Via resourceshelf, this account of the Memorandum of Agreement that was the result of arbitration between the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 and the EPA. Please see the linked documents for information from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on why the EPAs compliance — which they termed “grudging” — was not acceptable to EPA library workers.
“Even as many collections remain in crates, EPA has decided to micromanage what is left,â€ [PEER Director Carol] Goldberg added, noting that the agency has still not accounted for many of the library holdings it had removed. â€œProfessional librarians should be making these management decisions, not political appointees.â€
And now we start the big fight over EPA libraries again. I don’t know about you but I find this so upsetting. Not that someone could be so shortsighted as to think you could close a bunch of libraries with practically unique information and replace them with a (shoddy, sorry) database, but that the whole idea of closing a LIBRARY isn’t seen as a last-ditch thing you only do when you need to, I don’t know, burn the books for fuel to keep from freezing to death. In any case, my bad for not reporting more on this, I had OMG fatigue. This latest article Congress Directs EPA to Re-Open Its Libraries is cautiously good news, but very very angering to those who care about information services. Granted, it’s a partisan article, but if the facts are indeed correct the whole thing has been and continues to be a fiasco. I’d love to hear from other readers with direct knowledge of any of this.
Prior to the closures, the budget for the EPA library network was $2.5 million. By earmarking $3 million, Congress increased the total library budget, allowing the agency to absorb the expense of collecting dispersed collections and replacing jettisoned facilities. For example, EPA closed its largest regional library in Chicago and sold all of its fixtures, valued at more than $40,000, for less than $350. [emphasis mine]
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 anticipate copyright restrictions, which barred many of its holdings from being digitized.
Big ugly news in the Government/Special libraries sector. The proposed US Budget includes slashing the EPA library budget by 80% which means no more library and no more electronic catalog.
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
- 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
Operate public reading rooms and provide the public with access to EPA databases.
“Access to information is one of the best tools we have for protecting the environment,” added Ruch, calling the cuts the “epitome of penny wise and pound foolish.” “By contrast, closing the Environmental Protection Agency libraries actually threatens to subtract from the sum total of human knowledge.”
Add to this the proposed elimination of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science by rolling it into the Institute of Museum and Library Services and you have to wonder what sort of price we’re paying for the deep budgetary hole the country has been falling in to.