CGIAR information managers from CIP, IRRI, IFPRI, and CIFOR will partner to present a poster about the CGIAR Virtual Library at the AFITA (Asian Federation for Information and Technology in Agriculture) International Conference to be held in Bogor, Indonesia.  The abstract submitted by Cecilia Ferreyra (CIP), Mila Ramos (formerly from IRRI), Luz Marina Alvare (IFPRI), and Yuni Soeripto (formerly from CIFOR) was accepted for presentation by the conference organizers.  The poster, entitled “Enhanced Access to the CGIAR Virtual Library via Social Media” will feature the use of social networking tools to increase worldwide awareness of the virtual library. 

The AFITa Congress aims to ” find a set of excellent or primising ICT-based solutions for improving agriculture-based production systems and commerce to achieve their objectives”.  More information is available at http://afita2010.ipb.ac.id/

CIRAD headquartered in Montpellier has a similar mandate as the CGIAR. It employs 800 researchers (1800 total staff), carries out research in 52 research units and operates in more than 90 countries. The CIRAD library has a 2009 acquisition budget of Euro 660,000 and subscribes to about 14 international databases, has access to a broad array of journals via arrangements with several providers (such as Science Direct, Springer Online Wiley-Blackwell) and is  purchasing about 400 books.  Its acquisition budget has increased by 20% since 2007.  

In order to attract committed researchers to carry out high quality research, the CGIAR needs to dramatically improve its access to scientific information resources. These have to be selected, acquired and managed by experienced IM/librarians, that also must be given the means to  provide services to diverse users.

With so many players in the research to development continuum, it is the research that distinguishes the CGIAR from other players such as academic institutions, private and public sector organizations, and NGOs.

It behooves to this group to facilitate the access and manage many of the essential resources needed to carry out high-quality research.  


This blog has remained somehow dormant, but will be very useful in our preparations for the upcoming IAALD-IM Meeting in Montpellier, April 2010.

Enhanced HarvestChoice Website Aims to Help Better Target Agricultural Investments

The HarvestChoice initiative has launched a comprehensive collection of data products designed to better inform strategic policy and investment decisions aimed at improving farm productivity and profitability, and market development. The website is intended to be the “go-to” resource for analysts and decision makers seeking integrated, consistent, and spatially-referenced information, provided in an interactive portal. The data collection focuses on factors relevant to crop production and marketing in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) agriculture, such as climate, soil and pest conditions and constraints, current and future cropping systems geography and performance, and access to markets. Recognizing the site-specific nature of many interventions designed to boost productivity, especially in the rainfed systems common throughout SSA, HarvestChoice takes a spatial approach, using interfaces built around open-source platforms such as Google Maps. By providing both public and private investors with an increasingly broad and in-depth understanding of major production and marketing challenges and opportunities, HarvestChoice hopes to shed light on the potential payoffs to productivity-enhancing innovations for smallholder farmers, as well as how to promote the commercialization of smallholder agriculture. The HarvestChoice website will continuously be updated and improved over time. View the website and download these early data offerings here.

HarvestChoice was launched in October 2006 and is jointly led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the University of Minnesota’s International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (INSTePP) program.

While a lot of knowledge sharing activities focus on making written information widely available, face-to-face interaction is still one of the most efficient (and fun) ways of learning from each other. To this aim, FAO will host a Knowledge ShareFair on the 20-22 January. Staff of Bioversity International, the CGIAR ICT-KM programme, FAO, IFAD and WFP will have the opportunity to exchange their experience on have applied new methods of communication
and knowledge sharing to improve the effectiveness and impact of their work.

One event that will be of special relevance for everyone interested in libraries (virtual and otherwise) is a session on the 22th of January, hosted by Peter Ballantyne, president of IAALD exploring the future of libraries.

(by Mila Ramos)

In response to the demands of scholars in this digital age, a new service is now being offered by the Consultative Group on International Research (CGIAR) Virtual Library. Researchers seeking to avail of instant agricultural information, specially those pertaining to CGIAR research outputs, may now use the services of the CGIAR Virtual Library (GGVL) via a social networking tool: Skype. This is envisioned to provide services required for the 21st century and to realize better awareness and usability of the CGVL as a primary information resource for agricultural scientists the world over.

