This article comes out of of today’s edition of the Christian Science Monitor:
As EPA Libraries go Digital, Public Access Suffers
By Mark Clayton
For a new Democratic Congress facing big environmental issues from
global warming to dwindling fisheries, the first step may be keeping
the nation’s top environmental libraries from closing – and saving
their myriad tomes from ending up as recycled cardboard.
To meet a proposed 2007 budget cut, the Environmental Protection
Agency has in recent months shuttered regional branches in Chicago,
Dallas, and Kansas City, Mo., serving 15 states, and has cut hours and
restricted access to four other regional libraries, affecting 16
states. Two additional libraries in the EPA’s Washington headquarters
closed in October.
Until these closures, the EPA had 26 libraries, brimming with a
trove of environmental science in 500,000 books, 25,000 maps, thousands
of studies and decades of research – much of it irreplaceable, experts
EPA officials say the closures are part of a plan "to modernize and
improve" services while trimming $2 million from its budget. Under the
plan, "unique" library documents would be "digitized" as part of a
shift to online retrieval.
But while electronic databases are easy to access, they could end up
being more costly to use – and thousands of those "unique" paper
documents may now sit for years in repositories waiting for the funding
needed to "digitize" them, critics say. Meanwhile, the closings are
proceeding so quickly that key materials are likely to be lost or
inaccessible for a long time, EPA librarians say.
The rest of the article is here. I’m not sure what I thinkof the words unique and digitized being in quotes in the fifth paragraph–they’re both accepted terms in Libraryland these days. I’ll be nice and assume the writer and maybe his editor were not aware of that. Doesn’t matter, it’s still worth the time spent reading it.