Horizontal Line Summary and Analysis of Public Comments: Report on the National Agricultural Library - 2001
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Reaching NAL's Diverse Stakeholder Populations

On August 16, 2002 a notice was published in the Federal Register [Volume 67, Number 159, page 53557] announcing availability of the report and the public comment period. Significant effort was taken to ensure widespread awareness and distribution of the notice to the diverse stakeholders and customers of the National Agricultural Library. At the close of the comment period 109 responses were received.

Distribution of the Announcement

The Federal Advisory Committee Act lays out the requirements for developing consensus recommendations based on public input. These requirements specify the need to have balanced input representing diversity of viewpoints and functions. Balanced input can be obtained by ensuring that a cross-section of interested persons and groups with demonstrated professional or personal qualifications or experience are given the opportunity and are encouraged to participate in the process.
A communication plan designed to reach the widest possible cross-section of NAL stakeholders and customers was established prior to the release of the Federal Register notice. The plan was implemented upon publication of the notice.

Implementation of the Communication Plan

The following lists report the principal means by which key stakeholder and customer groups were notified about the Report and the public comment period. In addition to the methods and groups listed below many individual personal and professional contacts were made encouraging participation.
Reaching USDA Stakeholders and Customers
Announcements were included with or sent to the following:
  • All NAL document delivery fulfillments between 8/20 - 9/13/02
  • NAL Current Awareness Literature Service clients
  • Agricultural Research Service Administrator's Council
  • Bulletin boards in the South Agriculture Building
  • USDA Working Group on Water Quality
  • On-site distribution in the NAL Reading Rooms in Beltsville & Washington, D.C.
  • Posted to a Food and Nutrition Service Listserv
  • USDA Field Libraries
  • NAL Digital Desktop Library (DigiTop) Initiative Committee (Department-wide initiative to provide consortium procurement for full-text journals and database resources accessible at employee workstations)
  • National Arboretum staff
Reaching Librarians and Information Specialists
Announcements were included with or sent to the following:
  • Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC) Listserv
  • United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) Listserv
  • Chesapeake Information and Research Library Alliance (CIRLA) Directors
  • Federal and Armed Forces Library Consortium (American Library Association)
  • Public Service Directors of the American Library Association (ALA)
  • Technical Service Directors of the ALA
  • CENDI (an interagency working group of senior information managers from 9 Federal agencies and Departments)
  • Federal Library and Information Center Committee Listserv
  • Association of Research Library Directors
  • Association of College and Research Library's Science and Technology Listserv
  • DIG-Ref Listserv (interest group for digital reference services)
  • Vet-Lib Listserv (interest group for veterinary librarians)
  • Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Listserv
  • Special Library Association's Science and Technology Listserv
  • Land-Grant University Libraries
  • 1890's Historically Black Colleges and Universities Libraries
  • 1994 Tribal College Libraries
Reaching Special Audiences:
Announcements were included or sent to the following:
  • Riley Memorial Foundation (who distributed approximately 1,200 copies)
  • Enviro-News-L listserv (environmental and water quality interest group)
  • Food and Nutrition and Food Safety Listserv's
    • WIC Talk Listserv (Women, Infant, and Children)
    • Food Safety Listserv
    • Mealtalk Listserv (Healthy School Meals focus)
    • Successtalk Listserv
    • Cacfp-Summertalk Listserv
  • Food Industry Environment Network
  • National Invasive Species Council (shared with the Invasive Species Advisory Board and other interested parties)
  • Wheat and Barley Head Scab Listserv
  • Center for Science in the Public Interest
Reaching Special Stakeholders:
Announcements were sent to the following:
  • Members of the Task Force (authors of the Report)
  • NAL Contractors and their representatives (MISTI, Telesec, Global Solutions Network, etc.)
  • Publishers (Netherlands Publishers Listserv)
  • University of Maryland, College of Library and Information Sciences
  • International stakeholders -
    • IICA - Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
    • SIDALC - Agricultural Information and Documentation System for America
    • IFLA - International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
    • CGIAR - Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
Newsletters and Other Special Postings:
Announcements were published or posted to the following:
  • ARS Press Release and posted to the ARS News Web-site (8/16/02)
  • CSREES Update (8/23/02)
  • American Libraries Association Washington Office Newsline (8/27/02)
  • IFLA Conference Newsletter (8/24/02)
  • Posted to the NAL Home Page (8/16/02)
  • Extensively cross posted throughout the NAL Web-site (scrolling alerts posted in the last week of the comment period to many Web pages)

Web-Based Access to the Report

"The Report on the National Agricultural Library - 2001" was posted to the NAL Web-site http://www.nal.usda.gov/assessment in HTML and pdf formats. The Web-site for the Report received 14,501 "hits" during the open period for public comments. The daily viewing trend is plotted against the frequency of responses received by day (see Figure 1). Many individuals who read the executive summary or the full report responded with comments. Comments Received & Web-Page Hits (x100) / Day
Many thousands of individuals across a diverse range of stakeholders were provided with the opportunity to respond to the Report and its recommendations. A number of concerned citizens identified their needs and wrote about why they needed the National Agricultural Library and the changes they would like to see. These comments provide answers to the question of why the National Agricultural Library is needed.
Researcher comment
"The National Agricultural Library is invaluable to me in my job. I am working on the Agriculture Handbook 450 now trying to meet the deadline and the Library's timely retrieval of articles is allowing me to update my manuscripts. I am in a remote location and do not have access to agricultural libraries so I need the NAL services."
U.S. Responder Locations Number
Alaska 1
Arizona 6
Arkansas 1
California 5
Colorado 1
Florida 1
Georgia 1
Hawaii 1
Idaho 2
Illinois 4
Louisiana 2
Maryland     24
Massachusetts 1
Michigan 3
Mississipps 1
Missouri 2
Montana 1
Nebraska 1
New York 2
North Dakota 1
North Carolina 1
Ohio 3
Oklahoma 3
Oregon 6
Pennsylvania 5
Tennessee 2
Texas 5
Unresolved/Other 7
Utah 3
Virginia 1
Washington 2
Washington, DC 6
West Virginia 1
Wisconsin 3

