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.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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