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 This is ERMes’ story…
Once upon a time, there was an e-resource librarian, a systems, cataloging, Once Upon a Time…
and digital collections librarian, and a piece of paper called “Database of
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 282 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 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 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 "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
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.
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Speaking Points Slide
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
In the beginning 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
tweaked as it was developed, most of these tweaks were due
to Bill's insight and recommended enhancements by other e-
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
enhancements continue, the system went from concept to
fully functional in about a month.
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Speaking Points Slide
Screen Shots ERMes v.
Then the ERM grew; hello ERMes!
o In spring 2009, Norma J. Dowell from Iowa State University Tables and relationships
contacted Bill, and shared her significant enhancements for
o Highlights of this current version include:
• New and vastly improved interface
• New reports and much improved integration of the data
from different tables.
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.
• 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, 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
• No Knowledge Base
• V. 2009.5 requires MS Access 2007; older version that
works with older MS Access is still available.
• 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.
ERM Download Site
Freely Available: http://murphylibrary.uwlax.edu/erm/;
In Spring 2009, 12 libraries were using the ERM.
As of October 2009, 27 libraries including the NSF library and the Irish
Research eLibrary are using ERMes.
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.
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Speaking Points Slide
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)
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)
The Next Chapter(s)
Hopes & Dreams
o Bill and I are in the process or exploring grants that would
support future development and support of ERMes
o 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, on the fly A-Z list
generation w/ URLs, etc.
o Galadriel has a list of ideas/edits for the ERMes
o Long term goal is compatibility with Open Offices Base
database application so that ERMes would be open source at
the application level and not rely on MS Access.
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