Services

NAL Expands Basic Services

AGRICOLA Reaches Milestone

NAL added the 3 millionth record to its AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access) bibliographic database in the summer of 1993, marking a major milestone. The event was celebrated with ceremonies at the library on July 12.

AGRICOLA is the backbone of the NAL collection and consists of records for literature citations of journal articles, monographs, theses, patents, software, audiovisual materials, serials and technical reports relating to all aspects of agriculture. It is a catalog and index to the NAL collections of millions of items.

Since 1984, AGRICOLA has been expanded to include materials collected and input by cooperating institutions. The database has been available on magnetic tape since 1970. Tapes are updated monthly. Coverage of AGRICOLA is international in scope with records representing materials in over 65 different languages from over 160 different countries. About 65 percent of the records are for English-language documents.

The 3,000,000th record in AGRICOLA


Judith Torgerson and Debra Miller (at the keyboard) review the 3,000,000th record in AGRICOLA, which they created.
Photo: J. Swab


ISIS Strides Ahead

ISIS (Integrated System for Information Services), NAL's online union catalog, continued to grow during the year. As of September 1993, it contained approximately 333,800 indexing records and 533,400 cataloging records. In addition to NAL citations, the database includes machine-readable citations from the National Arboretum and USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Regional Research Center Libraries.

In September, NAL's Indexing Branch began using the ISIS Journal Indexing Subsystem to input current indexing records. This enables searchers of the system to retrieve AGRICOLA journal citations 2-6 weeks earlier than previously possible. It will also result in a cost savings to NAL since two processing systems will no longer be needed.

The year also saw ISIS used to provide data for the North American Title Count (NATC). The NATC was developed by the American Library Association to access collection strengths. It is the successor to the National Shelflist Count, which was last performed in 1989 through manual procedures.

NAL Improves Regional Document Delivery System

NAL initiated an aggressive planning and communications program to improve its Regional Document Delivery System (RDDS) in 1993. Through RDDS, USDA employees nationwide request and receive documents directly from 37 land-grant university libraries. NAL provides documents not available from these libraries.

NAL staff conducted meetings with RDDS participants during 1993 to discuss ways to improve the system. Cornell University's Albert R. Mann Library hosted the RDDS Coordinators Planning Meeting on May 6-7, at which eight Regional Coordinators and the RDDS Coordinator finalized RDDS guidelines. The guidelines were implemented at the end of FY 1993.

Also, two regional meetings were held during the year to increase communication among network participants. These were held on July 27 at the Owen Science and Engineering Library, Washington State University, and on August 31 at the Life and Health Sciences Library, University of Nevada at Reno.

Also during the year, Mann Library and NAL cooperated in establishing an Internet listserv (RDDS-L) that enhanced communication among RDDS participants and is used to resolve policy and service issues quickly.

The eight regions of NAL's Regional Document Delivery
System showing the states participating
in each region and the level of participation.


Demonstrations And Training Offered

Many Continue To Visit NAL

NAL's Educational Programs Unit continued to provide guided tours of NAL's public areas and behind-the-scene activities to individuals and groups representing hundreds of organizations. Visitors have come from Egypt, Germany, Australia, South Africa, China, Taiwan, India, Canada, and Mongolia. U.S. organizations such as the Library of Congress Interns, National Library of Medicine Associates, Eastern European Librarians, Fulbright Exchange Program and Cochrane Fellowship Program have also requested and received NAL tours.

During tours, NAL staff demonstrate library technology including photographs-on-laser-disc, expert advisory systems, full-text and image-based digitized databases on compact disc, interactive video training and NAL's electronic bulletin board, ALF.

