The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) recognize that information management and knowledge exchange are critical to improving agriculture and rural life in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Both of them are basic inputs for continuous improvement and decision-making processes, as well as in efforts related to education, training, innovation, competitiveness, sustainable development and food security.

What is the Alliance of Agricultural Information Services?

SIDALC is an international alliance of information services on agriculture, livestock production, forestry and the environment, involving a group of key institutions from 22 countries of the Americas that network to share information and services. Established in 1999, it has become one of the most important windows for accessing sector-specific knowledge in LAC. SIDALC was established thanks to a donation from the Kellogg Foundation, the technical leadership of IICA and CATIE and the participation of a significant number of national, regional and international institutions.

It facilitates access to information produced in the hemisphere and housed in libraries and other information centers on agriculture, livestock production and the environment, among others. It contains approximately three million reference sources and more than 300,000 complete documents, including books, magazines and journals, theses and reports.

At present, the services of the SIDALC Alliance are open to the public and no subscription is required. Users may access them at www.sidalc.net. On a daily basis, there are close to 25,000 online searches of the available collections. Furthermore, SIDALC is linked to other agricultural, environmental and forestry information systems in various countries of the Americas, thereby providing stakeholders in agriculture and rural territories with access to relevant information and knowledge.

SIDALC’s success lies in the fact that it harnesses the intellectual capital of at least 178 institutions and national networks, which act as intermediaries in the management and dissemination of information, while continually expanding and modernizing their services in keeping with the new paradigms of the “knowledge society”. As part of the Alliance, there is a scientific exchange service, which provides hundreds of libraries with timely access to important information resources for their users.

Today, SIDALC is the product of the development of various earlier initiatives aimed at knowledge and information management, all of which were spearheaded by IICA, such as the Orton Memorial Library, founded in 1943; the Scientific Exchange Service (SIC), created in 1958; the Inter-American Association of Agricultural Librarians, Documentalists and Information Specialists (AIBDA), established in 1965; and the Inter-American Agricultural Information System (AGRINTER), created in 1972.

How does SIDALC function?

SIDALC functions as a community of specialists in agricultural, forestry and related information from various institutions in the Americas, which are interested in facilitating open access to services. In this way, they create a virtuous circle and a collaborative network where “each institution shares a little so that they all can have much more”, with each institution preserving their own identity and policies on the delivery and costing of specialized information services.

This is what gives SIDALC its greatest competitive advantage. Through its hemispheric-wide system, it links more than 20 national information networks, thus enabling access to specialized knowledge on agriculture and rural life in the Americas, and shares this at the global level. On the other hand, SIDALC facilitates the mobilization of human and information services among countries and regions, while promoting and providing support for national information management initiatives and facilitating the flow and dissemination of information and the transfer of successful experiences.

What benefits does SIDALC offer?

  • Participation in the largest hemispheric information service specializing in agriculture and rural life in the Americas.
  • Linkages to international information systems, which is a fundamental requirement in processes to accredit the quality of institutional services, for example, of university studies.
  • Recognition, both at the national and international levels, of networks, libraries and other associated information centers.
  • Increase in the user demand for services and in the positive impact of reference services in specialist libraries.
  • Access to a wider collection of information resources, specializing in agriculture, the environment, forestry and related areas: an agricultural search engine and a network of experts.
  • Open access to tools and methodologies for specialized information management, including different courses related to these topics.
  • International support for institutional catalogs.
  • Greater visibility of institutional collections at the global level, via SIDALC.NET and Google.com, while preserving the identity of the institution.
  • Involvement in information management-related projects for agriculture.

What products does SIDALC feature?

  • A scientific exchange network comprised of information management specialists, available to respond to your queries on a timely basis.
  • An agricultural search engine, indexed by Google, which has specialized collections on agriculture, the environment, forestry and other related areas, with references and electronic resources of all kinds, including texts and audiovisual material, among others.
  • A direct link to the National Agricultural Library and the Agriculture Network Information Collaborative (AGNIC), both of them in the United States.
  • Access to various agricultural information systems, as well as to resource centers and specialized packages of information on agriculture and rural areas in LAC.