Techniques for Electronic Resource Management: TERMS and the Transition to Open. By Jill Emery, Graham Stone, and Peter McCracken. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions, 2019. 232 p. $56.99 softcover (ISBN 978-0-8389-1904-0)

Electronic resources (e-resources) have become an integral part of libraries’ resources in many parts of the world and enable libraries to meet users’ needs whenever and wherever they are located. Open access (OA) resources similarly decrease financial and geographic barriers to using content. Libraries incorporate open resources into their collections to enhance or replace their subscribed content. As pressure mounts for authors and publishers to make content open, many libraries also support the creation and provision of OA materials. During unexpected disruptions, such as the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, these subscription-based and OA resources enable libraries to continue to meet their users’ needs as they cancel events, close physical locations, and support efforts to move courses and workplaces entirely online. Techniques for Electronic Resource Management: TERMS and the Transition to Open provides a thorough and sophisticated overview of the work that goes into supporting these types of resources.

The updated Terms for Electronic Resource Management (TERMS 2.0) project breaks e-resources management into six steps and their component parts. The steps have evolved since version 1.0. While people new to e-resources management can skip over the first chapter and delve into the actual content, others may find the comparison of the two versions interesting. OA has become a major theme in version 2.0. In addition to sections about how each step applies to straightforward e-resources and several ways some resources get more complex, each chapter includes a section that explains how that step applies to OA resources. The book itself is available as an OA document.1

E-resources continue to evolve, but much of the work in acquiring and supporting them remains steady. The crisp, tight summaries in this book overlap with the contents of other publications about e-resource management and about libraries’ roles as consumers and providers of OA content. Each chapter includes at least thirty citations to previous literature, providing ample connections to the wider literature on the topic. The authors synthesize that information to provide clear introductions to each topic.

The authors focus on efficiency. Throughout the book, they recommend creating workflows and templates and relying on standards to simplify processes and save time (16, 24, 45, 51). Other time-saving tips include recommendations to publicize license negotiation deal breakers on the institution’s website (38) and to document wherever possible (25, 27, 56–57, 143). Some chapters simply identify the current landscape while others, such as Chapter 2, include practical tips. The authors also note in that e-resources staff do not work in isolation. Other experts, such as people who work in the university’s procurement office, information technology groups, and disability support services offices can provide valuable advice and feedback (43–45 and 54–56). Working with those groups can ease the burden on the e-resource management staff and free up time for other tasks.

Additionally, the authors consider aspects of e-resources management work that may be omitted from other guides. The authors treat communicating what the library has in its collection as an integral part of managing e-resources and weave references to it into several steps. They do not see it as an extra responsibility, but as part of the every day work of managing e-resources and OA content (84). The authors also give brief, but serious attention to accessibility rather than treating it as something that is nice but secondary (22–23, 44, and 109). These small considerations make the book stand out.

While much of the content in this book is relevant to library employees at all types of libraries, the book is geared toward people working at academic libraries in research-intensive institutions in the United States or the United Kingdom. The authors, whose institutions reflect those settings, acknowledge their focus on those geographic areas but make brief mentions of other areas in comments that the Global South has been a leader in adopting OA (7) and a note that negotiations in some areas take place at the country- or region-level rather than at a specific institution (39). The narrow focus on library types makes sense given the authors’ backgrounds, but is not explicitly stated.

A few minor weaknesses do not detract from the book’s overall value. At least one figure is too small and difficult to read in grayscale but is not critical to the book. In Chapter 2, the authors also make an unsupported claim that interlibrary loan usage tends to be approximately one tenth of the usage of a subscription (17) even though existing studies show a range of relationships.2

While the authors explicitly identify library school students as part of their intended audience (9), the book’s primary value is for people who have experience with one aspect of librarianship and are taking on responsibility (or additional aspects of) e-resource management or OA support. The book presumes some background knowledge, including jargon, that may be unfamiliar to some. The division between the typical e-resource and complex exceptions will help new e-resources staff ease into their roles. The explicit connections between managing e-resources and supporting OA content also frame OA provision in an understandable way, though the variety of OA models that libraries and publishers are working out may still be difficult for inexperienced library staff members to fully grasp. The most valuable parts of the book are the chapters on licensing and troubleshooting. Many people approach both topics with some trepidation and developing a level of comfort in doing those tasks takes time and practice.—Erin Wentz (erin.wentz@mcphs.edu), MCPHS University


  1. Jill Emery, Graham Stone, and Peter McCracken. Techniques for Electronic Resource Management: TERMS and the Transition to Open (Chicago: ALA Editions, 2020), https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1305&context=ulib_fac.
  2. Mitchell Scott, “Predicting Use: COUNTER Usage Data Found to Be Predictive of ILL Use and ILL Use to be Predictive of COUNTER Use,” Faculty Creative and Scholarly Works (2016): 8, https://digitalcommons.snc.edu/faculty_staff_works/8/; Gail Perkins Barton, George E. Relyea, and Steven A. Knowlton, “Rethinking the Subscription Paradigm for Journals: Using Interlibrary Loan in Collection Development for Serials,” College & Research Libraries 79, no. 2 (2018): 279–90.


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