The United States National Agricultural Library (NAL) is one of the world's largest agricultural research libraries, and serves as a national library of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territorie ...
and as the library of the
United States Department of Agriculture The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, and food. It aims to meet the needs of comm ...
. Located in
Beltsville, Maryland Beltsville is a census-designated place (CDP) in northern Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The community was named for Truman Belt, a local landowner. The 2020 census counted 20,133 residents. Beltsville includes the unincorporated ...
, it is one of five national libraries of the United States (along with the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the '' de facto'' national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the country. The librar ...
, the
National Library of Medicine The United States National Library of Medicine (NLM), operated by the United States federal government, is the world's largest medical library. Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the NLM is an institute within the National Institutes of Health. Its ...
, the
National Transportation Library The National Transportation Library (NTL) maintains and facilitates access to information necessary for transportation decision-making in government and coordinates with public and private transportation libraries and information providers to impr ...
, and the National Library of Education). It is also the coordinator for the Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC), a national network of state land-grant institutions and coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) field libraries. NAL was established on May 15, 1862, by the signing of the Organic Act by
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln ( ; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation throu ...
. It served as a departmental library until 1962, when the Secretary of Agriculture officially designated it as the National Agricultural Library. The first librarian, appointed in 1867, was Aaron B. Grosh, one of the founders of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry.


NAL was established as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Library on May 15, 1862, by the signing of the Organic Act by
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln ( ; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation throu ...
. In 1863, the library's collection comprised 1,000 volumes that had been transferred from the U.S. Patent Office's Agricultural Division. By 1889, the library's collection had increased to 20,000 volumes, and a librarian from Amherst College was hired to create a classification system for the library's collection. At this time, the library was located on the second floor of the Department of Agriculture's main building. In 1893, William Cutter was hired as Librarian of the Department, and he began a reorganization effort to modernize the library and improve its effectiveness. His primary achievement was consolidating the library's collection of 38,000 volumes into one central library; previously, more than half of the library's collection was held in divisional libraries across the United States. By 1900, the library's collection contained 68,000 volumes, and in 1915, the library was moved to a larger facility in the Bieber Office Building at 1358 B Street SW, Washington, DC. The library moved again in 1932 to facilities in the USDA's South Building on Independence Avenue.Fusione, Alan E. 1988. The history of the National Agricultural Library. ''Agricultural History'' 62(2):189-207. In 1934, the collection reached 250,000 volumes in size, and the library began participating in the Bibliofilm Service, which, along with the
American Documentation Institute The Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) is a nonprofit membership organization for information professionals that sponsors an annual conference as well as several serial publications, including the '' Journal of the As ...
and the Science Service, supplied microfilm copies of articles to scientists. This was the first large-scale attempt by a library to provide copies of library materials to patrons rather than the original documents, and during its first year, over 300,000 copies were distributed. During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposing ...
, the Department of Agriculture underwent reorganization to address wartime needs. The library, which had been decentralized since 1920, was consolidated into a central facility under the direction of Department Librarian Ralph R. Shaw. On May 23, 1962, the 100th anniversary of the library's establishment, Secretary of Agriculture
Orville Freeman Orville Lothrop Freeman (May 9, 1918February 20, 2003) was an American Democratic politician who served as the 29th Governor of Minnesota from January 5, 1955, to January 2, 1961, and as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1961 to 1969 unde ...
officially designated the library as the National Agricultural Library, making it the third
national library A national library is a library established by a government as a country's preeminent repository of information. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books. Often, they include numerous rare, valuable, or significant w ...
in the United States. In 1964, funds were appropriated by Congress to begin planning for a new library facility in Beltsville, Maryland, on the grounds of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Construction on the new facility began in 1965, and it first opened in 1969. In 2000, Secretary of Agriculture
Dan Glickman Daniel Robert Glickman (born November 24, 1944) is an American politician, lawyer, lobbyist, and nonprofit leader. He served as the United States Secretary of Agriculture from 1995 until 2001, prior to which he represented as a Democrat in Co ...
designated the building as the Abraham Lincoln Building.

