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Another session of EPA Q&A

These notes are from the EPA session at ALA Committee on Legislation Government Information Subcommittee (COL/GIS) 1/20/07, Seattle, WA. I’d like to thank Amy West for sharing her notes on the session. I had blogged it but because of a temporary hiccup on the FGI site, I had lost my notes. Ah, technology 😉 As always, please leave comments!


EPA staff: Mike Flynn, Rick Martin

Mike from EPA – review library system to be premier system to increase delivery to more people. Effort has 2 foci: more emphasis on elect delivery and reviewing physical library presence; utilize staff across network; It’s NOT correct that all physical libraries closed in favor of all electronic; They are keeping some physical locations. They are focusing on digitizing materials from libraries where walkin access has closed;

EPA staff have heard comments about deliberation in process; and have doubled the number of electronic documents. EPA has closed 5 physical locations (regions 5,6,7, headquarters, and chemical). Each of these is now serviced through the overall network. EPA is reviewing collections in those places. They estimate having 3 repositories and keeping unique documents in those repositories.

EPA staff: Services (refer to back of hand out); online “card catalog”; possible shutdown was due to an internal EPA housekeeping squabble which is now resolved.

ILL services are available across the network; unique materials available through ILL (or are supposed to be). NEPIS Web site is the home of digitized documents; up to 24,000 documents in the NEPIS database with an initial target of 52k total; the goal for digitization was at first supposed to be the end of January and for original inventory of closed libraries; however, EPA then found additional material to be digitized. Add classes of docs where copyright was unclear? Grantee-produced documents, for example. The remaining libraries have a 2 year window for digitizing their materials.

There is a new FAQ site to assist with public service and access. Librarians manage the Website and FAQ. Library services for the public fit into a framework of public access services of which in-house access is only a piece. They are allowing GoogleEarth and TerraServer to include EPA content natively. They have also developed a desktop library for EPA staff. This desktop library allows all staff to access Electronic material in the same suite. Whether they have the right number of professional librarians is still under discussion.


EPA is going forward – see handout.

Q&A session:

Bernadine Abbott Huduski (BAH) – being an original EPA librarian, the libraries were NOT set up like headquarters or laboratory libraries, so they were for the public in the first place in addition to state/local/contractors.

Fred Stoss/Ubuffalo (FS) – What has happened with physical collections – like the one in Chicago?
Answer: EPA has used EPA listservs to dispose of materials.

FS: Are there no books on the shelves?

EPA: Yes. Some in headquarters repositories. Duplicates have been given away? Not sure, but probably? Catalog updated? In process. Cincinnati has taken some too. Also RTP. What about the Great Lakes portion of Region 5? Anything region-specific went to headquarters.

BM / OSU – What about next time govt wants to take documents offline a la 9/11? EPA: The only information taken off was risk management plans. They have developed criteria for sensitive information; testified to Congress on standards. Maintaining hardcopies of all digitized materials.

FS – why were documents taken down for a few hours some time in Dec? OTPP?

EPA: It was a mistake. It happens. Information was restored as soon as it was found dto be an error.

Are there any long-range projects?

EPA: sorta. Cincinnati manages digitization program. Understand that we need to provide details of program. We will add “expert” opinions. and establish an advisory group of librarians.

Andrea Morrison, Indiana University (AM): thanks for coming, we’re passionate about information. Collections of region 5 were “carefully evaluated” – what does that mean? E.g. not all versions retained, drafts, updates, etc. Put together a work group with full criteria. Search OCLC, where is it held, “good library practices”. Are guidelines public?

EPA: Part of framework which we will soon describe. We know we’re not doing everything right, but we’re trying. If we have to close a physical location, we’re trying to build in services to replace that.

AM – We also care about curration of historical datasets.

EPA: our careers have been about getting info out, so don’t look for conspiracies.

Michele McKnelly, University of Wisconsin River Falls (MMk) – What ILS do you use?

EPA: Based on “basis”; built inhouse. Planning on openURL/link resolvers? thinking about it. When digitizing, are you enhancing bibliographic records with links to related documents? No, but NEPIS will be searchable via Northern Lights search engine. Digital Asset management systems? Looking at it.

Will EPA’s system work with federated search systems?

EPA: Don’t know. Yes, they are looking to modernize it. They are moving the in-house database onto Oracle.

James Jacobs – Stanford University (JRJ) – Libraries are beginning to build digital repositories and are interested in harvesting digital content; will NEPIS be harvestable?
EPA: Yes, in fact, NEPIS and our whole site was harvested as part of a GPO pilot. What’s harvested? Metadata and objects associated.

BAH – Coop cataloging? Yes. BAH asks for formal coop cat agreement.

Mary Alice Baish, American Association of Law Libraries (MAB) – Libraries closed were very important. and NEPIS is primitive.

EPA: no, it’s not.

MAB: so NEPIS will be cornerstone of the digitization; therefore do you have the funding to do the rest of the digitization/preservation?

EPA: Funding comes from each region.; going forward, digitization comes from current budget.

MAB: I have 1/3/07 CRS report on EPA funding and CRS says that in addition to $2million budget cut, there was also $1million from another office.

EPA: The other office was funding materials for science community; change of funds represents a shift, not reduction, among sub-offices within EPA. Also a reduction; wasn’t $1million reduction, it was a 500k net reduction. 500k reduction was from subscription funds that are now purchased jointly. Regardless of fund reduction, we still have more titles on desktop library than before.

Stoss/UBuffalo – Why was there no effort to ask for more funds to assist with the transformation? We’d have helped you. We’ve got the same problems, we feel for you, you should have asked us.

EPA: yeah. well. We’re here now.

BAH: it’s not too late – we can still support you in getting additional funds now.

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