Thursday, June 12, 2008


Ordered by Congress to re-open its shuttered libraries, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is grudgingly allocating only minimal space and resources, according to agency documents released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. At the same time, EPA is issuing a series of edicts placing virtually every aspect of library operations under centralized control of a political appointee.

In a May 8, 2008 e-mail to EPA employee unions, the agency announced its plan for re-opening four of the closed libraries effective September 1. The unions were given until May 22 to reply or object. The announced plan for the Chicago library, formerly the largest regional library serving the entire six-state Great Lakes area, stipulates:

- The re-opened library will be in a vacant reception area on the 16th floor of a federal building;

- The re-opened library will occupy less than one-tenth the area of the closed library and will be only slightly larger than the typical men's restroom in that same building

- No provision is made to restore the unique Great Lakes ecological collection or to recover any of the other holdings from the former library.

Similarly, the regional library in Dallas serving a five-state area will be reduced to "2 staff workstations and 1 patron workstation, each with a PC, desk, and chair". It will be open six hours a day for four days a week. The fate of its former collection also remains unknown.

"A library requires more space than a lavatory," stated PEER Associate Director Carol Goldberg. "These plans appear to violate the Congressional order that the agency 'restore the network of EPA libraries recently closed…'"