Professional Development

In the 'ERM Systems' Category...

Derrik at NCLA 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013 12:13 pm

Here’s my summary of last week’s North Carolina Library Association conference. Overall, I thought it was a great conference, and I was glad I attended.

E-books

Christopher Harris, editor for the American Libraries e-content blog, gave a very good update on the e-book industry, although it was mostly geared toward public libraries. Some of my favorite sound bites and key concepts:

  • Don’t stress out about change. “Stuff is constantly changing; let it flow.”
  • The last disruptive technology we saw was the iPod and mp3′s. Experts (audiophiles) hate mp3′s because of the lower sound quality, but for the average user, an iPod & earbuds sure beats walking around with a phonograph or boombox. Librarians need to avoid being the nay-saying experts.
  • If all we’re doing is providing e-books, we’re in trouble because it can be outsourced at a much lower cost. Libraries can be filters and help users avoid “analysis paralysis,” like shopping at Trader Joe’s, where much of the selection has already been done for you.

Harris encouraged us to be willing to experiment with new models of purchase and access, and to think with our “math brains” instead of our “emotional” brains. For example, we all got up in arms when Harper Collins announced a 26-loan maximum, but Harris pointed out that for a $20 book that amounts to about $0.72 per loan. “How much per loan does a print book cost?” (in labor and building/shelving costs), he asked. Harris reviewed the current license models used by some of the “Big 6″ publishers. He pointed out that Macmillan does not sell to library consortia, and said (almost angrily), “That’s where we should plant our flag!” because resource sharing is much more important than a 26- or 52-loan limit.

Harris’ parting advice:

The next day, I attended a panel discussion and found out that NC LIVE is already working on a new model for shared e-books. I confess I didn’t understand all this very well, and it’s all still in Beta, but I’ll try to keep this general in hopes that I won’t go too far off track. NC LIVE has been working with Wake County Public Library to develop a shared platform for library e-books. Note that it will be the platform technology that is shared, not necessarily the e-books. It will be up to individual libraries to implement the platform (developed by NC LIVE) on their own websites. The vision is that each member library will be able to purchase e-books and place them on the NC LIVE platform, either shareable or private to the purchasing library. NC LIVE has started negotiating with several NC publishers to make their e-books available on the platform. It wasn’t clear to me whether those are e-books that NC LIVE will purchase, or if they’ll simply be available for member libraries to purchase. Target launch date for the platform is January 2014. There will be some content from one publisher (John Blair, based in Winston-Salem) available at that time, and NC LIVE hopes to have additional content from other publishers available by July. For now, the only access model for these e-books will be single concurrent user.

 

Digital/Digitized Library Collections

I went to a couple of presentations on digital collections available via the State Library. See http://digital.ncdcr.gov/. There’s a lot of good stuff available for NC historical research, such as family bibles, wills, property records, cemetery photographs, a Civil War Roster index, an index of the Raleigh News & Observer covering 1926-1992, and an archive of all NC government websites. I also went to a session that gave an update on NC ECHO [http://ncecho.org/], which searches across the digital collections of various libraries, museums, and archives in North Carolina (including Digital Forsyth, for example). NC ECHO uses the OAI-PMH standard to gather metadata from the various collections, then builds a searchable index of all these collections.

 

Electronic Resource Management Systems

I formed and participated in a panel discussion about E-Resource Management Systems (ERMS). Our panel included librarians using an open-source ERMS (me, talking about CORAL), a ILS-vendor’s ERMS, and a content-vendor’s ERMS. It was fun (in an e-resource-managing-geeky sort of way) to see how the strengths of the systems varied according to provider. The presentation was well attended, and I received some positive feedback afterward.

 

Keynotes

I won’t try to summarize the keynote addresses, but here are a couple of my favorite highlights:

In speaking of our responsibility to present readers with all sides of a controversial topic, ALA President Barbara Stripling pointed out that in a print environment, libraries could place all the relevant resources together on the shelf, so readers have to “at least trip over” other points of view on their way to the books they’re looking for. But in an online environment, it is too easy to limit yourself to resources that you already agree with, so libraries have a responsibility to teach users to look for those other points of view.

