By Lydia Bello
On Wednesday, October 8, almost 20 iSchool students from SLA-UW joined the Pacific Northwest Chapter for a tour of the Region 10 EPA Library.
Created in the 1970s, The Region 10 library holds an interesting position in the EPA. Contractor operated since the 1980s, the library has moved between the public affairs, IT, and Infrastructural and Operations Departments before recently moving back to IT. Liz Doyle, the supervisory librarian and current SLA-PNW President, works with a staff of two other librarians to serve both the employees of the EPA and the general public. The library materials were barcoded in 2000, and the library uses Inmagic’s DB/TextWorks catalog for the local database.
Two months ago, the Library moved from the 10th floor into a beautiful new space on the first floor of the Park Place Building in downtown Seattle. The staff of the library is currently focusing their efforts on weeding, digitization, and creating the idea of “library as place.” Three fourths of the known collections are digitized and online, and the library maintains a collection of Region 10 documents. The library is in the process of encouraging EPA staff to use the library as a collaboration space, with places to work and monitors that can be hooked up to libraries, similar to the UW’s own Research Commons. The library has already gotten more foot traffic as passers-by see the stacks and other materials from the ground floor windows.
Although the quantity of reference questions have declined over the years, Liz notes that they have become increasingly complex. These questions often include background research for enforcement projects.
If you missed this tour but are still in the Seattle area, the EPA library is a great place to visit. And as Liz said during her presentation, like with all special librarianship, “everything you do is with the help of your colleagues,” and there are some pretty fantastic ones here in the Pacific Northwest.
Have you seen or worked in any neat special libraries as of late? Want to share your experiences with the SLA UW and the iSchool? Write for the blog!