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National Transportation Library (information system)



National Transportation Library (information system)

Background & policy context: 

The Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) coordinates the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) research programmes and is charged with advancing the deployment of cross-cutting technologies to improve the Nation’s transportation system. As directed by Congress in its founding legislation, RITA leads DOT in:

  • coordinating, facilitating and reviewing the Department’s research and development programs and activities;
  • advancing innovative technologies, including intelligent transportation systems;
  • performing comprehensive transportation statistics research, analysis and reporting; and
  • providing education and training in transportation and transportation-related fields.

RITA brings together important data, research and technology transfer assets of the Department of Transportation, including:

  •  Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)
  •  Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
  •  National Transportation Library (NTL)
  •  Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT)
  •  Research, Development and Technology (RD&T)
  •  Transportation Safety Institute (TSI)
  •  University Transportation Centers (UTCs)
  •  Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe).

RITA also provides strategic direction and oversight of DOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Program.
Much of RITA’s coordinating function within DOT is overseen by the Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) Planning Council, an advisory board made up of all of DOT’s modal Administrators and chaired by the RITA Administrator. Through its leadership of the Council, RITA managed the creation of the DOT Five-Year RD&T Strategic Plan, the document that will guide DOT’s research agenda.While DOT’s individual operating administrations continue to conduct research based on their unique agency missions, mandates and stakeholder needs, the Council’s work ensures that DOT’s research and technology programs are integrated and that they fully support DOT’s strategic objectives.  

Strategic Objectives: 

The National Transportation Library (NTL) is charged with improving the availability of transportation-related information needed by Federal, state, and local decision-makers. Its mission is to increase timely access to the information that supports transportation policy, research, operations, and technology transfer activities. The NTL was established in 1998 through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and serves as a repository of materials from public, academic and private organizations. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) administers the National Transportation Library in cooperation with its federal, state, and local partners.
The NTL offers a collection of items which is entirely available through the web. The items are of two types: 

  1. digital documents which constitute the “Digital Repository”;
  2. websites which constitute the “Portal Collection”.

1) Digital RepositoryNTL collects and maintains electronic copies of significant research and statistical documents that have long-term usefulness and value to federal, state, and local transportation decision-makers, transportation analysts, and researchers. These materials may be at risk, and the provision of a secure, trusted digital repository for the transportation community is deemed important for the long-term protection of that information. The focus is on collecting or linking to published transportation materials dating back to 1995. Older materials at risk or of particular significance are added to the digital repository as time and resources permit. Emphasis is placed on collecting documents, by priority, from the following publishers: 

  • United States Department of Transportation agencies; 
  • State Departments of Transportation, local agencies, MPOs, tribal road agencies;
  • other federal agencies;
  • universities;
  • professional organizations;
  • private sector.

A priority for the NTL is to collect materials that support the USDOT and BTS strategic goals: Safety - Promote the public health and safety by working toward the elimination of transportation related death and injuries. 

  • Mobility - Shape an accessible, affordable, reliable transportation system for all people, goods, and regions;
  • Economic growth - Support a transportation system for all people, goods, and regions;
  • Human and Natural Environment- Protect an
Programme organisation: 

1) Database search and access capabilities

The two NTL Collections, the Digital Repository and the Portal Collection, are available to all internet users free of charge at the “NTL Integrated Search System” page
Items of the two collections are searchable by simple search, advanced search and browse functionality. The items are classified according to the following headings:

  • Aviation;
  • Economics and Finance;
  • Energy and Environment;
  • Freight;
  • Geographic Information Services;
  • Highway/Road Transportation;
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems;
  • Laws and Regulations;
  • Maritime/Waterways;
  • Operations and Traffic Control;
  • Pedestrians and Bicycles;
  • Planning and Policy;
  • Public Transportation;
  • Rail Transportation;
  • References and Directories;
  • Safety and Security;
  • Rural and Agricultural tansportation.

          2) Transport research information covered

          Type of product and origin            Main TRKC themes covered            Approx. Nr.

          Digital documents collection          All themes, mainly highway/            The number of items is variable
          and portal collection.                    transport engineering,                     with the above listed headings.
                                                            statistics, planning, policies              The largest numbers are for ITS
                                                            and research.                                 (ca 1600), highway/road transport

          Leading Institutions:

          Name of organisation: RITA Type of organisation: Public Institution

          Participating countries: 
          DOT Department of Transportation, United States - USA
          Contact Name: 
          National Transportation Library Headquarters W12-300
          1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
          Washington DC
          Contact country:
          (+1) 800 853 13 51
          Fax Number: 
          (+1) 202 493 20 27