ER&L 2016: Agents of Change: The Ongoing Challenges of Managing E-books and Streaming Media

“change” by samantha celera

Presenters: Steven R. Harris and Molly Beisler, University of Nevada, Reno

Evolution doesn’t happen in slow increments. Moments of punctuations happen quite suddenly. Ebooks are kind of like that in the evolution of the book.

In 2005, they were putting all formats on one record, manually updating the electronic content. As the quantity of ebooks increased, and the various licensing terms expanded, they were struggling to maintain this. In 2008, they began batch loading large numbers of eresources materials, with one person maintaining QA and merging records.

Then discovery services came in like an asteroid during the dinosaur age. They finally shifted from single record to separate records. They began tracking/coding ebooks to distinguish DDA from purchased, and expanded the ERM to track SU and other terms. This also prompted another staff reorganization.

They developed workflows via Sharepoint for new eresources depending on what the thing was: subscriptions/standing orders, one-time purchases with annual fees, and one-time purchases without annual fees. The streaming video packages fit okay in this workflow.

Streaming media has more complex access and troubleshooting issues. Platform as are variable, plugins may not be compatible. There are also many different access models (DDA, EBA) and many come with short-term licenses. Feel like the organization structure can support them as they figure out how to manage these.

They use a LibAnswers queue to track the various eresources problems come up.

Reiteration of the current library technology climate for eresources, with various challenges. No solutions.

The future comes with new problems due to next-gen ILS and their workflow quirks. With the industry consolidation, will everybody’s products work well with each other or will it become like the Amazon device ecosystem? Changing acquisitions models are challenges for collection development.

Be flexible. Do change. Agents.

ER&L 2014 — Building the Eresources Team: the MIT Libraries Experience

“DC Hero Minifigs (most of them)” by Julian Fong

Speaker: Kim Maxwell

Goal is to be more of a dialogue than a monologue.

In 2011, they were a traditional acquisitions and cataloging department. They had 18.1 FTE in technical services, with 8 acquisitions people working on both print and electronic, and 5 in cataloging. It felt very fragmented.

They were getting more eresources but no new staff. Less print, but staff weren’t interchangeable. The hybrid positions weren’t working well, and print was still seen as a priority by some of the staff. They could see the backlogs and made it seem like they had to deal with them first.

They hired consultants and decided to create two format-based teams: tangible formats and electronic resources. They defined the new positions and asked staff for their preferences, and then assigned staff to one team or the other. The team leads are focused on cataloging side and acquisition side, rather than by format.

To implement this they: oriented and trained staff; created workflow teams for ejournals, ebooks, and databases; talked with staff extensively; tried to be as transparent as possible; and hired another librarian.

They increased the FTE working on eresources, and they could use more, but this is good enough for now.

Some of the challenges include: staff buy-in and morale; communicating who does what to all the points of contact; workflows for orders with dual formats; budget structure (monographs/serials, with some simplification where possible, but still not tangible/electronic); and documentation organization (documenting isn’t a problem — find it is).

The benefits are: staff focusing on a single format; bringing acquisitions and cataloging together (better communication between functions); easier cross-training opportunities; workflows streamlined easier; and ease in planning and priorities.

ER&L 2014 — Human TERMS of Engagement

TERMS logo
TERMS logo

Speaker: Galadriel Chilton, University of Connecticut

Used TERMS as a framework for developing an eresources team and a course at University of Wisconsin.

How are we going to systematically ensure that our eresources knowledge evolves and continues?

75% of UConn’s budget is for e-content. The human resources was 3.25 FTE when she arrived, but now they are at 5.65 FTE. The only other unit smaller is the digital scholarship and data curation team created a year ago.

Why does collection development for non-ERM staff exist as a term for non-electronic monograph acquisitions? In 2014? How do we establish eresources teams and teach this to staff?

She used TERMS and the NASIG Core Competencies.

TERMS helps build a framework for discussion among her students and her work team. The Core Competencies was used for class reading and discussions with her team, and became a framework for submitting training requests. TERMS has been a lighthouse for them, and they’ve continued to go back to them and review the cyclical process to identify successes and areas for improvements.

Only 19% of the ALA accredited LIS programs cover ERM topics, yet 73% of recent job ads require ERM competencies.

The financial resources are be allocated, what about the human resources to do our work. Eresources positions are not entry-level, and yet the spend in that content is increases. How can we expand/grow the ERM skill-set to more of our staff positions? This is not a new problem. We’ve been talking about this as a profession since 2000 or earlier.

