Librarians use 'wiki' for updates on EPA consolidation

As lawmakers and the library community continue prodding the Environmental Protection Agency for details about its plans to consolidate the regional EPA library system, one organization has launched a collaborative "wiki" to let federal librarians anonymously air what they know about the changes.

Since the 109th Congress, House Democratic leaders have expressed fears that library documents will become inaccessible as the agency shutters many physical facilities and shifts to a primarily digital library set-up. After the president's fiscal 2007 budget recommended major cuts in library funding, EPA closed three regional libraries and its headquarters library.

In response to confusion about the EPA's plans, the American Library Association recently created a Web site that uses wiki software so anyone with an Internet browser can add to or modify information about threatened federal libraries.

"You'd hear things like they were closing all the libraries and that wasn't really true," said Lynne Bradley, director of the association's government relations office. She said EPA was not clear about which libraries were closing, what the agency meant by a "digital library," and what level of service would be provided to researchers.

The association has tasked a volunteer with posting content to the wiki on behalf of people who are concerned about being identified via their e-mail or Internet protocol addresses. "For especially federal librarians who might be at risk and are likely to hear these rumors, they can still post -- or ask questions -- but not be threatened," Bradley said.

She said she hopes that word of the wiki's launch a couple weeks ago is getting to users of all federal libraries, agency managers and lawmakers.

On Tuesday, EPA officials said they are committed to increasing access to environmental information through a combination of online and traditional library services.

"EPA is engaged in a planning process for the future of the library network and is soliciting, receiving, and responding to input from key internal and external stakeholders," said Molly O'Neill, assistant administrator for EPA's environmental information office. No further changes are being made until EPA has reviewed its methods for delivering library services.

In late April, the chairmen of the House Science and Technology, Energy and Commerce, Oversight and Government, and Transportation and Infrastructure committees wrote a letter to agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, asking for an update by May 4 on the status of the digitization project. The letter provided a list of specific information requests, including details on issues related to continued public access, digitization, reference support and any user fees that may be levied on non-EPA libraries or the public.

On May 3, O'Neill and another EPA director from the environmental information office met with committee representatives. Science and Technology spokeswoman Alisha Prather said committee staff received some of the requested materials.

"We are in the process of setting up an ongoing dialogue with EPA to follow this issue ... to continue to make sure that all the questions in our letter -- and others -- are answered," she said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.