Began in 2008 after a new director and consultant group came in and recommended a reorganization. They had some trouble deciding which larger group electronic resource management should be a part of, and ended up on Information Delivery Services, which includes Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Access Services. The ERM unit used to include acquisitions, cataloging, and a service point. By moving the cataloging functions out (and closing the service point), the group could then focus on access and discovery systems (eresource management, licensing). During the same time, they also moved a huge chunk of bound journal volumes to storage to create student spaces.
Focused on moving away from redundancy across different systems, and moving towards cloud-based unified knowledgebases that populated all user interfaces.
Most serials are now electronic, and they are increasingly being tasked to acquire new forms of eresources. Needed to change some workflow models to incorporate ebook acquisitions and management, for example. They are now starting to work more with Acquisitions and Cataloging for those workflows. Large data sets will be the next challenge.
Focusing more on discovery access and assessment, which had been on the back burner. This requires shifting more of the workflow out of the unit.
Training and skill building in ERM techniques include: ERM “class” to orient to role in the library, trouble-shooting access issues, e-resource forums for other tech services staff taught by members of the ERM unit, vendor training sessions, cross-training within the unit, annual evaluation of responsibilities to determine what could be delegated to a specialist (make sure they are interested in it and it is appropriate for them to do), project prioritization, and relevant committee service.
Cataloging has been overwhelmed with legacy print projects, so incorporating ERM work has been challenging. Acquisitions staffing has been disproportionately weighted towards print, so moving more of the ebook process in is a solution and a challenge. Training circ/service point staff to handle basic questions about eresource access issues.
They are using CORAL resources module for tracking ebook workflows.
[Would really like to have a session like this focus on examples more than challenges and things they still need to do. I want to know job descriptions/responsibilities and examples of workflows for different resources.]
Speaker: Christine Korytnyk Dulaney, American University
Staff didn’t talk to each other about work, so they had to make some changes in communication and give them a broader view of the workflow (i.e. how each thing impacted another). They used some project management techniques to begin this process, and it helped them finish the project where they have a history of not doing so. The fundamental concepts of PM can be scaled down to any kind of project. [The presenter goes into this, but you probably have lots of books in your library that covers it.] One advantage of PM is that it focuses on the work and diffuses the emotion that can come from making changes.
Speakers: Ladd Brown, Andi Ogier, and Annette Bailey, Virginia Tech
Libraries are not about the collections anymore, they’re about space. The library is a place to connect to the university community. We are aggressively de-selecting, buying digital backfiles in the humanities to clear out the print collections.
Guess what? We still have our legacy workflows. They were built for processing physical items. Then eresources came along, and there were two parallel processes. Ebooks have the potential of becoming a third process.
Along with the legacy workflows, they have a new Dean, who is forward thinking. The Dean says it’s time to rip off the bandaid. (Titanic = old workflow; iceberg = eresources; people in life boats = technical resources team) Strategic plans are living documents kept on top of the desk and not in the drawer.
With all of this in mind, acquisitions leaders began meeting daily in a group called Eresources Workflow Weekly Work, planning the changes they needed to make. They did process mapping with sharpies, post-its, and incorporated everyone in the library that had anything to do with eresources. After lots of meetings, position descriptions began to emerge.
Electronic Resource Supervisor is the title of the former book and serials acquisitions heads. The rest — wasn’t clear from the description.
They had a MARC record service for ejournals, but after this reorganization process, they realized they needed the same for ebooks, and could be handled by the same folks.
Two person teams were formed based on who did what in the former parallel processes, and they reconfigured their workspace to make this more functional. The team cubes are together, and they have open collaboration spaces for other groupings.
They shifted focus from maintaining MARC records in their ILS to maintaining accurate title lists and data in their ERMS. They’re letting the data from the ERMS populate the ILS with appropriate MARC records.
They use some Python scripts to help move data from system to system, and more staff are being trained to support it. They’re also using the Google Apps portal for collaborative projects.
They wanted to take risks, make mistakes, fail quickly, but also see successes come quickly. They needed someplace to start, and to avoid reinventing the wheel, so they borrowed heavily from the work done by colleagues at James Madison University. They also hired Carl Grant as a consultant to ask questions and facilitate cross-departmental work.
