Agriculture and social media: Q&A with Erin Griffin

by | Apr 26, 2010

North Carolina Agriculture: A Research GuideErin Griffin, a graduate student in UNC’s School of Information and Library Science, has been developing a way to preserve the long history of North Carolina’s top industry using the latest in archiving technology. The end result, “North Carolina Agriculture: A Research Guide,” was launched in February after months of research and planning. In this Q&A, Erin shares how the website was developed and what resources are available online.

What is “North Carolina Agriculture: A Research Guide?”
It is a guide that is meant to introduce people to the subject of agriculture in North Carolina and the North Carolina Collection’s resources about this subject. We hope people can learn a little bit about N.C. agriculture by reading the guide.  If people decide to pay a visit to the North Carolina Collection (NCC), we wanted to introduce them to how the collection works and take them step-by-step through the process of looking for what they want.

Why did you choose to make this information available online, as opposed to another format?
We wanted as many people to see it as possible. Since so many people use the Internet to look up information, we want the pathfinder to show up in search results (especially if they use Google or another search engine to begin their online research) so people can learn more about N.C. agriculture and our resources from their homes.
Why focus on agriculture?
My supervisor, Jason Tomberlin, received an e-mail reference question about the history of agriculture in North Carolina. He realized that the NCC had research guides about other important North Carolina topics such as education and industrial history, but the NCC did not have a research guide about agriculture that he could point the patron to. Agriculture is so important in North Carolina, and the NCC has an extensive collection of periodicals, bulletins, reports, government documents, books, histories, postcards – pretty much anything you can imagine – about agriculture in the state. Needless to say, he decided it was time to make a guide about the subject.

How is the guide categorized, and which topics are you finding to be most popular?
The guide is split into two main categories: subject and format. The subject section contains broad topics about North Carolina agriculture such as African Americans, women, slavery and farmers markets. There are also more specific sections about key agricultural industries such as hog farming and Christmas-tree farming. In addition, there are a few topics that are related to North Carolina agriculture like the North Carolina State Fair, North Carolina State University and agriculture politics. The format section contains different publication types such as maps, newspapers and clipping files. We are not sure about the most popular, but if there is something that we missed, the public should feel free to contact us with suggestions.

Can anyone access the information in your collection?
Yes. Anyone can access the resources on our website, and the vast majority of the online resources in the guides are accessible. However, some of the online databases may be accessible to UNC-affiliated individuals or only accessible to the public when using an on-campus computer. All patrons who visit the NCC can see the materials in our collection as long as they have a picture I.D.   

How can people connect with you online?
They can visit the resource guide, e-mail us at, or go to the North Carolina Collection. Here, people can find our research guides, digitized postcards, North Carolina Miscellany blog, and numerous other resources about North Carolina and UNC. They can also chat with us online during our business hours if they click on the “NCC Online, Click to Chat” in the top right corner of the website.