If all goes according to plan, this week's readings on electronic resource management and on workflow analysis should put prior material into context and act as a bridge to the material we discuss in the remaining sections of this work.

To recap: in the beginning we learned about:

  • what it means to be a librarian who oversees or is a part of electronic resource management,
  • what kinds of criteria are sought for in new hires, and
  • why electronic resources have introduced so much constant disruption across libraries.

Among other things, this latter point is largely due to the fact that the print-era largely involved (or at least more so) a linear process of collection management and information use that was fundamentally altered with the introduction of electronic resources.

Then we learned about the functions and modules offered by:

  • electronic resource management software,
  • integrated library system software, and
  • library service platforms.

To understand those systems better, we learned about standards, technical reports, and recommended best practices by studying documents prepared by NISO and its members, and component technologies such as:

  • OpenURL link resolvers
  • Access and authentication technologies:
    • EZProxy
    • OpenAthens

We also learned about:

  • technical and workflow standards

And we discussed:

  • why standards are important, whether they are technical or address workflows,
  • why interoperability is required, and
  • what happens when access to electronic resources break.


This week things will start to make connections at a faster pace. In the first Anderson article (chapter 2), we gain a clearer idea of what a knowledge base is and how it works. We learn more about how integrated library systems and ERM systems work together (or fail to). We dip our toes into newer topics like licensing, COUNTER, and SUSHI, which we'll cover in greater detail towards the end of this module.

In the second Anderson article (chapter 3), we learn how to carefully consider a library's work flow before selecting which ERM software to purchase. (This is why workflow-based standards are important, even if they are not true technical standards.) We do this because we select systems based on the needs of the librarians, which may be vastly different across libraries, and which must rely on different aspects of the overall process. As you read this chapter, keep in mind the Samples and Healy article from the previous section and the discussions of proactive versus reactive troubleshooting.

As hinted at in these readings, especially in the section on acquisitions, budgets, subscriptions, and purchasing in Anderson's paper on the Elements of Electronic Resource Management, and in the multiple discussions about the role vendors play in electronic resource management, the market and the economics of this area of librarianship weigh heavily on everyday realities. We will follow up on this in the next section when we begin to read more about the market and the economics of electronic resources. For example, in both Anderson readings, we learn about the CORE recommended practice (RP), or the Cost of Resource Exchange, that was developed by NISO. CORE brings together three aspects of our previous discussions: software, funds, and interoperability. Here the CORE RP describes how the ILS and ERM systems can communicate the costs of electronic resources between each other. Its existence hints at the pressures librarians have had in having to deal with complex budget issues. Although these articles were published before the pandemic, the pandemic has made these issues more complicated for libraries.

While we spent time discussing technical standards, we also learned about TERMS, an attempt to standardize the language and processes involved with electronic resource management. We see more connections in this week's readings. Aside from the CORE standard, we learn about standardizing attempts at licensing, which includes the COUNTER and SUSHI usage-related standards that outline the communication, collection, presentation, and the formatting of usage statistics for electronic resources such as ebooks, journals, databases, and more.

We have discussed interoperability and what it takes for multiple systems to connect and transfer data between each other. We primarily discussed this with respect to link resolver technology, and we did this not just because we should know about link resolvers as important components of electronic resource management, but also because link resolvers are a good example of the kind of work that is involved for systems to communicate properly. There are other forms of interoperability, though, and coming back to CORE again, the Anderson article (chapter 2) provides a link to a white paper on the interoperability of acquisitions modules between integrated library systems and electronic resource management systems. This paper defines 13 data elements that were determined to be desired in any exchange between ILS software and ERM software for these software to communicate usefully with each other. By that, I mean, the data points enable meaningful use of both the ILS software and the ERM software, and include:

  • purchase order number
  • price
  • start/end dates
  • vendor
  • vendor ID
  • invoice number
  • fund code
  • invoice date
  • selector
  • vendor contact information
  • purchase order note
  • line item note
  • invoice note (Medeiros, 2008).

That white paper contains examples and worthwhile use cases and stories from major libraries, and these cases are helpful reads. The paper provides a sense of how standards are created through a process of comparing, contrasting, and coordinating needs and contexts among different entities.

These Anderson readings are great because they illustrate the whole ERM process. If you are able, visit the journal issue for these two readings and read the other chapters that Anderson has written, but in particular, the Electronic Resource Management Systems and Related Products.

In short, this section's topic provides a foundation for the remaining topics we study. In particular, they will help frame what we learn when we study the markets and economics of the electronic resource industry, the process of licensing and negotiation, and about the evaluation and statistics of usage. Think of this section as a foundation, a transition between, and a reflection on all we have studied thus far, and what we will study going forward.

Readings / References

Anderson, E. K. (2014). Chapter 2: Elements of electronic resource management. Library Technology Reports, 50(3).

Anderson, E. K. (2014). Chapter 3: Workflow analysis. Library Technology Reports, 50(3).

Additional References

Anderson, E. K. (2014). Chapter 4: Electronic resource management systems and related products. Library Technology Reports, 50(3).

CORE Standing Committee (NISO). (2010). CORE: Cost of Resource Exchange.

Medeiros, N., Miller, L., Chandler, A., & Riggio, A. (2008). White Paper on Interoperability between Acquisitions Modules of Integrated Library Systems and Electronic Resource Management Systems (p. 28) [White Paper]. Library of Congress.

Samples, J., & Healy, C. (2014). Making it look easy: Maintaining the magic of access. Serials Review, 40, 105-117.