For more than thirty years the United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) has been a major player in the dissemination and preservation of agricultural information. Beginning as a network of institutions, USAIN early on restructured to an individual-based organization. As a community of practice, USAIN members conduct work through committees and interest groups and maintain close communication through a variety of outlets. Biennial conferences offer face-to-face networking opportunities, and conference scholarships have been successful in engaging potential new members directly in organizational activities. The results of a survey of scholarship winners provide insights into perceptions of the organization and the benefits of membership. Through the years, USAIN also has initiated and supported projects that have helped build a more efficient and effective agricultural information system to inform and educate a broad range of audiences involved in the areas of agriculture, food, and nutrition. These include a national preservation program, a national text-digitizing project, the AGRICOLA database, and the Agriculture Network Information Collaborative (AgNIC). This paper chronicles the history of the organization and the impact it has had on agricultural information professionals and national agricultural information initiatives.
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