data-crunching librarian

Officially, my title is Electronic Resources Librarian, but lately I’ve been spending more of my time and energy on gathering and crunching data about our eresources than on anything else. It’s starting to bleed over into the print world, as well. Since we don’t have someone dedicated to managing our print journals, I’ve taken on the responsibility of directing discussions about their future, as well as gathering and providing e-only options to the selectors.

I like this work, but I’ve also been feeling a bit like my role is evolving and changing in ways I’m not entirely cognizant of, and that worries me. I came into this job without clear direction and made it my own, and even though I have a department head now, I still often feel like I’m the driver. This has both positives and negatives, and lately I’ve been wishing I could have more outside direction, in part so I don’t feel so much like I’m doing things that may not have much value to the people for whom I am doing them.

However, on Monday, something clicked. A simple comment about using SAS to analyze the print book collection use over time set all sorts of things firing away in my head. About all I know with SAS is that it’s some sort of data analysis tool, but I realized that I had come up with several of my professional goals for the next year in that moment.

For one, I want to explore whether or not I can learn and use SAS (or SPSS) effectively to analyze our collections (not just print books, as in the example above). For another, I want to explore whether or not I can learn R to more effectively visualize the data I gather.

Maybe some day down the road my title won’t be Electronic Resources Librarian anymore. Maybe some day it will be Data-Crunching Librarian.

Sounds good to me.

day in the life of an electronic resources librarian

9:00 Arrive at my cubicle, turn on the computer, and go get an iced coffee from the cafe and a spoon for my yogurt.

9:15 Log into the network. Open email, browser, and Twhirl. Do a quick read of the 20+ new email messages that arrived over the weekend (don’t you people take a breakā€½), replying to the ones that can be done quickly and sorting the rest into appropriate to-do lists.

9:55 Look over task list for today, see the note about DILO librarian, and start this post.

10:00 Tweaked the new “article finder” page per the suggestion of the head of research & instruction. Dug around EBSCOnet and Ulrich’s to determine which variation on a similar journal title is the right one and why our subscription may have lapsed last year.

10:20 Realized that my calendar didn’t alert me to my 10am bi-weekly meeting with the department head. Chatted with him for a few minutes about the status of projects and came away with a few more to-do items.

10:30 Began clearing out the to-read list, which currently dominates the inbox to-do lists. Aghast to discover that it contains messages from as far back as March. Got through the March & April backlog, but then deleted most of the rest. Resolved to either read or delete the links to interesting articles my colleagues send me, rather than shuffling them off to be read later.

11:10 Massaged some non-COUNTER use reports to appear to be COUNTER-like in order to upload and archive them in our ERMS. Sorted through a backlog of emails from publishers regarding use data and reports.

11:55 Left for lunch and running errands. Need to be back in time for my 1pm reference desk shift.

1:00 Covered the reference/circulation desk, mainly answering directional questions and checking out books. Used the downtime to catch up on RSS feeds (I’ve been doing well with maintaining Google Reader Zero). Also answered some questions from colleagues regarding online availability for journal titles we are considering moving to online only or canceling. Also found a possible solution to the EZproxy host error problem.

3:00 Processed new email. Checked Twitter.

3:10 Pulled a report of current subscriptions from SerialsSolutions, massaged it in Excel, and used it to generate a Hosts and Domains configuration file for our EZProxy setup, an idea that I shamelessly stole from someone else.

3:55 Cleared up some confusion regarding an invoice for a resource that has a new publisher and will be changing its name in September, but it invoiced with the current and soon to be former name on the line item.

4:00 Wrote up a report for the library director regarding the SerialsSoutions eBook Enhancement offer.

4:30 Hunted down some chocolate.

4:35 Processed new email. Checked Twitter. (Sensing a theme here?)

4:50 More use statistics. I’m pulling together numbers for a report due next month, but it’s slow going.

5:35 Waiting on one last COUNTER report to be emailed to me, and that portion of the report will be finished. w00t! Spent the rest of the day pulling acquisitions data out of the catalog and checking for licenses.

6:05 Saved work on the project. Published this. Time to go home.


One of my big projects at work has been getting our SFX database set up. For those unfamiliar with the name, SFX is an OpenURL link resolver that connects (among other things) citations with content. My department head sent me a press release a couple of weeks ago about NISO releasing a trial standard for OpenURL. I have not attempted to understand all of the technical verbage used in the documents, but I am excited that the world of electronic resources is moving towards creating standards that will allow different resources to talk to each other.