This is such a shame. Perhaps enough hue and cry can help reverse the dismantling of the largest environmental library system in the world.
“This makes no sense,” said one agency researcher, who also requested anonymity. “The library is a bargain. Five minutes of a librarian’s time can save me hours.” The researcher’s views are backed by a 2004 EPA report, which concluded that the service saves the agency and the public time and money: ~$2.00–5.70 for every $1.00 spent.
Stealth Closure of Principal EPA Chemical Library: Unannounced Move Hampers Agency Scientists' Review of New Chemicals
And Why is EPA Closing Its Libraries from Russell Shaw of The Huffington Post:
The OPPTS Library was officially closed on October 20, 2006. The library's valuable, paper-only collection has been moved into boxes, which are currently stored in a basement cafeteria. Last week, EPA laid off three librarians and two technical staff. In the meantime, approximately 20 cubicles have been erected inside the library's open space where EPA scientists used to review unique monographs.
Citing budget pressures, EPA has in recent weeks closed several of its libraries across the country, with their collections gathered in three large "repositories," where the works sit uncatalogued and inaccessible both to EPA's scientists and to members of the public. EPA claims to be digitizing these collections in a page-by-page process that has no dedicated budget, timetable, over-arching plan or set of priorities. Unlike its recent closure of its main Headquarters library and despite federal policy (Office of Budget & Management Circular A-130) requiring that the public be notified whenever "terminating significant information dissemination products," EPA made no public announcement concerning the dismantlement of the OPPTS Library. In addition, the OPPTS Library was not mentioned in the "EPA FY 2007 Framework" as one of the several libraries slated to be shuttered.
These libraries receive more than 134,000 research requests a year from EPA staff. The combined collection of 504,000 books and reports, 3,500 journals, 25,000 maps and 3.5 million information objects on microfilm are available to public and EPA researchers. An inter-library loan program offers materials housed in one EPA library to be transferred to another EPA library geographically closer to the researcher's location.
But that's now history. As of today [October 1st, the beginning of FY2007].
The savings are $2 million. Compare that to the fact that the $2 million saved by the library closures - expressed as a percentage basis- calculates to about 17 minutes of the 2007 Fiscal Year U.S. Iraq War budget.
All this makes me wonder: what does the EPA have to hide? Is the real agenda here to deny the EPA and the public access to historical data that could be used to research and prosecute polluters who are big donors to Republican candidates?