I’m sure others will offer a better description of ACRL President Trevor Dawes’ address, but the point that stood out the most to me was his explanation of why Financial Literacy is one of his main areas of focus. Dawes said that student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt in the United States. (Actually, that happened in 2010, but Yikes!)

 

Vendors

If you’ve read my past conference summaries, you won’t be surprised that I had some productive conversations with vendors in the exhibit hall. I talked with the Gale rep about the Cengage bankruptcy, and was again assured that it’s “business as usual” for Gale; she compared the bankruptcy to refinancing a mortgage (yeah, I know it’s more complicated than that, but I still thought it was a good analogy). The Reference USA rep gave me a heads up on a new data visualization feature, and told me to contact our sales rep about it (I think it’s available at no additional cost, waiting to hear back). I got an update on the new Alexander Street Press platform for streaming music & video, which is scheduled to be released later this week (but they’ve already had to push it back once). And I had another license-unjamming conversation with a publisher (like happened at ALA earlier this year). I had gone months without hearing a reply, then talked to the sales rep at the conference on Thursday, and I heard back from the license contact within a day!

 

Derrik at ER&L 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 11:35 am

I had a very good conference experience with the 2012 Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) conference. It’s almost overwhelming just to look at all the notes I took! ER&L really packs a lot into a 2.5-day conference, averaging 8 sessions a day. And if that’s not enough going on, you can follow even more sessions via Twitter.

My two main areas of focus for this conference were e-resource management systems (ERMS) and demand-driven acquisition (DDA).

ERMS. The first set of breakout sessions included a panel of 8 librarians representing a total of 5 ERM systems. I was one of two CORAL users on the panel. For those of you who are wondering, an ERMS helps Resource Services personnel keep track of databases and licenses-things like license terms, user limits, vendor contact information, etc. The panel discussion used a “buffet” metaphor, and the idea was for audience members to get a sampling of the different ERMS options. The format was fast-moving, even with a two-hour time slot. It was interesting how different sites use the same product differently, and see different strengths & weaknesses of that product. Common themes that emerged in the discussion included using the ERMS for internal communication, desires for better usage statistics management, and Interlibrary Loan permission as the only license term that anyone outside of e-resource management really cares about. And I discovered I’m not the only one who thinks CORAL should include subject headings for databases.

ERMS buffet

At the CORAL user group meeting (my first as an actual user), I learned more about the new CORAL Steering Committee. As I have described in previous blog posts, CORAL was developed by librarians at Notre Dame. But as adoption has increased, Notre Dame’s capacity to develop the product has been diminished. So they have formed a Steering Committee, with librarians from Texas A&M, Duke Medical Library, and the College of New Jersey. The committee will make product decisions and actively develop fixes and enhancements. As always, other libraries are also allowed to contribute code.

On a more general ERMS note, I attended a presentation by Tim Jewell, who has chaired a NISO working group on ERM Data Standards and Best Practices <http://www.niso.org/workrooms/ermreview>, a successor to the ERMI data initiative. Among other things, ERMI defined standards for what data elements should be tracked by an ERMS and has given direction to the development of other e-resource management standards such as SUSHI (usage statistics) and ONIX-PL (communication of license terms). The working group released a report in January (available at the website). The report (and Jewell’s presentation) recognizes that other standards initiatives, many of which have grown out of ERMI, provide greater granularity than ERMI. Thus the working group recommended that NISO not continue to develop the ERMI data dictionary, but instead continue to support these more targeted initiatives.

Sorry for the ERM geek-out; I hope I didn’t overwhelm you too much. Moving on…

DDA. Based on this conference, it seems like demand-driven acquisition is moving out of the pilot phase and is moving toward becoming a more accepted practice. Carol and I presented stats and findings from ZSR’s first year of DDA. We also saw data from the University of Denver’s DDA program, and it appears that they spent about $6 per FTE during fiscal year 2011, close to ZSR’s per-FTE spend of $5. But librarians from Calif. State Fullerton said that their DDA expenditure increased significantly in the second year-something for us to keep an eye on. We also learned that NISO is reviewing a proposal to develop best practices for DDA.

