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Don’s Conference Notes- Camp ER&L 2022: A Very Unusual Conference

by | Mar 30, 2022 | 0 comments


By Donald T. Hawkins (Freelance Conference Blogger and Editor)

When the organizers of the 17th Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) Conference, Bonnie Tijerina, her sister Sandy, and Conference Planner Danielle Sell, began to plan the event scheduled for March 14-17 they wanted to do something different than just another virtual conference similar to what we have become used to since the COVID pandemic began. Besides traditional presentations, they wanted to provide opportunities for networking and relaxation, an Exhibit Hall, and live entertainment. So they structured the conference as a camp; presentation tracks became trails, conference bags became backpacks (“adventure packs”) containing snacks, and live music and games around the campfire in the evenings. When appropriate, birds could be heard singing in the background.

The PheedLoop platform managed the conference very well.

A virtual exhibit hall had over 100 stands for vendors, and dedicated times were provided for campers to visit them. Two types of sessions were available; live sessions addressing areas of large interest to the community, and pre-recorded on-demand sessions that could be viewed any time. Several short talks were available at various times. Virtual yoga sessions and time for meditations took place each morning. The camp experiment was very successful; 1,305 campers from all 50 states and 18 foreign countries registered. 

Opening Keynote

  • Library Values at Work
    Dr. Maria McCauley, Director of Libraries for the city of Cambridge; Public Library Association (PLA) President-Elect
    Maria noted that when her father died in a hospital, the staff made sure that they were upholding the hospital’s institutional values. Are we upholding our library’s values when we interact with users? Values can be supported in much of what libraries do in investing in the staff and community. Frequent internal communications are important. What can you do to help values alignment at your home institution?
  • Licensing Value Privacy Project
    Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Professor, Coordinator for Information Literacy Services & Instruction, University of Illinois
    This project emerged in 2018 from a discussion at the National Forum on Web Privacy and Web Analytics when model language to protect user privacy in licenses was developed.  Because our goals are usually modest, negotiations with vendors are generally easy. The onus is on libraries to be vigilant as vendor license terms may change at renewals, and some states’ outdated policies advocated by libraries may be challenging. Here are some common tactics:
    • Resist signing non-disclosure agreements,
    • Clarify which terms are being consented to and who can provide the consent,
    • Clarify when and how user data can be shared, and
    • Require notification in the event of a data breach.

From the perspective of library leaders, there are limits on how much they can leverage licensing language to advocate for user privacy.

  • Library Partnership Certification for Journal Publishers
    Rachel Caldwell, Scholarly Communication Librarian, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    This project studied how to determine library values such as equity, access, diversity, and preservation when working with journal publishers. Practices demonstrate values. Using a rubric, publishers were scored and compared. Even similar publishers can have different value scores. Possible uses for scores are internal discussions, contract negotiations, product reviews, privacy status reviewing, and training.
  • Evaluating the Accessibility of E-Resources with the Library Accessibility Alliance (LAA)
    Sara Belmont, Web Developer, William & Mary Libraries
    The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requires equal access to e-resources, equivalent experiences for all, and compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Online barriers may exist in the search interface and the content and can be created by both publishers and vendors. The LAA began in 2015 as an alliance of consortia and by 2022, it represented almost 100 U.S. libraries. It has a steering committee and 4 action committees that focus on testing, impact and analysis, training and professional development, and outreach. Evaluation of research is done by third party organizations. The challenges in this process are inaccessible content on publisher websites, lack of alternatives to sole-source resources, and lengthy times for website remediation. 
  • Ethical Financial Stewardship
    Katy DiVittorio and Lorelle Gianelli, Collections Strategies, Auraria Library
    This project began when the Auraria librarians learned that Thomson Reuters had a data analytics project, CLEAR, from which data was sold to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other law enforcement agencies. Thus, funds libraries paid for access to Thomson Reuters databases also supported surveillance. A test search of CLEAR found over 40 categories of data, some of which was incorrect, which caused the library staff to wonder what other practices vendors were conducting. So the library created a vendor ethics task force which contracted with an external organization to develop metrics to assess the vendors. Library vendors did not participate on the task force.

    Privacy policies of both vendors and parent companies were reviewed.  Most vendors’ policies allow the collection of more user data than necessary, share it with third parties, and retain it indefinitely.  Vendor ethics policies can be obtained from news articles and whether the vendor has been involved in any lawsuits. Many publishers have developed data analytic divisions that share information with many organizations, including law enforcement. Users must operate on the vendor’s platform without knowing how data about them are being shared. For example, in 2022, LexisNexis entered into a $22 million contract with ICE to access 37 million data records from its databases.  In the future, the library plans to share data from this project with stakeholders and sever ties with vendors when possible.
  • Mapping the Values-Driven License Agreement

Scarlet Galvan, Area Lead for Assessment and Planning and Collection Strategist Librarian, Grand Valley State University Libraries

Licensing articulates and defines many values and operations in libraries such as authentication, rights, access, discovery, and uses of content. How we define privacy and access and what happens to that data affects not only content but understanding many other implications of library operations. Collections are independent of systems that support them. What the library values and how it works are ultimately defined by the license. 

