The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will close the doors of its Headquarters Library to the public in October as part of a $2 million budget cut to the agency's libraries. The White House originally sought to strip $2 million from the EPA Library Network budget in May 2006 as part of a plan to reduce the agency's operating costs. Some EPA watchers think the cuts are also a response to decreased public visits. The reduced visits are attributed to increased security measures at federal buildings. It has also been reported that many people request electronic copies of material, making open library access less essential for researchers and other interested parties. This latest closing follows EPA library closings in Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City.

Many interested parties fear that EPA library materials will not be as readily available as the library closes and works to digitize source material. According to an EPA posted notice in the Federal Register, the Headquarters Library will remain a repository for EPA documents. These documents will be available to the public under the new guidelines of the EPA Library Network National Framework (http://www.epa.gov/natlibra/).

According to PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) there are no identified funds for the digitizing, cataloging and reformatting of information in these libraries, so there is no timeline for when the information stored in these libraries may be available to the public. Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER, has said, "Despite its 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' public statements, EPA has no coherent plan let alone a timetable for making these collections available."

 


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