EPA Libraries Open Doors

October 8, 2008

 EPA reopened five libraries September 30, 2008, after fighting its own scientists, enforcement lawyers, open-information groups, and eventually Congress for two years in an unsuccessful effort to keep them closed.

The reopening was ordered by Congress in late December 2007.

Libraries reopened included units at EPA regional offices in Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City, as well as the headquarters library in Washington, DC, and a special chemical library.

The Society of Environmental Journalists had opposed the closing of the libraries, which often help reporters do their job of informing the public about environmental issues.

The move to close the libraries had been spearheaded by Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock, a former White House OMB official who had been moved into the agency to tighten White House control from within. Peacock argued that he was closing libraries to expand service by digitization of books and periodicals — but library professionals report that two years after the campaign began, digitization has actually shrunk access to materials by about half. Peacock also based the effort on non-existent budget cuts, and persisted in them after Congress specifically appropriated funds to reopen the libraries.

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