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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.

Reminder: let EPA know your thoughts on access to environmental information

Rebecca posted about this in April, but I’d just like to remind everyone that the EPA blog is open for comments THIS WEEK (June 9-13, 2008). This is a great opportunity to provide your comments to EPA. As always, we recommend that you couch your comments in terms of access, authenticity, preservation and privacy!!

EPA is holding an on-line discussion among state, tribe, and other federal partners of EPA, as well as the public to foster collaboration on information access. For this discussion, we are using a blog which is a more interactive and personal form of technology. Everyone is invited to use this site to identify and share their best resources, tools, and ideas for improving access to EPA’s environmental information. This is a key part of the National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information – working with you to enhance information access.

This blog will be open for comment for one week (June 9-13, 2008). The blog will then be closed and a summary report will be posted on the “What We’ve Learned” section of the National Dialogue website by June 20th.

EPA Seeks Your Input! Improve Access to Info!

Well…this is a good sign. The EPA wants to know “what kind of environmental information you need, and how you want to get it”. It’s part of the National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information and the EPA wants your input. You can contribute to their discussion board or submit a comment. I’m forwarding this link along to the Environmental Sciences Dept. faculty here where I work, among others. Spread the word!

Re-Opened EPA Libraries Will not Be the Same

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) issued a press release analyzing the March 26 EPA Report to Congress. PEER Associate Director Carol Goldberg says, “EPA is approaching the task of restoring its libraries grudgingly and appears to be trying to get by doing the bare minimum,”

The press release says that the EPA report makes clear that:

  • Re-opened libraries would be limited to “core reference materials” and unspecified “resources to meet specific local needs.” The one exception is the Kansas City–based regional library whose collection had not yet been disbursed;
  • All EPA libraries will be operated under the direct control of a political appointee who will review whether requests for research materials and services “meet Network standards.” …
  • EPA is not indicating when, how or with whom it will consult in order to determine “stakeholder needs” that are supposed to guide services.

EPA National Library Network Report to Congress

The Special Library Association (SLA) announced today that EPA plans to re-establish the closed libraries by September 2008.

SLA met with EPA officials today to review the agency’s report to Congress on the future direction of its library network.

The report, submitted to Congress yesterday, includes a summary of the network standards developed with respect to physical space, on-site collections, staffing and services of EPA’s Regional and Headquarters libraries, as well as a plan for allocating resources from the the 1 million dollars given to them by Congress:

•Re-establish on-site libraries in Region 5, 6, and 7, and the consolidated EPA Headquarters Repository and Chemical Library in DC.
•Enable Regional EPA libraries to update their collections, facilities, and equipment to meet Network standards.
•Conduct a formal needs assessment for EPA library services to support future development.

I am glad to see that EPA took the hearing’s recommendations to meet with affected stakeholders and library organization officials seriously, but I do not think they met with anyone before the report to Congress was due, as was recommended at the hearing. At least, I have not heard or read about any such meeting. Correct me if I’m wrong. Nevertheless, EPA states:

“Over the next few months, we will continue to engage affected stakeholders (including our employee unions) as we finalize our specific plans for each library. The Agency is committed to working with its employees and outside parties on its future digitization plans (based on the third party review), a customer needs assessment, and long term strategic planning efforts”.

EPA Management Incompetence?

Information Today published an article on the recent hearing and issues surrounding the EPA library closures that I’ve been blogging about this week: “EPA Library Closures: Management Incompetence or Something More Sinister?“. I was hoping they would discuss or speculate what exactly the author deemed “sinister” but it’s basically just an in-depth summary of the hearing and witness testimonies. Read between the lines?