22:3 (2007:09) 22nd Conference (2007): Tactics Session: ERM on a Shoestring: Betting on an Alternative Solution

September 4, 2007 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment


ERM on a Shoestring: Betting on an Alternative Solution
Dalene Hawthorne, Head of Systems and Technical Services, Emporia State University; Jennifer Watson, Head of Electronic & Collection Services, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center
Reported by Virginia A. Rumph

Jennifer Watson and Dalene Hawthorne presented two options for keeping track of licenses and invoices for electronic resources.   At Tennessee, a FileMaker Pro database is used for individual title information.  It automatically generates URLs for the catalog’s 856 fields, and HTML for their A-Z list.  The advantages: ease of use, no IT help needed, no subscription fees, generates static URLs, and links to other databases.  However, the disadvantages include: the A-Z list cannot be incorporated into the new website’s content management system, it doesn’t include licenses and invoices, and the software must be installed on each computer, adding to expenses and training time.

The Health Sciences Center adapted Blackboard to manage licenses and invoices.  The pluses: already installed on campus with no additional cost, ease of use, no software to download, different levels of privileges can be set, and it is accessible from anywhere.  The negatives: no integration with other ERM systems, title linking is difficult, and a dependency on campus support.  Jennifer regards Blackboard as an interim measure until their EMS can handle invoices and licenses. 

The EMS was created using MySQL and Ruby on Rails (a Web application development framework).  The e-journals Web page is automatically populated, can be updated quickly, and works well with their content management system.  Jennifer thinks the best part of this EMS is its use of “smart” URLs which link each title on the A-Z list to the EMS, allowing usage statistics to be generated for all titles.  Loading data into the link resolver has improved, too.  Since it is Web-based, no software is needed, it is accessible from anywhere, and it is easy to use.  However, it requires a skilled IT person to create and maintain.

Currently, the Health Sciences Center employs FileMaker Pro to house usage statistics, Blackboard for invoices and licenses, and the EMS for everything else. However, the goal is to get all the information into the EMS.  This home-grown system meets their electronic resources management needs because they do not subscribe to many database packages (notoriously volatile).  Their systems are easily customizable, and cheap to set up and maintain, thus freeing money for more journal subscriptions to meet patron needs.

Emporia State has not purchased an ERM yet, has not been registering e-journals, wasn’t tracking licenses well, and relied on Serials Solutions to handle database content changes.  When the decision was made to get better control of their electronic resources, Emporia assigned responsibility for e-resources tasks to the appropriate staff, and subscribed to EBSCOHost Electronic Journals Service Enhanced version (EJS).  Suppressed brief bibliographic records are stored in a password-protected e-reserves course with attached scanned licenses and invoices are entered in the acquisitions module.  However, usage statistics are not being collected regularly.  EJS is being used as a registration tracker, to supply end user access notes, to create an A-Z list, and to generate administrative alerts.  Emporia has been satisfied with this combined solution to electronic resource management, but, unlike the Health Sciences Center, they subscribe primarily to databases.  Dalene doesn’t think their approach is scaleable to large institutions.


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