One question about DDA that was brought up a couple of times was planning for removal of titles. As the number of available titles increases, is there a need to “weed” outdated ones? If so, how would this be accomplished? No one offered any answers, just raising the question.

Publishers and vendors are also coming to grips with DDA. DDA is forcing them to re-think their sales models, moving from the predictability of Approval sales to the unpredictable volume and timing of patron-driven sales. Oxford Univ. Press is investing more heavily in discoverability, trying to make all Oxford content cross-searchable. Matt Nauman, from YBP, described their DDA service, and said that YBP is seeing a need to develop an e-book collection management service rather than relying strictly on sales.

JSTOR. John Lenahan from ITHAKA described some of the results of JSTOR user data analysis, and some of the projects they are working on as a result. JSTOR has found that a major portion of their users are coming to JSTOR from outside the library (mostly via Google), resulting in a high number of unnecessary turnaways. So JSTOR is developing some really cool features to address this. First of all, JSTOR has made all journal content published prior to 1923 free to anyone. The are also working on a “Register to Read” function, where a user can “borrow” up to 3 articles at a time. What’s really cool, though, is the “Institutional Finder,” which will prompt the user saying “You are not logged in from an affiliated institution,” and will allow the user to select their university and log in via the proxy server. Finally, they are building an integration with discovery services, providing the user with a link to re-do their JSTOR search on their library’s Summon instance.

Turnover. I attended a session on reducing information loss when there’s staff turnover, thinking of all the information stored in an individual’s memory, e-mail account, hard drive, etc. Strategies suggested included using an ERMS, wikis &/or LibGuides, and project management tools. The speaker also suggested using a checklist for departing personnel. One tip I liked was to create a generic institutional e-mail account to list with vendors so that when a person leaves you can just redirect that account rather than having to contact all those vendors.

AR. I learned about a project at the University of Manchester, where they have developed Augmented Reality (AR) apps in conjunction with Special Collections exhibits. For example, a student might point their smartphone camera at a 200-year-old printing press, or a copy of Dante’s Inferno, and can tap certain areas of their screen to get more information. The externally-funded project represented cooperation among software developers, tech support, librarians, and academic departments. They found it to be most meaningful for 1st- and 2nd-year undergraduates, less so for experienced students and researchers. In case you’re wondering (like I was), their Special Collections dept. has iPads available for checkout for patrons who don’t have a smartphone. More about the project is available at http://teamscarlet.wordpress.com/ .

ER&L is a great conference to follow on Twitter. There are quite a few attendees (including yours truly) who tweet during sessions, and with only three or four concurrent sessions, the conversations are fairly easy to follow. The conference organizers tried something new this year–in addition to the conference hashtag, they assigned a separate hashtag for each session. It was a good idea (IMHO), but apparently wasn’t publicized very well and had only moderate uptake. It will probably work better next year.

Finally, here are some miscellaneous sound bytes either from my notes or from the conference Twitter stream:
@AnAnarchivist: “Accepting other people’s opinions is an expectation, we want other’s opinions, and expect our opinions to be welcome. #erl12 #millennials”
“Unlikely you’ll ever be down to 1 tool” for managing e-resources – Heidi Zuniga, University of Colorado medical campus
“IP addresses are not an identity” – Thomas Blood, Naval Postgraduate School
@library_chic: “print books were all shareable across consortia. ebooks are, in most cases, not shareable #consortia #erl12″
@annacreech: “What a cataloger thinks a title is and what a vendor thinks a title is are two different things. #ebookpbook #erl12″
@tmvogel: “UDenver: Going through data fast, but it looks like they saw higher per title usage for the titles in both formats #erl12 #ebookpbook”

Steve at 2008 NASIG Conference

Thursday, June 19, 2008 11:16 am

From June 5 to 8, Chris and I attended the 2008 NASIG Conference in Phoenix, Arizona at the Tapatio Cliffs Resort, which sounds nice until you account for the fact that Arizona is a sun-blasted hellscape unfit for human habitation. Nevertheless, I attended a number of useful sessions at the conference. Highlights included:

