footage, book talks and readings, and short films narrated by Library of Congress staff, with more content to be added in the future.

Via Library of Congress Blog

LOC will Upload Digital Materials to Online Services

"Fishing where the fish are", the Library of Congress will soon be uploading its audio archives to iTunes, and posting videos on YouTube.

The library already offers the materials at its own Web site and through interactive exhibitions on its new, personalized Web site, but the expansion to YouTube and Apple's iTunes is part of the library's efforts to make its 15.3 million digital items more accessible, said Matt Raymond, the library's director of communications.

Novel Legal Argument: Unconstitutional For Librarian Of Congress To Appoint Royalties Judges

The Legal Times blog reports that arguments before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals over the Copyright Royalties Board have taken on a new angle. Challengers of the royalties decision that severely increased rates payable by webcasters raised the challenge of whether or not it was constitutional for Copyright Royalties Board judges to be appointed in the manner they presently are. Also raised during the hearing was the notion that since the Librarian of Congress could be fired at will by the President, the Library of Congress is more properly an institution of the executive branch than the legislative.

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