On June 3, 1993, Ms. Jiang, Zehui (left), Vice-Chairperson of Anhui Agricultural University [and sister of Mr. Jiang, Zeming, President of the People's Republic of China], led a group visiting NAL. They were received by NAL Director, Joseph H. Howard (center), and Verna Shen (right) of NAL Cataloging Branch provided a tour of the Library..photo: M. Silva


Thiendou Niang and daniel Assoumou Mba of the Technical Center for Agricultural and rural Co-operation (CTA), the Netherlands, visit with NAL Director Joseph Howard to discuss a joint program of cooperative projects.photo:J. Swab


NAL Conducts Animal Welfare Courses

NAL's Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) continued to offer a unique training course in 1993 on meeting the information needs of those using animals in research, teaching and testing. The 2-day workshop includes an overview of the Animal Welfare Act, a review of the alternatives concept, an introduction to NAL, AWIC, and other information organizations, instruction on the use of information databases and online searching exercises.

In 1993, AWIC conducted a total of 8 workshops reaching 170 professionals. The workshops were held at NAL, two pharmaceutical companies, an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regional conference, Georgetown University and a National Institutes of Health training workshop.

Workshop participants included representatives from the Office of Animal Care and Use for the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the Humane Society of the United States, and the office of the National Animal Care Coordinator for the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

AGRICOLA Training Taken by Many

NAL continues to offer introductory and in-depth training courses on using AGRICOLA on-line and will soon offer a program on how to search AGRICOLA on CD-ROM. AGRICOLA training workshops are free to USDA and state land-grant personnel and to employees of other federal, state and local government agencies. Other participants pay a modest tuition fee.

NAL has been offering AGRICOLA training for over 10 years.

Delighted participants of the exhibits for the United States Agricultural Information Network national conference at Auburn University visit SilverPlatter (front) and the Auburn, BellSouth, CABI, and other exhibits (background). SilverPlatter produces a set of CD-ROM discs containing the AGRICOLA database. photo: J. Swab


Improving Services Through The Internet

Internet Aids in Document Delivery

NAL's Document Delivery Services Branch (DDSB) now accepts Internet requests for information about NAL holdings, collection access and document delivery services. NAL's Circulation and Access Section receives messages addressed to "circinfo@nalusda.gov" and responds with holdings information or policy statements. Also, the Circulation and Access Section regularly reviews several Internet listservs, responding to requests for help in locating materials in the library.

By sending an Internet message to NAL, Internet users may request information on: titles in the NAL collection (journal, article, book, translation, audiovisual, and other media or types); how to borrow the title or obtain a photocopy and NAL and USDA services, programs and policies.

Interlibrary Borrowing Improved by NAL

The year saw the beginning of important changes in NAL's Interlibrary Borrowing Section (ILB). ILB is responsible for obtaining for USDA researchers materials that are not available from the NAL collection.

Traditionally, the borrowing process had been time-consuming, with ILB transmitting requests to other libraries and then waiting to receive the material via regular mail. NAL has reduced the time required to obtain and deliver documents by using private companies that specialize in rapid document delivery. Agreements with these companies permit on-line ordering of journal articles and delivery of the articles via telefacsimile usually within 24 hours.

Also, agreements were negotiated with certain publishers to scan and retain articles in electronic format. These agreements permit delivery of materials in about 6 hours. NAL has also worked out an arrangement that allows ILB to order documents and have them faxed directly to the patron. Direct delivery ends the need for ILB to handle the documents, decreases the turnaround time and eliminates postage costs.

Another step that improved services was the purchase of an electronic document transmission and receipt workstation. The workstation consists of a scanner, a high-quality laser printer and a DOS-based microcomputer. The system allows the operator to scan documents and transmit them via the Internet to other sites.

Electronic Access to Youth Development Info Available

NAL's Youth Development Information Center (YDIC) has established an information resource on the Internet called CYFERNET (Child, Youth and Family Education and Research Network). It incorporates file server and "gopher" computer technologies. In 1993, the CYFERNET gopher logged over 400 accesses per month.

CYFERNET contains both curricula and program support materials of interest to child, youth and family development professionals.

