International Activities

NAL and Central
Libraries Work

NAL continues its effort to forge lasting ties with agricultural libraries in central and eastern European countries. NAL has helped these agricultural libraries with gifts of surplus books and journals, internships at NAL for their librarians, assistance in writing grant proposals, and expertise in setting up electronic information management systems.

NAL began cultivating relationships with central and eastern European countries in 1991 when the library arranged and sponsored a conference in Beltsville, MD. Representatives from six countries attended. Assisting NAL in this activity was the Associates of the National Agricultural Library, Inc. (a nonprofit friends of the library group). A second conference was held in Budapest, Hungary, in fall of 1992; a third in Radzikow, Poland, a year later; and another in Nitra, Slovakia, this past fall.

Countries participating in the conferences and exchanging agricultural information with NAL include Albania, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.

As part of the roundtable initiative, NAL shipped surplus U.S. agricultural journals and books overseas to help farmers and agricultural scientists in central Europe.

In 1993-94, nearly 900 boxes of surplus agricultural literature provided to NAL by U.S. scientists nationwide were sent to agricultural libraries in the Baltic Republics, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

NAL is being aided in this effort by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and the Office of International Cooperation and Development of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service.

As a result of a plea for materials from NAL and ARS, ARS scientists sent thousands of items such as personal collections of Agronomy Journal, Journal of Animal Science, and Journal of Dairy Science to NAL. The scientists were pleased to be able to recycle the research literature they no longer needed. The central and eastern Europeans were pleased, too. NAL has received thank you letters from several directors of agricultural libraries assisted by the effort.

Following up on this new cooperation with central and eastern Europe, NAL arranged for agricultural librarians from the Czech Republic and Slovakia to spend several weeks in 1994 observing NAL operations in Beltsville. Dr. Jana Skladalova, Chief Librarian at the Central Food Library, Prague, Czech Republic, and Dr. Andrejka Svorenova, head of the library at the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information for Agriculture, Nitra, Slovakia, spent nearly 3 months at NAL observing and receiving training in all aspects of NAL operations. The librarians also visited Auburn University and Tuskegee University, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland.

Skladalova also traveled to Kansas State University and to USDA research stations in Manhattan and Kansas City, Kansas, while Svorenova went to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The librarians' visit to the United States was funded by the Cochran Fellowship Program, a USDA program that provides funds to train agriculturalists from emerging democracies.

Thesaurus Project

NAL continued working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and CAB International (CABI) of the United Kingdom in the international effort to improve access to agricultural information through a unified agricultural thesaurus (UAT) system. Activities involved carrying out a classification scheme agreed to at a UAT policy meeting in Bonn, Germany, in 1993.

Throughout the year, indexers in the Thesaurus Management Section worked on classifying AGROVOC, the FAO thesaurus, in the 20 major sections agreed upon. The UAT classification has proved to be very workable and accommodating, and only one subject area has needed major revisions.

An FAO representative came to NAL for a week-long technical session concentrating on the social sciences. After considerable follow-up work, the representative endorsed delivering NAL'S entire classification of AGROVOC to ZADI, the German agricultural documentation center. ZADI will use the classification as part of the knowledge base for AGRIRES, an experimental expert system to aid inexperienced end users searching AGRICOLA, CAB Abstracts, and AGRIS.

Indexers also assisted the CAB Thesaurus side of the UAT project. CABI sent their draft schedules to NAL for comparisons and comments and received detailed suggestions on several sections, including 72 suggested new descriptors and 106 new nondescriptors.

NAL was able to arrange for installation of the Thesaurus Construction System software at CABI and FAO at nominal expense to these organizations. This facilitates effective sharing of NAL'S UAT/AGROVOC classification schedule with NAL's international partners.

Plant Genome Database Will Link With Israel

A collaborative effort between the U.S. Plant Genome Research Program and the Weizman Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, is being developed. An agreement has been reached to write a Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) grant proposal to support bioinformatics efforts between Israel and the United States. The joint project will investigate linking data from Israel into the Plant Genome Database maintained by NAL.

The BARD project will link the tomato/Solanaceae database at Cornell University to an Israeli center at the Weizman Institute.

Also on the international front, NAL's Plant Genome Data and Information Center received international visitors from Egypt, France, India, The Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia during the year.

NAL and Canada
Develop Rural

Agriculture Canada officials came to NAL in 1994 to investigate the possibility of creating a rural information clearinghouse for Canada based on NAL's Rural Information Center (RIC). If developed, Canada hopes its rural information clearinghouse would network closely with RIC. While at NAL, the Canadian officials closely studied RIC operations.

NAL Continues
Aid to Egyptian

A project begun in 1990 to assist the government of Egypt in establishing an Egyptian National Agricultural Library (ENAL) has seen further development in 1994 as groups of Egyptians visited NAL for training in library procedures and in collection development and management, including selecting and ordering monographs and serials for the core collection of the new Cairo library. NAL sorted, stored, and edited information into reports for the Egyptians using database management systems.

NAL has also assisted ENAL in procuring electronic library systems including microcomputer workstations, a CD-ROM development system, and an integrated library system.

A year of cooperation between acquisitions staff from ENAL and NAL came to a fruitful end in 1994. In the first part of the year, four ENAL librarians received training in VTLS acquisitions and serials check-in, selected over 8,000 monographic and 1,000 serial titles for their collection, and met with monographic and serial vendors on the FEDLINK contract. The final stage of the year's activity occurred in August when the ENAL deputy director and members of her staff returned to NAL to learn about FEDLINK procurement procedures, finalize their list of serial titles, and place their monographic orders for FY 1994 with the delegated FEDLINK vendors.

One of the goals of the ENAL project is to develop a state-of-the-art electronic library for Egypt that other nations in the Middle East and Africa can emulate. The acquisitions aspect of this goal is on its way to being realized, as the ENAL librarians have mastered electronic ordering procedures and are sensitive to the need to incorporate electronic titles into their collection.

ENAL staff will receive further training on electronic ordering and claiming procedures early in 1995 when vendor representatives will visit the ENAL facilities in Cairo. The VTLS system, when implemented, will further ENAL's ability to work in an electronic environment. During 1995 ENAL will begin receiving books and journals.

Cataloging Branch staff provided 7 weeks of cataloging training to four ENAL visitors. Trainees received instruction on the MARC format, OCLC searching and data input, Library of Congress classifications and subject headings, Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, name authorities, and searching and editing of ISIS records.

NAL Seeks Ties to
Latin American

Representatives from agricultural organizations in Latin American and Caribbean countries joined with NAL personnel in Washington, DC, and Beltsville, MD, for a workshop on agricultural information transfer and networking. The workshop focused on improving and strengthening the exchange of agricultural information and was hosted by NAL and the Inter-American Development Bank in cooperation with the Inter-American Association of Agricultural Librarians and Documentalists, the Associates of the National Agricultural Library, and the United States Agricultural Information Network.

The workshop brought together key leaders in the information community from a cross-section of the Americas as well as representatives from major international agricultural information and donor organizations.

The workshop produced an outline for a comprehensive regional plan for agricultural infrastructure development that will improve national systems and enhance regional and international cooperation, communications, and coordination. The plan is intended to overcome technological isolation and develop structures that can provide cost-effective access to information.

U.S. and Japan

NAL's Aquaculture Information Center (AIC) coordinated an international effort to provide aquaculture documents to Japan for a meeting of the United States/Japan Natural Resources--Aquaculture Panel. Materials were collected through the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture, which comprises 23 Federal agencies. Japan provided 65 titles in return, which AIC added to the NAL collection of aquaculture materials.