This National Dialogue on Libraries as a Community
Resource for Environmental Information began today. Our topic
for the first day concerns the types of environmental information
that the public wants from federal and state agencies. Our Moderator,
Steve Curwood, asked us what kind and what amount of information
do people want to retrieve over the Internet? He pointed out that
both too much data and too little can be a problem. He next asked
what is the right quantity and quality to respond to the needs
to the Moderator's Questions:
- Put all kinds
of information on the net. However, the trick is to find better
search engines and teaching people how to use them.
- Users often aren't
sure what is available and what is useful.
- Provide local
library Web sites with links to local EPA and state data.
introducing themselves our participants identified several types
- Need for easier
and timelier access to "Public Documents" on the EPA site.
- Concern from academic
librarians that the Web will replace Federal Depository Library
- Need for better
navigational tools and Web site designs that better enhance
- Need for free
national databases of state air and water quality regulations.
- Frustration with
the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] process.
- Need to provide
guides that explain the regulatory process and translate information
into layperson's terms.
- Need for storing
and providing better access to "grey" literature.
identified several areas where they want and need more data:
- Posting issued
permits and maps to aid citizens.
- Providing more
information for environmental education and outreach.
- Posting more data
on air quality trends, regional and local asthma trends, on
the location and composition of hazardous waste sites and
data on local and residual sources of air toxics,
- More information
from the pesticide program on adverse effects,
ingredients, and ecological health studies. In discussing
this, two participants pointed out the limitations of EPA's
paper docket system and FOIA in obtaining data from the pesticide
additional questions were raised:
- 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
- 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
- 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?
by Barbara Brandon, firstname.lastname@example.org