Librarians of the Department of Agriculture

* Aaron B. Grosh (1867–1869) *Stuart Eldridge (1869–1871)Paskoff, Beth M. 1990
History and characteristics of agricultural libraries and information in the United States
''Library Trends'' 38(3):331-349.
*John B. Russell (1871–1877) *Ernestine H. Stevens (1877–1893) *William P. Cutter (1893–1901) * Josephine Clark (1901–1907) *
Claribel Barnett Claribel Ruth Barnett (March 26, 1872 – ) was librarian of the United States Department of Agriculture from July 1907 until her retirement in November 1940. Early life Claribel Ruth Barnett was born on March 26, 1872 in Kent, Ohio to George ...
(1907–1940) * Ralph R. Shaw (1940–1954) * Foster E. Mohrhardt (1954–1968) *John Sherrod (1968–1973) *Richard Farley (1973–1983) *Joseph Howard (1983–1994) *Pamela Q.J. Andre (1994–2002) *Peter Young (2002–2008) *Simon Y. Liu (2010–2014) *Paul M. Wester Jr. (2015–)


The main library is housed in the Abraham Lincoln Building, a seventeen-story facility on the grounds of the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland. NAL also operates a
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Logan Circle, Jefferson Memorial, White House, Adams Morgan, ...
, branch known as the DC Reference Center, which is located in the USDA's South Building.

Paul L. Byrne Agricultural Teaching and Research Center

The Paul L. Byrne Agricultural Teaching and Research Center is located at California State University, Chico and is part of the 800-acre Paul L. Byrne Memorial University Farm.



PubAg is search engine that gives the public enhanced access to research published by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists, and also to agriculturally relevant citations from the scientific literature. At its launch on January 13, 2015, PubAg made over 40,000 publications by USDA scientists available, and provided access to an additional 300,000 citations.

Ag Data Commons

Ag Data Commons is a repository and catalog for scientific datasets that are associated with publications by the USDA's agricultural research service and other institutions. The data included is funded by the USDA, either in whole or in part.

LCA Commons

Hosted by the National Agricultural Library, the U.S. Life Cycle Assessment Commons (LCA Commons) is a collaboration among federal agencies, private industry, and academic researchers. The intention of LCA Commons is to aggregate and archive life cycle inventory data that represent US economic activities, making it freely available for re-use. It is geared for use in LCAs, supporting policy assessment, decision-making in technology implementation, and public disclosure of comparative product or technology assertions.

i5K Workspace @ NAL

The i5k Workspace@NAL provides genome projects resulting from the i5k initiative with a space to display and share genome assemblies and gene models. In particular, the Workspace is geared towards research groups that do not have the resources to display the genome assembly and its features.


NAL maintains AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access), the largest
bibliographic database A bibliographic database is a database of bibliographic records, an organized digital collection of references to published literature, including journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, reports, government and legal publications, ...
of agricultural literature in the world.AGRICOLA a useful database on agriculture, veterinary science
''Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association''. 2001-10-01. Retrieved on 2008-12-05.
It contains more than 4.1 million records for publications dating as far back as the 15th century. 78 percent of the records are for journal articles and book chapters, while 22 percent cover full-length books, journals, maps, electronic resources, and audiovisual materials.Specifications for cataloging and indexing records from the National Agricultural Library
National Agricultural Library. July 2006. Retrieved on 2008-12-05.
The database indexes publications from many disciplines related to agriculture, including veterinary sciences, entomology, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries, economics, food and human nutrition, and environmental sciences. AGRICOLA originated in 1942 as the ''Bibliography of Agriculture'', a printed index of article citation records. It was first digitized in 1970, when records were placed on magnetic tapes rather than reproducing them manually. The name was changed to AGRICOLA at this time, and the records were made available through database vendors such as Dialog and OCLC. In 1998, it became available to the general public for free on the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system enabling documents and other web resources to be accessed over the Internet. Documents and downloadable media are made available to the network through web s ...

National Agricultural Library Special Collections

The library's Special Collections houses rare materials related to the history of agriculture, including books, manuscripts, paintings and drawings, seed catalogs, agricultural photographs, and posters from the 1500s to the present. The subjects covered include horticulture, entomology, poultry sciences, and natural history.

