Sunday, February 26, 2006

The war on expertise continues

Will Budget Constraints Sound a Death Knell for EPA Libraries?:
It’s less than a month since President Bush announced his American Competitive Initiative that consists of doubling “the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences,” coupled with a permanent research and development tax credit “to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology.” What he didn‘t say was that to fund these research efforts, he would cut $2 million that supports a network of 27 libraries, including an electronic catalog of holdings within that network, which is used by those very scientists and corporations whose work he is encouraging. That amounts to four-fifths of the agency’s total library budget.
Libraries are the core of any scientific institution. Too often they are the first thing squeezed, since the researchers who have the public recognition are in other departments. Journals are too expensive, too, but that's another story.

As the article explains, the system of libraries is regularly used by researchers in private industry as well as the government scientists. Cutting this funding will make it harder for EPA scientists to get their work done, which may make industry happy, but will also make it harder for industry scientists to get their own work done.

Thanks to reader csadams for the tip.