25 Years of USAIN
Following is a series of brief articles commemorating 25 Years of USAIN. Please contact President Connie Britton if you would like to write a short article about some aspect of USAIN’s history.
Table of Contents
- 25 Years of USAIN: The Pin
- 25 Years of USAIN: The Start
- 25 Years of USAIN: The First Conference
- 25 Years of USAIN: Conference Themes
- 25 Years of USAIN: Tomato Juice/AgZines
- 25 Years of USAIN: Conference Scholarships
- 25 Years of USAIN: A Plan for Preservation
25 Years of USAIN: The Pin
The archives and USAIN documents don’t shed much light on the history of the USAIN membership pin, so we’re forced to rely on the memories of some of our more senior members.
There have been 3 versions of the “official” USAIN pin. All three issues use the wheat sheaves and the acronym from our logo to create the design. The first issue of the pin was a smaller rectangular shape with a black enamel background and gold lettering. The pin was originally given to attendees of the first USAIN conference in 1990 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
At some point along the way, additional versions of the pin were purchased, most likely to replenish a dwindling supply. The second issue was a slightly larger version of the original design but replaced the black background with green. Later, members received the third version, which returned to the original design with the black background, but was the same size as the green pin.
To mark the 25th anniversary of USAIN in 2013, the Executive Council commissioned a new pin design. Megan Kocher, a science librarian at the University of Minnesota, chair of the USAIN Communications Committee and someone with considerable graphic design talent, volunteered to create a new design that would be a remembrance of this milestone. She presented several options to the EC and the chosen design was made into a round silver and enamel embossed pin. Each current USAIN member will receive a pin in the mail within the next few weeks, so watch your mail. (Not a current member? Join now and you, too, will receive a pin.)
For the coming year, the anniversary design will appear along with our traditional logo in recognition of 25 years of USAIN. We hope to see it adorning many badges and lapels at the upcoming conference in Vermont, May 4-7, 2014. -- Connie Britton
Constance J. Britton, Librarian
Ohio State University
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center
1680 Madison Ave.
Wooster OH 44691
25 Years of USAIN: The Start
Ask people when USAIN started and they will most likely mention the November 1990 inaugural conference that was held at the University of Illinois. But what happened before that conference to get USAIN started? The following is from Toni (Powell) Greider’s Food for Thought article 27(2) Nov-Dec-Jan 1995.
“Attempts to organize the agricultural information professionals date back to 1967 when EDUCOOM formulated a network development plan and submitted it to NAL. In 1971, an Agricultural Sciences Information Network Committee was formed and in 1975, a conference for the implementation of the Agricultural Sciences Network took place. The efforts to form the network, however, were unsuccessful.
The Farm Bill of 1977 contained language strongly supporting cooperative agricultural activities. In 1982 the Interagency Panel of the NAL (known as the Blue Ribbon Panel) recommended that a network of public and private agricultural libraries and information centers be coordinated by NAL. At the request of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges Subcommittee on Agricultural Information, a planning document was drafted and NAL acted as the coordinator of the network.
A network was planned, not a separate organization that would compete with ALA or SLA. Dues were to be kept at a minimum so that individuals could participate along with institutions. The network was to be open to any person or institution involved in agricultural information. The network’s goal was to promote and facilitate access to agricultural information for those who need it. The Network was christened the United States Agricultural Information Network and was designed to change and evolve as it matured.”
On October 26-27, 1988, the officers of the agricultural libraries and information network assembled at NAL to work out the details of the new organization. The officers of the as yet unnamed cooperative group were Nancy Eaton, Director of Libraries, University of Vermont President; John Beecher, Director, North Dakota State University, Vice-President; Carol Boast, Agriculture Librarian, University of Illinois, Secretary; and Melvin George, Director of Libraries, Oregon State University Treasurer. -- Amy L. Paster
Amy L. Paster
Head Life Sciences Library
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802
25 Years of USAIN: The Conference
USAIN’s “inaugural meeting” was November 7-9, 1990 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The February/March 1991 issue of Agricultural Libraries Information Notes (ALIN) included a summary by Brian Norris (NAL) and many photos by Joseph Swab (NAL). The conference program is available on the USAIN Past Conferences webpage.
