ALA President-elect Jim Rettig to testify before Congress on EPA libraries

On Thursday, March 13, ALA President-elect Jim Rettig will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives on the impact of library closings at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Speaking to the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, Mr. Rettig intends to address several of the developments of the past two years, specifically the loss of access to vitally import scientific and environmental government information, and also the necessity of the information specialist — the staff librarian — to ensure the most effective access to this information.

“Because there are fewer libraries and professional library staff, scientists and the public now have limited access to valuable, unique information,” Rettig said. “In an age of global warming and heightened public awareness about the environment, it seems ironic that the Administration would choose this time to limit access to years of research about the environment.”

Since first becoming public in early 2006, the closure of several libraries in the EPA network has given the library community cause for grave concern. Over the past two years, the issue has snowballed into a genuine national priority with a wide range of organizations voicing protest, including ALA.

The hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight will be held on March 13, 2008, in Room 2318 of the Rayburn House Office Building, 1st St. and Independence Ave., Washington, DC. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. It is open to the public, with limited seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

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This will be the second time ALA has spoken on the issue of EPA library closures before Congress. On February 6, 2007, then-ALA President Leslie Burger testified at an oversight hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

About Jacob Roberts

Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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