July 9, 2008

Mann Library upgrades ag 'library in a box' for world's poorest countries

In about 50 of the world's poorest countries -- from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe -- Cornell's "library in a box" gives nutritionists, veterinarians, soil and animal scientists and natural resource managers, among others, access to 137 top agricultural journals -- with no compact discs to insert, no Internet and no waiting.

Cornell's Mann Library has just issued an upgraded version of the digital database of journal articles that includes the last 15 years or so of most journals and such features as advanced searches, browsing, saving and indexing.

The database, which works on libraries' or universities' local area networks (LANS) and is called the Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (LanTEEAL 2.0), is stored on an external hard drive, about the size of a video cassette.

"Since its launch nine years ago, TEEAL has improved access to current scientific knowledge in several dozen of the world's poorest countries," said Olivia Vent, TEEAL outreach coordinator in Mann Library.

Recently, TEEAL also has helped place nine LanTEEAL 2.0 sets in universities and ministries in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and 25 more sets throughout Africa, including at the West African Center for Crop Improvement at the University of Ghana.

Its journals cover agriculture in the broadest sense, from aquaculture, rural development and food science and nutrition to microbiology, sustainable agriculture and veterinary medicine.

"The use of LanTEEAL has been overwhelming," said a librarian from Moi University in Kenya in a survey. "It is used from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m."

"What a difference the TEEAL collection has made for the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council library," wrote Craig A. Meisner, an adjunct Cornell professor from Dhaka, Bangladesh. "Before, the library was dark and no one was there. Now it is a vibrant library with so many students waiting to use TEEAL and reading books, journals, etc."

"Since we introduced TEEAL, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number and currency of citations in student theses and papers," said Willis Oluocho-Kosura, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Nairobi. "Before, there might be only a couple of references and badly outdated from the 1980s."

For more information, see http://www.teeal.org/.