Let's burn all the libraries

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There's an old joke about an ultraconservative Republican senator who was going to have a library named after him--shaped like an incinerator.

Like many old jokes, the Bush administration has rendered this one inoperative by turning it into policy. (And, yes, I know this isn't new news.) It's closing Environmental Protection Agency libraries around the country due to budget cuts. A succinct report with links is at Biolaw. Also at the American Library Association.

Raizel Liebler posted a well-reported story on the Chicago situation at Third Coast Press in July. Meanwhile the Region 5 library here has already gone away. The official theory is that the public and agency employees will get their information on the Web. But as government-employee union officials explained in a June 29 letter,

"The National Environmental Publications Information System, EPA's repository of electronic documents, currently holds about 13,000 documents. But the Agency has a total of about 80,000 documents that should be retained; most of these are not available in any electronic format."

Employees are concerned that these shutdowns will "impede the agency's daily enforcement capabilities and would also render EPA unprepared to respond to emergencies."

Region 5 still does offer some publications online--a total of eleven, one of which is the "Happy Earth Day Activity Book."

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