25 Years of USAIN: Once upon a time in Illinois

USAIN's "inaugural meeting" took place November 7-9, 1990 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The keynote speaker at the first USAN Conference was former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Bob Bergland.

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


next Chapter: Conference Themes

USAIN Celebrates 25 Years

A special logo and member pin was issued for the 25th anniversary

USAIN was founded in 1988 as a network of agricultural information professionals. Today, the organization still fosters collaboration, advocacy and professional development in support of agricultural information.

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