On May 4, 1980, the Department of Education came into being, with NIE being placed in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), one of the major components of the Department. Donald Senese, the first Assistant Secretary of OERI in the Reagan administration, which came into office in 1981, took a favorable view of the library and sought to increase its funding. In June 1981, he included "modernizing and improving the ED library" as one of his six priorities for FY 1983. Senese proposed the enlargement of the library so that it would not only serve Department of Education staff but could also "supplement university education collections and provide information to SEAs." Senese requested $1,000,000 in the FY 1983 budget "to support expansion, automation, and networking activities" of the library. With the existing library budget around $240,000, this would have been a dramatic increase.
Senese`s desire to expand the library might seem contrary to the Reagan administration's guiding philosophy of domestic spending reduction and de-emphasis on the federal role in education. Senese, however, saw his views to be in harmony with the Reagan agenda. He believed it was necessary for the Department of Education to highlight existing activities that did not entail federal involvement in schooling, while avoiding the creation of new federal programs. Moreover, Senese was a researcher himself, possessing a doctorate in history, and he viewed the library as a valuable asset for scholarly research that would fade away if more resources were not devoted to it. However, Gary Jones, Under Secretary for Planning and Budget, struck down Senese's budget request.
Questions about the role of the library, made more pressing by the creation of the Department of Education in 1980, had led to the initiation of an extensive study of the library during the waning days of the Carter administration. NIE contracted with Evaluation Technologies Incorporated to conduct the study. The study was performed between October 1981 and February 1982. The study surveyed many aspects of the library: resources, clients, use patterns. Perhaps, most significantly, it looked upon the library as a local and national resource and proposed alternate structures for the future library. The study rejected the idea of upgrading the NIE library into a true national library of education, maintaining in its Final Report that "while the NIE Library could reasonably serve as a national resource, it is unlikely that a need exists for an archival national library of education, and even more unlikely that the NIE Library could serve as a national library of education without a substantial investment of human and non-human resources." The report continued that "While a need may exist for some of the unique materials currently held by the NIE Library, their transfer to the Library of Congress would not hinder their accessibility to researchers."
The Final Report offered three alternative configurations for the future library: a "comprehensive education library," an "education research support library," and an "education information and referral center." The "comprehensive education library" option would be similar to the existing library. The book collection would be maintained and, in fact, expanded slightly to better address needs of the Department staff. The number of journals would be increased to include all journals indexed by ERIC.
The "education research support library" model would focus solely on the needs of Department staff. The library's special collections, except the NIE archives, would be deaccessioned. The general collection would be pared down to include only those books commonly used by the staff. The journals would be increased to include all of those indexed by ERIC.
The "education information and referral center" model would deaccession almost all books, with only the reference collection remaining. The center would rely on computerized services. The journal collection would expand to include all those indexed by ERIC.
The Evaluation Technologies Incorporated study was viewed very negatively by Alan Moorehead and other NIE officials. Moorehead adamantly sought the restoration of the library to the position it had held before the 1978 reorganization and the subsequent budget cuts. More than this, he proposed to expand the library into a National Information Resource Center that would make use of the book collection and computer data bases to serve a national audience.
The formal NIE position on the library in 1982, issued by the NIE Acting Director Robert W. Sweet, envisioned a more significant future role for the library than the mainly scaled down models presented by Evaluation Technologies Incorporated. Sweet's memorandum, entitled "Options Related to the Mission of the Library," contended that in order for the library to perform its basic tasks, which were not being carried out because of budget cuts and inflation, there would be needed a one time expenditure of $850,000 and an annual budget increase of $100,000. This would have been a substantial increase since the library's budget at the time was $240,000. It was noteworthy that a Reagan official, especially a "movement conservative" like Robert Sweet, would call for a budgetary increase when the guiding philosophy of the Reagan administration was domestic budgetary cutting and ultimate extinction for the Department of Education.
The Sweet memorandum presented three models for the future structure of the library based on the client groups to be served. These were: the Department of Education staff; the Washington Metropolitan Area; and the Washington Metropolitan Area and State Agencies. Not one of the models called for reducing the library's existing collections. And all would be more costly than the funding needed to maintain the existing structure. For example, the projected annual operating budget of the model serving solely the Department of Education was $380,000. And the memorandum explicitly recommended more than this minimum. At the least, the memorandum stated that the library should serve the Department of Education and the Washington Metropolitan Area, requiring an annual budget of $520,000. The Sweet memorandum also advocated a feasibility study to establish a network among the NIE library and the 12 to 15 largest education libraries in the country. Like Senese's earlier budget request, Sweet's memorandum fell on deaf ears because it was at odds with the overall fiscal austerity of the Reagan administration and the limited budgets that Congress allotted to NIE.
For the library, the early 1980s were a time of expansion in some areas and contraction in others. A number of large book collections, obtained from library's that were closing, were added to the NIE Library. These included: the Office of Economic Opportunity collection; a 5,000 book collection from CEMEROL (Central Midwestern Regional Education Laboratory) in 1983; and in 1984, 10,000 books from the library of the National Education Association. Books from these collections especially helped to fill gaps in the education collection for volumes published in the 1950s and 1960s when the HEW library had not attempted to obtain an extensive collection of education works.
December 1983 saw the closing of the branch library at 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. In the late 1970s, the branch library had 3,000 circulating books along with reference works and journals. In 1980, however, one-third of the library's space was taken for other purposes. This space reduction required the elimination of the circulating books, which were sent to the main NIE Library. To denote this size reduction, the branch dropped the name library and became the Information and Reference Branch. By the fall of 1982, this office had only one staff member, who left the Department of Education in June 1983. From that time until its closing in December 1983, the branch operated only on a part-time basis.
In 1983, the NIE library underwent a physical move as the Riviere Building was planned for destruction. The library was moved to the Brown Building at 19th and M Sts., N.W. where it would be housed with the rest of NIE.
A 1985 reorganization of OERI abolished NIE as an entity, spreading its programs throughout the rest of OERI. The library was placed in the Educational Information Resources Division of the Information Services program. Information Services served as a focal point for the acquisition, production, exchange and dissemination of education information, materials and products. Milbrey Jones became the chief librarian.
In 1986, the library moved from the Brown Building. The owner of that building was eager to remodel it and refused to renew the General Services Administration lease that had expired in April 1985. The General Services Administration postponed the move as long as possible while searching for new space for the OERI staff and the library. Finally, in June 1986, as a result of the owner's demands, a judge ordered OERI to immediately vacate the building. From June 6 to June 15, the library collection was removed from the Brown Building. There being no suitable space for the library elsewhere, its collection was put in storage in various locations throughout the Washington area.
Library staff along with the rest of OERI moved to the Capitol Place building at 555 New Jersey Ave., N.W. Quarters were not ready there for the library collection until early 1987, however. During the period when the collection was in storage, the Department of Education staff had to rely on other libraries. The library formally opened at its new location on February 24, 1987.
About Us | FAQ | Resources | GEM | ERIC | NCEF | USNEI | ED Pubs | Site Map | NLE Home | ED Home
Last Modified: April 3, 2006 (jer)