Detailed Justification for the National Transportation Library

Detailed Justification for the National Transportation Library

What Do I Need To Know Before Reading This Justification?

The National Transportation Library maintains and facilitates access to statistical and other information needed for transportation decision-making at the federal, state, and local levels. Transportation information requests are also facilitated through the National Transportation Library for Congress, industry, the media, and the public.

What Is The Request And What Will We Get For The Funds?

FY 2012 National Transportation Library
Budget Request

Program Activity FY 2010 Actual FY 2012 Request ChangeFY 2010-2012
National Transportation Library 2,345 2,139 -206
TOTAL 1, 2 $2,345 $2,139 -$206

1 FY 2012 decrease reflects a reallocation of operating expenses.

2 The total funding includes salaries and administrative expenses and contract program.

Base Program

Key Actions:

  • Enter into new partnerships with transportation information providers.
  • Improve information access tools and user interfaces.
  • Continue digitization of historical transportation information.
  • Continue maintenance of transportation information standards.
  • Coordinate the activities of the national transportation knowledge network.

Key Outputs:

  • Updates to transportation information management standard, such as the Transportation Research Thesaurus (TRT).
  • New mobile applications providing access to transportation information.
  • New formats of information included in library collections, such as images and video.
  • New information resources, databases, and collections included in NTL information access portals/searches.

Key Outcomes:

  • Increased access to information for USDOT and other transportation decision makers.
  • Increase in users of NTL resources over FY 2011 levels.
  • Decrease in redundant research throughout the transportation community.
  • Increased productivity of Departmental staff and transportation professionals.

What Is This Program?

Strategic Goals: Safety, livable communities, environmental sustainability, state of good repair, and economic competitiveness.

Purpose/Beneficiaries: NTL maintains and facilitates access to statistical and other information needed for transportation decision-making at the federal, state, and local levels. NTL also supports the professional development competencies and skills to transportation information professionals. / Congress, the media, researchers, transportation professionals, federal, state, and local governments, USDOT staff, and the general public

Partners: Transportation Research Board (TRB), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), public and private transportation libraries and information providers, library networks and organizations.

Program Description: The NTL operates in four functional areas:

Reference Management NTL reference services are the transportation information front door to the USDOT. The NTL Reference Service team handles 1,500-2,500 requests for information each month, provides a searchable FAQ database used between 60,000-80,000 times per month, and delivers training and outreach.

Database and Archive Management:  The NTL Integrated Search platform includes a Digital Repository, web portal, and single search interface for transportation information resources. Through the search interface, users can search all NTL and other transportation resources at once. In FY 2009, an average of 108,557 individual users accessed NTL web resources and tools 202,962 times every month. With the FY 2012 NTKN enhancement, the number of databases managed will increase to include maintenance of a portal for transportation datasets and development and maintenance of an expertise system.

Tools and Standards Management: The NTL's metadata standard for indexing digital resources and use of controlled vocabularies (e.g., Transportation Research Thesaurus, or TRT) allows interoperability with other web resources and targeted access to transportation information resources. NTL maintains the TRT, the international standard transportation taxonomy and controlled vocabulary. NTL also increases access to information through implementation of Google Sitemaps and other protocols, joining, a joint project of 17 federal agencies providing access to federal scientific and technical information, and maintaining access tools such as directories, bibliographies, and custom Google searches of all state DOT, UTC, MPO, and transit agency websites. These tools and standards are used in tandem with the databases and archives enabling efficient, robust search, retrieval, and access to transportation information.

Networking: NTL's networking activities include collaborative efforts to develop and provide improved access to information and support the professional development of the information management community. Existing tools and activities include the Transportation Libraries Catalog, Transportation Librarians Roundtable, and coordination of the three regional Transportation Knowledge Networks (TKNs) toward development of NTKN.

Prior Year Accomplishments:

  • NTL support of USDOT TIGER Team efforts on the ARRA.
  • Provision of quick, courteous and accurate answers to requests for information from Congress, federal agencies, academia, industry, the media, and the public within 24 48 hours of receipt.
  • Develop, maintain, and promote new and existing tools and standards.
  • Coordination of national information dissemination activities through the NTKN.

Why Is This Particular Program Necessary?

Congress previously authorized BTS to establish the NTL to collect, maintain, and facilitate access to transportation data and information and authorized NTL to work with partners in the transportation information community in the pursuit of this goal. [1] These activities support the Open Government Initiative goal of transparency to increase access to government information. The proposed Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPPA) would require any published RESEARCH funded in full or in-part by federal dollars be deposited into a repository at the sponsoring federal agency. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 included this provision for the National Library of Medicine (NLM). FRPPA would expand the requirement to all Federal research dollars. NTL's Digital Repository infrastructure and processes are similar to that of NLM's PubMed database and can be adapted to fulfill this potential requirement for the Department.

The NTL serves as a one-stop portal providing access to core information resources; access to local, regional, national, and international resources; improved services, protocols, and standards to facilitate information sharing and improve professional competencies. The NTL program supports the information needs of USDOT stakeholders and the general public, as well as the transportation information professionals.

Without the NTL program, no economies of scale achieved by consolidation of commercial databases and use of a single technological infrastructure for USDOT-generated databases will be realized. Access to library programs and services saves time and money, and directly supports decision-making. [2]

How Do You Know The Program Works?

Effectiveness: High and increasing demand from OST, modal administrations, researchers, and the public evidence the NTL program's effectiveness. For example, an increase from 58 (FY 2008) to 63 (FY 2009) average daily visitors to the physical library or a 50% increase in usage of an electronic database from December 2008 to April 2010, demonstrate that resources and services NTL provides are increasingly useful for a larger proportion of users.

Research: In addition to the SR284 and NCHRP 643 reports, BTS customer outreach, data requests, and NTL independent analyst activities inform the program's operation. BTS uses the American Customer Satisfaction Index web survey to evaluate customer satisfaction with overall and specific features of the website. In May 2010, BTS engaged in listening sessions with 23 major stakeholders, which includes feedback on the website and program. All feedback is tracked and analyzed according to GAO recommendations. In FY2010, the NTL program's technology infrastructure and plan will be reviewed by independent information analyst firm Outsell, Inc./Gilbane Group.

Efficiency Measures: Community-wide adoption of standardized information storage and retrieval procedures reflects NTL's efficiencies. The program achieves this goal through strategic resource use and encouraging transportation information partners' use of standards and protocols.

Why Do We Want/Need To Fund The Program At The Requested Level?

The requested level of funding is needed to continue the base program.

Funding Options: FY2012 $2.139M

History/outyear needs: FY 2010 $2.345M; FY 2012 $2.139M.

[1] Safe Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, 49 U.S.C. 111 (f) (2006)

[2] Roger Strouse, Information Management Under Fire: Capturing ROI for Enterprise Libraries, Information Management Service Briefing, volume 10, November 2007.