With the Skype name CGVLibrary, users, on demand, will receive instant assistance from libraries of the various agricultural centers. Currently information providers from the Bioversity (Rome), International Potato Center (CIP, Lima, Peru), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, Los Banos, Philippines), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India), International Water Management Institute (IWMI, Sri Lanka), International Center for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, Indonesia), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA, Aleppo Syria), and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI , Washington, D. C.) are testing and taking turns in looking after site. Live service through Skype is available 16 hours a day (2:00 AM – 6:00 PM GMT) with the collaboration of 9 centers mentioned above.

(by Mila M. Ramos)
The Cereal Knowledge Bank (CKB), jointly developed by IRRI and
CIMMYT, was launched in 2008. It is now accessible via these this link
http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org/ and through the CG Virtual Library.

The CKB is the “world’s leading repository of extension and
training materials related to cereals and cereal production”. It has
3 main components: The Rice Knowledge Bank, Maize Knowledge Bank,
and the Wheat Knowledge Bank. Each of these carries downloadable
materials dealing with all aspects of cereal production: from seed
and variety selection to product marketing. Rice, maize and wheat
farmers could easily utilize the contents of these sites as the
training materials are easy to understand and they carry a lot of
colored illustrations. In addition to training materials, there
also buttons entitled “Rice Doctor”, “Maize doctor”, and “Wheat
doctor”, which give instructions on how to diagnose field problems.
These training materials are regularly updated as new information comes

Wouldn’t it be great, if people who have questions, encounter problems and request services from the virtual library could chat with real people in real time around the clock? That’s the great benefit of working in a network of institutions that are spread around the globe: No matter what time of the day it is in your home location, it’s always working hours in at least one of the many CGIAR libraries around the world.

Now, while we have agreed that this would be a great idea in theory, we are working on the practicalities of it and a major question, especially in our developing country offices, is the reliability of internet access and whether or not library staff can use the common chat application such as skype and office communicator. However, the results of our first internal survey on this issue look encouraging and we are more than hopeful to be able to launch this tool for around-the-clock-service soon.

Harvesting two A’s

In the past months the Virtual Library team has been exploring the options for harvesting of document repositories. The purpose of these efforts is to turn availability of publications into accessibility.

Institutes and system-wide programs have been maintaining publication lists or databases, provide links to documents that are available electronically, and they have often made efforts to make the repositories (“OAI-PMH”) harvestable. We felt that now is the time to be more proactive, and take action to make the publications more accessible by bringing this information to where the potential users are. The first step is to
bring the information from these different databases together, and then create value-added services.

As a first step we have experimented with methods of harvesting the different publication databases into a central one, and we have successfully used two different systems (PKP Harvester and DLESE). An
experimental preview of the PKP system is available at http://cgiar.perpustakaan.net/ (but be aware that this is a test environment where things may appear and disappear). We have also investigated methods to make the different repositories harvestable; some databases are using software that comes with native OAI-PMH harvestability (Dspace, NewGenLib), and we have looked at (and found two) methods to make use of the Inmagic databases that many institutes use. For two other database engines (SQL Server, Aigaion) we still have to find solutions.

As we said this is only a first step. To improve accessibility, we have to think about the value-added services that we can create (and which would be much more difficult to create for the individual publication
databases). We are thinking of methods to get the information in important search engines, for example by providing Google sitemap files, or by promoting harvesting by important scientific databases, like
Scirus / Scopus, CABI etc. We are also thinking of providing topical (RSS) news feeds, canned searches etc. The system may also be able to serve reporting needs within the CG system.  Some services will require
further data harmonization across the different source databases (e.g. a common scheme for document types. Unique author identification might be quite a challenge. The information managers are
working at a document to take stock of where we are now, and where we want to go.

The IRRI Library arranged for a month long free trial access to CAB electronic books. From July 28 up to August 30, 2008, all CGIAR Center staff can read from their desktop the full text of 140 e-books in all subject suites of CAB’s e-book collection.  The subject collections included are:

Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Human, Food and Nutrition Sciences

Plant Sciences

Leisure and Tourism

Environmental Sciences

The ebooks may be read via the CGVlibrary or directly at   www.cabi.org/cabebooks or thru CAB Abstracts, to which the centers have a joint subscription.


A Flash Video tutorial is available at www.cabi.org/cabebooks/demo