Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Electronic Resources and Libraries Conference - Alternatives to ERM Systems

Here at the Electronic Resources and Libraries conference in Austin, Texas, I have been surprised by the number of presentations by librarians whose institutions have not adopted full-blown electronic resource management (ERM) systems to manage their e-resources.

My institution is new to the field and is implementing an ERM system from a major vendor. I had assumed before arriving here that attendees, a majority of whom appear to be from the academic library milieu, would be working with ERM products from major vendors too.

But there are many libraries that are using open source tools or traditional tools like Excel and Microsoft Access to track licensing information, logins, usage data and to calculate costs and to conduct overlap analysis to compare the contents of database offerings from different providers. And they seem to be doing OK. Things are not perfect, but good enough.

Among the alternatives mentioned in presentations:
  • Excel
  • Access
  • Drupal
  • IT bug/issue ticketing software to standardize workflow associated with activating e-resources
  • different open source solutions such as CORAL (developed at Notre-Dame), KUALI OLE (built by a partnership of universities such as LeHigh, Maryland, Duke, U of Pennsylvania, U of Michigan, Chicago and the Mellon Foundation), Serials Collection Overlap Tool (Ontario University library consortium), ERMes (developed by universities in Wisconsin)
Whether institutions use vendor products or other tools, many presenters have learned similar lessons:
  • track every step in the e-resource acquisition / activation / evaluation process because there are so many things involved
  • save and document everything
  • build task reminders or triggers into the e-resource management process to ensure that the work flows well from one member of the team to another - some places have tools that send automatic alerts to the team member who has to follow up on a given task, other people have found simple solutions such as dragging e-mails to the Task Bar in Microsoft Outlook to remind them to follow up on an issue or task a few days later
  • talk to other librarians

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:07 am

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