managing electronic resources

Longing for the perfect ERMS….

In 2003, I attended the ACRL conference in Charlotte. One of the sessions I sat in on was about home-grown electronic resource management tools. After having dealt with digital and manilla folders of stuff, constantly searching for info, and not having any sort of long-term archiving plan for getting at the information, the idea of having a system that did that for me seemed miraculous.

Fast-forward five years. I’ve now had the pleasure of working with two moderately functional commercial ERMS, and neither are the miracle solution I had hoped for.

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to get under the hood of “traditional” ERMS, I have an idea as to why they are flawed — they’re approaching electronic resource management as a metadata storage problem, rather than a workflow problem. Creating a system that includes all the fields recommended by the DLF ERM Initiative is a good start, but it’s only a start. We need something that goes beyond that to creating a workflow that can include input and required actions from various different people similar to the workflow outlined in the DLF document.

My ideal ERMS is one that make it easy to input licensing and acquisitions data, automatically triggers alerts for follow-up, and provides relevant license information to users and staff. I’m currently managing more electronic resources than ever. I need a tool that makes keeping track of them as simple and painless as possible. Unfortunately, I don’t think the commercially available products are at that point yet, and as far as I know, no one is working on an open source solution.