EPA Libraries Reopen After More Than Two Years

On Tuesday, September 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reopened its regional libraries in Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City. The EPA Headquarters Repository and Chemical Library also opened as a combined library in Washington, DC. The reopenings followed a $1 million order (see page 35) from Congress in the FY 2008 appropriations omnibus bill (P.L. 110-161) to EPA to restore its library services across the country.

On Wednesday, September 24, EPA posted a Notice of Access to EPA Library Services [PDF] in the Federal Register. The Federal Register notice reflects the Memorandum of Agreement between EPA and the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, which we wrote about here in August. As we noted then, the Memorandum addressed some of the concerns that AALL, the Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA) highlighted in a letter in July 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. The letter outlined three major concerns: 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.

AALL representatives first met with EPA officials about the library closures in spring 2006. We are grateful to Congress for holding hearings on this issue (including this one held by the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight in March, which we wrote about here) and for providing EPA with a $1 million to reopen its libraries. We are very pleased that the libraries are now open to the public once again.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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