A project of the EPA, Information Renaissance and the Environmental Law Institute

Libraries as a Community Resource for Environmental Information



About this Event

Briefing Book

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Project Announcement

Discussion Agenda


This is an online Dialogue among librarians, community members, representatives of environmental organizations and the EPA where we will explore how best to use libraries for public access to environmental information. Particular attention will be given to electronic information and how to improve its scope and utility. The Dialogue will take place over a two week period and will include a panel of experts and local stakeholders.

Results of the Dialogue will be posted on a Web site which will be maintained by Information Renaissance as a public reference resource. This site will provide a searchable record of the Dialogue which will be supplemented by a short summary report available in print and online.


Information Renaissance ("Info Ren") is working with the Environmental Law Institute ("ELI") to conduct this National Dialogue on Capacity Building via the Internet. The Dialogue will focus upon using libraries as a source of environmental information with particular attention to the online resources of the EPA and state environmental agencies. Info Ren has constructed a Web site containing introductory background material and a registration form for participants. A minimum of 50 participants will be recruited through printed announcements and online postings provided by ELI and EPA. The same mechanisms will be used to seek a broader audience of up to 250 people, including environmental writers, governmental staff and the general public.

The Dialogue will be structured around an online panel discussion involving people selected -- for the purpose of demographic diversity -- from the following categories:

  • Experienced environmental librarian
  • Public reference librarian
  • Experienced member of a Washington-based environmental organization
  • Local stakeholders: planner, elected representative, community group member
  • EPA representative (to provide content and technical assistance)
  • Representative of a state environmental agency Industry representative/trade association representative

The Dialogue will be moderated by Steve Curwood, the Executive Producer and Host of National Public Radio's Living on Earth.

In the course of the Dialogue participants will identify problems that exist in their attempts to access environmental information, including such issues as:

  • Alignment of state and federal databases
  • Explanations of technical materials online
  • Description of procedures for citizen involvement
  • Organization of the EPA Web site
  • Catalogues of environmental information resources
  • Needed Web skills

Panelists and participants will propose and catalogue solutions to these problems in the course of the Dialogue. EPA staff will respond to questions from librarians and the public about EPA Web resources. This information and lists of the useful online resources identified by the Dialogue's participants will reside on a Web site which will be maintained as a public resource for at least a year after the active part of the Dialogue has ended. This material will form a searchable archive of value to members of the public interested in finding environmental information to support their local environmental efforts. Following the Dialogue Info Ren will write a brief summary of the Dialogue whichwill be available online and in print. The summary will include recommendations for action, suggestions for the improvement of EPA information resources and ideas for pilot projects.

For further information send e-mail to epa@network-democracy.org (Information Renaissance) or bonner.patricia@epa.gov (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) or call Laurie Maak at 888-638-5323.


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