Date  |  Author  |  Subject  |  Thread


Introduction and use of libraries

As Director of the Massachusetts Environmental Library, I am working to make the highest quality information available to environmental decision makers within our agency, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. In addition, we work to help local government and the public find information resources.

We need to locate information for our clients on an ongoing basis. Often this material is produced by EPA and other local, state, and federal government entities. The web is a great tool but there is no one site, including EPA's, that we can rely on. There are so many clearinghouses related to the environment that we need a clearinghouse of clearinghouses to find our way. I find that a good search engine with a talented researcher is far more powerful than any one web site that tries to put it all together. This is where librarians can be particularly helpful for the public and government. They have skills and other tools available to help people find what they need.

It makes sense to use libraries to make information available to the public as well as local, state, and federal government entities. I have seen attempts to make information available by sending reports or publications mailed to a local town hall, board of health, or conservation commission. When a member of the public is looking for that information, it isn't the place they think to look. When they do find out who should have it, they often find that nobody knows where it was placed. We often get calls from members of the public that are hesitent to go to local government regarding environmental issues that involve that same local government. Usually, people don't know about a particular document or publication. They have a question and they want an answer - regardless of where it is. We should take advantage of the Public Libraries that exists to accept, store, and retrieve information efficiently. They are the place people often look first when they have a question. There is an impressive information infrastructure that has been developed over decades through regional library systems and other cooperatives. The Internet is just one tool of many at their disposal. Using the Internet to make information available should be part of a strategy that includes outreach to public librarians and coordination with regional library systems. In addition, hard copy material should be catalogued, linked to the regional library networks, and made available through Interlibray loan. It would be helpful if cataloguing records (including abstracts) were provided to libraries with EPA publications.

 Date  |    Author  |  Subject  |  Thread

Welcome | About this Event | Briefing Book | Join the Dialogue | Search the Site