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Panlibus 29 – now available online

I am pleased to announce the autumn issue – and what will be my last edition as Editor – of Panlibus is now available online.

This issue has a public library focus, but as always includes something for university and college libraries. We have recently reported on both the future of public and academic libraries, so this issue we continue the series by looking at the future of librarians and preparing librarians for the future (p.14).

The Welsh Information Literacy Project is entering its fourth phase following the successful initial three phases. The honour of progressing the fourth phase has been awarded to the North Wales Library Partnership and Coleg Llandrillo. Siona Murray gives us the inside track on phase four.

The Reading Agency has been leading on many incredible projects over the years all borne from a series of ‘what if’ questions. Miranda McKearney, in her last Panlibus article before her well-earned retirement, provides an overview of some of those innovative projects.

Edinburgh Libraries has long been a beacon of success for public libraries, but it wasn’t always thus. We look at what changes Edinburgh have undertaken over the past few years to now fly the flag for public libraries.

We also have articles demystifying cloud computing libraries, exploring Bradford College’s plans for their new library and a case study from lorensbergs.

It has been an honour and a privilege to have been the editor of Panlibus for nearly four years, and thank you all for your support of Panlibus throughout its existence.

I hope you enjoy this issue, and as always, I encourage you to get in touch with your thoughts on any of the articles. If you have any topics you would like to share with the library world, our new editor would be extremely pleased to hear them. Please contact them on

Panlibus 28 – now available online

libraries-panlibusI am pleased to announce the summer issue of Panlibus is now available online.

The further and higher education landscape is changing. An increase in tuition fees in higher education and changes to further education funding are contributing to an uncertain future. In this issue we focus on the academic library agenda.

Planning for the future in these uncertain times is key to growing the library. Andrew Simpson from the University of Portsmouth  shares his thoughts on what university libraries can do to continue improving.

The ever increasing use of mobile smart devices is prompting yet more change in universities. The University of Northampton realised it needed to proactively embrace these changes and provide students with an native app and adapt their web services. MOOCs are currently a hot topic for universities. Prominent learning technologist Gerry McKiernan gives us an overview of MOOCs and strategies for promoting them in libraries.

The library management system must also adapt, whether for public or academic libraries. Capita’s Paula Keogh provides us with insight into were the LMS will go in the next few years. We also have an extract from Capita’s recent white paper ‘Protecting library services’, focussed on technology in public libraries.

Capita’s Additions Partners provide a wide range of solutions designed to improve the library service. In this issue we feature articles from Bibliotheca, 2CQR and 3M.

I hope you enjoy this issue, and as always, I encourage you to get in touch with your thoughts on any of the articles. If you have any topics you would like to share with the library world, I would be extremely pleased to hear them. Please contact me on

Strategies for Promoting Open Educational Resources for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

This  is an article from the recent Panlibus Magagine (issue 28) by Gerry McKiernan, Associate Professor and Science and Technology Librarian, Iowa State University Library. This includes all the links that we weren’t able to include in the print version.

As defined by Wikipedia, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is “… an online course aiming at large-scale participation and open access via the web”.

In late autumn 2012, the New York Times declared 2012 as the “Year of the MOOC”. Earlier, the MIT Review, claimed that they were “the most important education technology in 200 years”, and in a cover story, Time, characterized MOOCs as a major factor that was “reinventing college”. The MOOC phenomenon has also been covered by The Guardian and the Times Educational Supplement, among numerous other educational and news media.

In mid-March 2013, the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, hosted a two-day conference titled “MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge?“. Co-sponsored by OCLC® Research, the event included a session on Copyright, Licensing, Open Access and one on New Opportunities for Librarians: What Happens When You Go Behind the Lines in a MOOC?