The meeting focused on the future of agricultural information. Norris wrote that one of the most stimulating sessions was the panel discussion “Agricultural Information and the Future.” Dr. Curtis Farrar (International Food Policy Research Institute) emphasized the growing demand for agricultural information from developing countries, particularly in Eastern Europe. Janet Butts (Cargill) stressed the need for information skills in agricultural companies. George Strawn (Computation Center, Iowa State University) gave several predictions about the future of information and technology, including the obsolescence of CD-ROMs and the increasing use of computers for personal communication. Wilf Lancaster (Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois) advised to not obsess about technology, because it does not provide all of the solutions for information management; as an example, he said that transferring card catalogs to computers had not improved access to information.
The 1990 meeting included many sessions that are still a part of USAIN’s more recent conferences. The keynote speaker was Bob Bergland, who had served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1977-1981. Time was allocated for committee meetings and interest group discussions, and at the time, the interest groups were AGRICOLA, Cataloging, Collection Management, Document Delivery, and Rural Information. Technology exhibits were open at various times through the meeting, with representatives from SilverPlatter, OCLC, the National Pesticide Information Retrieval System (NPIRS), the National Agricultural Library (NAL), CAB International, Haworth Press, and the U.S. Bureau of the Census (for the Census of Agriculture). Tours of the University of Illinois libraries and research facilities were offered before and after the meeting.
Over 100 people participated in the first meeting. They came from a variety of institutions and organizations, including universities, library vendors, agricultural companies, and federal and state government agencies. Notably, at least a couple of USAIN’s current members attended the inaugural meeting.
--Sarah C. Williams
[This is the third in a series of brief articles commemorating 25 Years of USAIN. Please contact Connie Britton if you would like to write a short article about some aspect of USAIN’s history.]
25 Years of USAIN: Conference Themes
Last month, Sarah Williams gave a great account of the first USAIN conference held at the University of Illinois in 1990. The call has gone out for an institution the host the 2016 conference and the Executive Council eagerly awaits your proposals. To stimulate your imagination, enthusiasm and desire to host a USAIN conference, here’s a recap of the locations and themes of our past conferences.
November 7-9, 1990
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
October 14-16, 1991
University of Minnesota
Electronic Information in the Agricultural Sciences
October 28-30, 1993
Rural Information at the Crossroads: Issues and Opportunities
April 26-29, 1995
University of Kentucky
Cultivating New Ground in Electronic Information; Use of the Information Highway to Support Agriculture
April 3-5, 1997
University of Arizona
The Information Frontier: Linking People and Resources in a Changing World
April 22-24, 1999
Kansas State University
From Production to Consumption: Agricultural Information for All
April 20-23, 2001
North Carolina State University
Extending Our Reach: Redefining and Promoting Agricultural Information Through Partnerships
April 25-28, 2003
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Agricultural Information for the New Millennium: New Crops, Biotechnology, and Saving the Past
May 15-18, 2005
University of Kentucky
Globalization of Information: Agriculture at the Crossroads
Delivering Information for the New Sciences
April 27-30, 2008
Ohio State University
Tradition in Transition: Information Fueling the Future of Agbiosciences
May 9-12, 2010
Agriculture Without Borders: Creating Knowledge and Partnerships Across Disciplines and Across the World
April 29-May 2, 2012
University of Minnesota
Soil, Water, Food and Energy: Agriculture in an Era of Global Climate Change
Facts about USAIN conferences
Number of conferences: 13
Number of host institutions: 10 (Illinois, Minnesota and Kentucky have each hosted twice)
Hosts by region
Number of joint conferences: 2 (with IAALD)
Number of conferences themes containing the word “information”: 10
Number of conference themes expressing the idea of “global”: 3
Number of Cornhole Tournaments: 3
2008 (1st) IAALD 2010(2nd) Ohio State 2012 (3rd) Rangelands West Partnership
We are looking forward to being in Vermont, May 4-7, 2014 for the 14th Biennial USAIN conference themed “Sustainable Agriculture: Stewardship of Our Information Ecosystem.” And remember, it’s never too early to start practicing your cornhole techniques.
[This is the fourth in a series of brief articles commemorating 25 Years of USAIN. Please contact Connie Britton if you would like to write a short article about some aspect of USAIN’s history.]