Pomological Watercolor Collection

Within the Special Collections, the Pomological Watercolor Collection holds over 7,500 original watercolors on botanical subjects created by USDA artists between 1886 and 1942, almost half of which are apples. It is a unique resource documenting new introductions of fruit and nut cultivars as well as specimens discovered by USDA's plant explorers, representing 38 plant families in all.White, James J., and Erik A. Neumann. "The Collection of Pomological Watercolors at the U.S. National Arboretum". '' Huntia: A Journal of Botanical History'' 4:2 (January 1982), pp. 106-107. Some of these watercolors were published in the ''Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture'' in the 1902–1913 period, but many were never published at all. Some 65 different artists are represented in the collection, of whom one-third were women.Kevles, Daniel J
"How to Trademark a Fruit"
''Smithsonian'', August 2011.
Just 9 of the 65 are responsible for more than 90% of the total: Deborah Griscom Passmore (over 1500 watercolors), Amanda Newton (over 1200), Mary Daisy Arnold, (over 1000), Royal Charles Steadman (over 850), J. Marion Shull (over 750), Ellen Isham Schutt (over 700), Bertha Heiges (over 600), Elsie E. Lower (over 250), and William Henry Prestele (over 100). Many of the pictures in the Pomological Watercolor Collection are available online through the library's Digital Repository (see link below).

National Agricultural Library Digital Repository

The NAL Digital Repository, created in April 2006, serves as a digital archive of historical USDA documents. The repository contains over 600,000 pages of digitized texts. Publications contained in the repository include the issues of the ''Journal of Agricultural Research'' from 1913–1949 and the archives of the ''Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture'' dating back to 1894.About NALDR
. National Agricultural Library. Retrieved on 2008-12-22.

Information Centers

NAL also houses several specialized information centers, which provide access to comprehensive and essential information resources focusing on the specific aspects of agricultural subjects. In addition to the general reference services available at NAL, each center offers Internet access to resources enhancing information availability and dissemination. The centers have staff available to serve customers on-site as well as by phone, fax or email. The Information Centers at the National Agricultural Library include: *Alternative Farming Systems Information Center *Animal Welfare Information Center *Food and Nutrition Information Center **Nutrition.gov *Food Safety Research Information Office Center *National Invasive Species Information Center *Rural Information Center *Water and Agriculture Information Center

Animal Welfare Information Center

The Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) is a centralized resource of information products, services, and activities that provide information on
animal welfare Animal welfare is the well-being of non-human animals. Formal standards of animal welfare vary between contexts, but are debated mostly by animal welfare groups, legislators, and academics. Animal welfare science uses measures such as longevity ...
in research, teaching, testing, and exhibition as specified by the Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act of 1985. The 1985 Act was an amendment to the
Animal Welfare Act of 1966 The Animal Welfare Act (Laboratory Animal Welfare Act of 1966, ) was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 24, 1966. It is the main federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research and exhib ...
(AWA), and mandated an information service at the NAL to provide information on employee training, preventing duplication of animal experiments, and improving animal experimentation methods by reducing or replacing animal use and minimizing animals’ pain and distress. The center later became known as AWIC in 1986. The AWIC provides educational outreach through its website, free in-person and virtual workshops and trainings, the USDA NAL Twitter feed, and monthly newsletters. Outreach topics focus on the AWA and its amendments, the Three Rs principles (reduction, replacement, and refinement of animal use), and alternatives literature searching. This information is available to the public, but is specifically targeted towards scientists, veterinarians, animal care staff, librarians, and students. AWIC also provides free literature searching services upon request. AWIC supports the research community by assisting with their alternatives literature search, which is one way it meets the AWA requirement to consider alternatives. Scientists working with animals are required to provide their institution’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) with documentation demonstrating that alternatives to painful or distressful procedures were considered and that experiments are not unnecessarily duplicative. These literature searches help identify 3Rs alternative methods to and within animal experimentation.

