Busy summer at the Center.
University campuses can be rather quiet during summer months, but the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center has been perking along at a lively pace this summer. Thanks go to a dedicated staff – and to a growing interest, worldwide, among those concerned with the communications aspects of agriculture, food, rural development and related topics.
We are pleased to see increasing use of this unique literature collection. Usage of the Center web site more than tripled between April-May-June 1998 and the same period a year ago. The upward trend encourages us in our efforts to collect literature and help make it available to researchers, practitioners, teachers, students and others.
It looks so easy when one searches the collection for literature about a given subject and, in a few seconds, assembles a list of citations. What a searcher can’t see is the work required to locate and gather the widely scattered literature about agricultural communications. Two recent activities help illustrate how we go about it, in an effort to save the time of searchers.
- Searches by interlibrary loan. During the past two months we have used interlibrary loan services to locate dozens of documents new to the collection. In what libraries did we find these documents? Here’s a brief and incomplete list: National Agricultural Library, British Library Document Supply Centre and the libraries of Northwestern University, Kansas State University, University of Chicago, South Dakota State University and Cornell University.
- Scouting within larger databases. This summer we also identified more than 150 recently published documents through online searches of three major online databases: Agricola, Biosis and CAB. We use a search protocol that we have developed during the past decade to locate literature related to agricultural communications.
Users of the collection tell us that, as a first step, they usually check locally to find the documents on their list. Depending on their location, they may be able to find all the materials they need. If they have gaps to fill, we encourage them to contact us by e-mail at the Center. All of the documents logged into our citation database are available in the Center or elsewhere on the University of Illinois campus at Urbana-Champaign. So we can sometimes provide photocopies or otherwise help the searcher gain access to needed documents.
During early August we enjoyed hosting two special visitors:
Dix Harper, former president and current historian of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (U.S.), visited the Center on August 5 to plan for a joint project that we will report in a future issue of “News and Announcements.”
George Jackson, former Agriculture Director of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, visited the Center on August 10. He was gathering information for a journal article about effects of the 1996 Farm Act.
Recent additions to the Center include two research studies about the image of U.S. farmers and ranchers. These studies, conducted nationwide by telephone interviews during late 1997 and early 1998, include:
- “Farmer Image Poll” (assesses farmers’ opinions about their public image)
- “Farmer Image Consumer Poll” (assesses the image of farmers/ranchers within the general public)
Thanks to Morgan & Myers Inc., a communications firm located in Jefferson, Wisconsin, and the American Farm Bureau Federation for contributing these reports to the Center.
“Ag press needs to encourage more debate,” says a recent headline of the syndicated Farm and Food File, which appears weekly in newspapers throughout the Midwest and Canada. Columnist Alan Guebert chides agricultural journalists for failing to report fully on testimony presented to U.S. legislators during July about the state of the U.S. agricultural economy as farm prices and incomes drop.
He says that most farmers have heard little, through the agricultural press, about the pages and hours of facts, ideas and economic data that presenters offered about an important subject that deserves serious discussion and debate.
You can see the citation for this item by searching for the title cited above.
“A period is to let the writer know he has finished his thought and should stop thinking if he would only take a hint.” (Response from an elementary student in English class, cited in: Harold Dunn, The World According to Kids. Spectacle Lane Press, Georgetown, CT, 1992, p. 58.)
Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.