Citing ‘national security,’ feds order Vt. university libraries to destroy document

Libraries at Castleton State College and the University of Vermont were among 1,300 across the country that recently destroyed an obscure document held in their collections after the federal government ordered them to do so.

Federal officials said the document, “Source Area Characteristics for Large Public Surface Water Supplies,” was a focus of national security concerns after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States.

The U.S. Government Printing Office, which issues the document, has plans to release a similar document in the future.

Castleton library director Ruth Parlin called the document destruction “unusual” and “almost unprecedented.”

Francis J. Buckley Jr., superintendent of documents for the federal printing office, requested the destruction of the document in a letter sent last fall to 1,300 libraries across the nation that serve as federal depositories.

“Hopefully in the future we will be able to reissue the report, or issue a modified version that will still be helpful to those who would like to protect our water resources,” Buckley wrote.

In Vermont, only the Castleton and University of Vermont libraries had a copy of the document, which was available on CD-ROM.

“We had someone fold it and it shattered,” Nancy Luzer of Castleton’s library said. Luzer, who is in charge of government documents there, said the CD-ROM had been on file since 1999.