Tuesday, 26 February 2013

ERM basics

Read chapter one of Managing Electronic Resources: A LITA Guide edited by Ryan O. Weir, "Learning the Basics of Electronic Resource Management" also by Ryan O. Weir.

Upon reading this chapter, I've tried to describe the actual life cycle (since, in my opinion, the life cycle(s) described in the chapter are a little out of date or at least impractical) and the key requirements in ERM in this way:

  1. Consideration:  This will involve details such as overlap, license terms, possible access points/issues, pricing, potential audience, trials, quote requests, feedback (from librarians, staff and/or patrons), negotiation, and how the final decision will be made.  Regardless of the decision, ideally, all factors that went into the decision as well as the final result should be recorded.
  2. Acquisition:  This will involve ordering, receiving, paying, documentation of resource and transaction details (e.g. quantity, rights, license terms, payment, etc.)
  3. Processing & Maintenance (initial or renewal):  This will involve providing and ensuring access to the resource (e.g. activation, cataloguing, etc.) as well as checking on and updating all records kept about the resource and the deal(s) (including usage statistics).  This will also involve as-needed troubleshooting and updating of access and functionality of the resource.
  4. Evaluation:  This will involve the compilation of details (most importantly usage and cost) about the resource and deal(s) on a regular basis, either at renewal time or simply after a set amount of time, to reconsider keeping the product in the collection.
  5. Removal:  Although rarely mentioned in the literature (this chapter included), it is always suggested that, given the need for renewal evaluation, there is the possibility that the resource will NOT be renewed.  There are also resources that cease to exist, or change to such a degree that it is no longer the same resource.  For these cases, actions must be taken to remove the resource from the collection involving the catalog, records kept, website references, etc.
Some of these may be standardized or may be unique to the specific resource or subject.

There is also the issue of promotion of electronic resources.  I have not included it (although I was very close to doing so) since, although vital, it is not truly necessary and is often left undone or at least done by librarians or staff other than those involved in ERM.

Also mentioned in the chapter:
  • Electronic resource management challenges and changes:  Mentioned only in very general terms with references to two other chapters.
  • Personal organizational skills:  Certainly very important but I'm torn as to the real meaning of this information being included here.  In a way, all librarians need good time management skills and project management methods, etc.  One of the things that I enjoy about librarianship is also a disadvantage:  flexibility.  Librarians, regardless of actual role, can do a wide variety of things, and have a lot of leeway in judging what really counts as their responsibility.  This means that we can and do take responsibility for plenty of different functions, which makes it difficult to manage our workload.  On the other hand, if electronic resources librarians have more than their fair share of work, then this suggests an imbalance in our institutions and the need for restructuring.
  • Education and professional development:  Good quick introduction to some of the key issues.  I like the list of conferences:  I tend to go to regional conferences but I really should attend ER&L and maybe even Charleston.  And I've been thinking about how to help build a network of other professionals as it suggests.
Some things I disagree with in this chapter:
  • On page 7, it states, "Once the decision is made that the library wishes to acquire an electronic resource, the task of negotiating the licensing and pricing of the resource begins."  Although it does say that the library merely "wishes" to acquire the product before negotiation, too often we find ourselves in the situation of deciding to obtain the product and then negotiating terms.  Details such as pricing, access rights, support agreements, etc. are crucial to determining the value of the resource and therefore should go into the decision to acquire it or not.  This is why I've put negotiation into the consideration process.  Initial negotation MUST take place before the decision is made to acquire.  The acquisition process can only take place once the decision has been made.
  • The lack of consideration for "removal" of resources, as I've included above.
  • There is no mention or consideration of purchased, or perpetual access resources.  In the "Review and Renewal of Resource", the assumption is that the only motivation for evaluation is for renewal or cancellation.  But eResources are increasingly purchased and although they do not take up "shelf space" they do fill up staff and librarian time, and can often come with slowly rising access fees.  Evaluation MUST take place to ensure that keeping it in the collection is still worth the time and money.
Good intro to the book.

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