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About the Water Quality Information Center
Working Group on Water Resources

Water Quality: A Report of Progress

Published Sep 1997

The Water Quality Information Center at the National Agricultural Library

Information is a key ingredient of problem solving. A variety of people--scientists, policy makers, economists, engineers and many others--are working on ways to curb pollution from agriculture. The role of the Water Quality Information Center is to meet the information needs of these people. The ultimate goal is an agricultural system that is productive, profitable, and healthy for people and the environment.

The Water Quality Information Center at the National Agricultural Library (NAL), part of the Agricultural Research Service, is the focal point of NAL's water quality efforts. The center collects, organizes, and communicates the scientific findings, educational methodologies, and public policy issues related to water quality and agriculture.

As the world's largest agricultural library, NAL contains a wealth of agricultural information. The NAL collection--more than 2 million volumes--is an invaluable resource for understanding agricultural issues, including issues related to the environment. The WQIC helps people make use of this resource and also helps NAL strengthen its environmental coverage.

Summary of WQIC/NAL progress/accomplishments since 1990:

  • Provided more than 1,200 people with personal assistance in finding water-related information.
  • USDA and Environmental Protection Agency personnel, private consultants, university faculty and students, members of environmental groups, and others called on the WQIC to help them in their nonpoint- source pollution work.
  • Developed nearly 50 bibliographies on timely water quality issues; these provide researchers with overviews of recent water quality work that they can learn from and build upon.
  • Established Enviro-News, an Internet mailing list that keeps its several hundred subscribers informed of the latest environmental happenings
  • Used emerging information technologies to provide efficient access to bibliographies, announcements and other water quality information; initially there was the Water Information Network, a text-only, dial-up computer bulletin board (1990-1995); then came the WQIC Gopher site, still text-only, but on the Internet (1993-1997); now the WQIC World Wide Web site offers easy navigation of water quality information with both text and graphics (1994 to present),
  • Developed widely used information tools such as a monthly listing of water-related meetings and calls for papers; a guide to bibliographic databases; and a listing of Internet discussion lists covering water-related topics.
  • Published and/or presented six papers on accessing water quality information to increase awareness and get feedback on information availability.
  • Collaborated with personnel from NRCS to develop a Constructed Wetlands Bibliography; with the Environmental Protection Agency and CSREES to produce Pesticide Applicator Training Materials: A Bibliography; and with the University of Maryland to make water-quality sections of the National Dairy Database available on the World Wide Web.
  • The WQIC has improved NAL's capacity in the water resources area by acquiring, without cost, more than 500 water-related items reports, videotapes, fact sheets) for addition to the NAL collection; and also has recommended the purchase of more than 1,100 water resource items to improve the collection.
  • NAL strengthened AGRICOLA--NAL's database of agricultural literature in the water resources area by selectively indexing 10 additional water-related journals and adding abstracts to the records of 5 more.
  • NAL has added thousands of records related to water resources and agricultural nonpoint-source pollution to the AGRICOLA database.

Last Modified: Feb 25, 2011

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