Hunting Down Fugitive Literature

Article excerpt

The first step to becoming a successful fugitive is to abandon all forms of conventional identification--driver's license, passport, checking account. People who stay out of the commercial realm are extremely hard to find. The same is true of literature. Libraries, with their online catalogs and helpful reference librarians, make it easy to find just about any piece of commercially published material. But lurking beyond the reach of the card catalog are thousands of materials such as reports, factsheets, newsletters, meeting transcripts, lesson plans, presentations, manuals, and interactive websites--so-called "fugitive literature"--that have never darkened the library's door. Today, some of those fugitives have been found: the COEP Resource Center website (http:// www-apps.niehs.nih.gov/coeprc/) offers visitors a bibliographic database for searching and reading about more than 600 environmental health materials developed by the Community Outreach and Education Programs, or COEPs, associated with each of the 25 NIEHS centers.

Since 1996, when the NIEHS established COEPs as an essential component of its Core Center Program, NIEHS grantees have been generating large volumes of fugitive literature. Charged with increasing public understanding of environmental health science research, the 25 COEPs carry out diverse projects. They host public forums and town meetings, offer professional development opportunities to teachers and health care providers, bring students to their laboratories for tours and summer science camps, and arrange for scientists to give presentations at local schools. …