Technology

NAL Computer Network Grows

NALnet, the NAL computer network, experienced dramatic growth in 1993. Of note was the transition of NAL Internet mail service to "Cliff," the NAL Sun SPARC2 UNIX workstation. All NAL staff needing mail access received accounts on Cliff and training sessions in using the service were held. Staff use is high and continues to grow.

NAL uses PINE mail software for its Internet mail service and NAL staff use such tools as Gopher and WAIS to search remote information systems through Internet.

Also, the NALnet backbone was extended in 1993. Fiber optic cable now connects the NAL computer room to 11 strategic "hub" locations throughout the library. From these hubs it is possible to extend copper wire to the desktop of each NAL employee.

In collaboration with the National Science Foundation, Iowa State University, and the USDA Extension Service, also in 1993, NAL launched an initiative to deploy a system for managing electronic information in agriculture. A pilot project known as the "AgNIC" (Agricultural Network Information Center), which will implement the initiative, will be developed by NAL as part of this effort.

Text Digitizing Program Enters Seventh Year

The National Agricultural Text Digitizing Program (NATDP), shepherded by NAL, continued to produce and distribute CD-ROMs of important agricultural literature throughout the year. Planning also got underway to upgrade NATDP's optical scanning and optical character recognition (OCR) system.

NATDP began in 1987 as a study by NAL and over 40 land-grant university libraries to evaluate the use of optical scanning and OCR in the library environment. An evaluation report, entitled "National Agricultural Text Digitizing Project: Toward the Electronic Library," was completed and published in November 1992.

Discs from four of the first projects of the National Agricultural Text Digitizing Project.
photo: J. Swab
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Diagram of the National Agricultural Text Digitizing Program processes.

Iowa state University

Since NATDP became a fully operational program, several discs have been produced, including: AQUACULTURE II, completed in late 1992, containing over 6,500 pages of full text and images from selected noncopyrighted materials; a disc containing the papers (selected from Tuskegee University's collection) of famed agricultural scientist George Washington Carver; and FOOD IRRADIATION 1, completed in 1993 and containing nearly 5,100 images (this is the first of six or seven food irradiation CD-ROMs).

Scanning and indexing for a second AGRONOMY JOURNAL CD-ROM was completed in 1993, and disc premastering is underway. It will be published in 1994 as a cooperative effort between NAL and the American Society of Agronomy. This will be the final database scanned with the original NATDP system, used since January 1988. A new scanning and OCR system was selected in 1993.

Pamela André, Joseph Howard, and Nancy Eaton present the early products of the NATDP, at the time when it was changing from pilot project to a national program.

photo: J. Swab
.

Future discs will include other volumes of the "Agronomy Journal," the Food Irradiation series mentioned above and a series containing the "American Journal of Agricultural Economics" to be produced with the Foundation of the American Agricultural Economics Association.

A nimal Welfare Products Available Electronically

In 1993, NAL's Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) began compiling an electronic library of full-text animal welfare information. The files are kept updated and AWIC is making them available to those sending five formatted discs. Information in the files includes animal welfare legislation and policy, animal welfare recommendations and lists of resources.

ISIS Demonstration Project Shows Promise

NAL continued work on the InfoStation pilot demonstration project, installing the InfoStation to assess the feasibility of providing full-text and images of selected portions of the collection via "seamless linkage through an online bibliographic database."

The InfoStation is part of ISIS, NAL's integrated library system. Patrons can use the InfoStation to search records in NAL's online public access catalog and retrieve full-text documents and images.

The multimedia text and image database created by NAL staff is comprised of materials from three core collections: aquaculture, food and nutrition and agricultural trade and marketing. NAL also added digitized audio recordings that explain selected images.

The NAL InfoStation database contains approximately 10,000 pages of full text, color and black-and-white images and audio.

Home Landscaping Disc Developed

NAL, the University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) and Michigan State University Cooperative Extension Service, after a 3-year development and evaluation period, will soon release the final version of "Plant It! -- CD," an interactive multimedia CD-ROM for home landscaping.

Nearly 1,000 U.S. plants are described in detail on the disc, accompanied by full-color photographs, printable landscape designs, and materials on backyard composting, attracting birds, etc.

