Recent Events

Evolving Tech Services to Manage and Deliver E-Resources

Candice Kail, Colleen Major, John Coogan, Li Fu

Candice Kail, Colleen Major, John Coogan, Li Fu


This session featured presentations by librarians from University of Maryland University College (UMUC) and Columbia University discussing changes in their services as a result of the introduction of discovery systems and other e-resource products. Li Fu and John Coogan from UMUC began by noting that the changes are wide-ranging and evolutionary, affecting many areas of the library. They are using EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), which they have branded as UMUC OneSearch. After they installed EDS, they went through every option in the administrative module and set up connections to as many additional vebdirs as possible (including JSTOR, ProQuest, and Lexis-Nexis). They also implemented subject searching for special areas of high concentration, put an EDS widget and links to help pages and tutorials on the library home page, and made EDS available to mobile users. In general, resources are embedded rather than simply linked to.

A UMUC digital repository has been established which has required additional processing of submitted files, cataloging (using Dublin Core), and securing author agreements.

Library users were formerly authenticated using a separate library ID.  In the future they will use their university ID to authenticate, but this has caused problems because if a problem arises it cannot be resolved at the library; the user must resolve it at the university’s centralized help facility.

The reference staff is now receiving many technical questions such as “how do I…”, and in response has developed technical support pages on its website to help students deal with browser problems, firewall issues, and procedures such as “How to download an e-book”.  Systems librarians monitor e-mails and respond to technical questions and vendor malfunction issues.

In the past, librarians had no idea what users were doing on their website; now thanks to Google Analytics for EDS, they have lots of data including search statements, what platforms and browser they are using, etc.  The librarians’ core values are unchanged, but their mindset and skill sets are evolving.  They must be able to adapt to new workflows.

Candice Kail and Colleen Major described the e-resources in use at Columbia University Libraries, which include Serials Solutions and ExLibris. Database pages and e-resource order forms have been developed locally.  An OpenURL results screen directs users to the catalog when a locally held item has been found by the discovery service; mobile users are redirected to vendors’ mobile interfaces.

Columbia has entered into a partnership with Cornell University, 2CUL, to pool resources and provide content, expertise, and services that are impossible to accomplish acting alone. Vendor platforms and services will be reviewed, and joint subscriptions will be obtained.  The challenge has been to determine which services should be included in the joint service.

Group decision making, though sometimes hard to resolve, frequently offers the best solutions to problems.  Some staff members have felt untrusted by the formation of group committeed, and they have had to be motivated to take advantage of the decisions made.  Theoretically the work can be divided, but distributed projects can be a challenge: some results have been very positive, others have been mixed. Some projects would have never been taken on without the advantages of the group.  E-resources are managed by multiple groups, which has been very challenging. When people move on to new jobs, maintaining continuity in the group can be a problem.

Wikis, email, and shared Google Docs have been used for communication.  Because this has not always been part of staff workflows, communication with other parts of the organization has had mixed success.  Determining what to communicate broadly has not been defined, so it has been done on an ad hoc basis.  There is a delicate balance between making staff feel entrusted and empowered with the responsibilities of group processes.


Comments are closed.