25 Years of USAIN: Tomato Juice/AgZines
USAIN members are often at the forefront of innovation and service. Please enjoy the following article by Carla Casler about an early electronic journal finding tool created by USAIN members. Their efforts pre-date the Directory of Open Access Journals! Thank you, Carla, Katie and Eric!
In the mid-1990's, as digitization technology and equipment became more accessible and affordable, publishers explored options to develop electronic editions. Commercial publishers were interested in developing new products for revenue; many small, non-profit publishers were more concerned with making their publications available to a broader audience. And we librarians were eager to help them. Eric Lease Morgan and Katie (Clark) Newman each developed lists of such journals, society series, etc. The USAIN Communications Committee worked with them to merge the lists into one, which Eric called Tomato Juice as a prototype as we developed it.
At the 1997 joint USAIN/IAALD conference in Tucson, I asked many attendees to try Tomato Juice and to tell me if they found it useful. Those at large well-funded libraries were kind, but unimpressed with the effort, because they were far more involved with core journals, and so, more concerned with pricing of journal subscriptions. Librarians in small research organizations were more enthusiastic, particularly those in other countries or in international organizations. For these, document delivery and journal subscriptions were problematic in the best of times; free online access to information answered many of their needs. I particularly remember Rosemay Ng Kee Kwong, the librarian for the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, expressing great appreciation for our efforts to compile Tomato Juice. She said she would recommend it to her colleagues in Mauritius and in her professional organizations.
The Communications Committee continued hunting, discovering and documenting free online periodicals in Tomato Juice. In 2001, we presented a poster at the USAIN conference in North Carolina: Morgan, Eric Lease, Kathleen Clark, & Carla Casler. Tomato Juice – USAIN's Communications Committee's Fortifying Index of Agricultural Web Journals. We also surveyed attendees for a better name for our project -- the most popular suggestion was AgZines. Not long after that, Eric accepted a position at Notre Dame University. He offered to take AgZines with him to a Notre Dame server, but realizing that agriculture is not a subject taught at that university, we felt it best to incorporate AgZines into the USAIN website, maintained by the Arid Lands Information Center (ALIC) at the University of Arizona. As Eric left North Carolina State University for Notre Dame, AgZines moved to ALIC. For many years AgZines was the most visited section of the USAIN website.
As funding for the Arid Lands Information Center dwindled and Carla's position became precarious, we worked to find a more stable home for the USAIN website. In 2008 the website was transferred to Oklahoma State University and Heather K. Moberly became the webmaster. Unfortunately, time and resources were too scarce to update and expand the resource pages, including AgZines.
All is not lost, however, the Newjour listserv is being compiled into a database. This listserv documents electronic journals, commercial and non-profit, in nearly all academic subjects. Perhaps this will fill AgZines role:
"Dear NewJour subscribers,
This message is to provide you with an update on the status of NewJour during our brief hiatus this fall.
* Over 30,000 titles are being uploaded to a new searchable database
* A new website with a new look and expanded information is underway
* An RSS feed to announce new journals is in development
* Older titles are being reviewed and URLs updated as needed
We anticipate NewJour's new site and notification system will be available to you on or about Monday, November 11. During the NewJour hiatus, we are continuing to collect information about new journals and will announce them through the RSS feed in November.
We will send out more details about the new site in a few weeks. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org."
-- Carla Long Casler, retired, Arid Lands Information Center (AZ) and former USAIN webmaster
[This is the fifth in a series of brief articles commemorating 25 Years of USAIN. Please contact Connie Britton if you would like to write a short article about some aspect of USAIN’s history.]
25 Years of USAIN: Conference Scholarships
This is another installment on USAIN history in celebration of the 25th anniversary of USAIN. USAIN began sponsoring scholarships for organizational members in 1995. Since that time twenty people were selected for the “New to the Profession or First USAIN Conference Scholarship”, five scholarships were awarded to library school students interested in agricultural librarianship and one scholarship was awarded for a Tribal College member who was also a member of USAIN.
