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EPA Library Closings


Last Update: February 12, 2007


Recent Information

February 6, 2007

On February 6, ALA President Leslie Burger testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the issue of EPA libraries.


December 14, 2006

On December 14, 2006, ALA President Leslie Burger spoke at a meeting of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) on the importance of EPA libraries and librarians.


December 13, 2006

On Monday, December 11, the EPA held a teleconference about the closing of its libraries. The EPA released an accompanying press release the same day.

In response, ALA President Leslie Burger issued the following statement, also available here:

"The teleconference December 11 raised more questions than it answered. It is a gross oversimplification to state that everyone benefits when libraries go digital. This is only true when there is a thoughtful digitization plan that ensures valuable information is not lost and public access is retained. We are still waiting for the EPA to disclose its digitization plan and budget," Burger said.

"The EPA referenced American Library Association guidelines and subsequently pointed to a fact sheet on our Web site as the basis for decision-making: http://www.ala.org/eparelease. The loose collection of resources is a good starting point for thinking about collection development policies but does not constitute ‘ALA guidance and criteria’ as was referenced in EPA press materials. However, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with EPA staff and learn more about their modernization efforts."


December 9, 2006

The op-ed page of the December 9, 2006, New York Times featured an article by ALA President Leslie Burger, entitled "Keep the E.P.A. Libraries Open." (registration required)


November 30, 2006

On November 30, 2006, the House Science Committee, Democratic Membership, put out the following press release:

(Washington, DC)  In an ongoing effort to protect and preserve the vast environmental resources of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prominent House leaders today called on the agency to immediately stop efforts to close libraries across the country pending a review by Congress.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Ranking Members Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN), John Dingell (D-MI), Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and James Oberstar (D-MN) expressed their serious concerns over the current implementation of "library reorganization" plans and the "destruction or disposition" of library holdings.

"It is imperative that the valuable government information maintained by EPA's libraries be preserved," wrote the Ranking Members.

This letter to the Administrator follows-up on a successful effort earlier this fall by the Congressmen to initiate a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of current EPA actions regarding their libraries and informational resources. [Ed: That letter is included below.] The GAO has begun its review. 

As noted in their letter to the Administrator, the EPA is closing libraries and dispersing resources in accordance with an Administration budget directive that has neither been approved nor formally enacted by Congress. 

Implementation of the library reorganization is proceeding at a rapid pace.  Reports of the library closures, information destruction, and property auctions continue to surface despite the objections to the plan raised by EPA professional staff, EPA employee union representatives and the American Library Association.  The Ranking Democratic Members with oversight authority want to ensure that actions do not undermine the integrity and value of the public information available at these libraries.


The letter is available here:



Issue

The $2 million cut initially proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and included in Bush's budget proposals for fiscal year (FY) 2007 would reduce the 35-year-old EPA Library Network's budget by 80 percent and force closure of at least some regional libraries. EPA administrators have repeatedly alleged that these closings will not affect access to the important environmental and scientific collections and data sets since online functions will meet the needs of the EPA staff, researchers, and the public.

However, many scientists, EPA staff and librarians continue to dispute this contention. ALA and other critics have argued that the EPA library online services are not fully in place and are not adequate to meet the current as well as future demands of users. Further, few advances were made in the online resources before the announcement about the library closings was made.

It has been reported that the President's Budget for FY 2008 will likely make even deeper cutbacks to the entire EPA budget in what appears to be a move to close down the entire agency. Until the American public puts political pressure on Congress to preserve EPA and its important functions as a whole, the likelihood of reopening the EPA libraries and stabilizing the modest library services still available is extremely low. The library closings are a symptom of the even larger threat to the entire agency.

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What you can do

Contact your Members of Congress to let them know about the importance of the EPA Library Network to the public, environmental and scientific communities.

For contact information, visit ALA's Legislative Action Center or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121.

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Background

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List of EPA Libraries

Headquarters Libraries - Washington, DC
Headquarters Library
Legislative Reference Library
Office of General Counsel Law Library
Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances Library
Office of Water Resource Center

Libraries in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
NERL - Atmospheric Sciences Modeling Division Library
RTP Library Services

Regional Libraries
Region 1 Library, Boston
Region 1 RCRA Research Library, Boston
Region 2 Library, New York City
Region 3 Regional Center for Environmental Information, Philadelphia
Region 4 Library, Atlanta
Region 5 Library, Chicago
Region 6 Library, Dallas
Region 7 Information Resource Center, Kansas City
Region 8 Environmental Information Service Center, Denver
Region 8 Technical Library, Denver
Region 9 Library, San Francisco
Region 10 Library, Seattle

Laboratory Libraries
Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center Library, Cincinnati, OH
Environmental Science Center Library, Fort Meade, MD
NERL - Atmospheric Sciences Modeling Division Library, RTP, NC
NERL - Environmental Sciences Division Technical Research Center, Las Vegas, NV
NERL - Ecosystem Research Division Library, Athens, GA
NHEERL - Atlantic Ecology Division Library, Narragansett, RI
NHEERL - Gulf Ecology Division Library, Gulf Breeze, FL
NHEERL - Mid-continent Ecology Division Library, Duluth, MN
NHEERL - Western Ecology Division Library, Corvallis, OR
NRMRL - Ground Water and Ecosystems Restoration Division Library, Ada, OK
National Vehicle & Fuel Emissions Laboratory Library, Ann Arbor, MI
RTP Library Services, RTP, NC

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Status of EPA Libraries

Closed

  • Region 5, which served Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
  • Region 6, which served Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
  • Region 7, which served Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska

Closed to the Public with Reduced Hours to EPA Staff*

  • Region 2, which served New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands

Reduced Access to EPA Staff and the Public

  • Region 1, which serves Conneciticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
  • Region 9, which serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
  • Region 10, which serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Native Tribes
  • Headquarters

* This hasn't taken effect yet. For the time being, EPA has halted the further closure of libraries until all questions have been addressed.

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ALA Press Releases

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News Stories and Editorials

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Other Information


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