It is important for the legal department to approve all licensing terms. The library representative should contact them, determine the values, plan in cooperation with legal, and then test and implement the terms. Some lawyers allow libraries to manage their own contracts because of the quality of the relationship between them. Money is the metric that most easily translates to other areas of a campus. 

  • Doing the Diversity Work in Scholarly Communications – A quick look at the last 5 years

Charlotte Roh, Reference and Instruction Librarian, California State University San Marcos

The race and ethnicity of publishers is over 90% white or Caucasian1. Full time faculty members are 73% white or Caucasian, and higher education library professionals are 86% white or Caucasian.

When all the participants are predominately white, what does that mean for scholarly communication? The high proportion of white people is a problem across the entire publishing industry.

There has been a gender gap in the medical literature for many years. The scholarly production of women during COVID has declined, and the pandemic has emphasized inequities in our scholarly lives. Nursing is predominantly a female field, but 30% of first authors of nursing articles are men. 

We need to see ourselves as part of this problem because, according to an article in Peer Review Week, many publishers are looking to change; for example the American Geophysical Union (AGU) created an ethics and inclusion center after doing a study of a subset of their journals. 

Other recommended resources: 

Some journal publishers have recognized that they have made mistakes in their views of equity and diversity and have published apologies, which  is an encouraging sign and shows that we need both diversity training and inclusivity training.

How do we address access, diversity, inclusion, and equity?

The second day of the conference opened with the first big question: what does our ‘new normal’ look like? Are we doing enough to prioritize content accessibility and deliberately and thoughtfully shifting legacy practices in order to provide respectful and equitable metadata and authority control, and also how do we design or use tools, processes, and systems to include more voices? 

Gimme S’more: Perspectives of Vendors and Library Workers on Vendor Services

Erin Gallagher, Chair, Acquisitions and Collection Services, University of Florida, and Jonathan Harwell, Head, Content Curation, Rollins College, presented the results of a global survey of library-vendor partnerships. 

A Likert Scale was used to measure the survey results. Respondents from libraries were asked for their agreement or disagreement with 22 statements about their vendors. Vendor workers were asked what they thought their library partners viewed as important.  

Preliminary results from 336 respondents, 12% of whom were vendor workers, and 22% were from outside the U.S., were that the library-vendor relationship is not adversarial and that vendor workers do understand the priorities of library workers for vendor services. Librarians are practical and prioritize access and functionality over trustworthiness. They want services that work. Libraries must be diligent about the deals they make. The top “not a priority” response was “A library vendor must host group meals for customers during library conferences.”

The Evolving Consortia Landscape

Jill Grogg, Senior Strategist, Communities & Scholarly Communication Initiatives, LYRASIS; Maureen Clements, Collections Services Librarian, Mercy College; and Susanne Markgren, Assistant Director, Manhattan College noted that the consortia landscape is complex, and community building is critical to leverage group power and affect positive change. 

LYRASIS is a partnership of over 1,000 libraries, archives, and museums, mostly in the U.S., that emphasizes content licensing. It was formed by mergers of OCLC and other networks and is self-funding through membership fees and administrative costs. 

The U.S. consortia overlap is more complex than that in Europe because of varying laws in 50 states. Consortia can be thought of as buying clubs, but they have several other functions

LYRASIS’s newest partner is the Westchester Academic Library Directors Organization (WALDO) which began in the 1980s with 14 members and grew rapidly. A contract with a procurement organization to manage WALDO’s administrative services was obtained. Membership grew to almost 800 libraries doing $40 million in business annually, including some outside academia and the local area. WALDO had no executive director. Its focus shifted from the original resource sharing mission towards procurement. 

The 2008 recession hit WALDO libraries hard as libraries shrank, affecting WALDO’s governance and its ability to sustain committees and working groups. One result was that vendors tried to bypass consortia. In 2018, WALDO was victimized by a cyber scam in which the scammers impersonated a vendor, and which forced WALDO to reexamine its structure, finances, and future. 

Some Board members discovered ICOLC and met with ICOLC members at the 2019 Charleston Conference, which led to a meeting with LYRASIS and opened the way for a potential partnership and led to a one-year contract with LYRASIS in 2021. LYRASIS Learning memberships were offered to some WALDO members, and in January 2022, all procurement was moved to LYRASIS. Work is continuing to evaluate the partnership to benefit all parties in the future. Some of its benefits include containing costs, increasing efficiencies, and providing new opportunities to engage and collaborate with the larger library community. 

