Transforming the Mann Library USDA Reports System: New Partners, New Reports, and Historical Reports via a Single Interface
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Since 1995, Albert R. Mann Library at Cornell University has partnered with several agencies with the United States Department of Agriculture to deliver a variety of agricultural commodity reports and datasets via the Web. These partners include the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB), and the Economic Research Service (ERS). In 2003, this partnership was extended to include the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its ~1500 commodity reports issued daily, weekly, or monthly, using a new model of direct delivery of reports by email. At the time the new AMS reports service was initiated, Mann Library recognized that the traditional labor-intensive posting of HTML pages would not be a viable way to extend an enlarged reporting service into the future. A two-year development effort has created a new back end database and significantly upgraded the web site to improve both content delivery and management, and the new site has been officially scheduled for release in late July, 2006. The new web interface simplifies discovering available reports and data, provides additional metadata including related reports and title changes, and allows patrons to sign up for or change their subscriptions. A new administrative interface allows agency personnel to create or modify titles and descriptions for reports, enter new titles, manage publication dates, and upload reports for immediate distribution. To further complement recent reports, Mann Library has also undertaken a scanning project to archive historical reports and make them available via the same interface. Approximately 9000 NASS reports dating back to 1919 have been scanned and are available in PDF format via the Mann USDA website, and many more are undergoing scanning for release in the coming year. Taken together, these changes significantly improve and extend what has already been one of the most significant collections of current agricultural data, and provide both very current awareness and historical continuity of agricultural information via a single point of contact.