Participants in the former session members discussed “the challenges for licensing and clearing copyright for materials” used in MOOCs, and explored the potential “opportunities for advancing the conversation on open access with faculty,” while members of the latter reported and speculated on the roles of libraries and librarians in the MOOC environment. Among those noted were: serving as an advocate for different resource licensing models, identifying and organizing public domain images, as well as encouraging Open Access publishing, and the use of institutional repository content, among other initiatives

Compared to discussion of copyright and licensing negotiations and fair use of proprietary content, however, consideration of Open Educational Resources and their use in MOOCs was not as extensive and implementation strategies were not discussed in detail.

To become more engaged in Massive Open Online Courses and Open Educational Resources, librarians should become more knowledgeable about each.

Open Educational Resources

Professional Development

Librarians can begin to become more knowledgeable about OERs by reading major reviews and white papers such as the Guide on the Use of Open Educational Resources in K-12 and Postsecondary Education, Open Educational Resources as Learning Materials: Prospects and Strategies for University Libraries, and The Roles of Libraries and Information Professionals In Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiatives. Librarians should also become knowledgeable about significant Open Resources projects and sites, as well as other significant work, through such site as the

Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, “to develop and use open educational resources, open textbooks, and open courseware to expand access to higher education and improve teaching and learning,” Jorum, a collaboratively-created database that provides access to thousands of OERs that can be searched or browsed; MERLOT, “ … a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy”; OER Commons that provides access to OER sources, training, and support; the Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN) whose site provides information about OER events, resources; and other services; the OpenCourseWare Consortium, “ … a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials for colleges and universities”; and the OpenOR Hub, a ‘hub for research data and OER excellence in practice.”

Librarians can also become knowledgeable about ORs by attending conferences, seminars, and workshops, either in-person or virtually. Of particular note are the OpenEd Conference held in the United States, the Open Educational Resources conference held in the United Kingdom and the World Open Educational Resources Congress held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.

A most appropriate opportunity to learn about OERs and massive Open Online Courses is to take the Locating, Creating, Licensing and Utilizing OERs (OER-101 MOOC, “an open, self-paced online community course that has been built to demonstrate how to find, adapt, and develop OERs step-by-step”).

Current Awareness

To remain informed about ongoing developments, librarians should read or subscribe to OER blogs, such as the Open Resources: Influence on Learning & Educators (ORIOLE), and the OER blogs of the University of Bath and the University of Leeds.

Librarians should also consider subscribing to appropriate electronic discussion lists, such as the Library 2.0 Open Educational Resources group; the IL-OERS listserv, the electronic discussion list of the Information Literacy Group and Community Services Group; and the OPENED@JISCMAIL.AC.UK mailing list.

Librarians should also consider following relevant ongoing OER developments via Twitter hashtags (e.g., #oer, #opened, #ukoer).


To increase an understanding of OERs within their communities, librarians should actively become involved in promoting each.

Librarians can promote awareness of Open Resources in general by preparing appropriate guides as have the Houston Community College, Renton Technical College, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Librarians can further promote OERs among their colleagues by engaging in relevant research and scholarship such as Open Education and Libraries, Reaching the Heart of the University: Libraries and the Future of OER, and What Do Academic Libraries Have To Do With Open Educational Resources?


Professional Development

Librarians can begin to become more knowledgeable about MOOCs by reading major reviews and white papers, such as MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses, MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education, and MOOCs Are On The Move: A Snapshot of the Rapid Growth of MOOCs.

Librarians should explore the offerings of MOOC providers by searching or browsing the contents of a variety of directories, for example Class Central; the MOOC List and

They should schedule time to take a MOOC individually or as a library group. An ideal MOOC may be the MOOC MOOC (http://www. ), a MOOC intended as an “examination of the MOOC phenomenon.”

