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Demand rises for digital agricultural library

A dedicated agriculture digital library has widened the resource base for researchers in the Caribbean.

The demand for the Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) arose after an awareness campaign to promote its use was launched in January 2011.

Deans, lead researchers and librarians at agricultural research organisations, universities, small agricultural colleges, agriculture ministries and scientific organisations were targeted in the campaign.

TEEAL facilitates access to the articles of over 239 research journals, with coverage of some journals spanning as far back as the 1990s.

“It led to nine new subscribers,” said Nicole Kendra Joos, TEEAL regional director for Latin America, Caribbean and the Pacific.

She added they included universities such as University of West Indies-Mona Campus and the National School of Forestry in Honduras, Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Forestales (ESNACIFOR).

Joos said research organisations such as the International Potato Center in Peru and the Scientific Council in the Pacific (SPC) have also joined.

She said the idea for the outreach came about after learning that many institutions in the Americas and the Pacific were unaware of TEEAL.

The regions also lacked access to a critical mass of current agriculture and scientific journals, she said.

“What is unique about TEEAL in this day and age is that it is available offline, and this makes it an enduring resource,” Joos told Research Caribbean.

TEEAL delivers a collection of over 350,000 full-text articles on a hard drive. Access to the articles is not affected by internet connectivity or a lack of funds with which to update the collection.

Joos said the TEEL content has been donated by some participating publishers.

But, the physical cost of production and distribution of an offline product has been met by the assistance of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) of the Netherlands.

TEEAL originated in the mid-1990s as a temporary solution to the barriers to access to research articles in academic and scientific journals for agricultural education and research.

“The realisation of an electronic compilation of over 100 titles was new at that time,” she said.

She said many institutions in African Caribbean Pacific countries and elsewhere in the world were able to apply to get the initial TEEAL collection at no cost.

As an offline resource, she said, TEEAL has to have content in the annual updates, delivered to subscribers as a set of DVD discs which are easy to transfer to the TEEAL hard drive, or local server, where all the existing articles and indexing is stored and accessed.

The first TEEAL set was placed at the agricultural faculty of the University of Zimbabwe in 1999 after a global outreach campaign.