Information Retrieval by Using E-Mail Facilities: A Case Study with home-Grown Agricultural Databases in Uganda

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Addis Ababa University


This study is aimed at designing an improved Information retrieval system (I RS ) for the agricultural research sector in Uganda . For this reason, a survey was conducted to ascertain the information retrieval facilities available in the libraries of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Uganda as well as the information needs o f the users. The survey was necessary as a basis for developing an improved IRS. The Agricultural sector is the engine of growth of the Ugandan economy . It employs nearly 90% of the country's population and contributes to over 64% to the government revenue, over 50% o f the GDP and over 90% of the total exports . The agricultural research sector, under NARO, has to meet the challenge o f developing improved technologies t hat can be used by the farmers. Findings of this study s how that the existing information facilities / libraries are not adequate f or the needs o f the majority of the research scientists in NARO, let alone other users in the agricultural sector. I n most cases the information needed is not available in the libraries at their institutes. Scientists have to search f o r required information from NADIC, other libraries or use alternative sources of information such as the invisible college. On the other hand it was established that there were modest information resources at NADIC which could be shared by all research scientists in NARO. For this reason, an Information retrieval system (IRS) that is based on E-mail has been proposed. It will enable the users at remote research institutes to access the information resources that are available at a central facility located at the National Agricultural Documentation and Information Centre (NADIC) . The prototype information retrieval system (IRS) comprises of three components: NADISRV, a bibliographic information server which will facilitate the users at remote institutes to search home-grown databases at NADIC without having to travel from their stations; and a Selective Dissemination of Information Service that uses bib serve facilities . By using the databases that are available at NADIC, the E-mail assisted SDI service, will periodically update all registered users about current information in their fields of interest . These services require as a prerequisite the availability of active databases . The centralized home-grown databases that are already existing at NADIC, namely AGRIN, CARIN, AGRINF, and UT~IST will be used for this purpose . In addition, two other prototype databases have been established using Micro CDS/ISIS software. The first one is AGREXP, a database of profiles of experts in the broad agricultural field, and the second, is AGRORG, a database of institutions that are closely or remotely related to agriculture . The third component of the Information retrieval System (IRS) is, the NADIC SEARCH INTERFACE, a user friendly interface which has been developed using the ISIS Pascal interface . The NADIC SEARCH INTERFACE will allow both the Information Centre/Library staff and the on-site users to interact with the system in a friendly way, thus making it easy for the users to conduct searches for themselves. Finally, strategies for implementing and managing the proposed prototype information retrieval system , and recommendations for further improvements , are suggested.



Information Science