You are here: home   Blogs   The GOAT Blog   EPA reopens "National Libraries on the Environment"
The GOAT Blog

EPA reopens "National Libraries on the Environment"

Document Actions
Tip Jar Donation

Your donation supports independent non-profit journalism from High Country News.

Jodi Peterson | Oct 03, 2008 11:15 AM

The EPA's "self-inflicted lobotomy" is about to be reversed -- at least partially. More than a year ago, in response to Bush budget cuts, the agency began dismantling its network of 26 technical libraries, a crucial repository of scientific information for the agency's own researchers and the public. It closed several regional libraries and moved tens of thousands of documents into uncatalogued "information dumps" so that it could digitize those documents. Critics saw the move as an attempt to restrict access to information on health risks, corporate polluters, and other important data, and Congress finally forced it to stop "deaccessioning" its holdings.

Now, as of Sept. 30, the agency has reopened at least four of those closed facilities, and is once again providing library access to the public and its own staffers, according to a notice in the Federal Register.

But the damage inflicted on the EPA's vast collection of scientific, environmental and legal documents may be hard to undo. Jim Retting, president of the American Library Association, testified before Congress in March:

"Unfortunately, there continues to be a lot that we don't know: exactly what materials have been being shipped around the country, whether there are duplicate materials in other EPA libraries, whether these items have been or will be digitized, and whether a record is being kept of what is being dispersed and what is being discarded. We remain concerned that years of research and studies about the environment may be lost forever," he said.

Both the agency and Congress would do well to bear in mind Carl Sagan's words: "I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries."

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  2. The Latest: Wild Mexican wolf pups born in Sierra Madre | The species still struggles on both sides of the b...
  3. Recreation-related death toll soars this summer |
  4. Summer swimming in a Washington lake | A writer takes the plunge in frigid water.
  5. Colorado water users gird for first statewide plan |
  1. The death of backpacking? | Younger people don’t seem interested in this out...
  2. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  3. A graceful gazelle becomes a pest | Inrroducing an African gazelle called the oryx for...
  4. Illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans | A native-born New Mexico Hispanic points out that ...
  5. Plains sense | Ten years after Frank and Deborah Popper first pro...
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone