The ERMes Story - ALA 2010 (speaker's notes)


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Presentation slides for my presentation on ERMes, an open source e-resources management system given June 27, 2010 at ALA Annual 2010.

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The ERMes Story - ALA 2010 (speaker's notes)

  1. 1. 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 Databases.” 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 commercial system… The Setting 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 Electronic Collection. 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- resources. 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 June 23, 2010
  2. 2. 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' e-resources. Chapter 1 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 Access tables. 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! Chapter 2 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 June 23, 2010
  3. 3. Speaking Points Slide enhancements continue, the system went from concept to fully functional in about a month. Chapter 3 Screen Shots ERMes v. Then the ERM grew; hello ERMes! 2009.05 o In spring 2009, Norma J. Dowell from Iowa State University contacted Bill, and shared her significant enhancements for the ERM. 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 list. …and grew again. Screen Shots ERMes v. 2010.05 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 source license. • 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 LibData o Blog o Excel 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 June 23, 2010
  4. 4. Speaking Points Slide Chapter 4 The Good, The Bad o Good • 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 o Bad • 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 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. • No web interface • No known easy solution for migrating data to new ERMes versions • Still working on multi-user rights and data integrity • ERMes does not integrate with our ILS or Open URL resolver right now. Getting ERMes ERM Download Site Freely Available:; In Spring 2009, 12 libraries were using the ERM. ALA Annual 2010 Page 4 of 5 June 23, 2010
  5. 5. 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), Wisconsin (12) 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 dollars. 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’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 begin. 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 June 23, 2010