Transcript of "The ERMes Story - ALA 2010 (speaker's notes)"
The ERMes Story Galadriel Chilton
Speaking Points Slide
o Introduction Intro
Hello, I’m delighted to be here today and share information about ERMes,
the homegrown ERM system that I co-designed with my colleague, William
Doering, Systems, Catalog & Digital Initiatives Librarian, and that Bill
constructed in Microsoft Access.
o Towards the end of my presentation, I will also mention other open
source projects related to e-resource management, but first…
o This is ERMes’ story…
In the beginning, there was an e-resource librarian, a systems, cataloging, In the beginning…
and digital collections librarian, and a piece of paper called “Database of
For context here is an overview of the e-resource management environment
at UW-L and what lead us to create an ERM instead of buying/subscribing to a
o We have 257 E-Resources – primarily subscription databases,
but a few CD-ROMS, and promote access to freely available
aggregate databases too.
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 the University of
Madison or via the University of Wisconsin System’ Shared Prologue
o When I began managing UW-L’s e-resources in 2003, I had a
file cabinet, a couple of static intranet pages, and 3-ring
binders as my e-resource management toolbox.
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 integrated library system 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 better commercial ERMs were coming.
o After attending "Taming the Tiger," 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
ALA Annual 2010 Page 1 of 5 firstname.lastname@example.org June 23, 2010
Speaking Points Slide
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
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 "How many of you
have a commercial ERM?" and "How many of you are
happy with your ERM?" 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'
Picture of ERM Blueprint
First there was a colorful diagram
o I was delighted when Bill, who uses Access for other library
functions, data collection, and reporting, agreed to help
create an ERM.
o 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
o 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
refined as it was developed, most of the changes were due to
Bill's insight after he extensively reviewed the Digital Library
Federation’s Electronic Resource Management Initiative’s
recommendations for ERM data elements and
recommendations by other e-resource librarians!
Screen Shots of old ERM
Then there was a simple ERM!
o Our ERM was quickly available and functional. Bill had students
entering test data in less than 3 weeks, and while small
ALA Annual 2010 Page 2 of 5 email@example.com June 23, 2010
Speaking Points Slide
enhancements continue, the system went from concept to
fully functional in about a month.
Screen Shots ERMes v.
Then the ERM grew; hello ERMes!
o In spring 2009, Norma J. Dowell from Iowa State University
contacted Bill, and shared her significant enhancements for
o Highlights of this version include:
• New and vastly improved interface
• New reports and much improved integration of the data
from different tables.
• A basic A-Z list that developed by our colleague Jenifer
Holman that we use as a back-up to our primary A-Z
…and grew again.
Screen Shots ERMes v.
o In early June 2010, we released the latest version of ERMes.
o Highlights of this current version include:
• Fixing a known bug, many new data entry fields, new
reports, expanded documentation, and a new open
• Coming very soon: enhanced A-Z list
ERMes User Support and Community
o User documentation with field-by-field and report
descriptions; data entry suggestions, etc.
o Google Group
o ERMes blog
Now, ERMes is part of…
Screen shots of Blog,
… a suite of tools that I use 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)
o Of these, the only tool that has an annual fee is LibData and
that is a very modest hosting fee. The other tools use software
already available on our campus (Microsoft Office) or are
freely available (e.g. Word Press)
ALA Annual 2010 Page 3 of 5 firstname.lastname@example.org June 23, 2010
Speaking Points Slide
The Good, The Bad
• ERMes did not cost five (or more) figures to purchase.
• There is no annual access fee or reliance on an outside
vendor for functionality updates.
• If I need a new field for our ERM, I can add it
immediately and have it function within a few minutes.
• ERMes provides reports and functionality that
facilitates better management of e-resources, such as
keeping track of training sessions and quickly
generating a list of databases by renewal, access type,
user limits, a problem log by database that I refer to
when negotiating database renewals, etc.