After receiving a scholarship, recipients have gone on to serve on committees and some have been elected to the Executive Council. Many of the new to the profession scholarship winners were encouraged to apply for the scholarship by mentors or fellow agriculture librarians. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of USAIN I asked past scholarship recipients to reflect on their scholarship experience. Thanks to those who responded to the short survey. Of those who responded to the survey their current positions include:
- Collection manager for Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
- Coordinator for Collections
- Agriculture, Natural Resources & Design Librarian / Instruction Coordinator
- Science librarian
- Reference Services Librarian specializing in Landscape Architecture, Regional Planning, Agriculture, and Sustainability Science
- Information Technology Coordinator
- Documents Librarian
- Natural Resources Librarian
- Life Sciences Data Services Librarian
Leslie Delserone was selected as a USAIN student scholarship recipient and she is the only student recipient still active in USAIN. “I knew that I wanted to be an “ag librarian” while still in grad school. Looking around, and talking with colleagues at Cornell and UNL, lots of signs pointed to USAIN as an organization that would help me to learn and connect with people, and to which I might be able to contribute. Dr. Dana Boden (UNL) was the first librarian to suggest that I apply for a scholarship. The scholarship made it possible for me to attend the joint USAIN/IAALD Conference in 2005, and begin meeting with the colleagues that I value to this day. I’ve only missed one USAIN conference since then – the 2006 meeting at Cornell – because I was living in Ireland at the time. USAIN is an organization to “grow in” – there are plenty of opportunities to contribute, so I always felt that there was something – no matter how “small” – where my abilities could be useful."
Debbie Currie said, “Applying for the scholarship during the first year of my first professional job got the USAIN Conference on my radar early on, and with the help of my mentor at LSU, I was able to submit and present my first professional paper at the 1995 Conference. This was incredibly important to getting my career off to a solid start because I was in a tenure-track position. Getting that first paper under my belt gave me to confidence to move on a try other things, including running for office in both USAIN and AgNIC. Further on down the line, I also became active in IAALD, serving as the IAALD Editor for ten years. I trace all of those accomplishments and successes back to conversations I had with Toni Greider early on (as well as many, many subsequent ones, of course), and her encouragement to apply for a USAIN Conference Scholarship certainly helped get the ball rolling on what will soon be a 20-year career as an agriculture librarian. Thank you, Toni, and THANK YOU, USAIN!” Debbie went on to say, “USAIN is fabulous! AgNIC and IAALD have also found their way into my heart as well, but USAIN will always be my first love :) “
Noël Kopriva was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by another librarian at her university. Noël said, “I was a new librarian and feeling very much a novice, as well. The scholarship made it possible for me to attend and meet so many wonderful professionals who have mentored me as an agriculture librarian and information professional more generally. I depend on USAIN for information about what’s important in the field, for friendships and support, and for the opportunity to play a biannual game of cornhole.”
Innocent Awasom remarked, “I had just moved to the States and was liaison to the college of agriculture and connecting with kindred spirits in a National Agricultural Information Network was the most logical thing to do to enhance my professional competency through networking, sharing best practices/comparing notes and socializing. The scholarship was an added bonus as it came about because my conference paper was selected for presentation at the conference.” The scholarship made a difference to Innocent. He “…had great exposure to colleagues in other institutions, connected via the list serve and eventually landed a new job thanks to gleaning the information at the conference. No man is an island and we can only know so much! Being affiliated to such a vast network such as USAIN is an important resource for all your professional needs – just an email or a phone call away and the friendships and camaraderie formed over the years are really priceless! I have gotten the opportunity to visit many places that would have otherwise been impossible without my USAIN membership.”
Madeleine Charney said, “I had been serving as Book and Internet Review Editor for the Journal of Agricultural and Food Information for a few years. Because JAFI has such close ties to USAIN, I was always curious how the organization functioned ‘on the ground’ and who the actual people were in this community. Attending USAIN for the first time in 2010 connected me to others who do what I do, bringing me out of isolation. I felt very warmly welcomed and long story short, I now serve on the Executive Council. This role has definitely helped me further develop my leadership skills. I have also really enjoyed serving as Chairperson of the Invited Speakers Committee for USAIN 2014. It’s fun to help shape the upcoming event -- brainstorming ideas with colleagues from around the U.S. and communicating with various agriculture professionals who support the work of USAIN.”
