EPA Settles Dispute with Union over Closed Libraries

On Monday, August 11, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) announced an agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 to re-open the five closed EPA libraries with adequate librarian services and research facilities. The Memorandum of Agreement states that EPA will:

  • Provide adequate space and resources to accommodate in-person interactions between library staff and patron(s)
  • Establish and maintain an on-site collection of materials developed and tailored to meet local/regional needs
  • Retain one or more experienced, professional librarians with a Masters in Library Science (MLS) degree to provide on-site support to EPA staff and the public via phone, email, or in person, and library support staff as needed to support the mission of the Library

The agreement addresses some of the concerns that AALL, the Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA) highlighted in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN-6), Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI-15), and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA-30), Chairmen of the committees with jurisdiction over EPA. In that letter, we thanked the Chairmen for their opposition to the EPA library closures and expressed our continued concern over EPA’s published plan to reopen the agency’s closed libraries.

The letter outlines three major concerns stemming from EPA’s National Library Network Report to Congress: first, that EPA should further define the scope of the libraries’ required core collections; second, that EPA should lay out the requirements for hiring knowledgeable professional staff; and third, that EPA must work with the relevant unions and other stakeholders to ensure adequate space for the libraries. We asked the four committee chairmen to urge EPA to clarify its plans on these three items. Questions about the scope of the libraries’ required core collections and professional staff qualifications still remain, and the Washington Affairs Office will continue to closely follow these issues and keep you updated with the latest news.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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