Livestock library: a dream come true

Publication Date02 October 2009
Date02 October 2009
AuthorRuth McIntyre
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Library & information science
Livestock library: a dream come
Ruth McIntyre
Livestock Library, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia,
Perth, Australia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe how the Livestock Library at the Australian
Department of Agriculture and Food developed from being a dream to a reality into a virtual library
that provides a single entry point to high quality research and extension information. It is a study of
how information seekers with no library resources decided what information they valued and how
they would like to access it; then went about developing a service to fulfil these criteria.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is a narrative, describing the rationale for creating
the Livestock Library and the methodology adopted to develop the service. The issues confronting the
Livestock Library’s owners now that the original three year funding period is over are also discussed.
Findings – The Livestock Library project demonstrates that with a relatively low level of funding it
is possible to provide a substantial and valued online information service to support all participants in
an industry. The Livestock Library is a “low maintenance” service that provides free access to the full
text of three major Australian livestock industry conferences, access to articles published in five
leading agricultural journals and facilitates access to information on selected high quality industry
Originality/value – The project is original in its scope and success, providing a free service to suit
all participants in Australia’s livestock industry, in which all information accessed should be available
in a single session. The Livestock Library demonstrates the merit of keeping a project simple – using
“off the shelf” software and adopting library technology (federated searching) to target selected high
quality web sites.
Keywords Animal husbandry,Information management, Livestock, Online databases,
Special librarianship, Austr alia
Paper type Case study
This is the story of a successful information service that has been developed from
scratch with a relatively low budget. Its success is due to the enthusiasm and
enterprise of information seekers. It is the story of a national information project
initiated by agricultural scientists and veterinarians who have a “can do” attitude and
a keen sense of wanting to make valuable information accessible to everyone in their
industry. The background is as follows.
In the early 2000s researchers affiliated with the Australian Sheep Industry CRC
(Sheep CRC) were frustrated by the difficulty they were having accessing Australian
livestock research information. Results of Australian research into sheep and wool
production (for example, sheep nutrition, lambing rates and wool quality) were difficult
to obtain without lengthy searching of print collections. CRC researchers were well
aware that groundbreaking sheep industry research was often presented at the major
Australian livestock conferences but this information was generally not available
online. Also, Australia made a substantial investment in agricultural research in the
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Livestock library
Received 7 January 2009
Revised 7 January 2009
Accepted 12 January 2009
The Electronic Library
Vol. 27 No. 5, 2009
pp. 869-877
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/02640470910998597

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