Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

MULER: Building an Electronic Resource Management (ERM) Solution at York University

Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

MULER: Building an Electronic Resource Management (ERM) Solution at York University

Article excerpt

Abstract

Many university libraries now utilize an Electronic Resource Management (ERM) system to assist with operations related to electronic resources. An ERM is a relational database containing information such as suppliers, costs, holdings, and renewal dates for electronic resources, both at the database and title levels. While commercial ERM products are widely available, some institutions are custom building their own ERM in-house. This article describes how York University in Toronto, Canada, did just that by building a system called Managing University Library Electronic Resources (MULER). The article details the background and history of how electronic resources were managed pre-MULER; why a new ERM was needed; the planning process; the current and innovative functions of MULER, including integration of MULER data into York University Libraries search and discovery layer, Vufind; subject tagging in MULER; new functions to be added; and lessons learned from the project. Positive and negative implications of choosing an in-house project over paying for a commercial product are also discussed.

Many university libraries now utilize an Electronic Resource Management (ERM) system to assist with operations related to electronic resources. Acquisition strategies and budgets focus highly on electronic journals and electronic books as well as databases, with larger and larger packages of content being acquired. These packages can be subscriptions or purchases with perpetually accessible content, acquired both locally as well as through provincial and national consortia. Maintaining information related to these electronic resources, including URLs, costs, holdings and more, is a time intensive endeavour.

Electronic resource management involves all of the processes in the lifecycle of these resources: evaluation and assessment, trials, acquisition, renewals, cancellations, budget management, access issues, and troubleshooting. While many university libraries now employ a dedicated Electronic Resource Librarian to manage those processes, the reality is that electronic resources functions normally go through a number of people across the library including subject librarians who help make acquisitions decisions, acquisitions staffwho process orders and record costs, and bibliographic services staffwho catalog electronic resources. If information about these resources is not organized and kept centrally because the information is found in a variety of spreadsheets and emails, the aforementioned processes become inefficient. In response to this myriad of information and personnel involved in purchasing and maintaining electronic resources, university libraries now utilize ERM systems to organize records, smooth out processes, and promote collaboration by ensuring that everyone has access to the information they need by maintaining it in one place. Popular commercial ERM products include Ex Libris' Verde, SirsiDynix's ERMS, Endeavor's Meridian, and Innovative Interfaces' ERM. However, some institutions are custom-building their own ERMs in-house. This article describes how York University did just that, building a system called Managing University Library Electronic Resources (MULER). This article details the background and history of how electronic resources were managed pre-MULER; why a new ERM was needed; the planning process; the current and innovative functions of MULER, including integration of MULER data into York University Libraries search and discovery layer, Vufind; subject tagging in MULER; new functions to be added; and lessons learned from the project. Positive and negative implications of choosing an in-house project over paying for a commercial product are also discussed. It is important to note that MULER is a work in progress; it is a product designed to evolve with electronic resources management. This article will also touch on areas for future growth and development.

Organizational Structure

York Library departments that work mostly closely with the technical aspects of electronic resources include the Acquisitions department, Bibliographic Services, and Library Information Systems. …

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