Chapter 1: Electronic Resource Librarians

Many of my incoming students are unaware that there is a specific role in libraries for electronic resource management, yet electronic resource management (ERM) in libraries plays a vital albeit invisible role. ERM librarians ensure the organized acquisition, access, and control of digital resources, and this requires them to manage e-books, online journals, databases, and other digital content. This work is increasingly complex, especially as libraries continue adapt to and contribute to the shape of the digital age.

While many are aware of the classic cataloger and reference librarian, electronic resource management librarianship is a specialized field that specifically focuses on the above challenges. These professionals employ a blend of technical skills and understanding of information access to negotiate licenses, oversee subscription renewals, troubleshoot access problems, and work collaboratively with other library staff to integrate electronic resources into the library system. This specialized work requires them to be generalists, too. That is, they must be aware of and support those other library staff and the library's mission to provide seamless access to information, adapting to the evolving needs of the academic community and the wider public.

This chapter introduces students to the field of electronic resource management. It begins with a section that discusses different perspectives of electronic resource management. Section 1.2 covers the kinds of activities ERM librarians engage in at their libraries. Section 1.3 argues that regardless of ERM librarian's specific skills and duties, a key characteristic of the field, given its need to work with continuously emerging technologies, is one of constant disruption.