About this Event
Join the Dialogue
September 28, 2000
To conclude, Tom Beierle asked
us to evaluate the success of this Dialogue and to state what
are the "take-home messages" for EPA. He also asked what you want
to hear back from EPA and Information Renaissance about this dialogue.
How do we define success?
- Success will be achieved when basic questions
about environmental trends and pollution prevention can be
answered through a unified and user-friendly national system.
- EPA can't be all things to all people
but should focus on providing accurate, timely national data
with appropriate warnings about data comparisons. EPA should
work on giving citizens tools for understanding environmental
claims and recognizing disinformation.
- EPA should devise a national environmental
information action plan with long-term and short-term objectives,
and then specific projects and funding requests; partnerships
between EPA and state and local public libraries, and between
EPA, NGOs and industry are needed to put together projects.
- Regional environmental information action
plans would be a more effective focus. [Eklund]
- Libraries are only part of the solution;
EPA needs to standardize the public participation process
to insure that citizens have accurate and timely data and
a chance to impact decisions.
- The discussion involved requests for
more funding, requests for more understandable data and requests
for more raw data. Industry will try to play off the second
goal against the third; librarians should know that lobbying
can influence EPA data distribution policies.
Library Capacity Building
- Libraries must serve the whole community,
but they lack the resources to serve a greater environmental
- If libraries could bill the government
for printing costs when downloading online government documents,
then more libraries to serve as repositories for government
- EPA should collaborate with the National
Library of Medicine's Toxicology and Environmental Health
Information Program and the non-regulatory National Council
for Science and the Environment (NCSE), which focuses on improving
the scientific basis for environmental decision making.
- EPA and libraries could collaborate to
upgrade skills through courses for continuing education credits.
- Stakeholders need libraries that are
learning centers and gathering places. They need access to
the web and individuals they can trust to provide unbiased
research and education.
- Librarians could help EPA staff develop
better cataloguing methods for EPA's document collections.
- ADA (American Disabilities Act) has imposed
a deadline on all governmental web sites that will make all
sites accessible to a text reader.
- Native American communities rely upon
printed matter from libraries, but such materials are often
out-of-date. Networking by phone, e-mail, fax and mail allows
tribes to share current information. The Internet has become
both a reference tool and a link between indigenous peoples
- Municipalities need to partner with other
entities to place computers in retail areas, police/fire departments,
schools and senior centers. [Eklund]
EPA's Web site
- A listserve should be established for
those interested in capacity building and participation.
- A dropdown online dictionary could make
it easier to obtain information from the EPA Web site.
- Old-fashioned reporting can yield information
when the EPA site is down, but this works best for those living
near EPA offices.
- Retired professionals could serve as
external reviewers for EPA's online data.
Let's Get Real and Data Gaps
- Yesterday a poster commented that EPA
risks its credibility by releasing data prematurely. A response
today pointed out that these fears are often overblown.
- The risks of disclosing confidential
business information must be taken into account before releasing
- The Envirofacts database now lacks locational
data, making mapping much harder. Air quality trend data from
the Cumulative Exposure Project has not been released.
Barbara H. Brandon <email@example.com>
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