Librarians should attend conferences, seminars, and webinars, in person or virtually. Notable recent events include Digital Literacies Conference 2013: The Online Leaner and MOOCs held at the University of Southampton (UK), Leveraging Innovations in Online Education to Improve Cost Effectiveness and Increase Quality, and Understanding the Implications of Open Education: MOOCs and More, the SPARC-ACRL Forum to be held during the 2013 American Library Association Annual Conference,

Librarians should also review available recordings or slides such as Embracing OER & MOOCs to Transform Education…, Massive Open Online Courses as Drivers for Change and MOOCs & Librarians. Of particular note is the 2013 ELI Online Spring Focus Session: Learn and MOOCs a two-day program held in early April 2013 that addressed several major issues relating to MOOCs, notably their accreditation; design and implementation; faculty perspectives; student demographics and motivation; and their potential benefits to a campus.

Current Awareness

To remain informed about MOOC developments, librarians should subscribe or regularly visit websites that offer significant news, such as the Alt Ed, a blog “devoted to documenting significant initiatives relating to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), digital badges, and similar alternative educational projects,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, EDUCAUSE, and MOOC News and Reviews, “ … an online publication devoted to thoughtful critique of individual MOOC courses and to discussion of the evolving MOOC landscape.”

Librarians should consider subscribing to the EDUCAUSE Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Constituent Group Listserv, and join the Linkedin MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses group ( ) and the Facebook MOOC group (

Librarians should also consider following relevant ongoing MOOC developments via Twitter hashtags (e.g., #moocs, #onlinelearning, #coursera)


Librarians can promote MOOCs by compiling library guides about this learning environment, such as Nova Eastern University, University of California, San Diego, Washtenwa Community College.

Librarians can further promote MOOCs among their colleagues by engaging in relevant research and scholarship such as Are You MOOC-ing Yet? A Review for Academic Libraries, Run aMOOC?, Using Information Expertise to Enhance Massive Open Online Courses, and The MOOC and the Library: How Massive Online Only Courses Could Change the Future of Library Instruction.


While Open Educational Resources are among the most well-known of Open Resources, there are others that should also be investigated and considered for integration within the MOOC environment, namely institutional and subject repositories, Open Data sources, Open Access dissertations and theses, Open Access journals and monographs, and Open Textbooks.

The latest issue of Panlibus Magazine is now online

The latest issue of Panlibus Magazine is available to read online today.image

Technology and libraries have always gone hand in hand and with the two becoming increasingly entwined, this issue offers an array of views and opinions from many prominent voices in the library technology community.

Brian Kelly from UKOLN (p6) notes that rapid technological developments, combined with the financial crisis, will transform the nature of the services provided. Brian gives his technological predictions for 2012 and describes approaches for planning for the future. Peter Kilbourn of Book Industry Communication (p4) believes that technology can be used to protect the best of the library tradition and exploit the existing network of buildings, but in a way that doesn’t put pressure on rapidly dwindling funds.

The emergence of mainstream cloud computing over the last couple of years has prompted libraries to ask how this will affect them and what benefits it will bring. Erik Mitchell, a prominent figure in the world of cloud computing in libraries, discusses its impact and offers some guidance on balancing the issues and implications when evaluating cloud for libraries (p14). We also take a look at some of the practical applications of cloud in use in libraries currently (p8).

Capita’s Additions Partners provide a wide range of technology designed to improve your library service. In this issue we have articles from 3M, introducing SIP 3.0; Edinburgh libraries and Solus, outlining how they together achieved significant growth for the virtual library; and PSP Security Protection, introducing themselves to the Panlibus readers.

Subscribe to receive your own hard-copy or online version.


Thank you to all who filled out our recent survey. The answers have all now been collated and are being analysed. One of the things that has come out so far is introducing a ‘letters to the editor’ page which I am very keen to introduce. If you would like to send a letter for publication please email me at

Finally, the winner of the survey prize draw is Helen Standish from Manchester Metropolitan University, who takes home a Kindle. Congratulation to Helen.

Mark Travis, Editor, Panlibus Magazine

British Library 2020 Vision – A Podcast Round Table with Dame Lynne Brindley

2020cover Back in September 2010 the British Library unveiled their their thinking about priorities and aspirations for the next decade – 2020 Vision [pdf].

