Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version



Library Philosophy and Practice 2012


Library has been a collection of information materials for ages and print media have been the bulk of the library resources. However the advent of information technology in the early 1990s led to the emergence and continuous exponential growth of digitally or electronically borne information resources. (Parker, 2007). Other factors such as provision of space economy; ease of access through numerous metadata, search engines, online catalogues, O.P.A.Cs, and protocols; access which is not hindered by distance or boundaries and simultaneous consultation of the same e- resources by many users, provided the pre-eminence of e-resources over print format. Electronic resources include CD-ROMs, e-journals, e-text or electronic books, locally loaded databases, websites and abstracting and indexing databases such as MEDLINE. According to Bothmann and Holmberg (2010), " e-resources also include products that aid in resource access for patrons such as A-Z lists, Open URL, servers, Federated search engines and resources that provide full- text content such as publishers' electronic journal content, journal content platforms such as Project Muse or Jstor and content aggregators such as EBSCOHOST's Academic Search Premier and proxy servers or other authentication tools" (Bothmann and Holmberg, 2010: 4)

An e-resource can also be " a package of e-journals or a database of abstracts and indexes that include the full text of some or all articles referenced by the indexes" ( Sadeh and Ellingsen, 2005: 04) For e-resources, the interface through which it is offered should be considered because these elements are intricately linked, even though they can be licensed separately. In addition, among e-journals package, published by a publisher, a specific journal could be governed by a different set of license terms. (Sadeh and Ellingsen, 2005).. Other factors that are specific to e-resources and do not apply to the traditional print include patron authentication, access, administration, usage, manner of acquisition, accession, licensing and bibliographic control.

The issue of transition from acquiring print to acquiring electronic resources requires managerial ability as the need to adapt the internal organization to the new situation is indispensable. Gronvall (2009) emphasized that in Kenolinska Instituttet University Library, the budget for e-resources was leveraged from 45% to 96% in 2006 and a decision not to duplicate print and electronic media was enforced. For example, collection of "grey materials" was stopped as most of them are now in the Internet.

Bibliographic control in the online environment is an issue of great concern in the management of e-resources. Mitchell and Surratt (2005) noted that the developments in the online environments have necessitated the overhaul of traditional cataloguing practices for electronic resources. The overhaul has brought in a conceptual model for cataloguing practices such as Functional Requirement for Bibliographic Records (FRBR). This is concerned with element relationships which improve the way resources are catalogued and described. It collates resources in a way that make sense for patron's usage. The cataloguing department has the onerous task to demonstrate how libraries can perform records and record sets as well as strategize for reviewing and updating entries.

In the electronic environment, there have been some efforts to find some alternatives to cataloguing e- resources. Mitchell and Surratt (2005) enumerated three alternatives to cataloguing. They were, web list, context-sensitive linking and federated searching, as strategies to bibliographic control in the online environment. This directs the library's bibliographic tools and practices to meet its own unique access needs. Cataloguers are required to provide an easy-to-understand introduction to the record content and cataloguing rules and guidelines involved in organizing digital resources. They are also expected to be able to identify the bibliographic characteristics of online information for efficient organization and management of electronic resources.

Management of electronic resources often refers to the tools and processes used to organize administrative metadata, such as license terms, vendor contracts and usage statistics.( Mitchell and Surratt, 2005). There are other definitions by Pinfield, (2001), Bothmann and Holmberg ( 2010) and Ballard & Lang, (2007). Details of these definitions can be found in the literature review. The avalanche of online resources was forcing the beginning of change on the traditional library organization. Managing of the acquired digital resource created sets of challenges for libraries. The journey to effective management of e-resources according to Parker (2007) started as a result of Digital Library Forum (DLF) held in Atlanta, Georgia, in April 2000 with a view to reviewing the shift needed to adjust from project to production perspective in digitizing efforts in libraries. This gave birth to Digital Library Federation (DLF)-Electronic Resource Management Initiative (ERMI).There were development of policies and practices and building of tools to help in the management of the over- whelming e-resources and the information therein as the structures of Library Management System (LMS) could not sustain it. "Adam Chandler of Cornell University developed a Web Hub for developing administrative metadata for electronic resource management for promoting sharing of what different individuals and libraries were building in terms of tools to support electronic resource management." ( Parker, 2007 : 02.)

Electronic Resource Management System developed out of the quest to support functions which the library management system could not support fully. Parker listed these functions as follows:

(i) Generating and maintaining alphabetic and subject lists of journals and/or databases

(ii) License term negotiation, tracking, and communication processes.

(iii) Multiple staff and department involvement in selection and support of e-resources, i.e. communication and workflows.

(iv) Problem tracking and troubleshooting activities including escalating/triage support.

(v) Planned, cyclical product reviews or reviews associated with unplanned change ( e.g. when a product is shifted between publishers).

(vi) Systematic usage reporting and tracking.

The Electronic Resource Management Initiative Steering Committee led by Timothy Jewell of University of Washington produced a project report which collectively became a pseudo-standard for work in the area of Electronic Resources Management Systems, (ERMs). What is then Electronic Resource Management System (ERMs) ? This is an analysis of workflow: a listing of functional requirements: a wire-frame diagram providing a snapshot view of concept relationships: a definition listing of involved elements: a detailed analysis of the relationships amongst needed elements; and a hint of future XML (Extensive Mark-up Language) work to come ( Jewell et al., 2004) It is an alternative bibliographic approach to managing electronic resources.

Wikipedia, (2010) enumerated some of the features of ERMs as:

(a) Supporting acquisition and management of licensed e-resources

(b) May be integrated into other library system modules or may be standalone system

(c) May have a public interface, either separate or integrated into the OPAC.

(d) Providing descriptions of resources at the package (database) level and relate package contents (e.g. e-journals).

(e) Encoding and perhaps publicly displaying licensed rights such as e-reserves, course packs and interlibrary loan.

(f) Tracking electronic resources from point of order through licensing and final access.

(g) Providing information about data providers, consortial arrangements, and access platforms.

(h) Providing contact information for all content providers.

(i) Logging problem with resources and providers.

(j) Providing customized e-mail alerting system ( e.g. notices to managers when actions are expected or required ).

(k) Linking license documents to resource records.

(l) Supports retrieval of SUSHI usage statistics.