[Foundation-l] Fw: [SLA-SF] Save EPA Libraries!

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Fri Oct 27 19:09:21 UTC 2006

There has been talk on this list about how to spend money relicensing 
copyrighted materials under a free license.

Access and true freedom of information requires more than a free license.
It requires transparent and effective indexing, physical access to 
original sources, classification and other infrastructure.

I mentioned the EPA library catastrophe -- a slow breakdown of one of our 
truly free library and archival institutions -- earlier this year.

An update follows.  Please contact your Senators by the end of the 
month to ask them to support the Boxer-Lautenberg letter.



> American Library Association Washington Office Newsline 
> ALAWON Volume 15, Number 115 DATE : October 26, 2006 
> ________________________________ 
> Save EPA Libraries! 
> ________________________________ 
> Boxer- Lautenberg "Dear Colleague" letter asking the Senate Appropriations 
> Committee to direct EPA to maintain access and research expertise at ALL
> of EPA's regional and headquarter libraries until the Agency solicits
> adequate public and Congressional input.
> Background: 
> Senators Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg have drafted a letter to the
> Senate Appropriations Committee stating their concern that EPA is dismantling 
> their unique library system (see below).
> As you know, the government, business and the general public depend on
> EPA's libraries to conduct research critical to protecting public health, 
> enforcing environmental laws, and promoting sound economic, land-use planning 
> and other decisions.   Closure of these facilities will
> severely limit, and in some cases eliminate, the information resources needed 
> by those investigating issues critical to environmental safety and health. 
> Although EPA's FY2007 budget hasn't been passed yet, this year EPA has 
> already eliminated or reduced library service covering 31 states (see
> list below below ).
< the Boxer-Lautenberg "Dear Colleague" letter!  The letter asks the
< Appropriators to direct EPA to maintain access and research expertise
< at all of EPA's regional and headquarter libraries until the Agency
< solicits adequate public and Congressional input. 
> The deadline for signing the letter is November 1st, so call today! Tell
> your Senator's Office that they can arrange to sign the letter by
> calling Grant Cope (4-7931) or Daniel Rosenberg (4-7225) and that they must 
> do so before November 1st. 
> Letter to Senate Appropriations Committee:
> October 26, 2006 
> Honorable Thad Cochran, Chair Appropriations Committee U.S. Senate 
> Honorable Conrad Burns, Chair Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on 
> Interior and Related Agencies U.S. Senate Honorable Robert C. Byrd, Ranking 
> Member Appropriations Committee U.S. Senate 
> Honorable Byron Dorgan, Ranking Member Appropriations Committee Subcommittee 
> on Interior and Related Agencies U.S. Senate 
> Dear Colleague:
>       We are writing to request that you direct the Environmental Protection 
> Agency (EPA) to restore and maintain public access and onsite
> library collections and services at EPA's headquarters, regional, laboratory, 
> and specialized program libraries while the Agency solicits
> and considers public input on its plan to drastically cut its library budget
> and services.  Government representatives, businesses and citizens use 
> information in these libraries to protect public health, enforce 
> environmental laws, and promote sound decision-making.  We are concerned
> that EPA is already dismantling its unique library system without
> including the public or Members of Congress in the decision-making.  Congress
> should not allow EPA to gut its library system, which plays a critical role 
> in supporting the Agency's mission to protect the environment and public 
> health. 
> EPA has already eliminated or reduced library service to the public in
> seven EPA regions covering 31 states and is planning to close its
> Headquarters' library and maintain it only as a repository. (Attachment)  EPA 
> has also
> closed its pesticide and toxics program library, reducing access to
> unique materials needed to assess pesticides and other chemicals' potential
> health effects on children.  EPA is implementing these devastating closures 
> on the grounds that they expect to save $2 million.
>       EPA's libraries provide far more benefits than the minor cost 
> reductions resulting from their closure.  A 2004 EPA report found that
> "[c] alculated conservatively, the benefit-to-cost ratio for EPA library
> services ranges between 2:1 and 5.7:1."  The report noted that libraries 
> saved
> EPA professional staff $7.5 million and non-EPA personnel $2.8 million, in
> 2003; and that one-third of the libraries' work gave EPA $22 million in 
> benefits.
>       The American Library Association, American Association of Law 
> Libraries, and Special Library Association strongly oppose the cuts, pointing 
> out that EPA has "unique collections, including an estimated
> 50,000 one-of-a-kind primary source documents that are available nowhere 
> else."
> Notes provided by the American Library Association that recount a
> meeting with EPA on the library closures state that their warnings that the
> Agency should develop a new system before closing libraries "fell on deaf
> ears."  Unions representing 10,000 EPA scientists, engineers, and other staff
> have similar concerns.  They note that "[t]he ability of EPA to respond to 
> emergencies will be reduced because important reference materials may be
> unavailable or take significant time to receive from storage or another 
> library."
>       A document from EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance
> Assurance (OECA) about the library restructuring expresses concern about the
> Agency's failure to adequately assess costs and funding needs, maintain 
> critical information, and ensure data accessibility.  OECA notes that the
> libraries have information important to specific regions, states and locales, 
> and unique data on industrial processes and analytical methods.  OECA has 
> indicated that it fears that dispersal of this material without proper 
> tracking and access could undercut rulemakings and the ability to 
> "substantiate and support findings, determinations, and guidance." 
> We are extremely troubled that EPA is rushing to eliminate or reduce
> library operations without adequately consulting Congress or the public. We 
> respectfully request that you direct EPA in the FY 2007 Interior and
> Related Agencies Appropriations Bill to restore and maintain public access 
> and onsite library collections and services at EPA's headquarters, regional,
> laboratory, and specialized program libraries to the status they held as
> of January 1, 2006.  We also ask that you direct EPA to solicit and
> consider public and Congressional input, in an open process, prior to making 
> any decision to close a library, cut services, or dramatically restructure
> the Agency's library system. 
> Sincerely, 
> Barbara Boxer                                           Frank R. Lautenberg 
> United States Senator                                United States Senator
> CC:  Senator Ted Stevens Senator Arlen Specter Senator Pete Domenici Senator 
> Christopher Bond Senator Mitch McConnell Senator Richard Shelby Senator Judd 
> Gregg Senator Robert Bennett Senator Larry Craig Senator Kay Bailey 
> Hutchinson Senator Mike DeWine Senator Sam Brownback Senator Wayne Allard 
> Senator Daniel Inouye Senator Patrick Leahy Senator Tom Harkin Senator 
> Barbara Mikulski Senator Harry Reid Senator Herb Kohl Senator Patty Murray 
> Senator Dianne Feinstein Senator Richard Durbin Senator Tim Johnson Senator 
> Mary Landrieu 
> Status of EPA Regional Library Closures and Reductions in Service: 
> (Specialized Libraries Not Included) 
> 1. Closed 
<  * Region 5, which served Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota,
<      Ohio, and Wisconsin.
<  * Region 6, which serves Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico,
<      Oklahoma, Texas, and Iowa.
<  * Region 7, which serves Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. 
> 2. Closed to the Public with Reduced Hours to EPA Staff 
<  * Region 2 Library, which served New York, New Jersey, Puerto
<      Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
< 3. Reduced Access to EPA Staff and the Public 
<  * Region 1, which serves Connecticut, 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.
<  * EPA Headquarters 
> ________________________________ 
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> ALA Washington Office Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director 1615 New Hampshire 
> Ave NW, First Floor Washington, D.C. 20009 202.628.8410 (V) 202.628.8419 (F) 
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