On September 16, the Food and Agriculture Organization, developing world research institutions, scientific publishers, and Cornell University marked a promising milestone: The 10 year anniversary of AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture), a program that provides web-based access to top quality literature in the agriculture and life sciences for researchers in some of the world’s poorest countries. At a celebration held in Rome, Italy, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva remarked, “Knowledge is a public good. By putting this public good at the reach of those in the poorer countries, we are helping to break an important barrier that hinders development.”
AGORA has been a partnership between FAO, publishers, Cornell University’s Mann Library and the scientific community since 2003. It presently provides access to over 3500 journals and 3300 books. Thus far, scientists and practitioners from over 2500 institutions in 116 countries of the developing world have downloaded millions of articles through the AGORA portal.
When first launched, AGORA built on the concept and reach of The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL), a digital library of top-ranked agricultural journals being distributed among developing country researchers by Mann Library. Unlike TEEAL, which is delivered on a palm-sized hard drive, AGORA is entirely web-based. It is also now part of a wider initiative known as Research4Life, a public-private partnership that stewards four literature access programs covering agriculture, health, technology and the environment.
Mann Library director Mary Ochs and Cornell University Library IT project manager Holly Mistlebauer attended the Rome celebration. “Cornell University is committed to supporting AGORA and Research4Life as part of its land grant mandate,” said Ms. Ochs. “For developing country researchers, better access to the scientific literature of agriculture is a basic building block for achieving meaningful progress towards food security. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of AGORA, Cornell University is very proud to be one of the founding partners.”