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RE: What kind and what amount of information do people need ?

In addressing concerns in rural areas people seek information when they believe they will be impacted personally, locally or as a community. Their immediate concerns are tied toghter with other local concerns and they need to relate it to local information. When this happens the concerns become an issue and they can and will often act upon them.

Librarians are effective when they know their local community; they often can pull toghter "issue" collections when they are appraised of a specific need in their community. Issue collections surrounding hot topics...say for example the breaching of the Snake River Dams in the Pacific Northwest can best be presented when sorted by pro,con and supporting information. Most times a combination of web sites, local news stories, advocacy goup and government documents is better than just one platform for learning. The high touch of the librarian can then assist the learner in zeroing in on specific information that they are seeking. The web is not always the answer and many people learn through then interpersonal contact with the librarian rather than the book, newspaper or web site they are directed to.

EPA and other federal agencies can continue to partner with Libraries by providing access to training and/or other resources so that this "just in time approach" can continue to be facilitated. Often rural Librarians are limited by local resources (one or two computers with pubic limited access (time limits), space (where to put resources when they are avilable) and time constraints (How many hours they are open). With costs/benefits in the balance perhaps high profile Environmental Issues can be more frequently packaged and locally targeted with libraries. More often then not citizens go to a public hearing and then librarians react to requests for information. Perhaps posting proactive opportunities to state library web sites or an agreed upon regional site would help them in better serving local learning needs. I have always found that librarins appraised before an issue can be invaluable in assembling appropriately selected materials to foster discussion...often they are just not asked!

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