lrts: Vol. 57 Issue 2: p. 128
Book Review: Managing Electronic Resources: A LITA Guide
Norm Medeiros, Appleton Betsy

Betsy Appleton, George Mason University, Fairfax,

Managing Electronic Resources is exactly that: a guide to managing electronic resources in libraries. This guide is organized into eight chapters: two introductory chapters that briefly describe the e-resources lifecycle and the current environment in which electronic resources librarians find themselves; four chapters that describe in greater detail the particular components of the e-resources lifecycle; and two concluding chapters on the state of e-resource management staffing with a look ahead to what role e-resources management will play in the library of the not-so-distant future.

The first chapter opens with a broad overview of the e-resources life cycle, which ranges from evaluation through acquisition, and addresses accessibility, maintenance, and assessment. This chapter also provides some basic tips for new electronic resources librarians who are interested in both better organization of their daily tasks and furthering their professional development and career in e-resources. The introduction to the concepts of managing e-resources continues in chapter 2, in which the changing and challenging environment of collections is reviewed. A “more with less” approach is taken, which offers several options for providing access to prohibitively expensive resources, including interlibrary loan, pay-per-view, and patron-driven acquisitions. This chapter also contains suggestions to market e-resources on a small (or nonexistent) budget, and reviews open-source electronic resource management systems (ERMS). A review of commercial ERMS would have been a valuable addition to this chapter, but in keeping with the “more with less” approach, no commercial ERMS are reviewed.

Chapters 3–6 provide a more in-depth look at the management of e-resources. In chapter 3, the expanding role of acquisitions in the realm of e-resources is examined. Particular attention is paid to the documentation of e-resource acquisitions because the responsibilities of acquisitions staff expand with electronic resources in contrast to print. Chapter 4 is a well-organized introduction to license negotiation, identifying and explicating key points in contract and copyright law for which familiarity is essential to the work of e-resources librarians. The chapter provides a detailed description of the basic components of a typical e-resource license, with tips and tricks to manage the negotiation and license execution process. Chapter 5 provides a seemingly exhaustive overview of the various ways libraries make e-resources accessible to their users, plus summaries of current and emerging authentication mechanisms, access points, troubleshooting, maintenance, and user experience considerations. Chapter 6 examines all aspects of usage statistics, from gathering data to analyzing and reporting statistical information about e-resources to stakeholders. Predictably, COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources) compliant usage data considerations garner the bulk of the chapter. Portions of this chapter that address COUNTER Code of Practice Release 3 are slightly out of date since Managing Electronic Resources was published just ahead of Release 4 of the COUNTER Code. However, the underlying practices to organize and manage the data as described in this chapter continue to be relevant. The sections that examine creating meaningful statistics and effectively interpreting these statistics also are valuable.

Chapter 7 provides a welcome discussion of staffing levels to support e-resources management in light of the rising workload of e-resources librarians. This chapter provides a summary of the “soft” skills an e-resources librarian must cultivate, and ways to manage up, down, and across an organization to ensure that e-resources needs are adequately met. Anyone with an interest in team-building or learning to coach colleagues will find valuable techniques in this chapter; the management theories of appreciative inquiry, basic social styles, and backcasting are briefly summarized. In the final chapter, predictions regarding the near future of electronic resources are considered. These predictions are rather bold; many have been the unrealized predictions for the library of the future. However, the chapter provides some convincing arguments, such as predicting e-books will become the preferred format for book users, and that some libraries will cease purchasing print content altogether. The future of libraries will need to adapt to the ever-increasing ubiquity of e-content, and this future will affect far more than electronic resources librarians. This chapter predicts changes that will occur in all library divisions, including technical services, public services, and special collections.

Managing Electronic Resources is very well organized and provides clear, relevant examples of techniques to manage electronic resources that can be applied in academic, public, and special libraries. The editor and contributors are careful to discuss techniques, best practices, and types of available tools without endorsing or delving too deeply into the nuances of specific systems used to manage e-resources—a wise decision considering the pace at which the e-resource landscape evolves. Writing a guide to managing e-resources that will remain relevant for longer than six weeks after publication is no easy feat; distinguishing underlying theories from coping mechanisms can be complicated. Weir and the contributing chapter authors have managed to do just this. The examples used in this guide and the practices they illustrate form a solid e-resource management text whose value will persist for years to come.

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