[govinfo] A challenge from EPA on accessiblity of library information

  • From: "Patrice McDermott" <pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "GOVDOC-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <GOVDOC-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2006 10:30:37 -0500


Publication date: Nov. 3, 2006


The Government Accountability Office is now investigating why EPA is closing 
its libraries, after Congress members, EPA employees, open government groups, 
and the Society of Environmental Journalists raised concerns.
EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock is now publicly promising that EPA 
library material will be available digitally in the very near future - even as 
branch after branch of the EPA library system is being closed.
"I have asked anyone to inform me, anonymously or otherwise, of any instance 
where they are unable to obtain a document they need that was previously 
available. And I am not aware of a single instance where that is happened, but 
I am all ears." Peacock can be reached at 202-564-4711 or by email.
Still, Greenwire's Darren Samuelsohn reports that "The Bush administration has 
already shuttered EPA's Washington headquarters' library and regional posts in 
Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City. And there are reduced hours and public access 
in EPA's regional libraries in Boston, New York, San Francisco and Seattle."
How the public or EPA employees are to access the documents Peacock promises 
them remains an unresolved question.
Those who want documents from EPA's library will want to know that the digital 
system is already online and working - to the degree that some documents have 
already been digitized. A user can point his/her Web browser here to search for 
relevant documents, some of which will be available online. The Catch-22 is 
that paper copies of undigitized documents must in many cases be obtained 
through the EPA library holding them - which will in many cases now be closed.
How long will digitization take? Peacock claims that all paper documents from 
now-closed branches will be digitized by January 2007 or sooner. Complete 
digitization of all documents in the system could take 2-3 years, Peacock says. 
He says he expects no restriction of public access during the interim.

Patrice McDermott, Director
202-332-OPEN (6736)

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