Big thing to keep in mind: Administration needs to be prepared to allow staff to spend time learning new processes and not keeping up with everything they used to do at the same time. And, as they let go of the work they used to do, please tell them it was important or they won’t adopt the new work.
For the past, oh, five years, I’ve been dead-set against being a manager. When I took this job at the University of Richmond, one of the things that really appealed to me was the reduction in management responsibilities, particularly in light of what I had to do in my last job.
And yet, my coworkers kept putting me in leadership positions, and most of the time I didn’t mind the work as much as I may have let on. As long as I have some clear direction in what needs to be done, I’m pretty good about making sure it happens.
So, when the opportunity arose to be the interim director of my division of the library, I seized it as a chance to get my feet wet with management in a more friendly environment. I like my division, I reasoned, and they seem to get along pretty well. This won’t be too bad.
My friends, it’s one thing to serve on library-wide committees, but managing personnel is an entirely different set of challenges. Throw in the stress of a massive renovation that required temporary relocation of most of the staff for the summer, and you’ve got quite a bit to keep a handle on.
So far I’m two and half months in, and everyone is still alive. I’ll be doing my best to keep it that way, but if I’ve learned anything from this experience it’s that I’m not quite ready to be In Charge. So, I’ll be continuing to figure out how to be a Leader in my library without being the Boss.
Two and a half days is just not enough time spent with my tribe. I could have gone all week. I’m not ready to go back to the real world.
This was my third Electronic Resources & Libraries conference, and I’ve been lucky to get to know a few more ER librarians every year. This year was particularly notable, as I was able to spend quite a bit of time talking with peers that I highly respect and look to as inspirations for my own work (Jamene Brooks-Kieffer and Marie Kennedy, just to name two). I did my best to keep it cool and not go fangirl all over them.
Most of the sessions I attended were solid, informative, and often inspiring in their own right. I’m still working through the project list generated last year, and now I have more to add or enhance what’s already there.
I plan to look into:
JTac software for acquisitions workflow
CORAL for ER workflow, but maybe not for ERMS, if that’s possible
MISO software for ingesting SUSHI (since my ERMS is only just starting to look at developing SUSHI ingestion)
Documenting ER workflows and procedures — I have been intimidated by this, since I’ll be starting from scratch and don’t know where to begin. I realized this week that I could use TERMS as a jumping off point.
Include a feedback form for each trial we do, rather than just relying on free-form email messages
Seeing about modifying the workflow for eDDA titles so that liaisons can move them to firm orders before the records are loaded in the catalog
Also, investigating options for pDDA for slip orders
Joining a relevant NISO working group, if anything comes up (Marie suggested we do this, and I’ve been interested for a while)
Being a leader in my library without being higher up in management or at least not beyond where I’m comfortable
There were a few sessions that left me wanting. For one, I keep trying to glean some insight into better ways of managing ER workflows, but our staff is so small and the people who tend to present on the topic come from libraries so large that it’s hard to see where the connections or benefits may be. I am still thinking about how to set up something that would trigger notifications of next steps, even if most of them would end up coming to me. My paper checklist form is okay, but it only works if I remember to do it and to check up on it.
Another session I attended was supposed to be all about a tech services department reorganization with an eye towards eresource trends. However, it seems that the presenter expected more results by now than what he was able to talk about, so most of the session beyond the introduction was about what should be happening rather than what has been happening. I think that it’s difficult to know six months in advance if your new project will be at a place worth sharing, but maybe conferences need to shift more of those kinds of topics to short sessions like the lightening talks, rather than risk the session being a dud because there aren’t enough relevant outcomes to share.
ER&L 2013 will be in Austin again next year, and shortly following the SXSWi conference. They hope to have some connections between the two, so if you’ve been on the fence about attending, that may be the year to take the plunge.
There are many different kinds of leadership. Everyone here has the potential to be a leader. They asked for words that mean leadership for the attendees, and some highlights from the wordle are vision, communication, decisive, innovative, confident, and inspiring.
What is your word for leadership?
CB: Clarity is most important to me in this field and others.
BT: Integrity — it’s hard to go with your true beliefs when they go against other pressures.
KGS: Changed word after hearing other responses. Optimism, because if you don’t believe you’re going to succeed, who else would. Also, faith. Hope to be able to talk about case studies, because she has four from libraryland in mind.
BT: Visionary is interesting. Sometimes you have to be a leader by going in a direction and having faith that it’s going to work out, not by knowing that it will.