The preliminary version of the disc was released in January 1993 to 200 evaluation sites nationwide. Users rated the disc's two different interfaces (a DOS interface developed at IFAS and a Windows expert system interface developed at NAL).

The disc became available commercially in late 1993, distributed by IFAS.

Networking Info Available Through Image Transfer

NAL, the University of Pittsburgh School of Library & Information Sciences and Michigan State Cooperative Extension Service began a project to examine the use of images in information retrieval.

A database of 2,000 digitized images of rare botanical prints plus horticultural pests and diseases was produced and made accessible from a server in Pittsburgh. Local network testing began prior to making the system available on the Internet. A telecommunications protocol was designed to maximize the use of the network server during interactive sessions.

After searching the database, images can be downloaded for preview in thumbnail sizes and requested in high-resolution and full-color in a choice of formats. NAL is developing a CD-ROM version of the database. Once the online version is fully operational and accessible at test sites, Internet access will be available.

Dr. Toni Bearman (2nd from left), Dean, School of Library and Information Sciences, University of Pittsburg, and Dr. Jim Williams (right) of the same faculty, met with Pam André, Associate Director for Automation, NAL, and Pamela Mason (2nd from right), of NAL's Database Administration Branch, concerning the joint image transfer project.

photo: J. Swab
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System Links Sites for Statistical Tracking

The second phase of a USDA aquaculture evaluation study funded by NAL's Aquaculture Information Center (AIC) was initiated early in 1993.

As part of the study, AIC established "Aquaforum," an electronic communications system that includes a statistical database, a private e-mail module, and a hypertext module. Through Aquaforum, six pilot aquaculture information sites in the United States entered reference statistics to an AIC fileserver to track and profile services provided by the sites and AIC.

Participating were Auburn University, Ralph Brown Draughon Library; Iowa State University, North Central Regional Aquaculture Center; Louisiana State University, Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service; University of Delaware, Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service; University of Hawaii, Hamilton Library; and Washington State Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the University of Hawaii received data from a subsystem that linked remote Pacific sites. This data was included in Aquaforum.

Analysis of the data will assist in identifying strngths and weaknesses in information delivery programs and in improving aquaculture information services.

Among the special events at NAL during the year was one to honor the late Wheeler McMillen. During the cerimony Joseph Howard accepts books authored by Wheeler McMillen from his son, Robert D. McMillen

photo: J. Swab
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Robert D. McMillen (right) and Richard W. Newpher, Executive Director, American Farm Bureau Fedreation, unveil a portrait of Wheeler McMillen, which was hung and can now be seen in the NAL lobby.

photo: J. Swab
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Throughout the year NAL sponsored a series of EEO and cultural heritage programs and exhibits, sometimes jointly with the Agricultural Research service. Here is a portion of the Native American Exhibit.

photo: J. Swab
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The Duvall Senior High School Concert Choir, directed by Ms. Valensia Howard, performed at a Black History Month program, cosponsored by NAL at the ARS auditorium.

photo: J. Swab
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NAL staff in costumes representing several cultural heritages, performed at a program celebrating Asian/Pacific Heritage Month.

photo: D. Starr
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Harpist David Scheim plays and sings Celtic music at the joint NAL/ARS Multicultural Festival while staff listen and join the picnic line.

photo: J. Swab
.

Poet Jeri Knox reads from her poetry at an NAL/ARS Black History Month Program

photo: J. Swab
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A Latino dance group, known as Sister Blanco, performs at the joint NAL/ARS Multicultural Festival.

photo: J. Swab
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At an NAL/ARS Black History Month Program, Amantey Hedzoleh Laryea played about a dozen instruments from West Africa, and sang several folk songs.

photo: J. Swab
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Table 1- Information Systems Division Statistics.


Table 2 -Technical Services Division Statistics


Document Delivery Activity: Requests by Type


Table 3 - Public Services Division Statistics: Document Delivery Activity


Document Delivery Activity: Sources of requests, Includes RDDS


Document Delivery Activity: Action Taken


Table 4 - Public Services Division Statistics: Reference Statistics


Table 5 - Public Services Division Statistics: Outreach, Training, Demonstrations. Activity


ALIN readers have seen a variety of images of NAL over the years, but how many instantly recognize this one of the exterior brickwork reflected in windows?
photo by Jean Larson, Animal Welfare Information Center Coordinator