The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national alliance of local, state, and federal resource professionals, released this story based on internal documents from the EPA Library Network Workgroup, which is made up of representatives from the various EPA regions. According to PEER:
Under Bushâ€™s plan, $2 million of a total agency library budget of $2.5 million will be lost, including the entire $500,000 budget for the EPA Headquarters library and its electronic catalog that makes it possible to search for documents through the entire EPA library network. These reductions are just a small portion of the $300 million in cuts the administration has proposed for EPA operations.
EPA currently operates a network of 27 libraries operating out of its Washington, D.C. Headquarters and ten regional offices across the country. The size of the cuts will force the Headquarters library and most of the regional libraries to shut their doors and cease operations. Each year, the EPA libraries â€“
* Handle more than 134,000 research requests from its own scientific and enforcement staff;
* House and catalog an estimated 50,000 â€œuniqueâ€ documents that are available nowhere else; and
* Operate public reading rooms and provide the public with access to EPA databases.
One of the documents linked to from the PEER site, outlines available options for regions that “choose” to close their physical libaries. They can purchase library services from any region libraries that remain open (on what would be left of the scavenged budget); or, they could pass on costs to their customers — themselves. Reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw the other day. “This isn’t a democracy, its an auction.”