National Agricultural Library Assessment Report
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2.     What Progress since 1982?
 
The 1982 review Panel concluded its work with a list of recommendations, some of which were implemented. A summary of those recommendations and the activities and initiatives that resulted is included in Appendix B. Many recommendations of the present review Panel repeat the same points raised in the 1982 review. Also noteworthy is a summary of milestones achieved, as indicated in the document "Milestones 1982-2000 – National Agricultural Library," prepared by the staff of the National Agricultural Library (Appendix C). This document provides a comprehensive list of National Agricultural Library (NAL) achievements since 1982 organized into categories: (1) legislative and administrative, (2) collection building, (3) agricultural information access, (4) bibliographic services, (5) collection development, (6) information technology, and (7) the Abraham Lincoln Building. The following discussion features some of the more significant achievements, up to the present time, taken from these two documents and from a partial list compiled by members of a Panel committee (Appendix F, a report on user surveys). Finally, the Panel derived some of its conclusions from data supplied in tables attached as Appendices L-N.

 
2.1.     Legislative and Administrative

 
The NAL revised its mission, values, and vision statements in 1994 as part of an ongoing strategic planning process. In parallel, it has, through brochures, tours, exhibits, videotapes, and journal articles, made concerted efforts to heighten its visibility, and to establish an Advisory Council to assist with long-range planning and policy formulation. Reorganizations and staffing adjustments were made to streamline services and to better delineate its overlapping but distinct USDA and national library functions. Finally, diverse funding options have been initiated through increases in user fees, leasing arrangements, and the use of contractors for certain activities.

 
2.2.     Collection Building

 
As resources have allowed, NAL has also worked to develop its collection and resources both to fulfill its promise as a national library for the nation's entire agricultural community and as a specific resource for USDA’s specific programs and agencies. This has included the acquisition of significant special collections in a variety of formats, such as materials on Agent Orange and historical USDA documents and multimedia. In addition, since the early 1980’s the NAL has coordinated with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the Library of Congress (LC) on collection development policies in the subject area of biotechnology, human nutrition, and veterinary medicine. The NAL also joined several national cataloging programs and became an authority for establishing and verifying the names of agricultural organizations.

 
2.3.     International and Networking Initiatives

 
Another of the 1982 recommendations specified a more active role for the NAL in international information activities. This led to close involvement with the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists (IAALD), the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its AGRIS database, on matters of coordination and cooperation. NAL also sponsored and participated in a series of U.S./Central European Agricultural Library Roundtables, and recently signed an agreement with the Biblioteca Central Magna of the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, to enhance access to agricultural and related information.
 
Previous recommendations also focused on the need for a national agricultural information network for resource sharing, timely processing of information, and equality of access. This resulted in the NAL and representatives from land-grant university libraries forming the United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) in 1988. Through USAIN, the NAL joined with other land-grant libraries in a National Preservation Program for Agricultural Literature funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NAL also has cooperated with the National Association of State University and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) to advance support of agriculture libraries. Drawing on these collaborative efforts was the 1995 establishment of another NAL and land grant university library collaboration, the Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC). Although not yet fully realized, the AgNIC initiative is a discipline-specific, distributed network on the Internet envisioned ultimately as a gateway to centers of excellence in agricultural information. It currently offers 28 subject-specific sites on the World Wide Web.

 
2.4.     Information Technology

 
A significant technology achievement was the National Agricultural Text Digitizing Project (NATDP) that resulted in the production of a series of widely distributed CD- ROM products for agricultural research (aquaculture, acid rain, Agent Orange, food irradiation, and the Agronomy Journal). The NAL also has been active in developing multimedia resources, and has made databases, directories, and other resources available over the Internet. In addition, the NAL has developed specialized web-based Information Centers which provide in-depth resources and reference services on such subjects as: alternative farming systems, animal welfare, food and nutrition, food safety, rural information, technology transfer, water quality.

 
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Last Updated August 13, 2002