National Agricultural Library Assessment Report
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Appendix K - Text Version
Appendix K - Slide Version

Blue Ribbon Panel Survey of the National
Agricultural Library

Staff Survey Results submitted by the Library of Congress - March 12, 2001  
Explanatory material and additional staff comments were added after March 12, 2001 and are not found in the print version of this report.
A Guide to Using the Pie Charts and Analyzing Results of the Survey
  • 53 staff responded to the survey
  • Not all questions were answered by the respondents
  • Respondents gave several answers to the same question
  • Not every answer is represented in the pie charts
  • The pie charts focus instead on the major issues: NAL’s strengths, weaknesses, services, barriers
  • The numbers in the pie charts are representative of predominant responses by staff to the major issues
  • The additional comments represent individual responses

Major Strengths
  • Respondents considered major strengths to be knowledgeable and dedicated staff committed to mission of providing customer service
  • Respondents viewed the collections, particularly the historical and special collections in agriculture and horticulture, especially those published in the USDA agencies and the grey literature, as strong elements that make NAL a valuable resource
  • Access to the collections through the online catalog, the Information Centers, and information technology services such as AGRICOLA were considered to be major strengths

  • Management:
    • No experience
    • Lack of literacy in sciences which has led to bad decision-making and decrease in funding
    • Lack of vision
    • Poorly planned initiatives with no follow through or prioritization
    • Unprofessional behavior
    • Mistrust and poor utilization of staff
    • Lack of communication between staff and management
    • Failure to address staff problems
    • Poor leadership of director
    • Lack of accountability
  • Outdated databases
    • Decline in quality of coverage of AGRICOLA database
    • ISIS catalog needs replacing with system that has improved searching capabilities
    • VTLAS is outdated and not Web-based
    • Usage data not systematically reported
    • Aged OPAC and Web site
  • Budget:
    • Shrinking budget which prevents NAL from properly fulfilling its responsibilities
    • Shrinking staffand increased work
    • No staff training
    • Too much emphasis on outside funding
    • Lack of input from staff on budgetary issues
    • Funding for unnecessary cosmetic renovations

Critical Services
  • Customer service(reference) to USDA agencies and ARS were considered to be the most important service
  • Patron access to Web AGRICOLA, AGNIC, and NAL’s Web site are the best services
  • Document delivery to USDA and congressional customers is a major NAL asset, although there was criticism of the inefficient tracking system for ILL

New or Improved Services
  • Enhancement of content on AGRICOLA database and provision of more user-friendly interface for Web version
  • Redirect funding towards redesigning NAL Web site, supply better search engines, metatags, graphics, user studies, self tutorials
  • LAN services: Increased access to full text electronic resources, more Web development, electronic tracking of patron requests, overhaul of OPAC (new ILS), employment of modern media and communications specialists to support existing and future technological programs

  • The number one impediment was funding, due to untapped avenues of generating revenue and limits on budget over period of 5 years or more
  • Staff shortages which cause a decrease in productivity levels
  • Strong leadership in management lacking
    • fear of change
    • lack of staff training
    • unmotivated staff

Type of Work, Length of Service
  • Type of work:
    • Majority of respondents employed in public service, information systems development, and library administration
  • Length of service:
    • The term of service for staff responding to the survey ranged from 3 months to 18 years

Additional Comments
  • Need better leadership: management lacks focus, priority
  • Better marketing of NAL products
  • Hire development official to generate funding
  • Foster improved relationships among staff and management
  • More staff training
  • Improve building landscaping
  • Need bioinformatics at NAL
  • We would benefit from TQM training
  • There is favoritism and low morale
  • NAL needs an onsite training manager
  • NAL should again be a separate agency
  • NAL should encourage sabbaticals by professors in agriculture
  • The summer student program is a good one
  • Contractors should be allowed to park in the staff parking lot
  • NAL needs a Friends of NAL group to lobby Congress for money
  • Sources of funding are lost because management does not value the Information Centers
  • NAL should maintain a high presence in the USDA by increasing collections of the DC Reference Center
  • NAL needs to shift the focus to projects with potential for generating income
  • Talented staff seldom called upon for ideas
  • Basic utilities (lights) are maintained through lapsed salary, diversion of program monies, reduced collection
  • Staff are performing an inordinate amount of work for little compensation
  • Appreciate support USAIN is providing
  • Leaving for another job, worst morale of any place I’ve worked
  • Never heard complaints and feel NAL has good, knowledgeable staff
  • NAL needs more opportunities for meaningful interaction among offices and branches to increase staff understanding of its mission
  • Please consider the impact Blue Ribbon Panel decisions will make on staff, resources and facilities as well as NAL products
  • Need significant increases in NAL resources: note for examples
  • Thank you for listening
  • NAL has much to change to gain respect among the library community
  • NAL is a national treasure that has been lost. Hope the Panel can dig it out
  • Suggest small core of staff continue to provide USDA headquarters with specialized information services
  • Funding should be derived through "green book"
  • Special information center should be created for downtown facility to support DCRC so
  • that it is showcased to enhance awareness of NAL to USDA agencies
  • Staff job hunting or counting days until retirement
  • Communication deplorable, rumors rampant, nepotism is alive and well
  • I hope that Blue Ribbon Panel "shakes up NAL"
  • NAL has lost its unity and now has 20-25 competing, mediocre, small libraries
  • I have little hope staff concerns will be addressed because they have not in prior surveys
  • Outside evaluators believe what NAL management tells them
  • Critical staff ignored and NAL losing best employees
  • Hope Blue Ribbon Panel will address staff concerns this time around


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Last Updated August 13, 2002