ALA Council’s Bernadine Abbott Hoduski, who has been Council’s leader on the EPA library closure issue, has sent us this article from Yubanet, which begins:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is frantically dispersing its library collections to preempt Congressional intervention, according to internal emails released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Contrary to promises by EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock that all of the former library materials will be made available electronically, vast troves of unique technical reports and analyses will remain indefinitely inaccessible.
Libraries in the UK have been in a state of crisis for the last decade or more far beyond the degree of troubles we’ve seen in the U.S. Library use is way down and so are budgets, and the cutbacks in hours and the closures of branches have been much worse than here. Part of the reason is the stronger tradition of public library service in the U.S.; that is, public libraries are more integrated into normal social life in the U.S. than in the U.K. Librarians in the U.K. are responding to the crisis in interesting ways, and we can probably learn how to deal with some of our own library issues a little better by observing them deal with theirs. So, to that end, here’s a link to a U.K. campaign to promote libraries to the public, called, “Love Libraries”.
Issue 154/155 of the SRRT Newsletter is just published. It has a report from the Midwinter meeting, a message from the Coordinator, updates on Task Force and member activities, and a feature article by Fred Stoss on the situation facing the EPA Library Network.
Here are two letters to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations about the proposed cuts in the EPA Libraries’ budget: one dated February 24th, from ALA, ARL, AALL, and SLA, and the other, dated March 1st, from Michael Gorman as ALA President. It is good to see these letters.
ALA’s advocacy folks have created a web page designed to make it easy to tell your Congress members of your opposition to the proposed budget cuts to EPA libraries.
The page gives some useful background information and “talking points” about the situation, but leaves out the important fact that the proposed cuts are so severe that they would end up closing most of not all of the libraries in the EPA. These libraries house one-of-a-kind material and are an irreplaceable resource to EPA regulators as well as the public at large. Based on past experience of Federal library closures, it is likely that most of these unique materials will be discarded and not transfered to LC or other depositories. These library closures would represent a major destruction of knowledge and are being proposed in ignorance of the action’s significance.
So go to the link and contact your repesentatives.
AMERICAN FEDERATION of GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
COUNCIL 238 (EPA)
CHARLES ORZEHOSKIE, PRESIDENT
P.O. Box 1127
Chicago, Illinois 60690
March 16, 2006
Ruben Moreno, Director
Labor and Employee Relations
Ariel Rios Building Mail Code:3631M
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Mr. Moreno,
This constitutes the American Federation of Government Employees National Council of EPA Locals # 238′s (AFGE Council 238 or the Union) Demand to Bargain over the closing and major reorganization of the EPA Headquarters and Regional libraries. We demand this right pursuant to Article 45, Supplemental Agreements and Other Negotiations During the Life and Term of this Agreement and Designated Representatives of the Parties of the Master Collective Bargaining Agreement between the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the AFGE.
The Council has recently been made aware of the following facts:
(1) On March 13, 2006, Tom Skinner, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 5, sent an e-mail to all EPA Region 5 employees, informing them that their library is closing. The e-mail announcing this closure acknowledged that there will be “some inconvenience” to it Bargaining Unit members. Mr. Skinner’s e-mail clearly shows that no provision has been made to provide core library services to EPA Region 5 scientists once the library closes. Similarly, no mention is made as to the responsible dispersal of the EPA Region 5 library collection.
(2) The EPA Headquarters library will be closing (or, perhaps is already closed), since 100% of its budget was cut ($500,000 total). No mention has been made as to how the EPA HQ library collection will be dispersed. No arrangements have been made to ensure that EPA HQ bargaining unit members will continue to have access to core library services.
(3) A “library steering committee” has been formed, consisting of senior EPA HQ managers and Regional SES managers. This steering committee will make decisions regarding the closure of EPA Regional libraries around the country. These decisions are being made without proper consideration of how the EPA scientists in Regional offices throughout the country will receive high-quality core library services. Also, these decisions are being made without adequate consideration of ensuring that AFGE Council 238 Bargaining Unit employees will have ongoing access to the technical studies, reports and other documents that EPA has produced in years past.
(4) On March 9, 2006, Lynda F. Carroll, Assistant Administrator for Management, Region 6, sent to Forrest John, President AFGE Local 1003, a memo with the subject “Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6 Library Closing”. This memo indicated that, “Region 6 library will be closing effective on the close of business September 30, 2006.”
Although it has been suggested that AFGE Council 238 might be involved in PDI concerning changes in EPA’s libraries the Council has never been provided formal notice concerning these changes. Nor has a PDI effort ever been undertaken. EPA’s scientists need library resources to help ensure that they can adequately perform their job duties.
Therefore, in view of the above, and while it is still not clear to AFGE Council 2238 exactly what is being proposed at this time, we are hereby notifying you of our intent to bargain over the changes to the EPA library system. Also, in accordance with Article 45 Section 2, AFGE Council 238 requests that the EPA explain all of the proposed changes and the impact of those changes to the designated Union representative.
(1) In order to protect the Union’s right to negotiate, AFGE Council 238 requests that the Agency maintain the status quo.
(2) AFGE Council 238 invokes its right to ask EPA management to cease its discussions of EPA library closures for FY 2007, and reinstate the $2 million budget cut to the libraries.
(3) AFGE Council 238 invokes its right to ask EPA management to continue its “library steering committee” discussions, but include AFGE representatives on that steering committee. The committee will continue to explore possible “efficiencies” within the EPA library network. With due consideration of how to provide core library services or ongoing access to EPA’s library collections, and AFGE Council 238 and management will work together to develop a Library Network plan for FY 2008.
(4) While it is not clear to AFGE Council 238 the impacts on the AFGE bargaining unit will be based upon what is being proposed by the EPA at this time, AFGE Council 238 is hereby notifying you of are intent to bargain over procedures and appropriate arrangements. In accordance with Article 45 Section 2, AFGE Council 238 requests that the EPA explain the proposed changes and their impact on the AFGE bargaining unit to the designated Union representative. Once the U.S. EPA has explained the proposed change and its impact on the AFGE bargaining unit, AFGE Council 238 will submit its counter-proposal on procedures and appropriate arrangements.
(5) Maureen Kiely, of Local 3607, EPA Region 8, will be the Chief Negotiator for this effort.
Charles Orzehoskie, President
AFGE Council 238
cc: Melissa Hatfield, Attorney
Labor and Employee Relations