Monthly Archives: January 2011

University of East Anglia – Take 1

The first use case looking at the idea of ERM as a shared service was a proof-of-concept exercise carried out last year with the University of East Anglia (UEA). For completeness, this is included here, although it will be updated later this year after another meeting at UEA. The use case is available as a pdf.

Nick Lewis, the Library Director at UEA, spoke about the methodology used and his views on the exercise in November 2010, and a transcript of his talk is also made available here.

University of the Creative Arts

On the 11th January 2011 a use case meeting was held at the University of the Creative Arts. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at UCA wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

University for the Creative Arts had our ERM workshop near the start of New Year; an apt time for reflection on the processes we use to manage our electronic resources.

My colleague David Hodgson and I, regarding what we do as fairly straightforward, didn’t anticipate that the discussion would last nearly five hours! Using a low key, conversational style, Ken and Regina expertly teased out the finer points of UCA Library’s ‘e’ landscape, helping us to articulate our practices in far more depth than we have done previously.

We thought about how e-orientated the library service has become; our Virtual (e-book) Library now has the second largest book collection of our 6 ‘branches’ and e-journal titles outnumber print 24:1.

We considered the complexities of dealing with a diverse range of suppliers and the number of platforms our e-resources are delivered on – 45 and growing.

We chose statistics as our use case. Whilst we don’t want to gather statistics for the sake of it, we do need more accurate, meaningful data to help in collection management decisions and to demonstrate the contribution that licensed electronic information resources make to the teaching and research of the University. More granular usage information could also help us better target the promotion of e-resources.

Our needs will differ from elsewhere, but being able to see usage information from other organisations about resources we are considering purchasing could assist with evaluation decisions. Having a single ‘above campus’  interface for accessing statistics would also be a great time saver.

We appreciate being involved with the other institutions and hope that our position as a smaller, specialist institution will contribute a useful perspective on the project.

University of Southampton

On 12th January a use case meeting was held at the University of Southampton. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at Southampton wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

We met with David and Ken on 12 January.  Present for the discussion were the Librarian, Deputy Librarian, Head of Acquisitions and Head of E-Library Services.  We discussed two areas of potential for shared ERM: managing e-books and migration to e-only journal subscriptions. We reviewed current processes for e-book selection and management, and concluded that much e-book purchase was mainstreamed within Acquisitions and that there was insufficient volatility to justify a shared service for platform selection and management. The migration to e-only was agreed to be a more fruitful area. Southampton had started the move to e-only for its journals about 3 years ago and the thinking in preparation for this had gone on for a couple of years previously.  The Use Case discussion helped prompt us to recall the various stages that we had gone through in preparation for the step change, and to question how we were carrying forward existing policies and procedures into current practice.

There were two key factors that precipitated our move to e-only.  The first was a University decision to close down a site which, amongst other things contained our Biomedical Sciences Library.  The second factor was our participation in the first UKRR pilot. We had a large amount of journal material to relocate into the main University Library which was essentially ‘full’, we had project funding for the move, and we also had a certain amount of project funding for the UKRR activities.  There was a third factor, and that was the subject area to be moved.  Within biomedical sciences generally, there is an expectation amongst the academics and researchers of working within an electronic environment.  Thus we were working with a stakeholder user group who were very supportive.

Although we used the particular circumstances outlined above to construct our policy and methodology in respective of moving to e-only, we were able to apply what we had learned to other parts of the Library collections, as appropriate.  Our work with UKRR continues and we also continue to reduce the amount of space occupied by paper materials in order to improve ease of access and to free up space for other user activities within our libraries.

We have a substantial Library Digitisation Unit which also contributes to our move to convert content to electronic media and so our migration is not necessarily confirmed to buying in commercial content.

University of Wolverhampton

On 11th January a use case meeting was held at University of Wolverhampton. The documentation is available as a pdf, and Frances Machell, Hybrid Collections Coordinator wrote a short summary of the meeting from the point of view of the team at Wolverhampton.

The University of Wolverhampton’s ERM use case meeting was attended by Fiona Parsons, Director of Learning and Information Services, John Dowd, Hybrid Services Manager, and Frances Machell, Hybrid Collections Coordinator, and was ably facilitated by David Kay and Owen Stephens on behalf of the project. From Wolverhampton’s perspective, we had had no difficulty in choosing five cases to consider, with many of the cases suggested matching real work areas which we were already considering. However, the specific cases swiftly connected and overlapped, and there were many common themes.

Inefficiency is a major barrier: e-resources management requires too many multiple systems and too much manual intervention, which leaves us with little time for analysing and adding value to the data we collect. David and Owen asked us some challenging questions about what information genuinely supports decision making, for example when moving to e-only journals, and how ERM ultimately supports the institution’s wider strategic drivers.

The department had already done an extensive process mapping exercise to set down what we actually do. However, we found ourselves drawn to the use cases which were not ‘process’ issues as such, but rather the grey areas not easily covered by a process map: licensing and terms of access, budgeting, usage statistics. The discussion also revealed that we were not talking about an opposition between e-resources versus print, but more between subscription based resources versus one-off purchases.

Rather than monolithic systems, the discussion moved towards the opportunities presented by a shared “factory in the cloud”, not doing everything but doing core activities reliably and robustly. The measure of success for such as system would not be perfection, but rather – does it meet a need and is it used?

All in all, a thought provoking discussion, and one to which we were very pleased to contribute. The University of Wolverhampton are committed to this project and any future development in this area.

Royal Holloway, University of London

In order to understand fully how a ‘above campus’ electronic resource management system might impact on Universities and other institutions, this project will visit 16 sites to discuss different aspects of the electronic resource management process, and get feedback from the relevant staff on how processes might change if an ‘above campus’ system was introduced. The first institution to be visited was Royal Holloway, University of London. The resulting documentation is now available as a pdf. The Director of Library Services at Royal Holloway, John Tuck, also wrote a brief reflection of his experience of the meeting.

Our meeting with David and Ken took place just before Christmas. It brought together a Director, an Associate Director (E-Strategy), an E-Resources Manager and a Head of Academic Liaison. Talking from the perspective of the Director, the day was very successful and stimulating, even if it took us two hours to work out ‘how many librarians does it take to order a journal?’! Not only were we all involved in this important `above-campus’ Electronic Resources Management work but also we could share own areas of expertise with each other in a focussed and problem-solving environment.

Some of the key barriers we explored were:

  • difficulty of coordinating deadlines (subscription year vs university budget year vs cancellation deadlines)
  • difficulty of liaising between so many parties (librarians, academics, consortia, subscription agents, publishers)
  • difficulty of managing data across so many systems, which are not currently joined together.

We realised that the data we need is all there – we’ve got potentially very rich bibliographic, acquisitions and usage information which could create a useful decision support tool – if only we could get the various internal/external systems across the sector containing this data to ‘talk to each other’.

I learnt a lot (that perhaps I should know!) from my colleagues and from the consultants. I sensed that we were all fully engaged with an initiative which has national and consortial importance.

John Tuck, Director of Library Services, Royal Holloway, University of London