Sheila Merrigan commented, “Since I worked in Cooperative Extension and not a library, had I not received the scholarship it would have been difficult to convince my administration that USAIN fit with my responsibilities and I doubt I could have gotten the funding to attend the meeting. Receiving the scholarship allowed me to attend the meeting and convinced me and my administration that this was a valuable connection – both because of the information gained and the people associated with USAIN. Being part of USAIN gives me a broader professional viewpoint than had I stayed within extension organizations.” Sheila went on to say, “When I first joined the organization I didn’t really think I fit in very well because I wasn’t a ‘librarian’ (i.e., working in an academic library), but I was welcomed, encouraged and mentored by so many people that I soon felt very comfortable. The fact that I worked in a non-traditional librarian role seemed irrelevant to my colleagues and I was encouraged to run for office and served on the Executive Council as a Director and then President. While it may not be surprising that this organization is filled with people who are extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to the profession, what is unanticipated is the great willingness to provide assistance and share information. The people are what make USAIN a great organization.”
Suzanne L. Reinman said, “My colleague at the time, Heather Moberly, encouraged me to submit a paper. The opportunity to participate in USAIN has allowed me to expand my outreach as a government documents librarian. Agriculture and environmental issues have always been an interest in my career. The ability to apply these and my understanding of government information have combined to form additional opportunities for me to contribute to the profession and to interact with specialists in this field.”
Shannon Farrell was told about the organization and scholarship by a colleague (ok it was Allison Level). She remarked, “I'm not sure it changed my aspirations, but I find that it is a nice, small, niche organization that offers a variety of opportunities, including networking, and leadership opportunities that are harder to access in larger associations (such as ALA). I think it has been a good experience so far. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference I attended and I'm enjoying working on the Membership committee, as I feel like we are making real, noticeable change for USAIN as a whole.”
Sarah Williams remembers, “When I applied for the scholarship, I was a fairly new librarian and the only agricultural librarian at my institution, so I was interested in USAIN as a way to meet other agricultural librarians and keep up on important issues in the profession. My first USAIN conference (in 2003) was a great experience; I learned so much and was welcomed by many long-time members. Winning the scholarship was an honor for me, and it led to my first opportunity to become actively involved in USAIN as a member of the Awards and Honors Committee. The opportunities to get involved in USAIN and connect with colleagues has helped sustain my interest in agricultural librarianship, and ten years after winning the scholarship, I am still serving agricultural researchers, particularly focusing on their research data.”
Lastly, I [Allison Level] will turn the tables and answer the questions myself. “I was a science librarian for several years then started a new job at Colorado State as the agriculture librarian so I applied for the scholarship since 2001 would have been my first USAIN conference. At the time the conference was held on the NCSU campus it was still winter in CO but springtime in Carolina. I saw spring flowers, some familiar librarian faces, yet I also met many new people. The combination was a springboard for my interest in USAIN and I asked to join a committee shortly after I got back home. Over the years I have served on the Executive Council and was elected as USAIN President. The goals, activities, and people involved in USAIN have made a significant difference to agriculture and research libraries. Thanks USAIN for the scholarship support you have provided over the years.”
Thanks to all who participated in the survey and congratulations USAIN on 25 years.
--Allison Level, Colorado State University
[This is the sixth in a series of brief articles commemorating 25 Years of USAIN. Please contact Connie Britton if you would like to write a short article about some aspect of USAIN’s history.]
25 Years of USAIN: A Plan for Preservation
A signature achievement of USAIN has been the development and implementation of a national preservation plan for agricultural literature, one of the first discipline-based plans, which provided the structure for several rounds of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and resulted in twenty-nine state projects. USAIN continues to be a strong player in the preservation arena, recently partnering with AgNIC and the Center for Research Libraries on Project Ceres, which awards funding for “small projects that preserve print materials essential to the study of the history and economics of agriculture and make those materials accessible through digitization.” Over the course of 25 years, many USAIN members have provided, and continue to provide, outstanding vision and leadership for these preservation initiatives, primarily through the oversight of the Preservation and Digital Library Committee (formerly the Preservation Committee.) The breadth and depth of these efforts are recorded in a recently published paper written by Sam Demas, Amy Paster and Joy Paulson. Permission to post this paper on usain.org has been granted by the publisher. Demas, Sam, Amy Paster, and Joy Paulson. "Agriculture and Rural Life: A Discipline or Domain Based Approach to Preservation and Access." Against the Grain 25, no. 2 (2013): 79-81. PDF
[This is the seventh in a series of brief articles commemorating 25 Years of USAIN. Please contact Connie Britton if you would like to write a short article about some aspect of USAIN’s history.]