ACCESS: gopher://gopher.epa.gov; http://www.epa.gov;
OWNER: Operated by the National Data Processing Division of the Environmental Protection Agency.
CONTACT: John Shirey, email@example.com.
The EPA has developed a set of pilot public servers for gopher, WWW, ftp, and wais clients, in order to disseminate agency information to the general public. A considerable number of full-text files are available, though this represents but a small portion of the EPA-produced printed documents found in depository libraries. Among the most useful text files are excerpts from the _Federal Register_ related to the environment (as recent as yesterday's publication), and transcripts of speeches and press releases by the agency and other government officials (such as Clinton's Earth Day speech).
Several other gopher menu categories include a smattering of reports on topics such as solid waste, UV radiation, and recycling. The Toxic Release Inventory tables, which provide important data on hazardous substances, must be downloaded, uncompressed, and viewed with a spreadsheet. Although few items are present in some menus, the breadth of categories and the newness of the server promise significantly more material in the future.
Information about the agency itself is quite useful. Contact names and addresses are provided for many national and regional offices and programs. Descriptions of grants and contracts include a number of Requests for Proposals and examples of how to submit proposals to the agency. Additionally, a number of reports delineate the initiatives and policies the EPA plans to pursue over the next several years.
The EPA servers show signs of being thoughtfully installed. The menu structure is clear, and contents files and "metadata records" give overviews of most categories. Response time via the gopher server was excellent, but the WWW server is slowed down by excessive graphics. The intended audience is obviously varied, as consumers, businesses, and researchers all have items of interest here. Overall, this site provides a good sampling of very recent agency material and should supplement an academic library's documents depository collection.
Christopher W. Nolan
Head of Reference, Trinity University
October 18, 1994