Horizontal Line Summary and Analysis of Public Comments: Report on the National Agricultural Library - 2001
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Other Observations

NAL is a specialized research library holding a research collection that does not support fully primary school educators and students. Several educators responding to the Report indicated a desire to see more resources made available to them. One librarian suggested greater involvement with the USDA Higher Education Program.
Educational Policy-Maker
"I was surprised that so little was mentioned about education, the role of NAL and USDA as it relates to formal schooling or even to the general education of America's citizens, especially since so many of the panelists are from higher education ... Report seems a bit narrow in focus-- and shallow even in mentioning the 'natural constituents partners in the ag community.
* This is in contrast to variety of government agencies, like NASA that articulate the vital role of agencies and education. Note that Administrator Sean O'Keefe, appointed by President Bush, is currently restructuring the agency and has declared that one of the three core missions of NASA is Education!!"
Educator comment
"As a public school agricultural education teacher I find the national library very helpful. I would like to see more materials available to ag ed teachers online to use in teaching/research. I am also director of a group called Agrimissions and do International work and would like to see materials in that arena made available."
Librarian comment
"Utilize USDA Higher Education Program priorities to link to/further develop the Agriculture Network Information Center."
The Report did touch on many collaborations and partnership arrangements in its recommendations for NAL. Many responders were supportive of the recommendations. Many suggestions centered on the AGRICOLA database with suggestions to partner or collaborate with the National Library of Medicine or other database publishers including CAB International. One responder encouraged collaboration among the National libraries in a more general sense, including exchange programs with visiting scholars. The land grant libraries were interested in collaborating on national initiatives such as AgNIC, preservation, and the national digital library for agriculture. The responders also brought forth the need to consider broader international collaborations.
Librarian comment
"...meet the NAL mission for collaborative collection development, preservation, archival and "professional developmental opportunities," e.g. visiting scholars national and international programs."
CAB International comment
"Collaboration and Partnership is a strong theme throughout the report and CAB International should be regarded by NAL as a key organization to work with to maximize efficiency and outputs."
Librarian comment
"Not only is it in the best interest of the U.S., but also of the world. If we can assist and advise countries on ways to produce and distribute adequate food supplies, we will accomplish more toward lasting peace, than many of our current actions will."
The Report was written prior to the events of 9/11/01. At the time of writing the primary security threats considered were more in the nature of cyber-security. A few responders commented on the need to consider security issues in normal operations - but also recommended that NAL's collection, as a national treasure should be given commensurate protection.
Several responders raised concerns about the ability of the NAL staff and its managers to meet the challenges of serving the agricultural community. Specifically the promotion of staff from within to management positions was viewed as detrimental. On the other hand, the President of a small woman-owned company cautioned that industry benchmarks should be applied before acting upon employee complaints of this nature during a time of significant financial constraint.
Anonymous comment
"Through questionable reasoning, NAL management has a history of hiring most key management positions from within, rather than seeking highly-skilled professionals from outside the Library. Hiring from within has established an environment where managers gain basic knowledge and experience through time in the position, again, rather than starting off with knowledge and experience. Over time, this has resulted in a culture of narrow vision, inward focus, retrenchment, protection, slow change, and confusion over real purpose and mission. Participation in the broader world of information science and agriculture, has been superficial, in part, due to a lack of understanding the "big picture" combined with the culture of protectionism."
Administrator/Manager comment
"There are many other interesting and constructive sections and appendices in the report. It is rich in data and opinion. The one point I would caution about some of the opinions that were documented, especially as they relate to employee satisfaction, is that industry benchmarks should be considered in evaluating levels of dissatisfaction. In times of tight budgets, many comments about dissatisfaction will normally appear in any survey and it's the least satisfied that often fill the surveys out."
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Last Updated February 7, 2003