Reengineering the Library: Issues in Electronic Resources Management. Edited by George Stachokas, Chicago: ALA Editions, 2018. 320 p. $79.00 softcover (ISBN 978-0-8389-1621-6)

Over the last ten years electronic resources (e-resources) have exploded, becoming a larger and more substantial part of library collections. As Stachokas writes in the introduction, “Libraries are reengineering in terms of their professional skills, organizational structures, collections, systems, tools and assessment in order to provide users with a greater number and more types of electronic resources” (xi). This reengineering is vital as processes used for purchasing and preparing print and other physical materials for use are no longer adequate to handle the increased volume of e-resources acquired by libraries. Reengineering the Library is written for academic library practitioners, and there are several chapters that will be of particular interest to those new to the field of electronic resource management.

Stachokas brings together nineteen additional e-resource practitioners to describe the varied work required to manage e-resources. The majority of the fifteen chapters covers essential topics such as licensing, the e-resource lifecycle, working with vendors on cost, managing discovery services, troubleshooting, and collecting analytics for assessment. There are also chapters discussing communication between technical and public service departments, reorganizing departments, and training staff. While organization of the book could have been streamlined by dividing it into sections and keeping similar topics together, this should not be a deterrent to using the book as a reference source by reading chapters of interest.

For those new to the field of e-resource management, the second chapter by Moore, “‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ Managing Electronic Resources across the Institution,” is an excellent introduction to the work of an e-resources professional. Moore clearly defines and describes the e-resource lifecycle, what to expect when working as an e-resource librarian or professional, and issues that are “beyond the life cycle” (25) but also need to be considered. They will also find chapter 3, “Managing Knowledge Bases and Electronic Resources Metadata,” of interest. In this chapter, Guajardo discusses the different kinds of tools that may be needed to maintain a library’s collection. He also gives a thorough explanation of why one e-resource management (ERM) tool may not fulfill all the needs for a library’s collection throughout the e-resource lifecycle. Guajardo explains in some detail how the University of Houston established a combination of commercial, homegrown, and open source ERMs to meet their needs. He follows this with examples from other libraries and information on managing metadata in various circumstances.

The chapters on cost containment, assessing e-resources, and licensing should be of interest to a wider audience. The cost containment chapter provides an in-depth look at how the 2008 recession affected library budgets and how different libraries dealt with reduced budgets and the need to cut e-resources. The author includes a history of the “Big Deal” that was popular, along with some of the current thoughts on the relevancy of the “Big Deal” in today’s library and a brief look at the current trend of patron- or demand-driven acquisition (PDA or DDA). While the information in this chapter is useful, it would have been improved with more examples and suggestions for negotiating and reducing costs beyond maintaining good relationships with e-resource vendors. The chapter on current trends in e-resource licensing gives an overview of areas covered by licenses that libraries can and should be negotiating to be included. This includes services that are of interest to users (data/text mining) to technical requirements (accessibility) to future-proofing purchased content (digital preservation). Duggan includes suggested language for each area from the “Liblicense Model License Agreement” and also suggests other sources of sample language. In his chapter on collecting analytics and using them to assess various packages, Timms goes beyond the very common cost-per-use statistic. He gives suggestions on other statistics that can be used in addition to the cost-per-use, such as cost-per-content unit and ratio statistics, and several examples on how cost-per-use can be misleading. In addition to collecting statistics and presenting them, Timms thoroughly discusses the different aspects that a library needs to consider in determining if an e-resource meets the needs of its users.

The many case studies discussing various e-resource management methods and tools will introduce readers to the different tools available. One case study details the customization of Idaho State University Library’s adoption and customization of their instance of EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), AZ list, and link resolver. The description of the migration and considerations involved in customizing a discovery layer will be useful for anyone installing EDS. Those not using EDS will still glean useful ideas to check on with their vendor. This chapter and the other case studies covering ProQuest’s Summon and Ex Libris’s Primo, along with the chapter on the differences between ERMs and the next-generation integrated library management (ILM) software, will be of assistance to any library that is considering different set-ups for ERMs, migrating to an ILM, or considering a new discovery service.

In addition to the day-to-day work covered by many of the chapters in Reengineering the Library, there are several chapters that are broader in scope and would be useful for anyone managing an e-resources unit or department containing one or more e-resource professionals. Topics covered include the North America Serials Interest Group’s (NASIG) “Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians,” reorganizing technical services and e-resources units, troubleshooting training for staff, and communication between technical and public services staff. NASIG’s core competencies are referenced in several of the chapters and, for those unfamiliar with them, Sutton’s chapter provides a good introduction that includes why the competencies are important and different ways that libraries are using them. The differences in purchasing e-resources have pushed libraries to reorganize their technical services units and the chapters included describe very different models and provide information on a variety of models that can be considered. The chapters on interdepartmental communication and troubleshooting training are both excellent case studies that have solutions that can be replicated in part or whole by other libraries facing the same challenges.

Overall, Reengineering the Library is timely in both subject and scope. The multitude of subjects covered does mean that despite a few chapters where more examples and ideas would have been appropriate, there is more than enough content that is useful. Even with the cost containment chapter where the suggestion was to maintain a good relationship with a library’s vendors, the author included several strategies for keeping or creating a positive relationship. In fact, this title would be particularly valuable as part of a departmental reference collection as the wide variety of chapters have different audiences. One of this book’s strengths is that it can be used by new or current practitioners, plus anyone managing a department that includes e-resources professionals. The disadvantage is that a single individual may not find that every chapter meets their needs. Finally, despite the minor issues of how the book is organized, it can easily be used as a reference book by reading just a chapter or two as needed.—Lynn E. Gates (lgates@uccs.edu), University of Colorado Colorado Springs


  1. LIBLICENSE Project, “Liblicense Model License Agreement with Commentary,” Center for Research Libraries, 2014, http://liblicense.crl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/modellicensenew2014revmay2015.pdf.
  2. NASIG Core Competencies Task Force, “Core Competencies for Electronic Resource Librarians,” NASIG, 2013, www.nasig.org/site_page.cfm?pk_association_webpage_menu=310&pk_association_webpage=7802.


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