Report Shows 17% of Library of Congress Materials “Unaccounted For”

The Library of Congress came under fire from Congress this week when an internal Inspector General’s report surfaced showing that nearly 17 percent of materials requested by users from the Library’s inventory could not be found. Of that figure, 4 percent were found to be in processing, but nearly 13 percent were considered unaccounted for.

At an oversight hearing on the Library of Congress, Members of the Committee on House Administration questioned officials on the Library’s operations, including significant gaps in its inventory management plan. Library officials who testified before the Committee claim that subsequent inventory reviews had found the percentage of unaccounted for items to be closer to 10 percent.

Despite the fact that a “Baseline Inventory Project” has been in operation since 2002, only 20 percent of the 135 million items in the Library’s holdings have been inventoried.

Committee member Dan Lungren (R-CA), suggested that the Library consider modeling their tracking system after successful tracking programs within the private sector. “If UPS can track tens of thousands if not millions of pieces per day, and doesn’t have a lost rate of 10 percent, why can’t you?” Lungren asked. “I would bet you that if UPS or any of the others had a loss rate of 10 percent, they would be out of business.”