Ohio’s status as a “water-rich state” has meant that it has long been a flashpoint for concerns over how to ensure protection of our water resources, particularly as Ohio’s waterways have played a significant part in regional industry. One of the most famous images of the environmental movement was Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River catching on fire in 1969 – it was not the first time, as it had caught on fire several times before, going back to the mid-1800s. If you want to learn more about the political atmosphere of Cleveland during this event, UC history professor (and friend of the Archives and Rare Books Library) David Stradling has written a book about it.
One of the landmark federal laws that was placed under authority of the newly established EPA was the 1972 Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act actually traced its origins to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, and was the result of many amendments to the 1948 law. The Clean Water Act requires significant recordkeeping and information systems in order to support implementation of the law. Much of the Clean Water Act’s powers are delegated to state environmental protection agencies (for example, Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency, or Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection). One of the major parts of the Clean Water Act is a permitting system known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES system “regulates discharges of pollutants from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants, sewer collection systems, and stormwater discharges from industrial facilities and municipalities.”
As a system of bureaucratic recordkeeping, the NPDES system reveals much about how we have attempted to take hard-to-quantify aspects of our environment, and pack it down into standardized documentation about human impact.
For example, reviewing a recent draft permit for a wastewater facility in the greater Cincinnati area, this permit will last for five years. It requires the wastewater facility to self-report sampling levels of their discharges to one of the tributaries of the Ohio River. Sampling must take place Monday through Friday but the time of day doesn’t have to be reported, and the permit holder must retain records for three years. One can imagine arguing for modifying any of these recordkeeping requirements upwards or downwards, based on your orientation towards deregulation or to environmental protection.
Recordkeeping is not a neutral act. What is reported and recorded reflects information necessary for regulatory fulfillment. Choices about recordkeeping – what to record, when to record it, who should record it, how often to record it, where to store it, and public vs proprietary access, reflect competing values attached to environmental information.
The relationship between local, state, and federal environmental protection has always been complicated – both by accident and by design. When the earliest environmental protections began, they typically started at the local and state levels, often following some kind of environmental disaster – and thus, environmental protections developed unevenly. By the time, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970, the decentralization of environmental policy was deliberately embedded in the original organization of the agency: much of EPA’s enforcement and regulatory duties are delegated to state environmental agencies.
Over the last couple years, I’ve been exploring the relationship between record keeping, archives, and environmental policy. Right now, I’m shifting my research gears towards the role of recordkeeping practices in the formulation and enforcement of environmental policy.
To understand how we’ve arrived at today’s environmental problems and policies, it’s helpful to go back to the past and look at one of the most influential periods of federal action on natural resource protection. During Roosevelt’s New Deal, major environmental protection projects were undertaken, as well as the introduction of a major federal regulatory state. The Civilian Conservation Corps employed thousands of young men to build trails and buildings still in use today, as well as undertaking environmental restoration projects such as reforestation. While most of today’s major federal environmental laws have their roots in the 1970s, the legal foundation for federal action to be taken on issues that no state can resolve on its own can be traced back to many New Deal-era regulations. Continue reading An Environmental Legacy
Read Source, the online newsletter, to learn more about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries.
This latest issue of Source includes an article with Xuemao Wang, dean and university librarian, about how UC Libraries is utilizing Organizational Development to help bring about transformational change. Kevin Grace, university archivist and head of the Archives and Rare Books Library writes about the Enoch Carson Shakespeare Collection and how it will be a part of autumn 2017 Shakespeare celebrations in Cincinnati. Another great reading collection, the Cohen Enrichment Collection, is also featured in this issue.
Each year, The Office of the Provost and the Office of Research collaborate to present the Dean’s Award for Faculty Excellence, which recognizes faculty members who represent excellence in all its forms. Each Dean nominates faculty from their respective units whom they deem worthy of this honor. This year, Dean Xuemao Wang recognized the work of Elna Saxton, head of Content Services in the Walter C. Langsam Library, and Tiffany Grant, interim assistant director for research and informatics at the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library. Below is more about their awards. Congratulations, Elna and Tiffany!
