National Agricultural Library Assessment Report
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4.     Methods of Panel Study
The present Panel made appropriate inquiries of relevant laws, NAL management and staff, other U.S. national libraries, USDA administrators and NAL's many diverse users through user surveys.
The sources of information the Panel examined were:
  1. Statutory status of NAL.
  2. User Surveys made by the Panel -- Librarians, Library Directors, scientists and other USDA personnel, on-site users, the private sector and NAL staff.
  3. Presentations by NAL managerial staff.
  4. Reports of library service activity, accomplishments since 1982, including budget tables.
  5. Presentations by Deputy Secretary Rominger and Under Secretary Miley Gonzales.
  6. Interviews with NAL managerial staff and ARS Administrator.
  7. Interview with Deputy Director National Library of Medicine by Panel members.
  8. Panel tour of the NAL building, Beltsville.
  9. Review of the NAL Web site.
The Panel agreed on an outline of study (Appendix D) and organized ten task groups of Panel members to concentrate on each segment. Some of these groups produced individual reports, results of which are incorporated as observations or findings in various parts of this Report. Selected group reports are also presented in the Appendices.

4.1.     Customer and Staff Survey Methods

Under the auspices of the U.S. Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) and in support of the Panel’s program review efforts, a customer service survey was conducted in December 2000 and the first part of January 2001. This survey was an attempt to touch the pulse of the NAL’s present and future customers to gain input on its current programs and services and to help in determining future directions. Five questionnaires were developed and distributed to USDA personnel through a variety of NAL customer listserv and to other related scientists affiliated with the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (Appendix G). In addition, agriculture and veterinary science librarians were sent questionnaires through their respective listserves, as were library directors at land-grant universities. Extension personnel were contacted by way of a Cooperative Extension Service (CES) Directors listserve and through a CES State Specialist listserve. Questionnaires also were distributed to NAL on-site users at both the Beltsville and D.C. locations. Finally, NAL staff members were surveyed.
The total number of returned questionnaires was 739, with an additional 53 from NAL staff members. An analysis of the general survey responses and those of the NAL staff are included in Section 5 (5.4 – 5.9) of this report.
A detailed report of the survey is attached as Appendix F, including User Survey Sample Comments (Appendix J) and NAL Staff Survey Results (Appendix K - [Graphic Version - Text Version]).

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Last Updated August 13, 2002