The Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, Maryland. The Center was established in 1986 and is staffed by a two full-time and two part-time information specialists, and one information technology specialist.
Congress' mission for the Center was clearly provided in the 1985 amendments to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA):
The Secretary [of Agriculture] shall establish an information service at the National Agricultural Library. Such service shall, in cooperation with the National Library of Medicine, provide information--
(1) pertinent to employee training;
(2) which could prevent unintended duplication of animal experimentation as determined by the needs of the research facility; and
(3) on improved methods of animal experimentation, including methods which could--
(A) reduce or replace animal use; and
(B) minimize pain and distress to animals, such as anesthetic and analgesic procedures.
Not surprisingly, the focus of the Center's information products, services, and activities is to help the regulated community with employee training and to promote the humane care and use of animals by providing information on alternatives (improved methods of animal experimentation which could reduce or replace animal use or minimize pain and distress to animals). AWIC also provides support to other USDA agencies such as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care and the Agricultural Research Service.
Outreach services include conducting workshops both at NAL and outside facilities for researchers concerned with meeting the requirements of the AWA, exhibiting at animal-related scientific meetings, giving presentations on AWA-related topics, and publishing the Bulletin. The workshop- Meeting the Information Requirements of the Animal Welfare Act -teaches scientists and information providers how to meet USDA regulatory requirements to ensure approval of animal use protocols. Additional information on AWIC services can be found on our Services page.
Collaborations and Agreements
AWIC was a founding member and continues as a collaborator for the consortia that manages the AltWeb site hosted by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing. One of the missions of AltWeb is to facilitate communication and collaboration among members of the alternatives community, in particular those who work in database or information management.
AWIC, as part of NAL, is supported by Congressional appropriations and a cooperative agreement with the University of Maryland, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in College Park, Maryland.
Resources Today for the Research of Tomorrow
This 12 minute video produced in 1989 gives a historical peek at the AWIC program.