Food Safety Research Information Office Center

The Food Safety Research Information Office (FSRIO) collects, organizes, and disseminates food safety information in accordance with the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998. The Act mandated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) establish an office to collect and maintain information on food safety studies to prevent duplicative research projects and to assist the government and private research organizations in determining research priorities. The National Agricultural Library formally launched the office on July 2, 2001. FSRIO's mission also includes disseminating information to the general public on publicly funded (including university investigations) and, as much as possible, privately funded research initiatives. The office assists the Federal Government and private research entities with assessing food safety research needs; while also supporting the research community through organizing, collecting, and disseminating food safety research information. FSRIO also makes food safety investigations conducted through the
Agricultural Research Service The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the principal in-house research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). ARS is one of four agencies in USDA's Research, Education and Economics mission area. ARS is charged with ext ...
and from across other U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies available to researchers as well as projects from the
Food and Drug Administration The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA or US FDA) is a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the control and supervision of food ...
and the
National Institutes of Health The National Institutes of Health, commonly referred to as NIH (with each letter pronounced individually), is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. It was founded in the late 1 ...
. FSRIO maintains a searchable database on more than 1,700 food safety research products dating from 1996 to the present. The collection is indexed using the National Agricultural Library Thesaurus (NALT). The Thesaurus and it’s glossary are online vocabulary tools of agricultural and related terms in English and Spanish cooperatively produced through NAL, USDA, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, and other Latin American agricultural institutions in the Agriculture Information and Documentation Service of the Americas (SIDALC). In 2016, FSRIO created a repository of "Meet the Expert" videos that include content from a variety of sources. The videos highlight the latest food safety research applications conducted at USDA and other federal agencies.

Food and Nutrition Information Center

In 1971, the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) was established as a national repository of training and educational materials for the staff of USDA's Child Nutrition Programs (e.g. school lunch programs). The Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 furthered the mission of FNIC also to be a resource for state education agencies and interested members of the general public. FNIC covers topics related to dietary guidelines and supplements, and
food composition Food composition data (FCD) are detailed sets of information on the nutritionally important components of foods and provide values for energy and nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals and for other important food com ...
. It also maintains a database of extensive food, nutrition, and related topics and resource lists. Currently, the FNIC website contains links to over 2,500 current and reliable resources on nutrition and is regularly updated by a staff of registered dietitians. FNIC offers a Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) (established Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) calculator for daily nutrient recommendations, healthy recipes, educational materials, professional resources, food labeling information, and consumer food safety information, among other resources. In 2019, FNIC expanded their Spanish language website, "En Español” which offers over forty web pages translated into Spanish. With the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, FNIC expanded the site to offer a recipe page with recipes from both Federal and Cooperative Extension sites; the recipe library is updated regularly.


Nutrition.gov is a USDA-sponsored website created and maintained by the Food and Nutrition Information Center. The website receives content guidance from a USDA working group of scientific experts in food and nutrition and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Launched in 2004, Nutrition.gov is a part of the USDA's Obesity Intervention Plan and is funded by the Research, Education and Economics (REE) mission area of USDA. Nutrition.gov provides consumers with access to up-to-date, reliable information about food, healthy eating, food safety, and physical activity.


External links

— portal to agricultural research publications
Ag Data Commons
— data catalog of agricultural research datasets
LCA Commons

i5K Workspace @NAL

NAL Special Collections

NAL USDA Pomological Watercolors

NAL Agricultural Thesaurus
* {{LOC-general
National Agricultural Library The United States National Agricultural Library (NAL) is one of the world's largest agricultural research libraries, and serves as a national library of the United States and as the library of the United States Department of Agriculture. Located ...
Agricultural Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people t ...
National Agricultural Library The United States National Agricultural Library (NAL) is one of the world's largest agricultural research libraries, and serves as a national library of the United States and as the library of the United States Department of Agriculture. Located ...
Libraries in Maryland
National Agricultural Library The United States National Agricultural Library (NAL) is one of the world's largest agricultural research libraries, and serves as a national library of the United States and as the library of the United States Department of Agriculture. Located ...
Bibliographic database providers Buildings and structures in Prince George's County, Maryland Beltsville, Maryland Agricultural organizations based in the United States Libraries established in 1862 1862 establishments in Washington, D.C. 1862 establishments in the United States Library buildings completed in 1969 1969 establishments in Maryland Research libraries in the United States