Why & How We Created an ERM Galadriel Chilton
Speaking Points Slide
Hello, I’m delighted to be here today and share information about the
homegrown ERM system that I co-designed with my colleague, William Agenda
Doering, Systems, Catalog & Digital Initiatives Librarian, and that Bill
constructed in Microsoft Access.
o Background & Context
o What the ERM Does & Doesn’t Do
o Suite of E-Resource Management Tools
o Thoughts & Questions
Context & Background
First I’d like to provide a little history about the e-resource
management environment at UW-L and what lead us to create an ERM
instead of buying/subscribing to a commercial system…
o We have 215 E-Resources – primarily subscription databases,
but a few CD-ROMS, and a few free resources such as
EBSCOhost’s GreenFile and LISTA.
o Subscription resources come to us via local purchase directly
from the vendor, through our consortia, or buying groups. We
also have access to resources purchased by UW Madison or UW
o When I began UW-L in 2003, I had a file cabinet, a couple of
static intranet pages, and 3-ring binders as my e-resource
File cabinet folders included license agreements, print-
outs of e-mail correspondence, contact info, print outs
of usage reports, admin URLs usernames/passwords.
Binders included invoices
Intranet pages listed an out-dated inventory with user
limits, subscription origin (local, consortium, etc.)
o Very quickly, I had an easel in my office where I planned a
database of databases; I envisioned an MS Access relational
databases that would significantly help me manage e-
o Then, in January 2004, I attended Taming the Electronic Tiger:
Effective Management of E-Resources at ALA Midwinter.
Presenters spoke of how automation vendors were creating
robust ERM systems that would surpass the need for
homegrown systems. I came away with the message that if you
don’t have an ERM now, don’t spend time creating one
because robust commercial ERMs were coming.
o After attending quot;Taming the Tiger,quot; I continued adding to my
list of desired attributes for an ERM but put plans of creating
an Access database on hold. Instead, I began contacting
vendors who had or were developing ERMs. I attended
webinars, requested pricing information, and also began
monitoring listservs for posts by librarians who had begun to
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use commercial ERMs.
o My desire for an ERM grew, but commercial ERMs are
expensive. Furthermore, listserv posts and survey results
began to reveal that commercial ERMs were not necessarily
living up to librarians' expectations.
o A combination of factors led me to reignite my dream of a
Microsoft Access database of databases:
• Mounting evidence that commercial ERMs were not
living up to expectations--For example, in March 2008. I
attended ER&L, and in one session with about 75
attendees, the audience was asked quot;How many of you
have a commercial ERM?quot; and quot;How many of you are
happy with your ERM?quot; While about half of those in the
room worked at libraries with commercial ERM systems,
no one was happy with his or her system.
• Budget deficits were forcing cuts to acquisitions; our
budget has been cut repeatedly over the past few
years--thus the possibility of purchasing a commercial
electronic resource management (ERM) system was a
pipe dream at the very best.
• My extended absence from the office in Fall 2008 and
the necessity for colleagues to be able to cover my
responsibilities--They would need to be able to quickly
and easily access a variety of data about our libraries'
I was delighted when Bill, who uses Access for other library
Picture of ERM Blueprint
functions, data collection, and reporting, agreed to help
create an ERM.
To communicate what I needed in ERM, I created a chart
showing the tables and data fields I imagined would be
needed; the green and purple boxes represented Microsoft
This diagram became a blueprint and a discussion point for our
conversations about what I needed and what he could do with
Microsoft Access. While aspects of the overall ERM were
tweaked as it was developed, most of these tweaks were due
to Bill's insight and recommended enhancements by other e-
The following table lists various data related to e-resource
management and how such data was organized before and
after our locally developed Microsoft Access ERM.
Our ERM was quickly available and functional. Bill had students
Screen Shots of ERM
entering test data in less than 3 weeks, and while small
enhancements continue, the system went from concept to
fully-functional in about a month.
It did not cost five (or more) figures to purchase.
There is no annual access fee or reliance on an outside vendor
for functionality updates.
Our ERM provides reports and functionality that facilitates
better management of e-resources, such as keeping track of
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training sessions and quickly generating a list of databases by
renewal, access type, user limits, etc.
o Ideal for small to medium e-resource collection or as a tool to
transition to a commercial system.
o The most challenging part for me is to change my e-resource
management work-flow habits to take full advantage of the
new ERM – it’s amazing how old processes, despite their
inefficiencies, die hard.
Freely Available: http://murphylibrary.uwlax.edu/erm/;
ERM Download Site
Currently used by 12 Libraries including UW-L
The great thing is that if you try it don’t like it, you’ve probably lost a bit of
time but not thousands of dollars.
Screen shots of Blog,
The ERM is part of a Suite of tools for E-Resource Management
Excel spread sheet,
LibData, Price Sharing
While this may not be ideal for some, it’s working. (One bonus to Project
having multiple tools is that if one goes down, I still have the others
to work with in the interim; they serve as back-ups for one another)
o PSP (Student hired for PHP skills)
Of these, the only tool that has an annual fee is LibData (very
modest). The other tools use software already available on our
campus (Microsoft Office) or are freely available (e.g. Word Press)
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