Cornell's Mann Library Puts Agricultural Journals on CD for Developing Countries

Article excerpt

Cornell University's Mann Library, which supports Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Human Ecology, has announced that it plans to give agriculture researchers and students in developing countries access to technical information that is needed to help increase food production. The library will scan and digitize the entire contents of the last 5 years of 125 selected agriculture journals and store them on a set of 60 CD-ROMs.

The result, known as The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library, or TEEAL, will be made available to libraries in 111 of the lowest-income food-deficit countries, as listed in the World Bank's 1996 World Development Report. The initial basic set of CD-ROMs will hold scanned images of some 675,000 pages with all illustrations and diagrams, including some color and gray-scale images.

"This project has the ability to change the quality of research and instruction in developing countries more than almost any other," said Robert Herdt, senior agricultural officer at the Rockefeller Foundation. The project will be funded initially by a $950,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

The idea originated with Wallace C. Olsen, a senior research associate at Mann Library, who will manage the project, and Jan Olsen, former director of Mann Library and now vice president for external affairs of Wells College in Aurora. Both have traveled extensively in developing countries in support of agricultural development projects. Wallace Olsen was formerly deputy director of the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland, and has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Bank. Jan Olsen has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Rockefeller Foundation.

"There have been a variety of book and journal distribution programs over the years, but nobody ever organized the material when it got there," said Wallace Olsen. "I'd go to a struggling library in South America and see the books sitting in the corner."

Between heat, dust, and mildew, paper can deteriorate badly over just 5 years, according to Olsen. "Computers are almost immune to that these days, and you can build a box around one if you have a problem," he said.

The CD-ROM library will include an index and searching tools so that users can find articles they need by entering keywords. Libraries that receive the set will not have to do any shelving or indexing, as they would with hard copy journals. …