The Essential Electronic Agriculture Library (TEEAL) was founded in 1999 by two professors from Cornell University. They saw an opportunity in developing countries to provide an easily accessible database of research for faculty and students studying agricultural development.  Based on this need, TEEAL was developed as a “digital collection of research journals for agriculture and related sciences. Researchers, students, faculty and librarians can discover and access thousands of full-text PDF articles without the use of the internet.”[1] Currently located in the basement of Mann Library, TEEAL has developed a strong reputation through its connection to Cornell, and its offline setup allows it to benefit thousands of students in 400 institutions located in over 80 countries.

TEEAL as an offline electronic database is mainly intended to allow access to scientific research that will help to “1) Increase quality of research, 2) Improve training for new scientists, 3) Improve graduate and undergraduate education, 4) Facilitate better extension programs, and 5) Lead to long-term improvement in food security for food deficit countries.”[2]  Its main purpose is to help provide universities and research centers in developing nations with access to recent research in agricultural topics. The current system includes 325 journals and over 428,248 journal articles as well as access to Gate Foundation research, presentations, and white papers.[3]

The most current TEEAL device that has been produced was implemented in the spring of 2014 and involves a mini-computer that can be connected to a campus network and accessed by all computers run on that network. This newest model includes a Raspberry Pi motherboard, is sourced and built by MitxPC, and is Linux compatible, making it easier to connect to the newest computer technology being used in Africa and South Asia.

The current cost of this system is $5,000 for a new set. This includes the cost of the mini-computer, which is approximately $425.  It also includes the staff time and costs associated with programming, article downloads and article citations. The cost of a subscription to all journals on the device is valued at about $1 million. While the cost of the system may seem expensive, it is a significant discount for the institutions that would otherwise never be able to subscribe to these journals due to cost.  TEEAL also makes early updates available that are sent via USB drives and includes all relevant published articles from the past years. The cost of this is currently $750 and will be decreased to $650 next year.[4]

Since its inception, TEEAL has been funded by UNESCO, USAID projects, the Rockefeller Foundation, and is currently funded by the Gates Foundation.  In the winter of 2013, TEEAL was awarded their second Gates Grant for $4.9 million.[5]  This funding is meant to help expand TEEAL programming to include 300 new TEEAL devices placed in eight focus countries, which include six Sub-Saharan Africa countries; Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso; as well as expansion into South Asia through India and Bangladesh.  This funding is also promulgating a new training program to help train 22,000 new users of TEEAL.[6]  These trainings are used as incentives for institutions by lowering the cost of the computer system.  In-country staff members initially host trainings by gathering a group of librarians, IT staff, professors and graduate students, and then training them to use the program.  The institution then commits to holding future trainings to ensure that the rest of the institution is able to access and use the system.

[1] “Funding Assistance from CTA,” The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library, last modified 2010, accessed December 8, 2014, http://teeal.org/purchase/cta-funding

[2] Joy Paulson “The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library,” (Presentation to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2013)

[3] Joy Paulson and Erica Reniff in meeting with Scott Fogel, Nicholas Miras, Eric Schultz, and Amanda Ward, November 24, 2014.

[4] Joy Paulson and Erica Reniff in meeting with Scott Fogel, Nicholas Miras, Eric Schultz, and Amanda Ward, November 24, 2014.

[5] Jim Morris-Knower, “Gates Grant to Extend Knowledge in Developing World,” Cornell Chronicle, last modified December 3, 2013, accessed December 8, 2014, http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/12/gates-grant-share-knowledge-developing-world

[6] Joy Paulson and Erica Reniff in meeting with Scott Fogel, Nicholas Miras, Eric Schultz, and Amanda Ward, November 24, 2014


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