As the associated area of the BL web site explains:

2020 Vision is our 10-year vision, following 12 months of extensive and wide-ranging research and consultation. In today’s climate of significant technological change, it highlights what are likely to be the key trends and opportunities over the next decade, and indicates how we will develop as an organisation to increase access to the world’s knowledge base for our users.

As a major [inter-]national library and significant planet in the solar system of UK culture and heritage the BL, and it’s vision for the future and subsequent shorter-term strategy is of wide interest and relevance – not least to those working within the academic and public library communities.

Dame Lynne Brindley In today’s conversation I bring together British Library Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, Head of Strategy and Planning at the BL, Lucie Burgess, with Ayub Khan, Head of Libraries – Strategy for Warwickshire Library & Information Service, and Library Consultant Owen Stephens.

In this fascinating conversation we hear how the BL went about the process of forming and publishing their Vision, the need for it, and how it will influence their direction over the next few years.  Owen & Ayub reflect upon what it may, or may not, mean for UK libraries for academic and public libraries and share with us their marks out of ten for the vision.

The 2020 Vision Site is also worth a visit to scan through some of the background and to view the research that underpins the vision:


PPRG Conference – Technology and Customer Data

5168535217_7d7cef332b_mLast Saturday morning I had the pleasure of presenting at this year’s CILIP PPRG Conference being held in the Lake District overlooking Lake Windermere. The conference theme for this year was Marketing Gold — promoting libraries using data & web technologies.

So on the final morning of the conference I gave my presentation on using technology to get the most out of your data. I discussed the use of data and database marketing in an integrated marketing strategy, and provided live demos on some of the technology we use at Talis, and how that could be beneficial for libraries to adopt. The technology that seemed to catch the eye was our email client, VerticalResponse, and how it can be used to track users’ email consumption habits.

During the other sessions, it was great to see what libraries are doing already with their data to model users/potential users and provide a marketing strategy tailored to them. Nick London from Nottinghamshire Libraries gave an extremely useful presentation discussing (amongst other things) the Mosaic geodemographic data that they have been using to profile users and feed into marketing strategy. Both Nick and I showed the VizLib Project that Leicestershire Libraries have been working on – visualising library authority usage data. Worth a look if you haven’t seen it already.

PPRG ConferenceOther technologies mentioned over the conference that you may find useful to aid your library marketing were Google Analytics, Wordle, Tweetdeck, and Facebook Insights.

As an aside, congratulations to both Durham University Library and Stirling Libraries on their PPRG Marketing Excellence awards announced at the conference.

Pictures courtesy of CILIP PPRG on Flickr.

Halfway to paradise

Almost halfway there, a research report authored by Holly Mercer from Texas A&M University, is an analysis of the behaviours, as opposed to the attitudes of academic librarians in relation to Open Access publishing. With the issue of Open Access, academic librarianship seems caught between the imperative of cost-saving, difficulties in effectuating change in the faculties and the need to provide a continuous service (not mentioned in this study, but an important factor in inhibiting the cancellation of journal titles or “making a stand with the publishing industry” over price rises).

With an emphasis on behaviour then, the research methodology avoids the survey approach, and instead conducts an analysis of literature published by the LIS community and indexed in the LISA abstracts database, rationalising that data in ways such as de-duplication and exclusion of non-academic librarian authors.

Early on in the report, the issue of Open Access is situated in a broader context of shifting roles and responsibilities in academic librarianship:

Bibliographers and reference librarians have become liaisons who provide expanded services to academic departments. Liaison-librarians often are responsible for discussing scholarly communication topics, such as the rising cost of scholarly journal subscriptions and open access alternatives, and are expected to advise authors to retain enough rights to their published work to use in the classroom, to share with colleagues, and to deposit in an institutional or subject repository.

