Overview of the collection

NAL mission as defined by USDA Departmental Regulation 1990:

The Department of Agriculture was established by the Act of May 15, 1862, as amended (The Organic Act of 1862), which sets forth a mission, "to acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture, rural development, aquaculture and human nutrition in the most general and comprehensive sense of those terms" and places upon the Secretary the responsibility to "procure and preserve all information concerning agriculture rural development, aquaculture, and human nutrition, which he can obtain by means of books..." In carrying out this Departmental charter, the National Agricultural Library (NAL) serves as the Nation's chief agricultural library information resource and service. Its mission is to facilitate access to and utilization of needed information in any medium by agricultural researchers, regulators, educators and extension personnel; those employed in agriculture; those living in rural areas and communities; consumers of agricultural products, and the public at large, insofar as they need agricultural information. As a national library, it develops and provides agricultural information products and services not only to agencies of the USDA and the Federal government, but to public and private organizations and individuals as well. The NAL coordinates a national network of public and private agricultural libraries and information centers, especially with libraries of the land-grant colleges and universities, and other state supported colleges and universities with agriculturally related programs, other public organizations, and industry and other private sector organizations.

Although NAL ensures the acquisition, organization (including cataloging and indexing), management, preservation, accessibility, and diffusion of information in all phases of the food and agricultural science, as defined in section 1404 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, as amended, a significant part of this mission is the development and coordination of a national agricultural science library information network. The NAL provides leadership for the management of agricultural information resources through products and services, including bibliographies, loans, photocopies, microforms, structured agricultural thesaurus, computerized data base repositories, indexing of agricultural information, and personal reference services including on-line computerized literature searches. NAL works closely with other agencies in the Department, coordinates closely with the National Library of Medicine and Library of Congress, and cooperates with other groups in both the public and private sectors, to ensure that the results of research and other types of agricultural information are rapidly disseminated to the ultimate user. NAL promotes the use of modern technology in support of library and information activities.

The NAL provides a leadership role in U.S. participation in international agricultural library and information systems and in efforts to promote worldwide availability of agricultural information. In addition, the NAL serves as the Nation's major source of agricultural information received from and relayed to other countries, as the agricultural information liaison to international organizations and organizations outside of the United States, and as the U.S. agricultural representative in the settling of library and information standards internationally.

The NAL Knowledge Services Division (KSD) was established in 2011 to extend the NAL mission to scientific research data. The KSD endeavors to advance knowledge discovery in agricultural sciences through the acquisition, description, curation, and visualization of scientific datasets.

LCA Commons Scope

The LCA Commons is a collection of data repositories unified though a single discovery application AND a collection of LCA related agricultural research data cataloged and archived in the Ag Data Commons. Through a cooperative agreement with GreenDelta, NAL has built a life cycle inventory repository architecture, which will allow life cycle modelers the ability to “publish” product system and unit process models to a collection of shared repositories in the openLCA JSON-LD format. Modelers can publish their work to the LCA Commons and access the work of others either through shared repositories or through the LCA Commons discovery application. Agricultural researchers or life cycle modelers producing data relevant to LCA, but not formatted for use in commonly-used LCA software can publish data to the LCA Collection on the Ag Data Commons.

Description of materials collected

The LCA Commons is a collection of repositories for formatted life cycle inventory data sets and a catalog and archive of data pertinent to LCA, but not necessarily formatted for LCA software. NAL hosts repositories managed by institutional partners and an internal repository for submitted data sets. The core function of the LCA Commons is to publish data sets that may be re-used in modeling applications. To this end, the LCA Commons maintains specific formatting and metadata guidelines, which emphasize complete documentation such that users have enough information to determine if data sets are “fit for purpose.” NAL has developed comprehensive documentation requirements and metadata guidelines that must be followed in order to publish data to the LCA Commons. Therefore, there are three major selection criteria for publishing data sets to the USDA LCA Commons:

1. Data sets must be agricultural in scope
2. Data sets committed to the NAL repository must follow LCA Commons formatting and metadata guidelines.
3. Institutional users/partners must agree to follow LCA Commons formatting and metadata guidelines for their repositories.

Publishing and Cataloging data on the LCA Commons

LCA Commons Repository Network

Data sets formatted for use in openLCA will reside in repositories hosted by NAL, but be managed by individual institutional data providers. NAL will maintain a single public facing data discovery application, which will index each public repository and help users find data sets. NAL will support data set providers with data set curation services as needed and publish repositories. NAL will curate data provider repositories and make them available to the public through a discovery application. Repositories will be a collection of JSON-LD files indexed and fetched by the data discovery application.

NAL will also host its own repository to support data set providers that are either unable or unwilling to manage their own enduring repository. The NAL data set curation process requires a collaborative effort between NAL staff and the data provider to ensure the data set meets publication requirements for formatting and documentation such that they may be easily re-used in software. These data sets will be committed to the NAL Collaboration Server. If a data set provider is either unwilling or unable to work with NAL to format and document data sets for re-use in software, data files can be published as is in the AD Data Commons data catalog and archive.

The NAL will work with the data set provider to curate the repository or committed files. The NAL reserves the right to control access to repositories through the discovery application. Reasons for making a repository inaccessible through the discovery application include but are not limited to:

1. Publishing copyrighted data
2. Incomplete, missing, or inappropriate metadata
3. Incompatible elementary flows

LCA Collection on the Ag Data Commons

The LCA Collection on the Ag Data Commons is a catalog and repository for inventory or related data sets not formatted for openLCA. Upon request to post a record, data and resource providers must complete a metadata record and upload data into the Ag Data Commons. NAL will curate the record, assign a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), and post the record.

Publication Criteria

Establishing a repository at NAL requires an on-going institutional partnership, in which the partner agrees to manage and update the repository according to NAL guidelines, while NAL agrees to provide system administration, data set curation, and persistent access to the repository.

NAL will host repositories for organizations, individuals and groups within larger organizations, or individuals which have enduring LCA activities and a history of sharing LCA inventory data

--NAL will curate institutional repository data sets to the extent that it meets agreed upon data standards such that it can be indexed systematically.

NAL will host one or multiple repositories for each organization, individual or group within an organization, or individual.

--Multiple repository requests by organizations with multiple individuals/groups will be granted if each individual or group demonstrates the capacity to manage the repository on an on-going basis.

NAL will not host a repository for organizations, individuals or groups within an organization, or individuals that cannot demonstrate a persistent LCA and data publication program .

-- Organizations, individuals and groups within organizations, or individuals that cannot demonstrate a persistent LCA and data publication program may submit product system or unit process files for publication as needed.

-- Organizations, individuals and groups within organizations, or individuals not part of an enduring LCA program can submit data according to NAL submission requirements. NAL will curate and publish the data to its own internal repository.

Related collections and consortial activity

Formatted data repositories and related data and resources managed and posted by Federal partners at the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and elsewhere will constitute the Federal LCA Commons. NAL will support this federal consortium of LCA interests by hosting repositories for formatted data and a federal collection on the Ag Data Commons.

Created and maintained by USDA-ARS-National Agricultural Library