15 January 2009

What roles for the agricultural library of the future?

On 22 January, IAALD President Peter Ballantyne is organising a session at the sharefair in Rome.

Entitled 'The Agricultural Library of the Future,' the session starts from the premise that libraries and library-like services have powered agricultural information and knowledge sharing for decades. In a 'googling' world, however, where information and knowledge sharing are often seen as a 'Do-It-Yourself' skillset, how are they still relevant and what can they do for us?

Please contribute to the discussion by sharing a short reflection on a question below:

1. What primary role or purpose does an agricultural library/information center have in 2009?

2. What might be DIFFERENT about this role, in perhaps 5 years time?

Please CONTRIBUTE your reactions by POSTING A COMMENT.

Thank you!

[reports from the session will be posted back on this blog]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. We identify and buy scientific information material, we teach students and users how to efficiently use this information, and give (mostly) students a comfortable place to work.
2. Obtaining adequate budgets will be even more difficult, because we won't buy any real things like books any more just e-material. The teaching and working place function will remain and increase, but printed information will (have) disappear(ed) together with the shelfs. Libraries may look like a café with librarians as information waiters.

January 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agricultural Research Institute (Cyprus) Library

What primary role or purpose does your agricultural library/information center have at this time?

-> Currently our library provides access to bibliographic references. It has books, journals, magazines and other publications. It also gives online access via websprirs and webagris

What might be DIFFERENT about this role, in perhaps 5 years time?

-> Increase of online resources and availability

George Adamides

January 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. What primary role or purpose does your agricultural library/information center have at this time?

-> providing access to global information about agriculture locally, within our parent government department, nationally and internationally

2. What might be DIFFERENT about this role, in perhaps 5 years time?

-> simplified more unified access to more digital content and services for more people
-> great percentage of resources devoted to digital content and services
-> changed organizational structure
(we hope) greatly increased usage and recognition

January 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

Google do not search Library information, inside of books and Encyclopedia and most of all, specialized Database (as CAB)

As a Librarian, I should teach "my students" where to look for each kind of information.

Students think they know how to search, but they didn't .... my goal is to tech them how to have successful search in fewer time, sometime it will be Google, others will be other products !!!

I'm a lot involve in Information literacy with student, I see them 4 times in their 3 first year of 4 of the bachelor degree

Hope this help ;)

From cold Quebec (-40C this morning)

January 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Peter, enclosed some of our ideas related your concerns:

Primary role

Information management for development based on two fronts: a. Linking information centers and networking to one initiative www.sidalc.net  and b. Provision of precise-quality information services to our member states in the Americas.

In the future (5 years from now)

Countries and their institutions n Latin America and the Caribbean will have better competencies to lead their own networks and linkages to international community. It is a shift of command between them and us, moving information resources according to needs and to those who really need them. We as information center will them promote more on the existence of those networks and the real contribution of them to agriculture and rural livelihoods.

January 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Here in Wageningen MSc students use textbooks and reference books while studying in the library (they indicate that bohe collection and the working environment matter. Reasearchers use the digital library extensively. Less attractive materials (reports etc) that are in closed stacks seem to be getting less popular. The documentation section provides materials (often as portals) for secondary education. Note that there are two libraries left that can be called agriculture, and they are now bound to be merged.
2. I expect that part of the paper collection will be selectively digitized. The rest will be a real historical collection (so the disctinction with the special collection will disappear). I expect that the citation reviews etc. that are taking off now will be more in demand in the years to come.

Hugo Besemer

January 16, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi everyone,
While libraries are experiencing a change from books/journals to electronic and more open access becomes available, I think information literacy skill is much needed for users and librarians. In 2009, libraries in Thailand will attempt to go digital by acquiring more digital content as well as investing in digitizing materials for wider access via Internet. I still some redundancy of works for people cannot decide whether to go fully digital or to keep the printed materials. This will end up with inadequate budget and workers.