Yet the report highlights significant levels of ambivalence around this new responsibility:

A 2009 study by Palmer et al. concluded librarians are generally quite supportive of scholarly communications programs including opening access to scholarship, but are nonetheless ambivalent or unsure how to discuss these topics with faculty at their institutions.

It may be that this lack of confidence is symptomatic of uncertainty across academia of the benefits of Open Access. The report discusses the low take-up of institutional repositories, and this reminded me of some qualitative research I carried out in 2008, in which a Russell Group university psychology researcher told me that the benefits of simply dumping [sic] a paper into a repository hadn’t been made clear to him. The problem goes beyond poorly rolled out repositories. It remains the case, for example, that the “certification process” (i.e. quality review) of a published article sits with the journal rather than the repository.

One of the strengths of this report is its constructive criticism of institutional repositories. Dorothea Salo is quoted as making the following very strong statement:

Repository software serves observed and stated faculty needs surrounding content creation and dissemination hardly at all.

And the report goes on to say:

The University of Rochester library investigated the discrepancy between the stated benefits of institutional repositories and the desires of faculty and found that most want to work with colleagues, as well as organise and manage their research and writing. IRs only minimally cater to these goals.

Back to the advocacy issue, a particularly valuable recommendation made in the body of this report is that if academic librarians were practitioners of open access publishing, they would find it considerably easier to evangelise to academics:

Academic librarians believe the profession should advocate for OA but few said they were supporting OA by taking action individually, such as self-archiving or amending agreements.

So the report suggests that the full power of evangelism is only released when you practise what you preach. And for this point alone, the report is valuable. Practise what you preach, and provide tools to help the congregation to follow suit. But if neither the academic librarian nor the academic in the faculty is adopting open access en masse, then there may be deeper problems not dealt with in this otherwise excellent report. So the report does provide a rare analysis of librarian behaviours around Open Access, but ultimately fails to dig down into the reasons behind the behaviours described. We need to look beyond the report, not necessarily for attitudinal factors, but for more cultural, political and economic reasons behind this resistance to change.

The Glasgow School of Art talks with Talis

In this podcast, Sarah Bartlett talks with librarians from The Glasgow School of Art, recipients of the 2010 Times Higher Education Outstanding Library Team award. Catherine Nicholson, Head of Learning Resources, together with Duncan Chappell and David Buri, Academic Liaison Librarians, discuss the reasons behind the library’s success. We discuss the strengths of small teams and organisations in terms of agility and innovation.  Given that the library is serving a very narrow range of subjects (it supports three schools – Fine Art, Design and Architecture), it’s interesting to characterise the institution’s students. We hear about the strong visual orientation of students at The Glasgow School of Art, presenting the library with interesting challenges, and the development of InfosmART, a home-grown application which takes students through a series of online interactive modules to develop information literacy skills, a crucial source of support to a student body of which 11% are declared dyslexics. Small agile organisations are increasingly associated with technological innovation and the library is making use of diverse platforms such as flickr and to remodel its service delivery, and we also talk about enterprise-level systems and the library’s plans to integrate with the VLE and the student registry system. At a time of looming spending cuts, it’s heartening to hear that resource constraints have directly led the library into a number of interesting service enhancements such as virtual enquiry desks. At The Glasgow School of Art, the library team believes overwhelmingly in the importance of personalised services, and values the opportunity that today’s technologies offer in terms of no-cost experimentation, coupled with the immediate informal feedback mechanisms of an institution with only 1,900 students.

Futures thinking for academic librarians

ACRL, I am starting to feel a little bit spoilt. Having only recently praised a recent report of yours, 2010 top ten trends in academic libraries, I am once again blogging effusively about your output. This time it’s Futures thinking for academic librarians: Higher Education in 2025, and it’s very very good – well worth a read. So thank-you very much for another contribution to our collective understanding of the current climate and the options open to us.

