Overview of ERM: How do these librarians do it?!

Even though I was quite aware of the necessity for librarians to be charged with electronic resource management responsibilities, the lit review by Emery and Stone and the white paper from the Association of College and Research Libraries made me feel like I was entering into a very abstract field of study. I can’t say I really understood what these kinds of librarians actually do, especially as I tried to learn the jargon and acronyms. Weir’s descriptions of the processes and Galadriel Chilton’s behind-the-scenes explanations (via our webchat) brought the “Overview” of ERM to a level where I felt like I finally understood. (I must have saved the best for last, right? Perhaps the Emery/Stone and ACRL articles would be more meaningful to me now and merit a second look!)

The e-resource life cycle seemed pretty transparent, probably because there are a lot of parallels to the selection/evaluation/curation life cycle of print resources. There are differences of course, especially in regards to negotiation and vendor interactions, but even the renewal process of an e-resource could be analogous to the weeding decision-making process of a book (keep it/sell it/toss it/replace it). Adding the technological layer in ERM is definitely unique though: we don’t troubleshoot or teach patrons how to use books. Because they have to work with tech and customer service, this is why the job description of an ERM librarian has become hybridized.

Some advice in regards to ERM from Galadriel Chilton of UConn Libraries:

  • Learn what you can about this growing field and position yourself. Start by monitoring ALA joblist for these kinds of jobs and try to develop the the skills they require. It’s okay if you don’t have them all, of course, but it’s a good start.
  • It is important for ERM librarians to interact with their users so that you know what they actually need and want from your resources.
  • ERM librarians need to have good relationships with publishers, vendors, etc. We depend on them–but they also depend on us to create a good product. We need to be vocal and tell them what we’d actually like to see from them.
  • Librarians often hesitate to negotiate. When making a licensing deal, a librarian should never sign without asking, “How much lower could it [the price] be?” She recommended this book on negotiation by Ashmore, Grogg and Weddle.