NAL commits to 'electronic library' goal (fwd)

Scott Miller scottm at BISHOP.BISHOP.HAWAII.ORG
Wed Mar 30 17:39:19 CST 1994

Subject: NAL commits to 'electronic library' goal

                         Contact: Brian Norris (301) 504-6778


     BELTSVILLE, MD--On January 1, 1995, the National
Agricultural Library (NAL) will take a major step in its
commitment to becoming an "electronic library."

     "On that date, electronic information becomes the `preferred
medium' for library materials in an all-out push to make NAL's
services and its collection available in various electronic
formats worldwide," said acting NAL Director Pamela Andre.

     Andre said that NAL's ultimate goal is to become "truly a
library without walls, where our magnificent collection can be
accessed by computer by anyone, anywhere and at anytime."

     According to Andre, NAL is making this commitment because of
its belief that "the current paper-based information delivery
system is inadequate to keep pace with the needs of the modern

     The "electronic library" goal was set in an "Electronic
Information Initiative--Phase I" undertaken by NAL as part of a
strategic plan to guide NAL operations into the next century.
The overall purpose of the initiative is to research, plan and
implement a systematic program of managing data in electronic

     "Phase I was a consideration of the issues associated with
NAL's ability to manage electronically created and stored
information," Andre said.  "The final report recommends actions
NAL must take in order to provide full electronic access to
information in the increasingly networked agricultural

     Andre said NAL set the January 1, 1995 goal in a "statement
of commitment" contained in the Phase I Final Report.  In part,
the statement says, "Increasingly, information is produced in
digitized form, and with recent telecommunications innovations
and the Internet, the resources available to the computer
literate researcher are expanding exponentially...
(consequently) The NAL is taking the initiative in a systematic
program of managing data in electronic form and establishing
strategies for collecting, storing and distributing U.S.
agricultural information in electronic form."

     The statement ends, "To demonstrate its commitment to
meeting the challenges of becoming an `electronic library,' on
January 1, 1995, the National Agricultural Library will designate
electronic information the preferred medium."

     Other steps NAL will take to achieve its electronic library
goal are: tie in to electronic networks worldwide to provide
"seamless access to information;" shift and add resources to
acquire, process and make available electronic data; work closely
with other world agencies and libraries to emphasize electronic
information; and convert its own publications from print to
electronic media.

     Details of the NAL effort are contained in "The Electronic
Information Initiative: Phase I Final Report: A Key Success
Factor in the NAL Strategic Plan."  Copies of the report are
available via anonymous FTP at "" in the
"/pub/elec.init" directory as filename "eii-rpt.txt".  Copies are
also available on 3 1/4" diskette by sending a blank formatted
disk to:

     Head, Document Delivery Services Branch
     Attn: Electronic Initiative Diskettes
     National Agricultural Library, Room 300
     10301 Baltimore Ave.
     Beltsville, MD 20705-2351

     "NAL cannot afford to ignore the flood of electronic
advances taking place that we can use to serve our users more
effectively," Andre said.  "With this announcement we have
committed ourselves to mastering information technology, to the
benefit of U.S. and world agriculture."

     NAL is one of three national libraries of the United States,
with the Library of Congress and the National Library of
Medicine.  It is the largest agricultural library in the world.

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