Parliamentary Libraries, Institutes and Offices: Sources of Parliamentary Information
23 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2007 Last revised: 21 Oct 2011
Date Written: 2004
Noting that legislatures need information to perform their representative, legislative and oversight functions, this Paper primarily looks at different sources of parliamentary information - parliamentary libraries (including research staff and internet access), parliamentary institutes and more specialized legislative budget offices.
Not surprisingly, the distribution of parliamentary libraries and their resources vary greatly, from the United States Library of Congress, which has 110 million books and 75,000 periodical subscriptions, to Burundi, whose parliamentary library has only 50 books and Paraguay, whose library subscribes to only one periodical. Not surprisingly, the distribution of research staff is equally skewed - meaning that deficiencies in parliamentary library collections are typically not offset by other sources of information.
In countries as varied as Canada, India, Bangladesh and Russia, parliamentary institutes represent a solution for the information problem. Such institutes exist either as independent organizations outside of parliament (as in Canada and Russia) or as specialized research and training arms of the parliamentary bureaucracy (as in India and Bangladesh). The Paper concludes that, where parliamentary budgets cannot sustain a comprehensive library service, a parliamentary institute could offer a more viable source of information for parliamentarians.
Keywords: Parliament, Legislature, Library, Research Offices
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