A bill which would allow the Librarian of Congress to accept gifts and bequests on behalf of the Library of Congress “and for other purposes,” unanimously passed the House of Representatives on September 10. H.R. 6122, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Lungren (R-CA), next went to the Senate for consideration, where it was referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
Specifically, the bill would empower the Librarian of Congress—currently James Hadley Billington—to accept “gifts or bequests of money for immediate disbursement, personal property valued at $25,000 or less, nonpersonal services, or voluntary and uncompensated personal services.” Gifted securities would have to be sold and the donor provided with a receipt, and the Librarian would be required include in a description of each gift valued at $1000 or more in the Library’s Annual Report.
Currently, the library is empowered to accept money to be immediately spent on buying something for the library, or to be invested as Trust Funds so they can support a program. They can also take items for the collection. (The Center for the Book and the American Folklife Center are more broadly authorized to accept different kinds of donations.) The bill, if passed, would let the library accept donations in other forms, such as services and in-kind donations. Gifts of personal property over $25,000 would likely be treated as Trust Funds are currently, according to a library spokesperson, while donations of money would continue to be treated as under current law.