• Ideal for small to medium e-resource collection or as a
tool to transition to a commercial system.
• Open Source which means that anyone can download
and adjust/customize the database to suite their
institution; their e-resource workflow. Thus saving
funds that would be spent on a commercial
management system to maintain/enhance collections.
• Can import COUNTER JR1 stats into ERMes
• Upon download, ERMes, comes pre-populated with
some vendor/database which helps one understand how
ERMes works, but there is no thorough Knowledge Base
• V. 2009.5 and 2010.5 require MS Access 2007; older
version that works with older MS Access is still
• As with any ERM, there is the time-consuming, tedious
task of data entry and workflow alteration – it is very
true that old processes, despite their inefficiencies,
sometimes die a slow, agonizing death.
• Right now I’m using ERMes to manage aggregate
databases, e-reference books, and journal packages –
NOT – individual journal titles. This is in large part
because of workflow distribution at Murphy Library.
• Time to implement all of the ideas we have to enhance
ERMes and support ERMes users.
• No web interface
• No known easy solution for migrating data to new
• Still working on multi-user rights and data integrity
• ERMes does not integrate with our ILS or Open URL
resolver right now.
ERM Download Site
Freely Available: http://murphylibrary.uwlax.edu/erm/;
In Spring 2009, 12 libraries were using the ERM.
ALA Annual 2010 Page 4 of 5 email@example.com June 23, 2010
Speaking Points Slide
As of October 2009, 27 libraries including the NSF library and the Irish
Research eLibrary are using ERMes.
As of June 21, 2010, 40 libraries are using ERMes.
Where in the world are ERMes users?
Map of ERMes users
o As of June 21, 2010, 40 institutions around the world are using
ERMes. Including 4 outside the US, (Canada, India, Ireland and
Denmark) and 7 UWs (Colleges, Eau Claire, Green Bay, La
Crosse, Oshkosh, Platteville, River Falls). States represented
include: Alabama (1), California (1), District of Columbia (1),
Florida (1), Georgia (1), Idaho (1), Illinois (2), Iowa (2),
Massachusetts (2), Michigan (2), Minnesota (4), New Hampshire
(1), New York (2), Pennsylvania (1), South Carolina (1),
Useof ERMes functionality varies – for some it is a repository for vendor
contacts and user names and passwords only. 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
The Next Chapter(s)
Hopes & Dreams
Bill and I are in the process or exploring grants that would support
future development and support of ERMes
We have a list of enhancement ideas for a new release that we plan
to compile into a survey so that users can rank/add enhancements:
Read-only web interface, multiple user profiles, SUSHI, etc.
Long term goal is compatibility with OpenOffice.org’s Base database
application so that ERMes would be open source at the application
level and not rely on MS Access.
More developers --- lending a head where our skills stop and others
Other open source, freely available ERM solutions
o ERMes is one of 4 open source ERM solutions that I am aware
of. As mentioned earlier, we believe ERMes works well for
small-medium libraries or for libraries. The other open source
solutions have technical requirements and expertise that we
don’t have right now.
o CORAL, developed at the University of Notre Dame, is the
newest ERMS and demos of their open source modules will be
held this afternoon at 2 pm in the Networking Uncommons,
near the Exhibit Hall.
The fact that in two years ERMes has been through three releases and has 40
users from around the world, and that there are other fantastic
developments occurring right now in the world of open source ERMs not only
suggests that commercial systems are not meeting librarians’ needs – either
through cost or functionality – but also that librarians are fiercely talented
folks that are good at sharing/collaborating and have the ability to change
the world – at least the small world of e-resources - and that if the people Thank You!
who manage e-resources create the ERM, then we’ll end up with a powerful
tool that does exactly what we need and doesn’t cost 4-5 figures to purchase
+ annual maintenance fees.
ALA Annual 2010 Page 5 of 5 firstname.lastname@example.org June 23, 2010