The General Accounting Office has noted that it is very difficult for experts to do their jobs without access to relevant information. No surprise there, least of all to the current Administration. Maintaining an information monopoly has been the bedrock of their governing strategy for seven years now. "If only you knew what we know!" was the line when they were pushing the Iraq invasion. "But, of course, then we'd have to kill you, so you're better off if you just trust us. Trust us on that."
And here was the justification for closing down a series of EPA libraries:
“Our vision is to be the premier model for the next generation of federal libraries by enhancing our electronic tools to complement our traditional library services,” Molly O’Neill, the EPA assistant administrator who oversees the libraries, wrote in testimony submitted to the subcommittee.
But the GAO found that, because of copyright issues, only 51,000 of the system’s more than 500,000 hard copies of books, reports, journals and maps are expected to be transferred to digital format. That means users in areas where libraries have closed must obtain materials through interlibrary loans, delaying access for as long as 20 days.
The universal e-world is still quite a ways off. Unless you have Google paying for it, no one can afford to digitize everything and even then you may not be able to make it freely available. Looks like we aren't ready to see libraries vanish after all.