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Detailed Justification for the National Transportation Library

Detailed Justification for the National Transportation Library

FY 2008 Request: $2,345,000
FTE: 9.0 [includes 4.0 overhead]


The National Transportation Library (NTL) is a virtual library, accessible through the Internet, providing broad access to the nations transportation research and planning literature. The NTL offers reference services, a digital archive, web portal, and access tools including Transportation Research Information Service (TRIS) Online and the Transportation Research Thesaurus (TRT) in cooperation with the Transportation Research Board.

The NTL was created out of the need to fill a national leadership role to support and coordinate networking among transportation libraries. Within the Department, it provides a knowledge access point through its reference services. Internationally, the NTLs Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) membership permits TRIS Online participation in the International Road Transport Database. The NTL collection provides a metadata standard and repository for technical, research, and statistical policy resources. The collection is moving to a metadata and digital object exchange environment to serve the University Transportation Centers and other modes with a long term solution to information access.

The NTL is unique in its role as a catalyst and tool for national transportation information access. It stands alone in the industry for representation and cooperation with other national libraries, participating in convocations and forums on behalf of the Agency. Without the NTL, there would be a void in national leadership of transportation information.

Legislative Mandate:

49 U.S.C. 111(e) directs BTS to establish a National Transportation Library, create a collection of statistical and other information, to promote access to the library, to improve transportation communitys ability to share information and to work with other transportation libraries and information providers in to achieve these goals.

FY 2007 Base:

The major components of the NTL are:

Reference Management: This is the transportation information front-door to the Department. The NTL reference service responds to transportation information requests from the community; including DOT, other federal agencies, State DOTs, and Congress. The library staff handles about 3,000 requests for information each month. Special technology is used to retain canned responses and FAQs to assure consistency and efficiency in delivering repeatedly requested information, and making it more accessible to the user.

Technology Management: Through a partnering agreement with the Transportation Research Board, the NTL published the Transportation Research Information Service on the Web as TRIS Online. This provides researchers and the public with free desktop access to over 500,000 information and research resources. It is the broadest coverage of transportation resources of any analytical index in the world. The recently released NTL Integrated Search Interface greatly improves access to TRIS Online and NTL resources, and provides for expansion into other department collections.

Collection Management: The NTLs digital archive, which contains 16,000 full-text documents, provides public access to significant transportation documents from the University Transportation Centers, State DOTs, transportation associations, and other research and policy institutions. The NTL portal links to select transportation web resources. NTL metadata provide controlled vocabularies for access to both the digital archive and the portal resources. NTL access tools include directories, bibliographies, the Transportation Research Thesaurus, and a taxonomy. The NTL has developed the Rural and Agricultural Transportation Data and Information Resources website, and maintains links to 130 transportation libraries and information centers throughout the country.

Networking: Through partnership with the Federal and State DOTs, academic transportation libraries, and the largest holder of library catalog records, the Online Computer Library Consortium (OCLC), the NTL has made available to the public, a one-stop portal to the catalogs of the Nations most significant transportation libraries. The NTL created TLCat which provides users with unprecedented desktop access to policy, administrative, operations, and research literature through interlibrary loan. In cooperation with other transportation libraries and information providers, the NTL creates and maintains such resources as the Directory of Transportation Libraries and Bibliographies of Transportation Resources.

Anticipated FY 2007 Accomplishments

  • Continue to provide online reference services, answering the thousands of questions received each month that are related to the business of the Department of Transportation. Queries are received by telephone (800- 853-1351), or by email:,,, or
  • Continued improvement of the Open Archive Initiative Compliance. This effort will expand the universe of archives that hold digital reports, and thus improve long term preservation and access.
  • Work with University Transportation Centers and other object and data providers to create a more efficient method for transfer of digital documents and metadata.
  • Collect materials focusing on US transportation policy, planning, research, and operations; resources of long-term significance and value; and resources indexed in the Transportation Research Boards TRIS database.
  • Work with other transportation librarians to develop a national plan for collection development.
  • Increase total number of full-text links on TRIS Online.
  • Increase the number of participating libraries in TLCat, and expand the regional and national network.

FY 2008 Budget Request

  • The NTL will continue to provide quick, courteous, and accurate answers to requests for information within 24 48 hours of receipt.
  • The NTL will continue to provide access to, and improve its Digital Collection.
  • The NTL will continue to expand and provide access to TLCat.