Real ERM Implementations: Notes from the Field – a panel discussion including Ted Fons of Innovative Interfaces (moderator), Karl Maria Fattig of Bowdoin College, Jeff Daniels of Grand Valley State University, Paul Moeller of University of Colorado, and Toni Katz of Colby College. The panelists discussed their experiences implementing an ERM at their library. The libraries ranged in size of staff, size of collection, timeline and preparation of implementation, and in their staff’s enthusiasm for the process. However, a few common concerns and observations emerged. Far from reducing the amount of work performed by Technical Services, the implementation of the ERM meant that staff spent more time working with the knowledge base and link resolver, rather than doing copy or original cataloging. The ERM allowed information regarding terms of use and other acquisition information to be consolidated in one generally accessible location, and allowed for the divorcing of content from the management of that content. In order to implement the ERM, huge flows of communication had to be maintained among all parties involved and, in at least one case, a long, often painful process of re-working and re-designing all workflows and responsibilities had to be performed, with a goal of designing the system as if it were a new start-up (a process that included three consecutive all-day meetings, with the director present forcing the process along). It was difficult to figure out the workflow and procedure consequences of implementing the ERM, and was made more difficult by the fact that there were no standards for data entry into the ERM. All recommended that planning for ERM implementation should be thorough, have sufficiently long timelines, should bring in all stakeholders (including public services), and should encompass widespread training among the staff in accessing the ERM.

When Did (E)-books Become Serials? – a panel discussion including Kim Armstrong of CIC, Bob Nardini of Coutts, Peter McCracken of Serials Solutions and Rick Lugg of R2 Consulting. The gist of this presentation was that the similarities in the management of e-books and e-serials are becoming greater than the similarities that e-books share with print monographs in terms of management. The primary similarity is that e-books and e-journals share similar deliver systems. Also, e-books are like e-journals in that they are available by subscription, and they are acquired primarily by pre-defined publications from the publisher or by self-selected collections by subscription. However, e-books are not like e-journals in that there are many more individual titles that require many more individual decisions, they have less granular content, there are questions of long-term ownership, their purchase may include platform or maintenance fees, monographs have a strong tradition of expert selection, monographs tend to have more data in their bibliographic records than serials which creates metadata issues, they are discovered traditionally by the OPAC and MARC records, and linking and aggregation are less developed. The acquisition of e-books is based on inventories of individual titles and selections are decided by the library/customer. There is often coordination with print access in acquiring e-books. And e-books make possible acquisition on demand (bibliographic records for e-books are loaded into the catalog, and if a customer selects the book for access, it is purchased at that point). The acquisition of e-books also raises the issue of whether to subscribe to e-books or purchase them, if purchasing them is even possible. Libraries generally say they don’t like subscriptions, but they have a history of purchasing subscriptions, so it’s very likely that publishers will continue to offer e-books by subscription. The management of e-books is complicated by the existence of multiple editions with many different ISBNs, making it difficult to collate editions of a single title (although the xISBN may help here). Different editions in multiple languages also add problems with efficient discovery of the e-book you’re looking for. Serials Solutions announced at the conference that they have added e-books to their knowledge base, and will now be providing management and tracking resources for e-books.

MARC Holdings Conversion: Now That We’re Here, What Do We Do? – a panel discussion including Steve Shadle of University of Washington (moderator), Frieda Rosenberg of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ted Schwitzner, Illinois State University, Sion Romaine of University of Washington, and Naomi Young of University of Florida. This panel discussion covered the experiences of various libraries in implementing full MARC format holdings records in their catalogs. The benefits include establishing prediction patterns for claiming, allowing for automatic update of holdings summaries, and the ability to upload holdings records directly to OCLC’s Union List. However, the planning for the conversion and the amount of work required is large and daunting. Here at Wake Forest, we use only a couple of fields in the MARC holdings records and have other means of establishing claim patterns, updating our holdings summaries and Union List records, which do not require very much work. Or, at least not enough work to make it worth our while to fully implement the MARC holdings record. It may become an issue when we are preparing to migrate to another system, but I recommend that until then we leave our current system in place.


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