The need to preserve land-grant agricultural documents has been recognized for years, but only within the last decade has some attempt been made on the national level to organize the preservation effort. In the beginning a "Memorandum of Understanding between the Land- Grant College and University Libraries and the United States Department of Agriculture" was drafted: signatory land-grant libraries agreed to "collect, store and provide ready access to complete files of the major serial publications of their state agricultural experiment stations, extension service, and colleges of agriculture" (undated "Memorandum of Understanding); to provide photocopies; brief reference and bibliographic assistance on these publications. In return NAL* would coordinate the completion of the state's file and compile an annual list of participants for all land-grant libraries. Kentucky was not one of the signators to this agreement.

The decision was made at Kentucky not to participate for one reason: there was no space to keep the duplicate copies of Kentucky holdings. Space could have been made by discarding land-grant agricultural publications from other states, but we hesitated to do that until it was established which states were entering into this agreement. Other states must have felt the·same way for in the early 1970's the "Memorandum of Understanding" was replaced by "Cooperative Agreements." Under these agreements land-grant college and university libraries agreed to collect files of their agricultural documents for purposes of microfilming as complete a file as possible through 1969. NAL coordinated the project and contributed to the cost of the filming. The New England States were the first to organize and as a group entered into the cooperative agreement with the New England Board of Higher Education coordinating the project. Then Kentucky, Florida and California followed as independent groups. The University of Kentucky signed a cooperative agreement with the National Agricultural Library on June 17, 1974. The agreement was to be in effect until July 30, 1975. On July 30, 1976 the first rolls of film reached the University of Kentucky after two years of blood, sweat and tears.

I made the decision to enter into the agreement on the advice of the former Agricultural Librarian of the University of Kentucky. At the time I had been acting Agricultural Librarian for two months and I barely knew what it was we were getting into. It was only after I had been involved in the project for several months that I realized the importance of the project to which I had committed myself and my staff. Many of our early Kentucky agricultural publications had deteriorated and with prolonged use would have disintegrated. Had we put off the preservation effort much longer, there would have been nothing to preserve.

It is because I believe in this project that I have taken the time to write this paper. It is intended merely as a guide with suggestions that I would have welcomed when we were involved in the microfilming. I have not gone into the technical specifications for the microfilm or the jargon used in filming. This material is very adequately covered in "Microfilming Agricultural Documents" stresses the bibliographic history and the preparation of the documents for filming. Although each group has to work out its own system, perhaps some of the aggravation suffered at Kentucky can be avoided by the use of this guide.

It must be remembered that this document was prepared from an individual land-grant institution's point of view. We did not film our documents as part of a group of institutions; therefore, certain procedures may not fit a group situation. I have tried to be as general as possible to avoid these conflicts.

Three years have now passed since we signed our cooperative agreement. During that period of time so many people have been involved that it would be impossible to name them all. My deepest appreciation must go to my staff. Without their support and interest this project would hot have been completed. I would also like to thank Ms. Beverly Fiorentino at Graphic Microfilms, who advised me from a filmer's point of view, and Mr. Joseph Duncan, our Experiment Station editor, who took time out of his busy schedule to edit this guide.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published by the National Agriculture Library, United States Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland (1977).

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.