Congress Orders EPA to Disclose Library Reorganization Plans

Last fall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to close its nationwide network of scientific libraries, including some regional branch libraries and one at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. The agency was not only closing the facilities, but also had reportedly begun destroying documents or shipping them to repositories where they were uncataloged and inaccessible to EPA employees, scientists, and the general public.

In January, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson told Congress he was imposing a 90-day moratorium on closing additional libraries or disposing of reference materials. On February 6, 2007, Johnson testified before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee that, “we are not closing any more libraries.” Nonetheless, an internal draft policy memo recently surfaced that seemed to indicate EPA was planning to renew destroying and dispersing documents from its libraries.

2007 Preserve America Presidential Awards

On May 9, First Lady Laura Bush presented the 2007 Preserve America Presidential Awards in a ceremony at the White House. The awards are the highest national honor recognizing historic preservation projects.

Among the winners for the Private Preservation category was National Coalition for History member The History Channel for its “Save Our History” grant program. The History Channel was recognized for its efforts both nationwide and for a special initiative with New York City.

Smithsonian Considers Rehabilitation of Arts and Industries Building

According to a report in the Washington Post, the Smithsonian Institution has issued a report to Congress detailing its initial efforts to rehabilitate its Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall.

The building has been closed for some three years due to a deteriorating roof. At this early stage, the Smithsonian is considering mixed uses for the building encompassing both public and private spaces. The report insists that any uses for the building would be “compatible with the rest of the Smithsonian.”

Political Scientist Harvey Mansfield Delivers 2007 Jefferson Lecture

On May 8, 2007, political scientist Harvey Mansfield delivered the 2007 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities here in Washington. The Jefferson Lecture is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is considered the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.

Dr. Mansfield is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government at Harvard. His speech was entitled “How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities Can Say to Science.”

Los Alamos Lab Blocks Researcher Access to Archives

Los Alamos National Laboratory will no longer permit historians and other researchers to have access to its archival records because Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the private contractor that now operates the Lab, says it has “no policy in place” that would allow such access. (Reprinted with permission of Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News)

Support Federal Funding for National History Day!

The House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations’ Subcommittees have jurisdiction over the Department of Education’s budget. These subcommittees currently are drafting appropriations bills and we are asking them to support the inclusion of a $5 million appropriation for National History Day (NHD) program in the fiscal year 2008 budget for the Department of Education.

Please take a minute to go to the Humanities Advocacy Network to send a letter to the your Members of Congress and let them know how vital the National History Day program is to the historical community.

Tell Congress to Save the NHPRC!

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) – the grant-making arm of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) – is targeted in the President’s proposed FY 2008 budget for zero funding for grants and zero funding for staff to administer the agency and its programs. For FY 2008, the National Coalition for History supports full funding for national grants at $10 million plus an additional $2 million for staffing and other administrative costs. Now is the critical time to contact Congress and make your voice heard on saving the NHPRC

Ken Burns and Latino Community Battle Over WWII Legacy

The battle between documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and key national Latino groups over Burns’s upcoming World War II series on PBS has escalated this week, according to an article in the Washington Post. At issue is the fact that there is no mention in Burns’s 14-hour documentary of the role of Latinos in battle, or on the home front, during World War II.

House Resouces Panel Marks Up History-Related Bills

On May 2, 2007, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a series of history-related bills addressing reparations for damages suffered by Guamanians during World War II; granting sovereign status to Native Hawaiians; establishing a Niagara Falls National Heritage Area; and authorizing a Department of Interior study into the sites associated with the life of Cesar Chavez and the development of the farm labor movement.

State Department Historical Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation will meet in the Department of State, 2201 “C” Street, NW., Washington, DC, June 4-5, 2007, in Conference Room 1107.The agenda calls for discussions of agency declassification decisions concerning the Foreign Relations series and other declassification issues. The Committee will meet in open session from 1:30 p.m. through 3 p.m. on Monday, June 4, 2007. The remainder of the Committee’s sessions will be closed to the public.