E-Resources Workflow Management: Keeping Things Simple When Managing E-Resources Requires Addressing the Many Challenges That These Materials Present

By Stevens, Kimberly W.; Bevis, Mary D. et al. | Information Outlook, September 2010 | Go to article overview

E-Resources Workflow Management: Keeping Things Simple When Managing E-Resources Requires Addressing the Many Challenges That These Materials Present


Stevens, Kimberly W., Bevis, Mary D., Latham, Bethany, Poe, Jodi, Information Outlook


Why, exactly, are librarians needed for electronic resources? The answer is that e-resources are overwhelming in their number and complicated to organize. But whether these resources are Web sites, e-books, e-documents, e-journals, e-reserves, or something else entirely, one overarching principle is involved: a method is needed to make sense of the madness.

At the Houston Cole Library (HCL) at Jacksonville State University, we like to think of our e-resources mission in the simplest of terms: How can we provide the easiest access to these resources so our end users have the best possible experience? This is the single driving precept behind our e-resources management workflow, and it's the yardstick we use to measure our success. But while this concept is simple, the challenges that spring from it are myriad.

For example, given the proliferation of e-resources and the various issues each type engenders, is it possible to have a one-size-fits-all model for managing them? Some (Bergman 2005) argue that responsibility for managing electronic resources cannot be shoehorned into one distinct area of the library, such as technical or public services; instead, the workflow for these resources is a process that, to be successful, must involve all areas of the library in a collaboration that melds organization with service. We've taken this approach at HCL, and it predates even the acquisition stage--collaboration begins during the review process.

Getting More Value

HCL conducts trial reviews of databases throughout the year. Technical services librarians set up the trials, and public services librarians are tasked with reviewing all databases, especially those that have a direct impact on their subject areas. Additionally, the public services librarians are encouraged to review free materials such as Web sites and open access journals. The ball is then tossed back to technical services for the acquisition, activation, cataloging, administration, and maintenance of the resources.

All resources, regardless of their format, are identified through similar means, but additional factors are considered before acquiring electronic materials: type of ownership (subscription or one-time purchase), perpetual access rights, annual maintenance and access fees, licensing agreements, level of technical support provided by the publisher, extent of in-house technical support, and vendor reputation for content integrity. Pricing models vary widely among products and vendors because they're based on an array of factors, including full-time enrollment (FTE), highest institutional degree offered, level of database access (full database or product/title specific), multi-year discounts, and archival rights. Database vendors frequently offer discounts for group subscriptions, and participating in a state or regional consortium (which HCL does) is an excellent way to receive these discounts. We get more bang for our buck this way, but we also get some added complications--product choices, trial periods, license agreements, and cost divisions are determined at the consortium level, while review processes and decisions to purchase are determined at the institutional level. Licensing and invoice decisions vary according to vendor policy and can usually be negotiated centrally at the consortium level.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Once money has changed hands, the e-books and e-journals are activated by our team or our subscription agent, and then the linking process begins. We prefer access to e-resources through IP authentication (since it's easier for the end user), but not all vendors allow this. In instances where IP authentication is not an option, users must be validated with a unique user name and password.

After the registration process has been completed, the e-resource's access point is added to our proxy information, thereby guaranteeing that remote users have access to it as well. …

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