Meeting the E-Resources Challenge

A report by OCLC discussing effective management, access and delivery of electronic collections.


Bridging the gap

The extent to which environmental forces have been reshaping the information landscape over the last few years can’t be overstated. Global connectivity, cloud computing, social networking, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)—to name a few—are redefining what it means to be a teacher, a student, a scholar, a business person, a classroom, a library. And at the heart of this restructuring is the expanding amount of digital information—including the e-resources to which information seekers want, need and demand instant access.

Librarians have been evolving their methods and approaches to managing the increasing range and number of electronic collections. But much of the technology that has been developed to support this evolution is locally deployed, and involves multiple systems that each support only a single aspect of managing electronic resources.

The result is a complex and siloed set of hardware and software built on closed systems. In addition, the variations of data licensing and the limitations in system capabilities have forced librarians to develop a number of workarounds to manage their electronic resources that can be labor intensive and costly.

We know this. We have known it for a while. Yet a massive 94% of librarians still rely on nothing more sophisticated than spreadsheets to manage electronic collections, which in some cases represent 80% of their collections budget. The many surveys of librarians’ needs in relation to e-resource management create a compelling general case for change, but often fail to surface the detailed scenarios that are needed to inform the nature of that change.

In OCLC’s remit as a not-for-profit cooperative, much of our work is to generate insight, create impact and drive greater efficiencies for our members. We have worked with a number of librarians exploring the challenges that managing electronic resources presents, and are releasing this report not only as a means to extend these conversations across the community, but also as a means to help librarians find new ways to address these issues.

Three years ago, as part of our work in this area, OCLC convened the E-Resource Advisory Council, a group of library leaders from around the world, as a forum for more detailed explanation and discussion of specific challenges, and to guide OCLC’s support for e-resource management.

This report presents brief case studies of the experiences shared by the members of this group, and others, structured around key tasks in the e-resource management workflow: Select, Acquire, Describe, Discover, Access and Renew. The first part of this report illustrates the tasks that

Read the full report, free, by clicking here