What are your reactions to the words we chose, and what stands out?
KGS: Patience and impatience are missing. You need a balance of both to lead.
CB: Impressed by how many words were in reference to other people, like inspiring and motivating.
BT: Most exciting are communication and listening.
CB: Curious if these were generated by example or anti-example?
Why do you do so much work outside of your day jobs?
BT: When I see a problem that needs a solution, I think all it needs is some work done to make it happen, which is how ER&L got started. Attended an ACRL session about ER librarians in 2005 and saw a need for bigger discussion.
CB: What libraries do is critical. We have a calling.
KGS: Most significant work was in the late 90s on internet filtering issues. It was a natural extension of my calling that didn’t end when I walked out the door of my library at the end of the day. It’s part of the fabric of who I am as a librarian and a person.
Where do you think leadership is needed in librarianship today?
KGS: Everywhere. Many people are leaders at levels that are not well recognized. They’re not the shiny bloggers or people getting gold stars for things. People are doing equally important things at the local level.
CB: No matter where you work or what you do, it’s critical to step up and do the things that need to be done. What are you going to do about it?
KGS: And cultivating leadership with the people you work with.
BT: I’ve seen some examples of informal meetups of groups at ER&L that needed to get together. I see leadership happening all over the place.
How do you motivate or inspire others?
CB: Make people not scared of their own enthusiasm. Let it feed what you do.
BT: I leave Char’s presentations feeling inspired, and I try to think about what it is that she does. Think about why we are librarians and what we’re doing? We have a calling. Get at the core of why we are here, and that motivates people. You can get caught up in the spreadsheets and the things that don’t work, but continue to be mindful of why you are here.
KGS: You constantly have to remind people of their own excellence and capabilities, and thank them for their work. Communication is key. It’s not enough to have good ideas if you can’t do that. EJ Josey is one library leader that comes to mind, and in the 1960s was crucial for the desegregation of the state library associations. Marvin Skilkin (unabashed librarian), as a young library director, found out that publishers were doing price fixing. His testimony at hearings lead to the steep discounts that libraries still receive for print publications.
BT: When I was working on ER&L, I was two years out of library school. Told two leaders at Georgia Tech about it, and one was excited and supportive. The second leader thought she was crazy for trying to do it. However, having been motivated by the two different types of leaders, she thinks the more critical person was more of a motivator. Maybe challenging people to think through ideas is a good reality check for a leader.
CB: Does anyone else have issues with the word leadership? There’s an arrogance in there. There’s a chance of the followers not acting because the leader will do it.
BT: Char & Karen were uncomfortable with being invited to speak on a leadership panel. We need to own that. We need to be comfortable as librarians to think of ourselves as leaders when we’re doing leadership.
KGS: You can’t be wishy-washy. You have to claim it?
BT: Does anyone in the audience have questions, or see a need for leaders in the field?
A: What would you call leadership if you didn’t call it leadership?
CB: I have this image of leadership as a paternalistic figurehead. What does it mean to you? Maybe we should just try to model it.
KGS: Leadership from behind and leadership from the front — we have to balance both.
BT: Adjust our definition of leadership.
KGS: I have a public persona that is not really me, and that makes me uncomfortable. The one behind the scenes is the one with the leadership qualities, not necessarily the one everyone sees.
A: Embrace your inner leadership. I see it as starting from the bottom. What is your favorite curse word?
BT: I can’t say that.
CB: Hell & damn.
KGS: I was in the air force — everything I have is not safe for work.
A: One thing I don’t see in all the words is popular.
KGS: Words related to inspire and inspiration lead to the popular thing.
A: Keep focused on the user. Don’t worry about the job title they give you. Don’t worry about faculty/non-faculty.
BT: Motivate by reminding our selves why we’re.
CB: In the day-to-day, people can get dragged down. We need to yank them up.
KGS: Optimism is a discipline.
CB: We learn these behaviors by modeling our influencers. Thanks, Mom.
BT: Leadership is intentional.
A: Be realistic about limits. Librarians have a tendency to take on too much.
BT: I’ve heard that.
KGS: Picking and choosing your battles is important. Aging has taught me my limits. We have to pace ourselves for the long haul. No is not the same as not now.