Responder profile

Broad stakeholder and customer input is a requirement of the Federal Advisory Committee Act for the development of consensus recommendations. Responder profiles were created to verify broad participation. Profile characteristics included information about the geographic location of the responder at the state level, high-level affiliation classification (e.g. Land-Grant University), and job function.
In most cases profile characteristics were provided in the text of the response. In a few cases additional research was conducted by searching telephone directories, organizational charts, and institutional information available on the Internet.
All illegal, junk, spam, or other spurious E-mail messages were deleted from the account without being counted or recorded.
Number of responders = 109
Geographic Distribution
32 States
Washington, D.C.
Intergovernmental Organization
Department of Agriculture, Western Australia
Affiliation Distribution
Government Responders:
USDA employees account for 48% of all responses and represent the Agricultural Research Service, Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Food Safety Inspection Service, Animal, Plant, Health Inspection Service, and Economic Research Service.
Other Federal Agency responders represent the Smithsonian, Food and Drug Administration, Department of the Interior, Administration on Aging, Department of Energy, and Government Printing Office.
State and local responses were received from Extension, and city-based Head Start Programs.
University / Education Responders: The second largest group responding to the Report was composed of members of the Land-Grant Universities (22%). Within the land-grant group the majority of responders were librarians, additionally responses were received from researchers and administrators including a Dean of Agriculture. Other responders in this category included members from the 1994 Tribal Colleges, non-land grant universities (5%), K-12 public school teacher, youth development (Future Farmers of America, and 4-H).
Business / Commercial Responders: Representatives from a small business commodity processing firm, two woman-owned and minority owned companies, corporate librarians, and a non-profit genomics research institute commented on the Report.
Institutional Responders: Formal responses were received from several institutions and associations including, CAB International, the Executive Board of the AgNIC Alliance, the American Library Association, and the Executive Council of the United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN). Responder Affiliation

Job Function

Responders came from a wide diversity of job functions including a branch secretary, researchers, librarians, national program leaders, assistant administrators, deans, and the president of a small woman-owned company. Researchers were engaged in a wide range of important agricultural research disciplines, many significant organizations and institutions were represented along with several essential community / public service functions.

Examples of Position Titles

President Director of Research and Development
Laboratory Director University Librarian / Deputy Vice Provost for Info. Services
FIA National Ozone Advisor Science and Technology Reference Librarian
Research Librarian Public school agriculture education teacher
Supervisory Computer Specialist Professor and Assistant to the Dean for E-Extension
Head Life Sciences Library Assistant Professor of Equine Science
Library Director Nutritionist for City of Oakland, Head Start Program
Research Physiologist Vice Provost & Dean College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
National Program Leader Extension Agent - 4-H/Youth
Forester/GIS Specialist Civil Engineering Director

Job Function

Job Function Definitions Used for Analysis

Four job function classes were established and used throughout the analysis. These classes are Researchers, Librarians, Educators, and Administrator/Managers. They are described below. Another category "All Other" was established for those responders who did not fit into any of the four primary categories.
Researchers: (39% of Responders)
This category included researchers and laboratory directors who were generally considered to be engaged in active research. Most major agricultural disciplines were represented by responders to the Report. The disciplines represented included plant sciences, animal sciences, genetics, food science, ecology, forestry specialties, entomology, soil science, chemistry, physics, engineering, statistics, pathology, nutrition, economics, and so forth. Most researchers responding to the Report were USDA employees (81%). A few researchers from Land-Grant Universities and the private sector also responded.
Library and Information Sciences: (29% of Responders)
Most librarians and information specialists who responded to the Report were employed by Land-Grant University libraries, including a Library Director at a 1994 Tribal College. Federal librarians who responded were from NAL, an ARS field library, the Department of the Interior, and GPO. A few librarians from non-land grant universities, corporate libraries, and a librarian from a not-for-profit research institute commented on the report.
Educators / Youth Development: (5% of Responders)
This category represents professionals who teach students in grades K-12 and professionals involved in outreach / training programs for youth development or adult education. The responders included: one public school agriculture education teacher; professionals in youth development from the Future Farmers of America and Extension 4-H programs; one Managing Partner of a small woman/minority-owned company with a focus on educational issues; and a University-based institute focusing on child nutrition/education issues.
This is a cross-over category that could have included clinicians, university professors and so forth. However, it was decided to code into this category only those responders whose primary job functions were identified as educators or education-related policy-makers.
Administrators / Managers: (19% of Responders)
This category represents the top management and policy-setting functions for government, university, and corporate entities. Individuals within this category generally do not provide direct client services or conduct research. Within this group comments from corporate sources were submitted by the President of a woman-owned information services business and the Director of Research and Development for a commodity processing firm. The land-grant university communities were represented by the Vice Provost and Dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a University Librarian and Deputy Vice Provost for Information Services, and Head of a Life Sciences Library on a major campus. Government administrators and managers included national program leaders and an Assistant Administrator. In addition to individual responders a few organizational responses were coded in this section, since these groups are involved in policy matters.
All Other: (7% of Responders)
This category includes responders whose job functions did not fit the primary categories described above such as, clinical dieticians, support staff, an international intergovernmental not-for-profit organization or for those whose affiliation could not be identified.
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Last Updated February 7, 2003