The shape of things to come

The authors aren’t claiming to be able to see into the future – they’ve just worked to a sound methodology (as per the top ten trends) which basically consists of a thorough environment scan in the library domain and beyond, accompanied by a small survey to capture the librarian imagination. Imagination seems to be a key ingredient in this study, and that’s refreshing, and shouldn’t be problematic as long as it’s underpinned by methodological rigour, which it seems to be.

But it’s not just an academic exercise. This is fundamentally about giving decision-makers in academic libraries some pointers to help them face the challenges of today and tomorrow. The report backs up this approach with a great quotation from anthropologist Margaret Mead:

I use the term ‘open-ended’ to suggest that our future is neither predetermined nor predictable: it is, rather, something which lies in our own hands, to be shaped and moulded by the choices we make in the present time.

So what are the findings of this report?

The report has identified 26 possible scenarios for academic libraries in the year 2025, the distant horizon being justified by a need to see beyond our current woes. It impressively handles very up-to-date ideas on higher education and ponders their potential impact on academic libraries, and this adds to the value of the report. Then each scenario is positioned on a quadrant that plots impact against probability.

What I’ve done is to group what in my view were the most interesting scenarios into a number of headings, so here goes:

The future size and shape of universities

Pop-up campus – Physical campuses all but disappear with the explosive growth of online learning. Spaces pop up intermittently as needed. Probability: Medium. Impact: High.

This class brought to you by – For profit institutions lead the way with disaggregated offerings enabling students to pick best of breed. Probability – High. Impact – High.

The future student

A college degree for every citizen – a scenario that higher education becomes more popular and valued across society almost to the point of being a universal entitlement. Probability: Medium. Impact: High.

Everyone is a non-traditional student – Students blend studies with the rest of their lives, unable to fund full-time education. Personalised learning becomes the norm as students design their own learning outcomes, and are assessed on demonstrations of learning rather than “seat time”. Probability: Medium. Impact: High.

Meet the new freshman class – The digital divide widens between socially privileged students fluent in digital media, and their less tech savvy counterparts. Probability – Medium. Impact – Medium.

The size and shape of academic libraries

Out of business – The academic library loses relevance in the face of direct provision of commercial information tools and services to students and academics. Probability: Medium. Impact: High.

Scholarly communications and learning resources

Breaking the textbook monopoly – A scenario in which publishers are mandated by law to make textbooks affordable. Meanwhile academics have embraced open educational resources, and are sharing materials online. Probability: Medium. Impact: Medium.

Bridging the scholar / practitioner divide – Open Access and open peer review have become the norm for many field, facilitating agile community-based dialogue. Probability: High. Impact – High.

Academic niche networking – Near breakdown of traditional academic departments, under pressure by online networks and inter-disciplinary drivers. Probability: Low. Impact: High.

Renaissance redux – The walls of the ivory tower come tumbling down, and academics engage freely with society around knowledge problems. Probability: Medium. Impact: High.

Scholarship stultifies – Standard dissemination channels such as university presses implode, but academics continue to be rewarded for conventionally published research. Probability: High. Impact: High.

Pedagogical shifts

No need to search – Authority data is automatically inserted into our content; students are freed up from the need for information skills and can focus on synthesis, analysis and interpretation. Probability:  Medium. Impact: High.

Right here with me – Widespread use of mobile devices with location-based services transforms acquisition of learning materials, and interactions between students. Probability – High. Impact – High.

Think U – Forms of knowledge favour the graphic, schematic and visual. Psycho-emotional attributes are favoured over written communication. Probability: Low. Impact: High.

Woven learning – Learning is underpinned by interwoven subjects and multiple intelligences, and is more experience-based. Probability – Low. Impact – Medium.

The SCONUL Shared Services Study – 3

In the final post of this series, I discuss the Electronic Resource Management (ERM) element of the SCONUL Shared Services Report. Electronic resource licensing and management is identified early in the report as one of the three domains for proposed shared services. For fairly obvious reasons, ERM is a high priority operational area for academic libraries. With electronic content licences identified as one of the four areas of cost under consideration, ERM is explicitly identified as the focus of the shared service initiative:

“The core shared service will be centred on ‘e-resource lifecycle and access management’ encompassing e-journals, e-books, abstracts and other digital content.”

