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September 27, 2000
Tom Hughes asked how EPA and
its partners can support libraries in building capacity. Pat Bonner
asked how to increase the usefulness of EPA's Internet resources
with a particular focus on the stakeholders Web page. [http://www.epa.gov/stakeholders]
Library Capacity - Training,
Funding and Study Circles
- More federal resources - CDs, documents
and online materials - should be provided to libraries for
free. [Eklund, Hughes]
- State library associations should hold
regional training events with EPA regional staff and other
- Tanner's study circle was viewed as innovative
by many. This format could be extended to other topics. [Smith
Other Public Outreach Approaches
- Libraries should provide public participation
information. They could also provide displays, access to databases,
meeting rooms and document depositories about permit actions
and a cheap print-on-demand capability for online documents.
- Libraries have a tradition of standing
up to controversy. [Smith]
- A city agency in San Diego
built an environmental library in
partnership with the city library system. The library catalogued
the materials in their collection, making them available to
departmental staff and the public.
- The BASIN project in Boulder is a successful
example involving multiple stakeholders providing online environmental
information on water resources.
EPA Library Issues and Web
- EPA should develop the equivalent of
Medline; this would provide access to diverse opinions and
research on the environment.
- A National Environmental Information
Infrastructure could bring together Internet resources (and
not just EPA's), multiple library systems, mirror sites, environmental
clearinghouses, universities, and regional, state, and local
environmental libraries and public libraries to create a system
that keeps on ticking when any one component fails. [Hughes]
- An EPA employee pointed out that all
Web sites are vulnerable and asked what the public should
do when it is denied electronic access, especially when a
deadline is looming.
"Let's Get Real" and
"Raw Data" threads
- EPA should compile information that lets
people understand what is going on. For example, there should
be an inventory of facilities operating under expired industrial
water pollution permits. [Blackwelder].
- Data gaps in raw TRI files, better mapping
resources and the need for access to more raw data were discussed.
Digital Divide Issues
- Nearby libraries and Internet access
are not valid assumptions for Native Americans, but EPA is
thanked or recognizing the problem.
- Government Web sites have become too
glitzy and too difficult for older computers to load. Plain
old HTML and 56k modems should be viewed as an appropriate
user standard. Rural phones make for slower connections.
- Limited hours of rural libraries might
call for computer kiosks from which the public could get data
on a 24/7 basis; this functionality could be combined with
that of ATMs.
- Listserves should notify stakeholders
of documents, events and links to state and local agencies.
Chat rooms are another useful mechanism. [Eklund]
- Key identifiers were recommended as a
way to organize EPA data; this can be hard because the data
are collected for regulatory purposes. Human assistance will
always be necessary to help the public.
- EPA should provide online data on enforcement
history and inspections, and it should build tools that display
trends over time.
- Searching EPA's web site for a specific
publication is too often hit or miss. Searches often return
screens with meaningless information. Awareness of the Online
Library System [OLS] should be heightened. [Hughes]
- The OLS would be more useful to researchers
if the system was Z39.50 compliant, which is an international
metadata standard that allows a compliant browser to search
multiple catalogues and databases. [Hughes]
H. Brandon <email@example.com>
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