January 17, 2009  
Blogger valeriapesce said...


I think in a “googling” world libraries may have lost some importance as channels for accessing information residing outside their collections (the library “bibliographic services” may have been replaced by search engines on the Internet – not necessarily Google). But libraries still have a primary role in:

1)conservation, physical availability and lending of non digital material: this role is primary and cannot be dismissed;

2)providing electronic bibliographical references and advanced semantic access to the material in their collections: this role is primary and could only be partially replaced by self-archiving, which is still the future;

3)applying standards for the exchange of bibliographic references with other libraries and publishers; soliciting standardization of all procedures and coherence in semantics from the community of library scientists; giving feedback on the success of the adopted standards.

One role of the library that seems to have lost its primary imporance is that of information center: from the librarian in the physical library people seem to expect competencies in conservation, collocation and lending more than expertise in bibliographical searches: people rely more and more on themselves (and on search engines) for searching.
Already now many documentalists / information specialists are not working behind a desk with the end users - and in some cases they are not even working for a library - but as designers of advanced information services (virtual libraries, online catalogues, Open Archives, advanced search engines, which in many cases do not correspond to physical libraries).
Even added-value tasks like compiling bibliographies, digests etc. can be performed by information professionals independently of a library.

What I mean is that some competencies of the libraries are becoming competencies of the professionals and can be exercised in other contexts.

This doesn't mean that the libraries are losing importance: their role in directing the user in bibliographic searches may be replaced by specialized search engines (for scholars and scientists) or by Google, but these engines actually enhance the role of libraries as long as they have to work “on top of” the library catalogues. Even Google Scholar could not exist without the library catalogues (although it could exist in a fully OAI scenario, but this is the future, and not for sure).

I would say the primary role of libraries is always that of “inputting quality information into the system”, both by making documents available and by providing reliable and standardized access paths to those documents; then it may be up to others (harvesters, Google etc.) to bring the users to that information.

January 17, 2009  
Blogger valeriapesce said...

(I split my post, it was too long)


Rather than a “googling” world as a potentially adverse environment, I see the Open Archive framework as a potentially overthrowing scenario.

Libraries have always served as repositories for material collected from individuals, institutions and publishers, with the objective of conserving it and giving access to it.
Within the Open Archive framework, if this is really the future, we are moving towards self-archiving, which means individual and institutional repositories directly accessible from online search engines. In this scenario, there seems to be no need for libraries except as conservation libraries.
Will the OAI model really succeed and will this put an end to the original function of libraries?
Most probably, even if this model succeeds, some kinds of libraries will retain their function, as self-archiving cannot replace for instance the institutional mandate of a public national library to collect and catalogue whatever is published. Although, also “publish” is a verb that has changed its meaning a lot and will change it even more in an OAI scenario.
Agricultural libraries in this scenario might have to transform themselves in added-value services that give access to different types of information residing anywhere through semantically-empowered search engines. The building and maintenance of these information systems will have to benefit from the contribution of the scientists themselves, who will have to become information professionals (organizing information is something they.already do anyway).

As for Google and similar services, in a non-OAI scenario they will always have to work “on top of” library catalogues, therefore the role of libraries would not be diminished.

In general, rather than compete with Google and Open Archive, libraries will have to just become interoperable by them and contribute to improve the quality standards of those services.
In the future, all information providers will have to accept to be harvested or die! The relevance of an information provider will not be measured based on how many people visit its website but on how many high-level services harvest information from it and how well the information provided satisfies the users: harvesting services will in fact have to fully acknowledge the sources of information and provide useful statistics on the quantity and quality of information provided by each source and on the demand for such information, as a basic incentive for the sources to accept to be harvested.

January 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. What primary role or purpose does your agricultural library/information
center have at this time?


2. What might be DIFFERENT about this role, in perhaps 5 years time?


January 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. What primary role or purpose does your agricultural library/information center have at this time?