Excellence Award for Faculty-to-Faculty Research Mentoring 2016-2017 – Elna Saxton
Elna has a long history of mentoring faculty members who work as part of her team. She encourages them to develop their positions and skill sets and provides encouragement and other support to them. Elna’s support of faculty in her unit is unconditional, even if that means they need to leave her team to move on to other career objectives within University of Cincinnati Libraries or elsewhere.
“Receiving this award is an honor and reflects on the many successful colleagues that I’ve had the good fortune to work with. It is very rewarding to work with new faculty and engage with their professional and career development,” said Elna.
Award for Faculty Excellence 2016-2017 – Tiffany Grant
Tiffany has served as co-PI on the NIH Informationist Supplement grant “The Relationship Between Vortices, Acoustics, and Vibration in Vocal Fold Asymmetries”, working collaboratively with Dr. Khosla and his team. Dr. Grant also coordinated the writing of and now implementation of the Faculty Development Grant UC Libraries received this year for the pilot of Electronic Lab Notebooks at the University of Cincinnati. Last fall, Dr. Grant also invited the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to come to the University for a series of workshops for UC faculty and staff.
“I am profoundly grateful to have been considered for such an honor. I truly enjoy the work that I do and those that I work with. My work in the Libraries has been tremendously rewarding, and I’m thankful for the continued support of my Health Sciences Library and University of Cincinnati colleagues. Any “excellence” that I may have achieved has largely been due to your example and support,” said Tiffany.
Eira Tansey, digital archivist and records manager in the Archives and Rare Books Library, has been selected as an ALI17 cohort member. The Archives Leadership Institute (ALI) is a program funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and is being hosted at Berea College for the years 2016-18. ALI will provide advanced training for 25 archival leaders each year, giving them the knowledge and tools to transform the profession in practice, theory and attitude.
“The Archives Leadership Institute is a well-regarded program in the American archives profession that brings together archivists of diverse backgrounds and work experiences to learn leadership skills together at a week-long institute every summer,” said Eira. “All ALI participants commit to working on a practicum at their home institution, and I have committed to working on increasing documentation of student life within University Archives at the Archives and Rare Books Library.”
Eira joins an elite group attending ALI as only 25 people are accepted each year. More about the Archives Leadership Institute is available on its website.
Rebecka comes to UC Libraries from the Lorenzo de Medici Institute and the Center for Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies (Marist College Branch Campus) where she has been a Lecturer in Classical Studies since the Fall of 2015. Prior to that she worked at the American Academy in Rome Library. From 2011 to 2013 she was responsible for the digital development of that library and its web design and maintenance. From 2007 to 2011, she was the Drue Heiz Librarian, responsible for the staff, collections (including rare books and manuscripts), selection, preservation, access, circulation, technical services, research consultation, digitization, web design, guides and tutorials. From 2001 to 2007, Rebecka was a subject specialist for Classics, Hellenic Studies, Linguistics and German at Princeton University and prior to that, from 1997 to 2001 she was subject specialist for Classics, Hellenic Studies and Philosophy at New York University. Continue reading Welcome, Rebecka Lindau, Head of the Classics Library
Dean and University Librarian Xuemao Wang has selected Kevin Grace, University Archivist and Head of the Archives and Rare Books Library, as the 2015-2016 recipient of the Dean’s Award for Faculty Excellence.
The newly created award from UC’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Beverly Davenport and Vice President for Research Patrick Limbach is intended to recognize outstanding faculty members in each college who represent excellence in all its forms. These faculty development awards are meant to recognize their contributions to their respective colleges and to UC, as well as support their professional efforts. Each recipient will receive $2,000 in discretionary funds to be used to support their teaching or research. Continue reading Kevin Grace Receives Dean’s Award for Faculty Excellence