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Supporting Agricultural Research: The National Agricultural Library’s Participation in the ITHAKA S+R Study of Agricultural Scholars


ITHAKA S+R, a nonprofit research organization, studies the research practices of scholars within specific subject areas and identifies information needs that can be addressed by libraries and other information providers. Its agriculture project encompassed 19 libraries, including the National Agricultural Library (NAL), each of which conducted studies of their own affiliated scholars. ITHAKA S+R’s overall vision for this project was to help libraries develop and improve their interactions with users to support researchers’ information searching and use patterns and their larger research programs.

As part of the larger ITHAKA S+R study, NAL interviewed 18 researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service, and Forest Service, assessing some of their information practices and needs. The NAL team analyzed and used the data collected from this study to develop a set of observations and recommendations for NAL’s service areas and delivery mechanisms for information seeking, user community building, and data management.

The findings from NAL’s study include the following recommendations:

  • Develop new web-based and in-person trainings to support the use of scholarly network tools and other platforms for keeping up with current trends in research;
  • Expand upon researchers’ facility with Google through trainings and/or targeted alerts. Trainings could include issues such as: creating profiles, alerts, and citation lists;
  • Foster networking and collaboration across ARS and USDA and with university and industry researchers;
  • Assist researchers in improving their data management and analytics skills, including where, how, when, and what to share, and how to find data that is fit for use or re-use; and
  • Improve interaction between NAL and the agricultural research community by developing an outreach and engagement program with ARS labs that raises awareness of public access initiatives.

The main ITHAKA S+R report and a description of the project is located at:

This page includes links to the reports of 15 other libraries participating in the project:

NAL’s final report is here: