National Commission on Libraries and Information Science

The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) was an agency in the United States government between 1970 and 2008. The activities of the Commission were consolidated into the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a National Advisory Commission on Libraries in 1966.[1] The Advisory Commission was appointed to "make a comprehensive study and appraisal of the role of libraries as resources for scholarly pursuits, as centers for the dissemination of knowledge, and as components of the evolving national information systems". Other responsibilities included the appraisal of public agency programs and library funding. The Commission also had the task of making recommendations for government and private agencies to "ensure an effective and efficient library system for the Nation". The Advisory Commission ultimately recommended "the establishment of a National Commission on Library and Information Science as a continuing Federal Planning agency." The recommendations of the National Advisory Commission were incorporated into legislation (PL 91-345) that established the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) as a permanent, independent agency of the Federal government of the United States in 1970.


  1. Advise the President and the Congress on the implementation of policy.
  2. Conduct surveys and studies relative to library and information needs.
  3. Develop plans to meet national library and information needs.
  4. Advise federal, state, local, and private agencies regarding library and information sciences.

NCLIS Activities

Government Information

Studies making recommendations on the dissemination of federal government information, including:

  • 1978–2001 Study of the role of government documents in a national program of library and information services.
  • Principles of Public Information,” adopted by NCLIS on June 29, 1990.
  • “Comprehensive Assessment of Public Information Dissemination,” issued in 2001 (

Other Activities

  • Between 1973 and 2000, NCLIS published at least 10 reports dealing with public libraries. These reports dealt with funding, providing Internet access to the public, and establishing community information and referral services.
  • Other activities also include statistics, the sister libraries program, a conference on information literacy held in Prague in 2003, and two White House Conferences.

Strategic Goals

In 2004 the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) announced three strategic goals to guide its work in the immediate future.

  • Appraising and assessing library and information services provided for the American people,
  • Strengthening the relevance of libraries and information science in the lives of the American people,
  • Promoting research and development for extending and improving library and information services for the American people.

NCLIS Chairpersons

Brief biographies and photographs of NCLIS chairs are provided in Meeting the Information Needs of the American People: Past Actions and Future Initiatives Appendix B.

NCLIS Publications

The Commission issued a comprehensive list of publications in Appendix F of its final (March 2008) report, Meeting the Information Needs of the American People: Past Actions and Future Initiatives. The report documents the history and accomplishments of the Commission and provides a compelling future agenda for information policy research and development.


In Fiscal Year 2007–2008 appropriations, the Commission received limited funding and instructions to terminate its operations. Activities were consolidated under the IMLS, and the Commission office closed on March 30, 2008.


  1. Knight, Douglas N. and Nourse, E. Shepley; Libraries At Large: Tradition, Innovation, and the National Interest, New York, R. R. Bowker, 1969.


  • Drake, Miriam A. (February 2003). "National Commission on Libraries and Information Science: Why Not?". Searcher. 11 (2): 32–37.
  • "New Goals for NCLIS". Public Libraries. 43 (6): 329. November–December 2004.
  • Blumenstein, Lynn (15 May 2008). "Closing NCLIS Looks Back and Forward". Library Journal.
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