Linking the Agricultural Information: Paper

by Frans leemreize and Peter van Boheemen
About 20 years ago, when the use of computers in libraries was first introduced, computers were used to create an automated
catalogue and to assist in administrative services, like circulation, serials administration, and acquisition.
Bibliographies, books, and journals were printed on paper. Computers provided secondary information about these items.
Wageningen Agricultural Library/PUDOC-DLO serves more than 70 Dutch libraries with substantial collections on agriculture
with this kind of automation, using its AGRALIN system.

Nowadays, the information available to the library public is no longer only in print. All major bibliographic journals are published on CD-ROM. Some books are also published on CD-ROM and some large journal publishers are providing their journals electronically as well. These ‘traditional’ publishing vehicles are becoming supplemented with new electronic publication forms like web-sites and online ‘factual databases’

Wageningen Agricultural University Library/PUDOC-DLO is trying to bring this information to the user in two ways.

  1. As a Library, we will create ‘The Desktop Library’, where the user can consult the traditional catalogue, but at the same time can consult electronic bibliographies, view journal articles, consult web-pages, and ‘factual databases’. The objective is to create a common interface, using a common way of subject classification. All relative links between catalogue, bibliography, full text article, related web-sites and facts would then be available.
  2. As a former publisher of printed books and journals, we provide electronic publishing facilities to researchers and organizations in the field of agriculture. This has already resulted in several publications on CD-ROM and the Web.

1. The Desktop Library

When libraries became involved in offering more electronic services, besides access to their catalogues, they were confronted with many different sorts of software, each having their own user interface. They had to confront their users with many different applications. Local area networks were installed, so users could run the various applications on one workstation, menu systems were installed to 'navigate' the user to the different sources, but more integration was needed. The user wants a common user interface and more functional integration between services. To reach this goal, some libraries started experiments using various technologies. The impact of Web technology however was enormous. The Web turned out to be the common user environment. It is common sense to create an integrated user environment, using this technology. Using hyper linking, cgi-programs, and JAVA, we will build 'the desktop library', to integrate services and information.

With 'the desktop library' we will help the user to find the right source. Sources are classified by subject and registered in a database. This way we help the user to find the right bibliographies, library catalogues, etc.
For subject classification, we have moved from UDC-codes to a thesaurus of agricultural terms. This thesaurus is the so called CAB-thesaurus, the most widely used agricultural thesaurus. To use the thesaurus we are developing a tool that will assist the user in using the thesaurus with basically any data base accessible via a WWW interface and classified using this thesaurus.

To integrate information that is available to the end user we provide hyper links wherever that is useful. In the catalogue we have links for all Elsevier journals to the full text of recent issues. Whenever journals are available, somewhere on the Web, we will provide a link in our catalogue. We have also started to collect electronic journals in our virtual reading room. At this moment we are integrating this information in our catalogue.
All dissertations produced at Wageningen Agricultural University will be linked to HTML abstracts from the catalogue.

We provide access to bibliographic journals on CD-ROM, using Silverplatter's ERL technology. When a user finds a reference to an interesting article, this may be present in one of our libraries. It might even be available electronically, in the case of Elsevier journals. We are working on tools that will check whether a journal is available and provide necessary links.

We also test the usefulness of different sorts of links. For example, links to information about pesticides in relevant catalogue records or links to catalogue records about specific trees, when this tree has been found in DRYADE, our dendrological database

2 Electronic publishing

Wageningen Agricultural University Library/PUDOC-DLO is involved in electronic publishing for a few years now. We have published several CD-ROM's (PROSEA, DRYADE and LKN) and have created various web publications.
First of all we publish several bibliographic databases that we have created ourselves:
  • ARTIK, containing journal articles in the field agriculture from journals, not covered by the major international agricultural bibliographic journals.
  • Home Economics: journal articles in the field of home economics, family studies, and consumer sciences.
  • Gender Studies: journal articles in the field of gender studies, labor and health issues, all related to agriculture and rural development.
  • Wageningen Dissertation Abstracts: a bibliography of all Wageningen dissertations.
Some organizations have used the know how of Wageningen Agricultural University Library/PUDOC-DLO, to have their data bases published on the Web:
  • WAU publications: all books, articles, dissertations, reports and abstracts authored by WAU staff from 1986 onwards
  • Dryade, a database with attributes of species of trees
  • 'De gele bank', a database containing pesticides and information about their admission in the Netherlands
  • GBK, the crop protection knowledge base. We are currently working on publishing this data base. It will contain information about plant diseases and about the protection of crops. This is closely related to the CTB data base.
  • The Special Program for African Agricultural Research (SPAAR) emerged as an initiative in the mid eighties to enhance agricultural production in Africa by increasing donor co-ordination in the field of agricultural research. The SPAAR Information System (SIS) was developed as a tool to come to grips with the increasing number of activities. Over 6500 projects are recorded in this data base.
  • CAMASE: a Concerted Action for the development and testing of quantitative Methods for research on Agricultural Systems and the Environment. CAMASE has developed a Register of Agro-ecosystems Models. We have published this data base on the web.
  • ILEIADOC, ILEIA's document database, contains about 6,800 records in the fields of ecologically-oriented agriculture and participative processes.
  • Bedrijfsuitkomsten in de landbouw. A publication containing data from the Dutch Farm Accountancy Network, originally published by LEI­DLO as a book with a lot of statstical tables. We turned it into a data base and published it this way. (in Dutch)
Not all electronic publications are data bases:
  • The tulip book of P. Cos, a manuscript nursery catalogue of tulips and a small number of other flowers, published in 1637. This book belongs to the collection of the library and we have made it available electronically.
  • Hoe ecologisch kan de landbouw worden? Proceedings of the AB­DLO symposium on ecological agriculture d.d. 21 November 1995 (in Dutch).
  • European journal of agricultural education and extension, a journal aiming to publish authoritative and well-referenced articles on topical issues in Agricultural Higher and Secondary Education and Extension.
  • ABSTRECO. Abstract bulletin on sustainable agriculture. ABSTRECO is a current bibliography of articles, reports, books and other publications relevant to the broad field of sustainable agriculture.


AGRALIN is an acronym for 'Agricultural Bibliographic Information System of the Netherlands'. This system is maintained by the joint efforts of the Wageningen Agricultural University and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Fisheries. The core of this system is the Union Catalogue of Agricultural Books and Periodicals, containing bibliographic data on the collections of more than 70 Dutch libraries with substantial collections on agriculture. Among these are all libraries within the Wageningen Agricultural University, and libraries of agricultural research institutes and experiment stations.
In addition to this, several other bibliographic and factual databases are available on the AGRALIN host computer. Gradually, all of these databases will become accessible through the WWW platform.
Through the AGRALIN WWW server, we are offering access to information on Dutch agricultural research and education to a worldwide audience. At the same time, we are constructing the Virtual Library of Wageningen Agricultural University and DLO­NL, the Netherlands organization for agricultural research. Students, staff and faculty of these two organizations will have direct access to catalogues, bibliographic and factual databases and full text scientific books and journals from their own desktop. Finally, we are enabling a number of organizations in the field of agricultural research to bring information to the World Wide Web as guests on our server.
AGRALIN is coordinated from Jan Kops House in Wageningen, by the Wageningen Agricultural University Library and Pudoc­DLO. For further information on the AGRALIN system and access to the databases please contact the help desk at the Jan­Kopshuis at

About the authors

Frans Leemreize is Associate director for automation.
Peter van Boheemen is Head of systems development.