21:3 (2006:09) 21st Conference: Mapping License Language for Electronic Resource Management

August 30, 2006 at 5:47 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Preconferences | Leave a comment


Mapping License Language for Electronic Resource Management

Tim Jewell, Directory of Information Resources, Collections and Scholarly Communication, University of Washington, Seattle; Trisha Davis, Associate Professor and Head Serials and Electronic Resources Department, The Ohio State University Libraries; and Diane Grover, Electronic Resources Coordinator, University of Washington Libraries
Reported by Allyson Ard  

This was an informative, hands-on session that is the second of its kind; the first was presented at ALA in 2005. Tim Jewell, who works with the DLF Electronic Resource Management Initiative (ERMI), began with an introduction to ERMs and recent developments.  When considering the entire e-resource lifecycle it is clear that there are many components to consider with any electronic resource and therefore many issues that must be addressed with ERMs.  License considerations are but one piece of this cycle.  Two of ERMI’s many goals are to “establish lists of elements and definitions” as well as to “promote best practices and standards for data interchange.”  In its efforts to meet these goals, ERMI has produced a data dictionary which contains many license terms and will be revised in Phase II of the DLF ERMI.  They have also created the ERMI subset that contains categorized license terms with definitions and examples from existing contracts.  Tim noted a few license data scenarios that ERMs must handle, including the need to convey license restrictions, to control display of content depending on these restrictions, and to prompt staff to take action.  Diane Grover polled the attendees to gage how many in the room were currently working with an ERM system and how many had responsibilities for mapping license information into it.  Over half of the attendees of this sold-out preonference currently have an ERM system and around one-third are responsible for mapping license terms.  The ERMI subset is a guide developed for librarians with these responsibilities.  It contains 30 key license issues for librarians with an ERM so they can clearly and consistently map license details.  It does not include all potential licensing issues but is meant to be flexible as each library will, of course, have specific items they will need to address that are unique to their institution.    

In order to demonstrate the process of mapping license details, the presenters distributed the ERMI subset, a sample license agreement and an ERMI License Elements Worksheet to which they had already mapped the details of the sample license.  Participants saw that some elements are explicitly defined, others must be interpreted, and still others are sometimes not present at all within a license.  After a complete review of each element already mapped to the worksheet, the presenters asked attendees to form groups to perform the same process themselves with a sample license provided by Project MUSE®.  Even within each small group of five or six there was still disagreement on how to note the license terms.  For instance, is there a right to perpetual access when the license reads that one “may perpetually use the LOCKSS system to archive and restore Journal content”?  What if one does not use LOCKSS?  The use of the License Elements Worksheet and the ERMI subset to define terms was very helpful in identifying the elements that need consideration.  However, it is clear that there are still many details left to interpretation.  When an institution has multiple people working to map license details or has undergoes staff changes, the details in the ERM could easily become inconsistent.  Mapping license terms into ERM/ILS systems is an important and necessary process.  This session clarified many key issues and identified several tools like the ERMI subset to assist in the process.


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