Monday, October 02, 2006

The Environmental Protection Agency libraries are closing

You may be aware that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun to close its network of 27 technical libraries. The process began officially yesterday and is expected to save the U.S. government $2 million. Russell Shaw notes:
Although the EPA says in part that the closure is being prompted by the trend to make records accessible online rather than in dead-tree form, virtually none of the EPA records that exist prior to 1990 have been digitized.
Since the older records can be very valuable when dealing with environmental issues, he says:
Tens of thousands of unique holdings will be boxed up and inaccessible for an unknown period; public access to EPA holdings will cease; and EPA scientists, enforcement agents and other specialists will have a much harder time doing their jobs.
The libraries of the EPA are heavily used. What will we do without them? And if the EPA wants to digitize these materials, when will it happen? Since the U.S. government is already actively digitizing materials, we would hope that implementing a digitization program for the EPA would not be difficult.

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