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An Environmental Scan of Electronic Resource Management Products

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An Environmental Scan of Electronic Resource Management Products

As of the summer of 2010, Central Technical Services (CTS) at the University at Buffalo (UB) Libraries is using Innovative Interfaces Inc.'s (III) Millennium ERM product to manage its electronic resources. Research and negotiation for the contract began during the summer of 2004, with actual implementation taking place in the spring of 2005. At the time, Millennium was the only product of its kind available to assist librarians with the management of the entire life cycle of electronic resources. From contract negotiation, to purchase and activation, and for tracking troubleshooting issues and usage, Millennium was the premier product.

Electronic journals and other online resources purchased on subscription for the University's seven libraries are managed by 2.5 librarians. Their responsibilities include researching pricing and terms, purchase negotiation, license review and negotiation, product activation, and overall access and management (including 360 Link and LOCKSS work). Presently, when a new individual title is added to the collection, it must go through a few steps to ensure proper activation and access to users. A bibliographic record is added to the catalog and an order is created in the Aleph acquisition module. Once the title has been activated, holdings are attached and the resource is made available via the OPAC. Next, the title is activated in Serials Solutions so that it is available via the Libraries e-journal A-Z list. Finally, a record is created in Millennium, which contains the licensing terms, URL, holdings, subscription dates, and a few other fields. Unfortunately these three systems are stand alone silos -- they each contain data, which in many cases is duplicative, and none of the systems communicates with the others. All data is entered manually by CTS's Electronic Periodicals Management Department (EPMD) and Acquisitions staff which currently includes not only the 2.5 librarians, but also two full time staff S/L 2s, one temporary librarian, and one student assistant.

According to Serials Solutions' Data Summary, UB has over 120,000 online journal holdings available in approximately 500 "databases." (In Serials Solutions, there are many hundreds of "databases" which may include publisher e-journal lists or subject packages, all titles available through a given platform, titles available in full-text databases, contrived collections of individual titles from small publishers, or a variety of Open Access journal collections). Many of the 120,000 holdings are obtained via packages or full-text databases, while other titles are obtained individually, usually through subscription services such as EBSCO, Swets, Harrassowitz and Basch but in some cases, directly from publishers who do not work through subscription vendors. Managing so many different subscriptions and products from such a blend of sources can make e-resource management work intensive and difficult to track. Activation procedures can vary significantly, renewal dates are not uniform, license research and negotiation can present a myriad of circumstances that tax a very small but devoted staff, and LOCKSS and 360 LINK must be activated. Along with setting up these resources comes the task of maintaining access throughout the duration of the subscription and troubleshooting when access is interrupted. Finally, Interlibrary Loan staff and Instruction librarians may need quick and convenient access to terms of use (i.e. ILL permissions and numbers of concurrent users).

Other concerns relate to usage statistics and cost-per-use data, as well as perpetual rights and archival access. Collection Development and subject selectors require statistics to make decisions about whether or not to continue to subscribe to resources, especially given the declining library acquisitions budgets. ERM compliance with Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative (SUSHI, ANSI/NISO Z39.93-2007) and Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources (COUNTER) would assist in this process. Tracking LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe) and Portico participation, along with archiving options, are vital steps to ensuring future access to volatile resources as well.

The combination of these varied needs and circumstances requires a product that is progressive, reliable, and flexible enough to work at multiple locations throughout seven libraries across three campuses. Features that can streamline the processes and make information available to and easily manipulated by not just EPMD but also by Acquisitions, Public Services, Collection Development, library technology staff and even Library Administration are important if the Libraries are going to make the best use of its resources, time and budget, while at the same time ensuring continuous access for patrons.

Staff in EPMD have now been using III's ERM for five years, and feedback on the system has been either negligible or negative. Therefore, with a variety of other ERMs now available in the marketplace, an environmental scan of ERM systems was begun in early 2010. Contacts were made with librarians at libraries who are currently using other ERM products, and the library literature was consulted for studies and publications relating experiences with and expectations for these ERM systems. While numerous ERMs now exist, the following products were selected for further investigation, and the reason for selecting each is provided.

III Millennium (the ERM product currently in use at UB)

Ex Libris Verde (an ERM that would be compatible with Aleph)

EBSCONET ERM Essentials (the majority of the Libraries' journal subscriptions are currently purchased through EBSCO)

SwetsWise ERM as a Service (many UB journal subscriptions are purchased through Swets)

Serials Solutions Resource Manager (the source from which UB obtains its e-journal A-Z list and its link resolver service)

NYLINK True Serials (available through UB's current membership in NYLINK)

ERMes (a free open source ERM)

Overview of Product Findings

Ex Libris Verde

Verde is "tightly integrated" with the SFX knowledge base, which the University Libraries utilized prior to November 2006. However due to dissatisfaction with the product, SFX was discontinued and replaced with Article Linker (now 360



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