A: Why aren’t we seeing more of this in our profession? I’m in my 27th year of librarianship. I love the optimism, but I’m so tired. Is it something about our profession? I use the words mentor or supportive colleague more than leader.
A: The Library Society of the World on FriendFeed was having a discussion of why we don’t talk more about our failures.
KGS: I have failed, but I don’t like to.
[Stopped taking notes to get in line to respond that leadership and management should not always be the same thing — we need to restructure our decision making roles in libraries to recognize leadership outside of management roles.]
They used a HelpDesk Ticket for new subscriptions to manage the flow of information and tasks through several departments. Sadly, it’s not designed for ejournals management, and not enough information could be included in the ticket, or was inconsistently added. So, they needed to make some changes.
A self-initiated team decided a new workflow using a spreadsheet to keep the info and set up status alerts in SerialsSolutions. The alerts and spreadsheets facilitated the workflow through all departments.
A lengthy description of the process, spreadsheets, action logs, email alerts, and I’ve concluded that my paper checklist is still the best solution for my small library.
Challenges with their system included the use of color to indicate status (one staff is color blind, which is why the also use an action log), there is some overlap of work, and tracking unsolved problems is difficult. Despite that, they feel it is better than the old system. It’s a shared and transparent process, with decent tracking of subscriptions, and it’s easy to integrate additional changes in the process.
Speaker: Kate Montgomery
They initially had Meridian, and while it was great that they followed the ERMI standard, they didn’t need everything, so it was a sea of bits of data with lots of blank fields. Meridian is dead, so they had to look for alternatives. Considered Verde, but sensed that it was to be replaced by Alma. So, they had to decide whether to build their own tool, using an open source product, or purchasing something. They were limited by time, staffing, and money.
Ultimately, they decided to go with CORAL. They didn’t have to learn a lot of new skills (MySQL & PHP) to set it up and get it to work. Rather than looking at this as a whole lot of work, they took the opportunity to make a product that works for them. They reviewed and documented their workflows and set some standards.
CORAL can create workflows that trigger actions for each individual or group, depending on the item or situation. Hopes to use this to create buy-in from library departments and other small libraries around campus.
Users were unhappy with eresource management, due in part to their ad hoc approach, and they relied on users to notify them when there were access issues. A heavy reliance on email and memory means things slip through the cracks. They were not a train wreck waiting to happen, they were train wreck that had already occurred.
Needed to develop a deeper understanding of their workflows and processes to identify areas for improvement. The reason that earlier attempts have failed was due to not having all the right people at the table. Each stage of the lifecycle needs to be there.
Oliver Pesch’s 2009 presentation on “ERMS and the E-Resources Lifecycle” provided the framework they used. They created a staff responsibility matrix to determine exactly what they did, and then did interviews to get at how they did it. The narrative was translated to a workflow diagram for each kind of resource (ebooks, ejournals, etc.).
Even though some of the subject librarians were good about checking for dups before requesting things, acquisitions still had to repeat the process because they don’t know if it was done. This is just one example of a duplication of effort that they discovered in their workflow review.
For the ebook package process, they found it was so unclear they couldn’t even diagram it. It’s very linear, and it could have a number of processes happening in parallel.
Lots of words on screen with great ideas of things to do for quality control and user interface improvements. Presenter does not highlight any. Will have to look at it later.
One thing they mentioned is identifying essential tasks that are done by only one staff. They then did cross-training to make sure that if the one is out for the day, someone else can do it.
Surprisingly, they were not using EDI for firm orders, nor had they implemented tools like PromptCat.
Applications that make things work for them:
JTacq — using this for the acquisition/collections workflow. I’ve never heard of it, but will investigate.
ImageNow — not an ERM — a document management tool. Enterprise content management, and being used by many university departments but not many libraries.
They used SharePoint at a meeting space for the teams.
I’ve been watching with interest to see what comes out of the TERMS: Techniques for Electronic Resources Management, for obvious reasons. Jill Emery and Graham Stone envision this to be a concise listing of the six major stages of electronic resources management, as well as a place to share tips and workflows relating to each. As they publish each section, I’ve marveled at how concise and clear they are. If you do anything with electronic resources management, you need to be following this thing.
Evaluation of resources has been a subject near and dear to my heart for many years, and increasingly so as we’ve needed to justify why we continue to pay for one resource when we would like to purchase another equally desired resource. And in relation to that, visualization of data and telling data stories are also professional interests of mine.