And this is the clearest passage in terms of establishing the scope of ERM within this initiative:

In the target scenario, a shared ERM service will be used by the service provider and customer institutions to keep track of electronic information resources, supporting acquisition and management of licensed e-resources. This will include resources licensed at a UK level where all students and staff in the UK can access them, resources with a UK framework agreement where any UK institution can obtain discounted access for its staff and students with standard licenses. The system will handle the metadata for resources and machine-readable versions of all licence agreements. The ERM system will include usage statistics related to the electronic resources.

Can ERM be centralised?

This is surely the fundamental question here. The report claims that 90% of respondents either agree or strongly agree that much ERM work is repeated unnecessarily across institutions, and I see no reason to dispute that. The report somewhat boldly asserts ERM is a function that is no longer needed locally, and refers to a “community source platform”. It seems unclear to me what a community source platform is exactly. In the States around 2008 there was a ground-up initiative started at the University of Florida called Library Okra. Although sadly defunct, it argued cogently for a community-based ERM approach along the lines of cooperative cataloguing, where, say, the relationships between a journal title and a package would only have to be entered once, as would the core clauses of a licence. If this is what the authors mean by a “community source platform”, then I applaud it unreservedly.

The fundamental ERM problem

I’ve touched upon the fundamental ERM problem there, namely the disparity between the resource acquired by the library (e.g. a journal package) and the resource that is the focus of the user’s attention (e.g. the journal title or the article). By adopting a “cooperative cataloguing” approach, we solve one part of the problem and ensure that it’s always updated in a timely fashion, but part of the reason why the first generation of ERM systems has failed to deliver on expectation is that this is also a design problem. So, for example, an academic complains that s/he is no longer able to access an important e-journal. As the e-resource librarian investigates, the journal title needs to be mapped to commercial constructs such as the package right across the e-resource lifecycle in the system. The library management system has never had to handle this complexity.

Think local

Has the report had demonstrated sufficient sensitivity to local information resource needs? The report proposes:

Guarantee equality of access to electronic resources for students and researchers across institutions, potentially including colleges delivering such as Foundation Degrees.

I therefore wonder how much local flexibility will remain in place. It reminds me a bit of the whole supplier selection issue in public libraries – a risk of disintermediating the close relationship that currently exists between academics and liaison librarians in this instance, helping to ensure responsiveness to academic needs. The packaging of journals and national deals already compromise this. One of the most important takeaways from last month’s UKSG conference was the growing resentment of libraries towards National Deals as the need to manage costs means increased attention at the level of individual titles.

Can the authors of the report guarantee that local responsiveness will remain in place? Is there a risk that academics will simply take matters into their own hands and effectively disintermediate the library in order to get access to what they need? And if some vestige of local control is retained, we need to bear in mind that currently the management of locally procured materials alongside the national deals is yet another significant problem in ERM.

On the other hand, the enhanced aggregated usage statistics that the report proposes does offer the possibility of improved decision-making in acquisitions.

National level licensing

On licensing, the report states that

88% of respondents either agreed or agreed strongly that ERM linked to licensing at a national level would be liberating.

I agree that we should be questioning the need for local divergence in licensing terms; ERM would be greatly simplified with standard licences. Even if there remained some localised needs, a cooperative approach to licensing would ensure that e-resource librarians would only have to input those localised clauses. A system that could be readily queried for licensing terms of individual journal titles would be a great step forward, although the problem remains of the disparity between the commercial entity and the individual title.

Melting Pot

Overall, in terms of the ERM-specific proposals, I fear that the Shared Services report is conflating the need to eliminate duplication of back-office effort with ongoing acute problems in the ERM sphere, and that the scope creep which I alluded to in my first blog will be particularly problematic with this area of the initiative.