24:3 (2009:09) 24th Conference: Strategy Session: Open Source ERM

September 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Strategy Sessions | Leave a comment

Open Source ERM: a Collaborative Implementation

Francis Dodd, Simon Fraser University; James Murphy, University of Prince Edward Island; Don Taylor, Simon Fraser University
Reported by Susan Wishnetsky

The latest component of the open source reSearcher software project, an electronic resource management (ERM) system designed to meet the needs of various libraries, was introduced by three users of the system.  The ERM system can be adopted as a stand-alone product, but it builds upon the CUFTS open source online serials management system.  CUFTS has been in development since 1992 and already includes a link resolver, a knowledge base, and an e-journal database for information at the title and library level.

Don Taylor, the head of Document Delivery Services at Simon Fraser University Library, began the presentation with an overview and a bit of history on the other three parts of the reSearcher suite.  The CUFTS knowledge base, which contains over 475 full-text products and collections, can be freely used by anyone, housed onsite or with SFU as a remote host.  Its information is obtained from publishers or vendors, but the data are often incomplete and must be “massaged” manually.  Maintenance and additional data entry is done collaboratively by a number of its users.  This arrangement began informally, when libraries using the knowledge base wanted resources to appear in the knowledge base faster than SFU staff could add them.  This labor-sharing arrangement benefits all users by providing a more up-to-date and complete knowledge base, and also benefits the participating libraries by giving them a better understanding of the system.  The e-journals database, with basic MARC records derived from the knowledge base, provides a place for local holdings for individual journal titles, including electronic, print, or other formats.  The link resolver, Godot, named by programmers working very late one night, uses open urls to provide article-level linking, or defaults to the home page of the journal or aggregator database, if information for direct linking is missing.  Godot also displays catalog holdings and works with interlibrary loan software and major integrated library systems.

The development of the ERM system was driven by the need for centralized licensing data among consortia members.  The libraries from two consortia, the British Columbia Electronic Library Network (BC ELN) and the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) participated in its design.  Its initial design was drawn from the Digital Library Federation Electronic Resources Management Initiative, although some fields were modified to satisfy different libraries’ needs.

Taylor displayed the three record types within the ERM system; the main, resource, record; the provider record; and the license record.  He showed the tabbed display and fields within the main record.  License and other information within the ERM system can be viewed by all staff, such as ILL staff.  Taylor described features that had proven too difficult to incorporate, such as restricting searches of resources to those containing images, and other features still in development, such as the ability to collect vendor-supplied usage statistics, in addition to website click-through statistics.  Taylor discussed how the ERM has affected the workflow and division of responsibilities at SFU, moving e-journal management from the Collections Department into the Technical Services Department.

James Murphy, the library technician for E-Journals Maintenance from Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), described how his library implemented CUFTS and worked with SFU to adapt the ERM system to their needs.  UPEI, a longtime user of open source software such as Moodle and Drupal, uses an open source product, Evergreen, as its integrated library system, ILS.  However, Evergreen has no serials module yet, so UPEI began working with SFU to adapt CUFTS to serve as a print serials check-in and acquisitions system.  Murphy found that SFU developers responded quickly, creating additional fields to meet UPEI’s needs.  Acquisitions information, which had been kept on spreadsheets, and copies of contracts, are now being copied and pasted into the CUFTS ERM system, and a free text field is used for check-in.  Now patrons can view the locations and holdings of print and online serials.


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