29 April 2008

NAL Update

At USAIN's 2008 conference, Peter Young and colleagues gave an update on recent developments at the National Agricultural Library.

He introduced 'Blueprint for Success: The National Agricultural Library 2008-2012' - a staff discussion paper that, according to Young explains "what it is that NAL's programmes are about." It responds to the question "what do you [the NAL] need ..." to revitalize and sustain the library and its services into the future. The paper is "meant to stimulate discussion, evoke critical comment and spark debate about NAL’s future."

The starting premise of the team writing the report is that "information consumers, whether USDA staff worldwide or the Nation’s citizens, now expect easy and seamless access to digital content and personalized services. They demand reports, images and news feeds in a variety of formats. They also insist on the ability to customize interfaces, to tailor content to their precise needs and to have that content come to them on their timetable wherever they are." The various chapters set out ways that a national agricultural library and its partners can address these demands, through services, collections, marketing, partnerships, infrastructure and facilities. [Download the report - pdf format]

He also talked about several digital initiatives: AgSpace - a repository with more than 11,000 USDA-authored articles (searchable through AGRICOLA); the NAL Digital Repository (NALDR) - mainly historical USDA publications; and a new 'biofuels and bioenergy' page that will become an information center.

He also talked about 'InfoFarm' - the NAL blog. Young referred to this as "NAL's voice, sassy as it is." He asked readers to feel free to be 'sassy' right back - through comments and feedback.

After the session, we asked Peter about the international dimension of NAL's work, particularly the need for global collaboration:

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