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

Libraries as a Community Resource for Environmental Information



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Questions Posed by Panelists and Participants


September 18

  • How can EPA ensure that librarians and their patrons know what data is on the Web and what its value is?
  • How can libraries help their local communities?
  • How can the EPA Web site aid regional planning agencies and local municipal officials in learning what other communities across the nation are doing to handle similar problems ranging from pollution to sprawl?
  • How do you disseminate information in Navajo and Hopi or globally to populations with limited access to technology?
  • Should environmental education be a school priority rather than a library one?
  • How does EPA plan to store and archive Environmental Impact Statements?

September 19

  • How do we assess the quality of information retrieved online?
  • How do we provide information to populations that are not technically proficient and do not want to be tutored in technology?
  • How should EPA overcome its program specifics in providing information?
  • How do we provide transportation planning information that is complete, understandable and visual?
  • What responsibility does a state or federal agency have in not only building databases but also in educating and training the public to access them?
  • How do we find more current data on the site when materials are often 2 years old?
  • What do we do when materials can no longer be downloaded?
  • Do numerical databases always help describe environmental problems?
  • How can local environmental groups reach out to libraries and if libraries would be receptive to receiving publications from these environmental groups?
  • How does a group target selected libraries, and are there associations of "environmental librarians" that could provide guidance?

September 20

  • Why is it difficult to get answers about genetically modified foods from EPA and FDA?
  • What requirements does EPA have on how long reports will remain available online? What happens when a report is taken down? Is there a risk that the item will be lost forever?
  • EPA should enable people to answer the most basic questions on their own such as: [1] What toxic ingredients are in pesticides? [2] What pollution sources and hazards are near their home, work or school? [3] What regulated and unregulated contaminants are their drinking water? [4] How do they get data on a single plant from a single source? and [5] What are the known and unknown hazards of a particular chemical?
  • What public libraries and communities have worked well together, and what they learned?
  • How can Superfund dockets be better organized?
  • Is online training an acceptable approach?
  • Is there some type of publish-on-demand feature that would allow libraries to print up and bind Internet documents as needed?
September 21
  • How can those librarians who work in Special Collections find repositories that hold special collections related to environmental topics, including the private papers of a prominent person, organization or even government departments?
  • How can EPA and the states better disseminate information to communities about upcoming regulatory decisions that will affect them? Should there be notices in libraries or mailings to neighbors?
September 22

  • EPA Region III asked us to evaluate their Green Communities Web site that provides local communities with information and tools on topics of sustainable development and environmental protection. See http://www.epa.gov/greenkit.
  • We had a query for a comprehensive list of periodicals and newsletters that cover EPA activities that another registrant promptly answered.


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