The role remains the same, i. e. to share agricultural knowledge to users but the mode of delivery has changed considerably.

2. What might be DIFFERENT about this role, in perhaps 5 years time?

I don’t think the role will change but there may be faster and better ways to deliver information electronically.

January 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Peter,

Sorry for delay and I hope that these comments would be included in your session as typical example of agricultural library in the developing countries:

1. What primary role or purpose does an agricultural library/information center have in 2009?

We provide library services and teach researcher how to depend on successful search strategies and give the awareness about the relevant source of agricultural information and knowledge from the web, local databases and electronic agricultural library. We share in agricultural information networks and established library consortium at national, regional and international levels. We work endeavor to make our available agricultural literature well accessed through internet and intranet. We encourage our researcher to use relevant agricultural information web sites such us AGORA, CAB, AGRIS and FAOSTAT and to utilize the use of the electronic library LanTEEAL instead of googling and the other search engines.

2. What might be DIFFERENT about this role, in perhaps 5 years time?

More efforts would do to decrease the digital divide and more open access to agricultural knowledge initiatives would be established. It is expected improved awareness and efforts to develop agricultural knowledge management and networks at national, regional and international levels.

Mrs. Ahlam Ismail Musa
Head Librarian, Central Library ARC
AGRIS Resource Center of the Sudan
P. O. Box 126, Wad Medani, Sudan

January 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,

Generally speaking, libraries must shift from the existing dominant view of the library as a physical space to put more emphasis on information resources organized around user interests. That paradigm requires that libraries must develop tailored information products and services for specific client groups. Otherissues to be addressed are:
- Copyright - Ethical use of information in environment where the information resources are owned by commercial vendors - e-journals, e-books, and aggregator services. Users need to understand the terms and conditions under which access to licensed information is provided to them. Controlled access in the online environment is a new challenge for libraries
- Cooperation and resource sharing. The issue of cooperation between libraries - Technology protocols allow for greater integration between libraries as well as increasing opportunities for collaboration between institutions at local, national and international levels. Because of budgetary cuts, libraries are unable to purchase the needed material, so they should aim for mutual cooperation.
- Collection development - a strategy for shared building of collections, with a focus on digital resources to strengthen staff influence and involvement in the selection must be developed.
- Staff engagement and collaboration - there is a need to reinforce staff participation in library management, particularly for collection development.
- Usage statistics - Usage statistics must be collected in conjunction with online search requests and journal usage. The objectives of the exercise is to ensure resource efficiency, to ensure relevancy of the journal collection according to the needs, to establish a process model regarding use and evaluation of the collection.
- Accessibility - one of the biggest management issues from the library-side is that of offering access to these resources.
- Library staff expertise - Operating the 'hybrid library' requires significant shifts in attitude on the part of library staff from working in a traditional library environment to working in a 'hybrid' environment; and it requires significant investment in staff training and the development of more diverse skills and expertise.
- Integrating searches in other databases, including commercial databases. In the vein of one-stop-shopping, bibliographic records for e-journal titles have been included in the online catalogue.


January 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This sort of report is broader that for just agriculture libraries, but the library mentioned in this ROI report is the Univ. of IL, and you can't get more agriculture than Illinois.


Allison Level
Colorado State

One of the conclusions was: "It is clear that the context for this ROI model is limited to grant income and does not address the value of resources to faculty in conducting their research or teaching. Using the ROI model with UIUC data produced a return of $4.38 in grant income for every dollar invested in the library in 2006."

January 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Libraries,i think will forever be needed despite the advent of 'googling'.Libraries preserve history,foster professionalism and ensure focus - 'googling' provides these,but most likely in a fleet.

February 09, 2009  
Blogger KKU, Faculty of Agriculture Library said...

Libraries should be promotted an Information Literacy to patrons because modernlization of information technology,databases.
Mrs.Tasanee Plangsungnoen
Faculty of Agricultural Library
KHon Kaen University, THAILAND

February 10, 2009  

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