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Library-Extension Collaboration Initiative

 

 

Exploratory Meeting for Collaborating on a
National Agricultural Outreach Information System

Summary Report

Exploratory Meeting to Discuss Opportunities for Collaborating
on a National Agricultural Outreach Information System

Phoenix Airport Marriott
February 18, 2004

 

Meeting Summary

 

This meeting brought together thirty-four participants representing USDA, the National Agricultural Library, land-grant library and extension directors, the University of Arizona (UA), as well as the Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC), e-Extension, CYFERnet, and the Plant Management Network. The purpose was to explore opportunities for collaborating on developing a national agriculture-related information system that will provide an interactive learning environment to facilitate changes in knowledge, education, and behavior.

 

Introductions were provided by UA Cooperative Extension Director, Jim Christenson, and UA Vice Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Colin Kaltenbach. Opening presentations were given by USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Rodney Brown; CSREES Administrator Colien Hefferan; UA Vice Provost and Dean of CALS, Eugene Sander, and UA Dean of Libraries, Carla Stoffle. After a review of the agenda and meeting goals by Peter Young, Director of the National Agricultural Library, presentations were given on AgNIC, e-Extension, and CYFERnet. The meeting then broke into smaller groups to discuss four topics:

  1. Outline needs and expectations of extension and information services audiences
  2. Consider opportunities and challenges offered by network information technology
  3. Explore Federal, State, and institutional roles in possible collaborations
  4. Identify areas for potential collaboration and partnership

The results of the discussions were presented by a designated member from each group (details provided below). Although the final expectation was to conclude by shaping a shared vision of the future for agriculture information and outreach, time constraints prevented this closure. Final remarks by Dr. Brown summarized the consensus of the group in saying, “we need to have our information used”. He challenged the group by asking: How will we spend our limited time and resources in the future? We can't build a new system and keep the old one. He also called for a smaller planning meeting to be organized where specific details for a collaborative system could be discussed and developed.

 

Summary of Discussion

 

There was much consensus on the common purpose of all the groups represented:

Summary of Follow-On Suggestions

 

In addition to Dr. Browns's call for another more focused planning meeting, participants expressed a general need to continue to develop partnerships between libraries and extension, other agencies, other cultural groups, and distance education colleagues. It was suggested that Extension directors ask NASULGC to facilitate this conversation. It was also suggested to bring this issue to the attention of Association of Research Libraries (ARL) land-grant library directors. Action steps and a timeline need to be elaborated.

 

Group Discussion Notes

 

Question no. 1: outline needs and expectations of extension and information services audiences

 

Lyla Houglum, Extension Director, Oregon State University

Quick, fast, immediate, get what I want fast

Reliable, quality, research based information

Urban and rural information and resources

Families, communities, professionals – internal and external

Anticipate issues – being pro-active

Customized to local environment/situation

Local community identification

Interactive learning environment that leads to application

Responsive to client needs no matter how obscure

 

Fran Wolak, Associate Dean of Extension, Clemson University

Need 24/7 access to information and resources that are packages to provide answers, not just information

Need to provide accurate information from a source trusted by users

How do we expand the local trust to a ‘national technical model'?

All the players at the meeting bring credibility

 

Elaine Edwards, Extension Director, Iowa State University

People want information 24/7 from home, offices, etc.

One stop shopping

Trusted sources

We need to differentiate between information and education

Expectations are for immediate access

Still want one-on-one consultations, local connection

#1 thing people want is face to face, which is a dilemma of the old model

Clients want it all - Internet and access to experts

We need to have COURAGE - here is where we are headed and refocus our efforts

We need a system that is easy to use to take in all the questions, put them through a filter, answer some of them through a knowledge-based format, others referred to experts

We need to acknowledge the generational differences of audiences; educational needs are different

 

Question no. 2: consider opportunities and challenges offered by network information technology

 

Lyla Houglum, Extension Director, Oregon State University

Getting people to your site; marketing

Name that is easily recognized – brand recognition

Need to talk with Google about how to get ranked at top of search lists; ex: arthritis goes to WebMD

 

Fran Wolak, Associate Dean of Extension, Clemson University

Rapid change of technological changes

Where are the software/hardware standards?

Need technology enhancement of our technical expertise

“Disadvantaged” institutions – how will they be involved? Both users and providers

 

Elaine Edwards, Extension Director, Iowa State University

We are getting more sophisticated questions and need to be able to answer them

Advantage…we are knowledge trusted source

Rural constituents, access is still an issue in some states and for some county offices

Variety of expectations

Teach information literacy

Evaluate information

Take advantage of technology to automate the information, facilitate the access and have more to time deliver and develop educational program

One stop shopping

Label is important, people expect local

Need immediacy of response

Provide customer service

Need to be able to focus information via topics

Refer new research/information to those communities of interest

Valid point of reference—need to maintain

Design a system that touches people/meet their needs in technology

 

Questions no. 3 and 4: explore federal, state, and institutional roles in possible collaborations; identify areas for potential collaboration and partnership

 

Lyla Houglum, Extension Director, Oregon State University

Library and extension talking with one another to take advantage of one another's expertise

More national and regional sharing rather than publishing in every state

Question no. 4

NASA/HHS/DOE – many potential agency partnerships; difficult coordination at federal level

Cultural gaps – not just translation

How to assure this is not the last conversation with have with libraries?

Need to involve distance education initiatives

Ask NASULGC to convene a “partners” session

 

Fran Wolak, Associate Dean of Extension, Clemson University

People look for topics not providers

Are we bringing the pieces together? Or are we building something new?

How do we track credit?

 

Elaine Edwards, Extension Director, Iowa State University

Branding and recognition is important; combine branding with a broader network

Metadata/search capabilities at the broader site

Peer review is an important

Someone has to do the work!

Resource issues, focus on an identified needs so we can move forward

Audience levels vary, information should be filtered and repackaged for different audiences (k-12, students at universities, researchers, lifelong learners)

Archival functions are important