Lessons learned:

  • To affect change, get on the Board, which will provide leadership experience.
  • Ask questions, be curious, and don’t expect to know everything,
  • Re-evaluate your Bylaws, Board membership requirements, and mission for current times, and
  • Learn more about library consortia in general.

We can accomplish more together than alone and are stronger and better together.

How Libraries Can Thrive Today! Gaining Insight into the 2021 State of Academic Libraries Report

Katy Aronoff, Sr. Director and Solutions Architect, ProQuest – Ex Libris; Sandra Morden, Associate University Librarian, Queen’s University; Lisa Peet, Sr. News Editor, Library Journal; and Tracy Elliott, Dean, University Library, Florida Gulf Coast University, discussed the 2021 State of Academic Libraries Benchmark Survey, which was conducted by Library Journal in 6 different languages and received over 1,800 responses from 30 countries. The survey is the basis for the State of Academic Libraries Report and identifies key missions, perceived challenges, how the library is connected to its parent institution, and future issues the library may face. The increase of virtual and hybrid learning has proved that the support the library brings to its institution is more important than ever. Libraries must clearly prove their value to their institution’s leaders. Academic libraries are expected to provide a wider range of services and are required to get more done despite acquisitions’ budget limitations, staff shortages, and communication problems with faculty.

What does the new normal look like and does it work for us? What changes should we put in place to become more agile and adaptable today and in the future? We need to meet users where they are, which is increasingly online. Library staff need to broaden their skillsets. Communication is more important than ever. We now have an opportunity to address diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Libraries were equipped to go online quickly and were put in the spotlight. What do they look toward now to fulfill user needs and address staffing challenges? Recruiting and training of staff must continue. We must change the makeup of our profession and remove barriers to underrepresented minorities.

How Stuff Works: Unsub Solved! Best Practices for Optimizing Unsub to Evaluate and Unbundle Journal Packages

Skye Hardesty, Head, Collection Development and Discovery; and Tricia Clayton, Collection Assessment and Discovery Librarian, Georgia State University, said that Unsub is a product to evaluate and unbundle journal packages. It starts with data about a library’s collection preferences and creates forecasts to evaluate low-value titles as candidates for journal cancellations.  Most projects start with something like a reference interview, and that is the case with Unsub. Decisions made at the start will affect the contents of packages and the overall strategy in using Unsub.

Parameters have default settings based on Unsub’s research. The point of Unsub is to determine costs of subscribing to titles individually rather than in a Big Deal. Scenario Parameters inherit the Package details, with defaults based on Unsub’s research. 

Here are 3 considerations to be aware of when setting up packages and scenarios: 

  • Overall package setup separated by license agreement, subscribed journals and those with access only, or with access only titles omitted, 
  • How to handle bundles and pricing. Unfortunately Unsub does not provide any way to determine if a journal is part of a bundle. One solution to this is to create “mini packages” to ensure that every title is accounted for), and 
  • Usage data (12 months of it are needed, but it can be any 12 months).

It is important to document processes and decisions using meaningful names and to keep original inputs and export scenarios. Original files cannot be downloaded within Unsub, so it is necessary to compare vendor scenarios with title lists to make sure nothing is overlooked. 

Unsub creates 5 year forecasts of costs for use in journal retention or cancellation decisions. Run scenarios before it is time to negotiate with the publisher or vendor. Once a desirable scenario has been created, use it going forward, and if possible, update it during the negotiations, then rerun it with new terms and pricing before sending the final title list to the vendor.

Beyond the library wall: Using library skills to build a career outside of libraries

Heather Greer Klein, Samvera Community Manager, Samvera (an open source software company that provides digital repositories for libraries); and Kate Hill, Library Service Engineer, EBSCO Information Services, described paths to their current careers.

Kate worked in e-resources management for 8 years. She liked helping other libraries, training, and instruction, and took a library services engineering job at EBSCO, working on the back end of its EDS discovery system. 

Heather was a paraprofessional in a large academic library and after graduation worked as a librarian at a community college. Then she went to a statewide library resources consortium serving library staff rather than end users and became a services coordinator at an open source technology nonprofit, where she learned about open source community management. 

What skills from librarianship do you use every day? 

Kate: domain knowledge, open URLs, knowledge bases, the reference interview which is an excellent tool for troubleshooting, 

Heather: the intangibles of how libraries operate, ethics in libraries, differences between libraries and archives, skills learned in libraries. 

What challenges did you have moving out of traditional librarianship? 

Kate: The culture shift moving into the corporate world and being in a big organization where she was no longer being the expert. 

