23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Tactics Session: E-Resource Management in the For-Profit World

August 27, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Posted in Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment

TACTICS SESSION

E-Resource Management in the For-Profit World: Soothing the Sting
Sarah Morris, Reed Smith; Steve Oberg, Abbott Laboratories
Reported by Jennifer Arnold

Are libraries the same or different in the for-profit world? In their session “E-Resource Management in the For-Profit World,” presenters Sarah Morris and Steve Oberg offered a wide-ranging discussion of this question, as well as the challenges of managing serials and electronic resources in corporate libraries.  Based on their own experiences at Reed Smith LLP (Sarah) and Abbott Laboratories (Steve), the presenters considered the ways in which corporate libraries also feel the sting of managing serials, user expectations, and negotiating with publishers and vendors.

Both Steve and Sarah challenged the typical assumption that corporate libraries have larger budgets.  Rather, there are financial incentives for cost savings at for-profit companies.  Corporate libraries have to prove a strong return on investment for their resources and services, and thus experience budget issues not unlike academic libraries. Budget issues include unfilled staff positions, the balance between print and electronic,   and concerns about the rising costs of resources.  Steve and Sarah also commented on how corporate libraries also deal with demands for online access and search for new ways to meet user needs.

While there are many similarities between corporate and academic libraries, the presenters noted several differences; including organization, terminology, budgeting, and staffing.  For example, staff in corporate libraries often come from a variety of academic backgrounds, and frequently have librarians working with technical and subject experts.  Corporate libraries have their own unique organizational structures, and may not report to a librarian.  It is also not atypical to see terminology like “knowledge management” used over the more typical library jargon.  Negotiating with vendors also presents different challenges to corporate libraries, as many resources have a small number of actual users as compared to the total number of company employees.

What are libraries in the for-profit world doing to soothe the sting?  Here, Sarah and Steve returned to the similarities of corporate and academic libraries.  Corporate libraries are focused on online resources, reorganizing workflows, and building portals to tailor resources to their companies’ needs.

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