This I Believe….
I believe everyone should care about the closing of a library that most of us will never use and probably never think about. I imagine the majority of Americans, myself included, never knew the Environmental Protection Agency had a library until its existence was threatened by federal budget cuts. The justification provided for the closure is a relatively modest cost savings, but the cost of information lost to the public is incalculable.
The EPA libraries collect and maintain a multitude of resources and provide services for agency employees, scientists, and the public at large, all working towards the agency mission’s “to protect human health and the environment”. Far from the typical scientific research library, the EPA libraries contain invaluable and exclusive collections of historic environmental data. This data, which would be boxed up and inaccessible under the proposed cuts, can provide a picture of environmental impact that is found no where else.
Everyone should be concerned with this lack of public access because it effectively cuts of the flow of information about where we live. If I wanted to find out if a long-closed factory had dumped industrial waste in a creek near my home, the EPA library is where I would need to go. If an EPA scientist wanted to study the change in a city’s air quality over time, the EPA library is where they would start.
While it may be tempting to quantify the issue down to a simple financial decision, it would indeed be “penny wise and pound foolish”. Larger than even the environmental issues, we as a society need to be vigilant and guard against any loss of information and knowledge; what may seem like an insignificant loss today could have huge implications for our future.
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