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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Reopening EPA Libraries in Budget

CONGRESS DIRECTS EPA TO RE-OPEN ITS LIBRARIES. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). December 21, 2007

Buried within the omnibus appropriations bill Congress sent this week to President Bush is a Christmas present for the beleaguered library network of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Congress ordered EPA to restore library services across the country and earmarked $3 million for that purpose…

The rationale for the library closures was never clearly spelled out by the agency, which maintained that it wanted to digitize all of its holdings. Its original claim of cost savings did not bear up under scrutiny and clashed with the enormous expense of digitizing hundreds of thousands of documents. In addition, the agency did not anticipated copyright restrictions, which barred many of its holdings from being digitized.

See more coverage of EPA libraries here.


More bad news for EPA scientists

As many of you know, FGI has been tracking this issue of library closings at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I wish I had good news to report (Like EPA budget reinstatement!), but unfortunately not. Today, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) had a news release stating that, due to EPA budget shortfalls, the EPA is, “sharply reducing the number of technical journals and environmental publications to which its employees will have online access.” This after an all EPA employee email memo from CIO Linda A. Travers (PDF) touted:

Linda A. Travers
Acting Assistant Administrator and Chief
Information Officer
TO: All Headquarters Employees

EPA is in the process of implementing a new library plan to
make environmental information more accessible to employees, researchers and the general public. As part of our efforts, the Agency is posting physical library collections on-line and enhancing electronic library services. At present, more than 15,000 journals and publications are available on-line and Agency documents can be obtained via interlibrary loans.

How does closing EPA libraries and sharply reducing access to scientific journals make information *more* accessible?! Perhaps if the EPA became a faith-based organization, they’d get their funding back. *sigh*