The Government Shutdown and Libraries

October 1, 2013

Because the US Congress failed to pass an appropriations bill on September 30, government offices and services that are deemed nonessential have shut down. Ars Technica has a chart of which federal websites are available and which aren’t, while explains the seeming arbitrariness of the website shutdowns.

Here’s a snapshot of how the library community is affected until the budget situation is resolved:

  • The Library of Congress buildings are closed to the public, and its website is inaccessible, except for, and Cataloger’s Desktop. However, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine still offers access to LC and other agencies before their websites went dark.
  • The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is closed.
  • All federally funded presidential libraries and all National Archives facilities are closed (except for the Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register).
  • The Smithsonian and other federal museums and galleries are closed.
  • Federal agencies are not engaging in social media, and federal workers are barred from reading their email during the shutdown. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cautioned that online filing and receipt of surface mail is suspended and that filing deadlines are extended until the day after the shutdown ends.
  • ERIC is searchable on EBSCO, but links pointing to are inaccessible. However, G5, the Education Department’s grants management system, is up and running.
  • The Universal Service Administrative Corporation, which manages the e-rate program is not a federal agency and is not directly impacted by the shutdown. But, since the FCC hears e-rate appeals by applicants, this activity will be suspended until the shutdown ends, Wisconsin State E-rate Support Manager Bob Bocher told American Libraries. Also, a major e-rate program review by the FCC has halted for the time being.
  • District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray declared (PDF file) all municipal departments in the District to be essential, including the District of Columbia public libraries, thus evading the shutdown crisis there.
  • A decision in the Authors Guild v. Google Books lawsuit, where fair-use principles in the digital world hang in the balance, could be delayed if the shutdown lasts for more than 14 days, after which the federal court system is expected to close for lack of operating funds.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education described September 30 how a prolonged shutdown would affect academe.

Federal agencies are advising that visitors “check the website or the Office of Personnel Management website for updates on the status of the government.”



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