A project of the EPA, Information Renaissance and the Environmental Law Institute

Libraries as a Community Resource for Environmental Information



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September 20-22: Quick Comment Form

On days 3-5 the EPA Dialogue participants discussed public access to environmental information. We have consolidated the main points in this comment form so that participants can record what is most important to them. We will compile and post the results. Thank you!

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Click on the box next to the ideas that are most important to you.

1. Strategies for EPA to help citizens get the environmental information they want:

Provide staff to respond to email and phone requests for help in locating online resources.
Provide citizen guides to the EPA bureaucracy.
Provide better mechanisms for searching the Federal Register.
Provide frequently requested FOIA documents online.
Put draft policies and reports online.
Put permit notification information online.
Put paper collections online.
Provide suggested reading levels for online documents.
Provide supplemental links to industry, NGO and academic material.
Provide case studies of citizen involvement in the regulatory and permitting process.
Provide a choice of formats in databases.

2. Suggestions for improving information accuracy at EPA:

Correct problems with the quality and accuracy of data in reports.
Provide a uniform Web-wide feature that allows for error corrections.
Monitor online catalogs with sniffers to hunt down dead links.
Improve methods for updating data in systems like IRIS.

3. Ideas for improving web site organization:

Create bibliographic Web sites that lead to books or topical sites.
Design routine data collections for electronic management.
Catalogue standard information products according to a common reference system.
Archive old documents online.
Post materials on state listserves.
Catalogue all documents approved for publishing before they are released.

4. Suggestions that involve libraries:

Libraries establish small information repositories for community groups.
Libraries offer real-time reference service to users of their web pages and databases.
Community groups budget cost of mailing materials to libraries.
Highlight hot topics using web sites and local news stories.

5. General concerns and ideas:

Printed materials can be hard to find in a timely manner.
Not everything sent to a depository library stays available at that library.
Electronic formatting issues and the Americans with Disabilities Act raise real problems for libraries and their patrons.
Most community members don't go to the library to obtain environmental information.
The distribution of computer work stations to low-income areas is needed to address the Digital Divide.
Many people lack computer literacy needed to retrieve online information.
Rural areas may lack access to online materials.
Industry has far greater informational resources than citizens or local officials.
Constant industry pressure can water down good programs that provide information to the general public.

6. List other main ideas or concerns you think should be included.


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