The Core Competencies should be for the entire library, not just the ERM staff.

We need to eliminate the delineation between print and electronic management/acquisitions.

Establish partnerships with LIS programs. Establish paid fellowships that are at least two fiscal years in length. Get support from library administrators for adequate staffing and the time to teach courses, etc.

Good strategies for training staff: Listening to them and knowing what they already know how to do. Making analogies from what you know to what they know. Small chunks at a time.

Are the NASIG Core Competencies a laundry list of the ideal rather than true core competencies that can be expected at the beginning of an ERM career? No. The point is that no one person can do everything ERM. But, these are the things that are needed to manage eresources, regardless of how many people it takes to do it.

Audience member says she had to fail badly with only two staff in order to get the change needed to have a sufficient number of people on her team.

#ERcamp13 at George Washington University

“The law of two feet” by Deb Schultz

This is going to be long and not my usual style of conference notetaking. Because this was an unconference, there really wasn’t much in the way of prepared presentations, except for the lightening talks in the morning. What follows below the jump is what I captured from the conversations, often simply questions posed that were left open for anyone to answer, or at least consider.

Some of the good aspects of the unconference style was the free-form nature of the discussions. We generally stayed on topic, but even when we didn’t, it was about a relevant or important thing that lead to the tangents, so there were still plenty of things to take away. However, this format also requires someone present who is prepared to seed the conversation if it lulls or dies and no one steps in to start a new topic.

Also, if a session is designed to be a conversation around a topic, it will fall flat if it becomes all about one person or the quirks of their own institution. I had to work pretty hard on that one during the session I led, particularly when it seemed that the problem I was hoping to discuss wasn’t an issue for several of the folks present because of how they handle the workflow.

Some of the best conversations I had were during the gathering/breakfast time as well as lunch, lending even more to the unconference ethos of learning from each other as peers.

Anyway, here are my notes.

Continue reading “#ERcamp13 at George Washington University”

NASIG 2013: Losing Staff — the Seven Stages of Loss and Recovery

CC BY-ND 2.0 2013-06-10
“Autumn dawn” by James Jordan

Speaker: Elena Romaniuk

This is about losing staff to retirement, and not about losing staff to death, which is similar but different.

They started as one librarian and six staff, and now two of them have retired and have not been replaced. This is true of most of technical services, where staff were not replaced or shifted to other departments.

The staff she lost were key to helping run the department, often filling in when she was out for extended leaves. They were also the only experienced support staff catalogers.

The stages:

  1. Shock and denial
  2. Pain and guilt
  3. Anger and bargaining
  4. Depression, reflection, loneliness
  5. Upward turn
  6. Reconstruction and working through
  7. Acceptance and hope

The pain went beyond friends leaving, because they also lost a lot of institutional memory and the workload was spread across the remaining staff. They couldn’t be angry at the staff who left, and they couldn’t bargain except to let administrators know that with less people, not all of the work could be continued and there may be some backlogs.

However, this allowed them to focus on the reflection stage and assess what may have changed about the work in recent years, and how that could be reflected in the new unit responsibilities. The serials universe is larger and more complex, with diverse issues that require higher-level understanding. There are fewer physical items to manage, and they don’t catalog as many titles anymore, with most of them being for special collections donations.

They are still expected to get the work done, despite having fewer staff, and if they got more staff, they would need more than one to handle it all. Given the options, she decided to take the remaining staff in the unit who have a lot of serials-related experience and train them up to handle the cataloging as well, as long as they were willing to do it.

In the end, they re-wrote the positions to be the same, with about half focused on cataloging and the rest with the other duties rotated through the unit on a monthly basis.

They have acceptance and hope, with differing levels of anxiety among the staff. The backlogs will grow, but as they get more comfortable with the cataloging they will catch up.

What worked in their favor: they had plenty of notice, giving them time to plan and prepare, and do some training before the catalogers left.

One of the recommended coping strategies was for the unit head to be as available as possible for problem solving. They needed clear priorities with documented procedures that are revised as needed. The staff also needed to be willing to consult with each other. The staff also needed to be okay with not finishing everything every day, and that backlogs will happen.

They underestimated the time needed for problem-solving, and need to provide more training about basic cataloging as well as serials cataloging specifically. There is always too much work with multiple simultaneous demands.

She is considering asking for another librarian, even if only on a term basis, to help catch up on the work. There is also the possibility of another reorganization or having someone from cataloging come over to help.

[lovely quote at the end that I will add when the slides are uploaded]