When the section on annual review was published last month, it included an appendix that is an example of usage and cost data for a resource delivered as both flat numbers and a graph. While this is still a rather technical presentation, it included several elements I had not considered before: cost as a percentage of the budget line, cost per student, use per student, and a mean use for each year. I decided this method of delivering statistical information about our electronic resources might be more useful to our subject specialists than my straight-up number approach. So, I’ve now incorporated it into the annual review checklist that I send out to the subject specialists in advance of renewal deadlines.
I’m not going to lie — this isn’t a fast report to create from scratch. However, it has made a few folks take a hard look at some resources and the patterns of their use, and as far as I’m concerned, that makes it work my time and effort. Repeat use will be much faster, since I’ll just need to add one year’s worth of data.
It’s funny how expectations are raised each time they are met. I think about this a lot when I’m working with our ERMS. My first experience with an ERMS was overwhelming and confusing, mostly because I didn’t have the time to really implement it, and it was far more robust than what we needed at the time. The next ERMS I used was simpler, and built off of a system I already knew well. It wasn’t perfect or comprehensive, but it was enough to get going.
Now that I’ve got a few years under my belt with this ERMS, I find myself longing for the next generation tool. Sure, it does this one thing really well, and sometimes even continues to do it well when the coders “enhance” it. But to get more out of it requires a lot of work-arounds, and often those are broken with the “enhancements.” And I’m still porting data from our ILS and massaging it into something our ERMS can ingest properly, often times having to do this manually.
I saw a demo of Ex Libris’ next generation ILS, Alma, a few weeks ago. It’s not perfect, and I could already see how it will require some significant workflow changes. However, the workflow/resource management problems that ERMS have been trying to solve are no longer partitioned off into something other than the “normal” ILS workflows, but rather acknowledged as at least half or more of the workflows that happen within the ILS. That’s what the first gen ERMS tried to do, but as add-on modules with connectors and legacy deadweight. Alma, from what I understand, has been rebuilt from the ground up. That seems to be making a huge difference in performance and integration.
I’m pretty excited about this because it solves two (or more) problems with one product. First, we get a next gen back-end catalog that works with more than just MARC, allowing us to integrate our digital collections metadata in whatever language that may be. Second, we integrate the workflows of all of acquisitions, not just print resources.
I’m also excited about this because I know that the other ILS vendors and ERMS vendors are going to have to step up their game as well. That can’t be bad for libraries and users, right?
She’s a librarian who started in corporate libraries and went on to human resources and organizational development. Working in different types of places has given her a perspective on different kinds of thinking.
We have gotten ideas at this conference to take back, but there a people at home who haven’t heard them yet, so you need to plan how you will approach this to not fail.
Strategic planning is not about the document — it’s about engaging people in the planning process so that everyone can see where they are making a difference. What are the implications for everyone? Consultants should not be doing the environmental scan — everyone in the library should be doing that.
Any time we have to do something differently, even if we know it is for good, it is uncomfortable to adjust to it. Viewing situations and solutions strategically will result in different types of decisions. Talking it through with others will suss out new solutions. It is too risky to not think differently in this economy.
Strategic thinking is as much about emotions as it is about finding out what the right questions are. What is the real problem that we are talking about? It is not about being critical. It is about opening up all of the possibilities.
It is our responsibility to have critical optimism. No librarian or library needs to play devil’s advocate. Have some fun planning! If we can’t see a better world, how will our stakeholders and users?
Be flexible and adaptable. Question the status quo — we tend to perpetuate what we already know. Focus on the future and don’t let the past stop you from moving forward. If you are already in a hole, stop digging. Gather the right facts in order to understand what is really happening.
Standing in the future is a planning strategy that has planners talk about the dream they have for the future as if it is in the present. By having all staff involved, you can get a clearer picture of how to get there. Buy-with is more effective than buy-in.
Some people will never like the change. Don’t listen to the 20% who are still whining — pay attention to the 80% who have moved on.
Consider following up with Rotman’s Business Journal for more of this kind of stuff. Also, Seth Goddin, Futures magazine, the Futures conference, Roger Martin’s work on design thinking, and what your community is reading. We have to be listeners. Be self-aware — you need to know what your assumptions are.
Why aren’t we at non-library conferences? We need to be aware of what is happening out there.