Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 2: Elements of Electronic Resource Management

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 2: Elements of Electronic Resource Management

Article excerpt


Chapter 2 of Library Technology Reports (vol. 50, no. 3) "Electronic Resource Management Systems: A Workflow Approach" provides a brief overview of the areas necessary for successful electronic resource management as well as the current software available to manage them. The chapter discusses the knowledge base of resource information, management of acquisitions, collecting and saving administrative records, storing license information, and compiling and producing reports.

Managing electronic resources is complex because there are lots of pieces to track: updated title lists for journal packages, perpetual access flags, transfer titles, subscription and payment reminders, administrative information, and usage reports, just to name a few. Many of these pieces, such as title lists or publisher contact information, are interrelated and change on an irregular basis. Other pieces, such as usage reports, may need to be aggregated with reports from multiple publishers or cost information to be more valuable. In the case of acquisitions information, some connection to larger external systems is required in order to process invoices and generate payments for publishers.

To simplify discussion of resource management, I have divided it into five parts: knowledge base, budget, administration, licensing, and reports. These are not the categories used by the DLF ERMI report, (1) although the report is foundational to this work. Rather, these categories are somewhat discrete despite the fact that the information in them is interrelated. Managing electronic resources requires all five of these categories, but the amount of work required will vary from library to library. The level of software support and which element of software is used to manage each piece will also vary widely between different systems, including link resolvers and ILS systems.

The focus of this chapter is the elements of electronic resource management (ERM), what each one involves, and the software it has traditionally been linked to. Each section also includes a short overview of electronic resource management (ERM) systems and how they supplement or expand existing library systems such as the ILS (integrated library system). I have also tried to include some discussion of the relevant standards influencing software structure and functionality. The most important question I attempt to address in each section is why: why these elements are important for smooth management of resources, why they require dedicated focus, and ultimately, how they impact staff, vendors, and patrons.

Knowledge Base or Holdings

What Is a Knowledge Base?

A knowledge base (KB) is a database of information about some aspect of library resources. It generally contains the metadata of subscription or purchased information or links to journals or books rather than the content itself, although this requirement is loose. The most common type of KB for the purposes of ERM includes information on the journal titles in a database or subscription package, the dates held in the database, and links to access the content. KBs can also include information such as journal titles available for subscription or purchase from the publisher, platforms, and price or license terms about legal usage of library-subscribed content. Because journal titles, available issues, and links change frequently and are collected from many different publishers, maintaining KBs is extremely time-consuming, far more than most libraries could manage individually. In an article by Marshall Breeding, he pointed out, "One of the fundamental observations of this study involves the tremendous resources it takes to create and maintain these e-content knowledge bases." (2) For this reason, vendor-curated KBs have become increasingly popular and common, generally integrated into other library software such as an ERMS.

Why Knowledge Bases Are Important

Having a knowledge base is extremely important because the collection of information on electronic resources is the fundamental piece required for almost any library software to work. …

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