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Library-Extension Collaboration Initiative



ARL Land-Grant Library Directors' Meeting

Notes from Meeting

Association of Research Libraries
Tucson, Arizona
May 14, 2004

In conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association of Research Libraries, a special session was held for Land-Grant library directors to discuss the implications of various national level, agriculture-related electronic information and outreach programs. The meeting was convened by Carla Stoffle, Dean of Libraries and the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, and attended by fourteen other library directors (see list below). Dean Stoffle stated the national importance of the issue and of the need to find a way to bring the extension and library communities together in a stronger collaboration. Speakers included Dr. Deborah Young, Associate Extension Director at the University of Arizona, who provided a description and status report on the E-Extension initiative; Barbara Hutchinson, Director of the University of Arizona's Arid Lands Information Center, who spoke about the Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC) and its potential as a model for a more integrated agricultural information system; and Peter Young, Director of the National Agricultural Library (NAL), who provided a perspective on AgNIC and E-Extension in relation to overall NAL programs and future plans, as well as on the budgeting process for such programs.


In the hour-long discussion that followed, questions were raised about the E-Extension plan and funding mechanism, AgNIC plans for sustainability and technological advances, the NAL role, and particularly about what might be possible next steps. The library directors made it clear they wanted to leave with a sense of the actions they might take on return to their respective institutions. Specifically, the speakers were asked to state what they hoped would result from this meeting. Suggestions from the speakers included making contact with their extension directors regarding E-Extension and other possible collaborations, talking with their agriculture librarians about AgNIC activities or becoming involved in AgNIC if they were not already members, and advocating for support of a broad-based agricultural information system. Actions recommended by the library directors are as follows:


1) Many of the ARL library deans and directors had positive examples of Library-Extension collaborations already taking place at their institutions. They suggested conducting a quick survey via the web to inventory and document these types of collaborations with the results compiled into a preliminary report. The final report would provide models for collaboration and a marketing tool for gaining government support for building on these initial collaborations, with the potential for developing an integrated national system. It was also suggested that the survey should be brief and sent out as soon as possible so that initial results would be available for the scheduled ALA library directors meeting.

ACTION SUGGESTED: UA and NAL will draft a first phase survey tool and distribute it to all ARL land-grant library directors prior to the ALA meeting. The preliminary results of the survey will be compiled and made available for the ALA meeting and discussion. Another more extensive survey will be conducted later to include non-ARL land-grant library deans and directors as well as Extension directors, AgNIC members, and USAIN members. Prepare final report.

2) A recommendation was made by several ARL library deans and directors, and there was general agreement among the group, that AgNIC should consider establishing a high-profile Advisory Board made up of library deans and directors, extension directors, and other leaders who could provide formal recognition for AgNIC, help guide its development, and gain broader support for the Alliance. In addition, this group would help facilitate a strategy for how land-grant libraries and extension might work together in the digital world, and for defining a broader, more integrated agriculture-related information system, perhaps on the order of a PubMed for agriculture. This would include developing a rational for advocating for increases in the NAL budget to support this effort.

ACTION SUGGESTED: Take this recommendation to the AgNIC Executive Board for consideration and action. Outline clear responsibilities and tasks for the Board. Identify those leaders who would be willing to commit to developing a plan of action to extend current collaborations to implement the original vision for AgNIC and to create a more integrated and broad-based system.

3) One discussion focused on the lack of an established venue for ARL land-grant library deans and directors to meet and discuss mutual interests related to agricultural information on a regular basis. One library director noted that at one time there had been a library entity within NASULGC and wondered if it would be possible to reestablish this group. The role of the U.S. Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) also was briefly discussed in this context.

ACTION SUGGESTED: NAL will open a discussion with NASULGC principals to explore the possibility of providing a venue for library and agricultural information activities. In addition, the possibility of using the biennial USAIN conference as a location for a land-grant library deans and directors meeting will be presented at the ALA meeting for discussion.

4) Several ARL library directors suggested implementing pilot projects to demonstrate how AgNIC and E-Extension could collaborate. It was mentioned that there had been a proposal considered by the AgNIC Executive Board and AgNIC Coordinating Committee for such demonstrations, but that it had been tabled until further input could be gained as to the interest in and viability of undertaking such projects.

ACTION SUGGESTED: This idea should be discussed further at the ALA land-grant library deans and directors meeting or taken up by the Advisory Board after it is formed.

Contacts for further information:


Carla Stoffle

Dean of Libraries and the Center for Creative Photography

University of Arizona


Peter Young

Director, National Agricultural Library