EPA Reopens Five Shuttered Libraries

EPA Reopens Five Shuttered Libraries

The five Environmental Protection Agency libraries whose closures in 2006 as part of a cost-cutting measure by President Bush elicited a storm of controversy reopened September 30. In a Report to Congress submitted in March, the agency had committed to reopening the facilities by that date.

The reopened facilities are the Region 5 library in Chicago, Region 6 in Dallas, Region 7 in Kansas City, and the EPA Headquarters Repository and the Chemical Library in Washington, D.C. The final two now share a common space, but the EPA has taken steps to ensure that services will not be diminished, including the hiring of a chemical librarian with a science background. The agency also announced that it will enhance service at its Region 3 satellite library at Fort Meade, Maryland, through the addition of on-site professional staff.

In a September 24, 2008 Federal Register notice, the EPA said the reopened facilities “will be staffed by a professional librarian to provide service to the public and EPA staff via phone, e-mail, or in person . . . . for a minimum of 24 hours over four days per week on a walk-in basis or by appointment.”

The agency has also launched a “National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information” to seek input on developing a strategy to ensure greater access to environmental information.

The American Library Association was among those who had challenged the closings of the libraries. “We are glad to see that the EPA has reopened these five libraries,” said ALA President Jim Rettig. “We hope that the federal government has obtained a better understanding of the importance of federal libraries through this difficult battle.”

“We want to express our thanks to Congress for conducting the needed oversight and demanding that these EPA libraries not be closed,” added Rettig. “The American public will benefit by having important environmental information and library services made available to them again.”

Posted on October 1, 2008; modified on October 3, 2008. Discuss.