February 7, 2007

EPA Library Closures: ALA President Leslie Burger Testifies Before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

.: Interesting post from the blog, Direct Dispatch: News for Librarians and Friends of Libraries from the ALA Washington Office, concerning the closures of several EPA libraries recently. Leslie Burger, ALA President, spoke about how the closures had effectively weakened the EPA library system:

"As one recently retired EPA librarian described it," Burger said in her testimony, "the EPA libraries have been functioning like a virtual National Library on the Environment. Now that some of these regional libraries and the pesticide library are closed, key links have been removed from the chain, thus weakening the whole system."

Burger also addressed the EPA's lack of openness with regard to digitizing its materials. "Without more detailed information about the EPA's digitization project, we cannot assess whether they are digitizing the most appropriate materials, whether there is appropriate metadata or cataloging to make sure that people can access the digitized materials, and that the technology that will be used to host the digital content and the finding software meets today's standards."

With the Democrats now in control, Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), took the EPA Director, Stephen Johnston, to task over his apparent lack of awareness and knowledge of the EPA libraries:
Today's oversight hearing, the first in a series looking into EPA's recent actions, also featured testimony from EPA Director Stephen Johnson, who was grilled by Senator Boxer for his lack of knowledge about the libraries. Boxer produced several emails concerning the disposal of library materials and as she produced each one slapped it down onto the podium. Johnson testified that he had no knowledge of these emails or of any directives for disposing of materials, aside from those that were duplicates. Senator Boxer gave Johnson one month to respond to questions he wasn't willing or able to answer.