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Summary

Information-Retrieval-Systems in agrarian information an documentations services. Research Report of the Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics Nr. 88


Schlieber, H.

1999

Starting point of the project was the unsatisfactory situation of agrarian information and documentation in Austria as shown by Pevetz (1971) and Pevetz / Schlieber (1992). That situation is characterised by the fact that up to now every agrarian institution (libraries / documentation services in ministries, federal institutions, chambers of agriculture etc.) has its own home-made procedure regarding the author/title approach, subject indexing, acquisition and information dissemination, a situation which impairs efficiency and obstructs or even prohibits intra-institutional and/or institution-overlapping knowledge or data exchange. In addition, there is an extreme shortage of personnel which is partly subject to an insufficient level of education in library techniques.

Induced by the rapid development of information technologies since the project was designed (in 1993) its emphasis moved increasingly from traditional library and documentary issues towards world-wide telecommunication networks (e.g. Internet) while the term agrarian information experienced an important extension of its domain. In contrast to foreign agrarian documentation centres (e.g. ZADI / Bonn) no up to date global and systematic overview of available databases in the field of agriculture, forestry and water (neither on CD ROM nor in Internet nor in networks) has been established yet in Austria. It is understrood that such an overview should include bibliographic, factual, full text and address data bases.

 

Objectives of the study

 

promotion of efficient application of new information technologies for the purpose of literature acquisition

suggestions concerning the standardization of the author/title approach and subject indexing using standardized common sets of rules (RAK, RSWK, AGROVOC) which have been applied in the German speaking countries

selection of a suitable computerized library system

determination of hardware, software and technical prerequisites for automated literature processing

efficient use of new information technologies for the purpose of information dissemination

possible ways of co-operation, knowledge transfer and enhancement of the (library) education level of all partners who want to utilize new information technologies, in particular the internet

creation of a meta-database of databases in the field of agriculture, forestry, water and environment.

 

The following results were obtained:

 

ad a) The conventional means (i.e. bibliographies, dictionaries, manuals, ...) of acquisition and referencing of monographic or dependent literature (= journal articles, contributions in jubilee publications, ...) were presented. These means concern not only agricultural topics in general but also refer to the European Union (laws, guidelines, recommendations). The inclusion of the conventional means was warranted because in the initial phase of the project (1994) few of the agrarian information centres had access to new information technologies. In 1997 the Bundesanstalt für Agrarwirtschaft got access to the internet and thus the author got the possibility to apply the new information technologies (CD ROM, Internet) to all library procedures.

 

ad g) Special attention is given to an overview of available agrarian on-line data bases (bibliographic-databases like AGRIS, abstract-db’s like CAB ABSTRACTS, factual-db’s like ALFIS, address-db’s like AGDB, library networks like BIBOS) and also to CD-ROM data bases. The information about contents and availability of the respective data bases is held up-to-date in the meta-database. In addition to that it lists the World-wide-web addresses where these data bases can be accessed directly from the user’s own PC.

Since the accession of Austria to the European Union also on-line databases dealing with EU agricultural questions and EU laws and guidelines have moved into the center of interest and therefore were dealt with in this project.

The meta-database mentioned above was installed in a database system (F&A from Symantec) which is not supported by the producer any longer; therefore an alternative solution of data access had to be found. Unexpectedly in the course of the year 1998 the author was requested to cooperate with the Internetlink database project (= Internet address-database of the Department of Öffentlichkeitsarbeit of the Bundesministerium für Land- und Forstwirtschaft / BMLF in the context of the World-wide-web appearance of the BMLF) which will permit to transfer that meta-database into the link database of the ministry at a later date. Thus an important part of the project results can be made accessible to everyone via the Internet.

 

ad b,c,d) Finally it was demonstrated that an improvement of the current situation in Austria can be achieved mainly by standardization in the areas of author/title approach, subject indexing and the application of edp-supported library systems (BIS-C / DABIS). A possible way could be to provide the three existing centres for agrarian information and documentation (Bundesanstalt für Agrarwirtschaft, Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft, Amtsbibliothek des BMLF) with sufficient training of its co-workers and with the corresponding hard- and software equipment. Meanwhile part of the author's suggestions are in the process of being carried out through his co-operation with these three agrarian libraries.

 

ad e) In the area of information dissemination the new technologies provide information seekers with a more comfortable and multi-dimensional access using menu-driven Online Public Access Catalogues (OPAC) at the respective agrarian libraries; via access to the World-wide-web-sites of the institutions concerned; via agrarian information systems like the one the BMLF is developing (see above); and by means of library networks such as BIBOS2 or its follow-up system ALEPH 500. At the Bundesanstalt für Agrarwirtschaft a type of information transfer was chosen which is located somewhere between the communication from colleague to colleague within the library (which is rather limited in range) and, on the other hand, the Internet which is open to the world. This is done through the publication of Internet addresses (e.g. library catalogues, national and international agrarian information systems, agricultural data bases, full-text scientific papers, new titles of publishing houses, addresses of various agrarian institutions and much more...) in the form of bookmarks which are transferred into the local network of the institute and continuously maintained and updated. Thus each member of the institute has direct and comfortable access - only one mouse-click away - to thousands (5300 as of now) of Internet addresses on his PC.

ad f) Cooperation, transfer of know-how and an improvement of the education level were encouraged by the author in recent years through his offering of training courses, publication of journal articles, provision of numerous Internet addresses (approx. 5300) for internal and external prospective clients, co-operation with the project link database and hopefully not least through this research report which is also offered as an HTML document.