Program support materials are gleaned by YDIC from federal, state and nonprofit organizations using the Internet. YDIC also worked on the following activities related to CYFERNET during the year:

A proposal with the National Society of Fund Raising Executives and the National 4-H Center was developed to explore ways to provide training in obtaining grants and in identifying funding resources on the Internet.

CYFERNET has been established as an electronic clearinghouse in the Department of Health and Human Service's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Regional Alcohol and Drug Awareness network.

CYFERNET and the University of Minnesota's Children, Youth and Family Consortium Electronic Clearinghouse have begun to explore ways that distributed information management systems might be administered using Internet technology.

YDIC, using CYFERNET, is helping to establish "networks for action" within the child, youth and family development community of the land-grant university system. These networks will be composed of four or more universities collaborating through the Internet on one project.

Biotech Pubs on Internet

In an effort to make its publications accessible to as wide an audience as possible, NAL's Biotechnology Information Center (BIC) made many of its documents available via the Internet in 1993.

With the assistance of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, an anonymous file-transfer-protocol site was established that allows worldwide access to electronic copies of BIC's publications. The Internet was used extensively throughout the year to fill reference requests from patrons, publicize new BIC publications and gather information in the area of biotechnology.

Electronic Bulletin Board Gives Access to NAL

ALF (Agricultural Library Forum), NAL's computerized bulletin board which provides remote access to library services and products, experienced another busy year in 1993.

Internet users were given ALF access when the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that FedWorld bulletin boards would allow dial-out via their gateway system.

ALF usage increased immediately, and NAL increased the size of the current-user file to accommodate extra callers. After connecting to FedWorld via Telnet or direct dial, users may connect to any of more than 100 federal bulletin board systems and database services, including ALF. A Small Business Administration bulletin board also includes ALF as a dial-out option.

Several hundred bibliographic and full-text NAL documents are loaded on ALF, including NAL Quick Bibliography titles, special reference briefs, NAL news releases, special publications from NAL information centers, and articles from NAL's newsletter, "Agricultural Libraries Information Notes (ALIN)," as well as a number of calendars and resource lists.

ALF subboard activities in 1993 included the use of ALF to manage a Request for Proposal (RFP) on a multi-million-dollar software contract solicitation.

Callers to ALF in 1993 totaled over 50,000 and there are currently more than 200 files on ALF for user access. More than 20 subboards exist covering various special interest topics.

Water Quality Info Added to Computer Network

NAL's Water Quality Information Center (WQIC) continued to manage and improve the Water Information Network (WIN), a conference on the Agricultural Library Forum (ALF), NAL's electronic bulletin board. Among the items available on WIN is a list of meetings and calls-for-papers on water quality. This is updated monthly by WQIC staff. During the year, 259 separate entries were listed with an average of 76 different meetings or calls-for-papers appearing in any given month.

Several new bulletins (electronic fact sheets) were developed by WQIC, including: monthly listings of satellite videoconferences related to water quality, a list of water hotlines and clearinghouses, a list of current drinking water standards and descriptions of several water quality improvement programs.

The number of files (longer documents) increased from 5 to 13 and include a file developed at Pennsylvania State University that lists, describes and provides contacts for 73 water quality and environmental databases.

Reference Help Available over Internet

In the spring of 1993, people worldwide gained additional computer access to NAL reference services through the Internet. The Internet address to reach NAL is: "agref@nalusda.gov."

NAL's Reference Section provides reference and information assistance nationally and internationally.

The NAL Internet mailbox is screened for reference requests daily and requests are assigned to an NAL reference librarian for response. "Comprehensive searches" may require NAL to charge a fee. Comprehensive searches are those that require NAL to search commercial online databases and that exceed a $25 charge to fill, or those that require more than 1 hour of an NAL librarian's time (charged at $11 per hour). User fees are assessed only upon prior agreement with the user and are only charged for work over the $25 or 1-hour limit.