AGRICULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
INFORMATION ABOUT AGRICULTURE
Questions about agriculture are most commonly asked in libraries in rural
Nebraska, but some types of questions, especially those on gardening
and pet care, may be asked anywhere. You might, for example, be asked:
How many acres of sugar beets were harvested in Scotts Bluff County in
When should I plant tulip bulbs?
How many farmers also work off the farm at other jobs in Nebraska?
Do you have a shop manual for a 1967 G1000 Minneapolis
These and similar questions cover a broad range of topics, but they fall
under the subject of agriculture. Most deal with statistics, consumer, or
SPECIAL KINDS OF QUESTIONS
Statistics on Agriculture
The Census of Agriculture
is conducted every five years by the U.S. government. It covers
statistics such as number of farms, average acreage, number of farmers who also
work off the farm, and individual crop production statistics by state and
The annual National Agricultural
also provide agricultural data.
Farm equipment repair manuals are almost as popular as automobile repair manuals
in rural libraries. There are many brands and models and years of tractors, and
no library can hold enough shop manuals to satisfy everyone. It helps to find
out which manuals other libraries in your area own and many may be available via
OTHER SOURCES OF AGRICULTURAL INFORMATION
Agricultural colleges such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's
College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources or those at Kansas
State University or Colorado State University, as well as community
colleges that offer courses in agriculture are excellent sources to refer
patrons for information.
The University of Nebraska Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and
Natural Resources provides many publications at:
NU Cooperative Extension Publications Catalog
You will find your county extension agent/educator is also a valuable
resource for agricultural information. Not only will they help in answering
questions, but they offer a variety of useful extension publications.
Write your county extension agent's/educator's name and number here for
quick referral (if you don't know their name, call the county offices and
County Extension Agent/Educator __________________________________
Telephone Number ___________________________
Appropriate Technology for Rural Areas (ATTRA) is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It
provides information on nontraditional crops, diversified agriculture,
sustainable agriculture, and agricultural marketing.
HINTS ON WORKING WITH SCIENCE QUESTIONS
Science and technology questions often seem to present special problems
because of the specialized knowledge and vocabulary patrons have that you
may not. You may feel ill equipped to tackle a question on a subject
you know nothing about.
First of all, don't be afraid of these questions! You often work on
questions about subjects that you know little about. You can often use
many of these same techniques to answer science questions.
Remember that the first thing you do when you don't understand a question
is to take steps to find out what it's all about.
* Ask the patron. Let the patron educate you. Admit you don't know
much about the subject and ask the patron to briefly help you understand
what is wanted. Remember that if you don't understand the question, you
can't be much help to the patron, and if you refer the question, the person
to whom you refer it may not understand the question either.
* TIP: Ask the patron for the name of the scientific field
(Examples: cryogenics, telephony, geochronometry). This can be helpful
in finding a general textbook or introduction to the field that will help with
the specific question. Patrons often know this right away and it can save
you a lot of time.
* Look for the terms in a general dictionary or science dictionary or
encyclopedia. This can help you place the subject in context and give you
hints on how to proceed.
* Be prepared to contact the patron again if you still do not have a
good understanding of the question.
* Be especially careful to spell scientific terms accurately.
HINTS ON WORKING WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY
Although some patrons do want explanations of technological processes, the
majority of technology related requests are for copies of standards or
patents. You may be asked for:
Copies of ASTM standards, D149, D15 and D257 for a
Department of Defense standard #2000 on soldering lead on electronic
components for a company with a defense contract.
A copy of patent 3,387,396 for a "Lava Lite" for a high
school science teacher who wants to talk about how and why the light works.
These requests are not as difficult as they may appear. Patrons almost
always know the number of the patent or standard (at the very least they
will know the issuing agency). Filling one of these requests is usually a
matter of searching the Internet or requesting a copy of the patent or standard on interlibrary loan.
"Standards are essential and an all pervasive element of modern
society...consider the alternatives; a world without standards, a world of
chaos." American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
Industry standards are manufacturer's requirements for products and
processes (example: requirements for the size and shape of the pipe that
your bath water flows through). Standards come in all shapes and sizes.
Other documents related to standards are called specifications, codes,
recommended practices, guides or handbooks. Standards (in all their forms)
dictate measurements, processes and performance. Some standards are
mandatory; some are voluntary. Standards are used by businesses of all
kinds from manufacturers making products to architects designing
buildings to attorneys engaged in lawsuits.
One of the major standards granting organizations is the American National
Standards Institute (ANSI). This umbrella organization sponsors each year
the publication of hundreds of standards submitted by such agencies as
Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) , American Society for Testing and
Materials (ASTM), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
The largest publicly accessible standards collection in Nebraska is at the
University of Nebraska's Engineering Library in Lincoln. They have thousands of
standards, both current and obsolete, which have been collected over many years.
Copies of standards can be requested through interlibrary loan if the type
of standard needed and its number are known. Patrons wanting
standards information can also purchase a copy of the standard they need
via the Internet or go to the Engineering Library in Lincoln and use the standards
W204 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0516
Phone: (402) 472-3411
You may wish to search NSSN
Search Engine for Standards to verify standard numbers or to buy copies.
Patents, trademarks and copyrights are all forms of protection offered by the
federal government. Each of these legal devices help to protect a person's right
to what they have created, but each is used in different circumstances.
PATENT: Protects an invention. A patent does not guarantee the right to
make, market and sell an invention, only the right to exclude others from doing
so, once a patent has been issued.
TRADEMARK: Protects a word, symbol or phrase (or some combination thereof)
that identifies goods or services in interstate commerce.
COPYRIGHT: Protects artistic or literary works.
Once your patron has decided which of the three kinds of protection should be
sought, you can check your collection for specific instructions on how to go
about obtaining the protection. General
Information Concerning Patents
Basic Facts About
or U.S. Copyright Office
Tradenames are not the same as trademarks. Trademarks can be registered with the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and identify a product or service. The
tradename is the name of the business or company itself. Proctor and Gamble is a
tradename. Proctor and Gamble owns many products with various trademarks such as
Crest and Tide. Tradenames can be registered with counties or with the
Corporations departments or the Secretaries of State of individual states.
Tradenames are not registered with the Patent Office.
Internet resources can be found starting here:
Library Commission's Best of the Web Patent Links
Patent questions often fall into two major categories:
1. Patrons want to obtain copies or summaries of a particular patent.
2. They need help in obtaining their own patents for inventions.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Patent and Trademark Depository
Library Program (PTDLP) administers a nationwide network of public, state and
academic libraries designated as Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs).
PTDLs are located in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico
where collections of patents may be examined. PTDLs are open to the public and
provide access to automated search systems to assist with your search. Call the
library before visiting to determine hours of operation, services, and fees. For
additional information on the nearest PTDL, visit the PTDL web site at
You may perform preliminary searches of patent information on the USPTO web site
The University of Nebraska Lincoln's Engineering Library is currently
the only Patent Depository Library in Nebraska. The Engineering Library houses
the materials and automatically receives materials from the United States Patent
and Trademark Office. It is likely the best collection of patent and trademark
information among the libraries in Nebraska.
W204 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0516
Phone: (402) 472-3411