EPA Library

EPA Librarians: More .shtml Than Shhh!

By Teri DeVoe

In the land of librarians, you, dear reader, are the center of the universe. We spend our days plotting how to better reach you through our Web channels, how to anticipate your information needs before you contact us, and how to quantify our value to you. You can make our day with a simple, “thank-you: that’s exactly what I needed!” or leave us grappling with Web design and access policies by telling us how hard it was to find a certain EPA document online.

Because our professional self worth is defined by our ability to meet your information needs, we have been challenged over the years to extend our reach beyond the physical library, to those places you regularly turn for information. Today that realm is increasingly online. EPA librarians have adapted by contributing to the Agency’s Information Architecture Workgroup and Searchmasters meetings. My coworkers lead the charge for services such as chat reference, webinar trainings and mobile applications. Behind the scenes these librarians catalog library materials and code EPA Web pages to make the Agency’s information more accessible. They know the secrets to combating information overload, and they hone these skills every day to make your world a little better.

No matter where the technological demands of the information universe take us as librarians, you will always remain at the heart of our work. And in today’s information landscape, this often presents a paradox. By working to improve your information-seeking experience online and make it as seamless as possible, the librarian of today risks becoming invisible. The days of the information gatekeeper are largely over, in which patrons had to interact with a librarian or other intermediary to obtain the information they needed. No wonder the image of the shushing librarian lives on despite the preponderance of my tech-savvy colleagues. They are simply more concrete in the cultural imagination.

For this reason, it is extremely gratifying to be recognized within the federal library community as the FLICC Library/Information Center of the Year. It brings EPA librarians into the spotlight for a moment, and attests to the amazing work that they do. Like all dedicated librarians, my EPA coworkers will continue to orbit around you, dear reader, but at this moment in time I am proud to say that our path shines a little brighter.

About the author: Teri DeVoe, EPA Library Network Coordinator, is a contractor librarian employed by ASRC Management Services. She works at EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. as a “librarians’ librarian” to her colleagues throughout the country.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA’s Award Winning Libraries – A Great Resource For Environmental Information

In the photo are: Blane K. Dessy, Executive Director, FLICC; Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress; Deborah Balsamo, National Program Manager, EPA National Library Network; and Malcolm D. Jackson, Assistant Administrator for Environmental Information, EPA

By Deborah Balsamo

With more and more online technology and the Internet, some people might wonder, “Are libraries even necessary anymore?” EPA’s National Library Network is proof positive that libraries serve a critical need – and now EPA has an award that speaks to the relevance of its libraries in today’s information world: Library of the Year.

On May 17, 2011, the Library of Congress presented EPA with the Federal Library and Information Center Committee’s (FLICC) 2010 “Federal Library/Information Center of the Year” award. You might say it’s the “academy award” in the world of libraries, and we at EPA are very proud of this accomplishment!

As EPA’s National Library Network program manager for the past four years, I am so excited to see that we’re being recognized as a real leader in creating a vibrant and collaborative community. Every day I see our libraries respond to patrons’ needs through innovative projects such as:

Whether seeking information on an environmental topic, searching for an EPA publication or requesting assistance with EPA’s many online tools, I encourage you to try out our library system, now celebrating its 40th anniversary. Information professionals at EPA are dedicated to supporting you by providing timely and accurate information. In fiscal year 2010 alone, EPA’s librarians serve as a point of contact for public inquiries, answering nearly 9,000 public reference questions and loaning more than 8,000 documents!

To read more about EPA’s “Federal Library of the Year Award,” check out the press release from the Library of Congress: Federal Library of the Year Award .

About the author: Deborah Balsamo works in EPA’s Office of Information Analysis and Access and is the National Program Manager for EPA’s National Library Network. She has the responsibility for coordinating the operations, overseeing the implementation of policies and procedures, and leading the strategic directions of EPA’s libraries. And yes, she is a librarian!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.