Heather: Nonprofits are much less stable than libraries, so budgets are more frequently affected by her work, working for a distant organization that pays the bills with roles broader in scope so there might not be a career ladder, and ambiguity in work with no real supervision.. Leadership changes can be a major disruption.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to go beyond the library walls? 

Kate: Network, know your vendors and volunteer to be on their user groups, etc., look at nontraditional job boards, list what you do in terms that are not library jargon, and don’t be afraid of jobs in the corporate or nonprofit worlds. 

Heather: Think about things you like and don’t like to do, and identify things you can grow into. Volunteers are very valued in membership groups, especially those who have consensus-building skills.

Faculty realized the library can help with course materials. Now what?

James Pape, Head, Access Services and Outreach, University of Mary Washington (UMW), found that there was little interest by the faculty in placing materials on reserve in the library, so from 2017 to 2020, he bought textbooks, used library liaisons to meet with the faculty and urge them to put books on reserve and use them in their classes, and worked with campus organizations. He worked with students to pressure the faculty to put materials in the library so that they could get access to expensive textbooks. The effort worked; by 2020, over 300 materials were placed on reserve, including books, videos, and even artifacts that were used in some courses. The students realized that the library was the first place to look for course materials, not the bookstore. 

When the pandemic came in 2020, the library closed, and they decided to digitize everything that they had on reserve, scanning more than 20,000 pages in the spring 2020 semester. An army of students helped with the project, but by spring 2021, they realized that they could not continue because of a lack of staff, so they scanned materials only directly related to courses or requested by the faculty. 

Much time was spent sending emails to faculty and students explaining why they needed to scale back and accommodate only urgent faculty requests in the future. The faculty came to realize that digitized materials were immediately available and on campus which, hopefully, will keep the faculty engaged with the library. 

They have resumed buying textbooks and are spending more than ever on both physical books and e-books.  On-campus events have resumed, and the reserve collection has moved to being more digital. They are digitizing tables of contents of all physical books so that students can request specific parts of books needed for courses rather than entire books, which keeps faculty engaged in helping to provide course materials to students and recognize that the library can still help them by being the place to go to get materials, not the bookstore.

Future plans include capitalizing on faculty relationships by using the liaisons, reengaging with the students and getting them to continue to pressure the faculty to put materials on reserve, reintroducing ExLibris’s Leganto course reading list system, and using controlled digital lending. 

Analytics of Value: Leveraging data to show library success

The Value of Academic Libraries report, issued in 2010, noted that academic libraries long enjoyed being the “heart of the university”, but they can no longer rely on their users’ belief in their importance, so must demonstrate their value.

Marianne Watson, Director, Resource Management & Discovery, Villanova University, described how Villanova is creating a culture of assessment by forming a new position:  Metrics and Assessment Librarian. A self-service approach to resource assessment data points (RAD) uses a FOLIO e-resources model that measures usage over time. A course materials list is generated and provided to the students so they do not have to buy course materials from the bookstore. It is hard to analyze data at a publisher level because of varying company names. More staff time is needed to manage data and make sure it is correct. They would like to show how the data fits into the institution’s strategic plan.

Carolyn Gauld, Manager, Discovery, University of Melbourne, noted that because the university has many divergent systems and large data sets, it is hard to get an overview of what people are doing and how they are using the collection to find resources. The Panorama system gives them the ability to display different data sets side by side to get a better view of the activity of their user population. They are now using OpenAthens, but because their user population is so large (up to 75,000), the system has difficulty processing the data to measure uses per patron by faculty members, what tools they are using, and what resources they are accessing. 

Michael Levine-Clark, Dean of Libraries, University of Denver said that the university has been an alpha and beta user of Panorama. Using a system that could pull data from multiple sources was intriguing, but it consumed lots of staff effort and time. The effect of library usage on student grade point averages (GPAs) was of particular interest; students with a high GPA used the library more.

Misguided Metrics: the case for context in journal evaluation

Pam Cipkowski, Collection Development Librarian and Katherine Fish, E-Resources and Acquisitions Librarian, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, discussed what happened when their collections budget was cut 20% (about $225,000) in Fall 2021 after being flat for more than 20 years. They realized that journal subscriptions and databases had to be cancelled, so they needed faculty input on their journal needs.  

The university has over 10,000 enrolled students and 595 faculty and staff and offers both undergraduate and doctoral programs. The library has a budget of $1.3million (not including salaries and benefits). All librarians participate in reference, instruction, and collection development.  In 2015, all print journal subscriptions were eliminated and replaced with a mixture of about 250 subscriptions to e-journals and packages costing $1.1 million. 

A multi-pronged approach to the budget cut was taken. 

One significant observation was that vendors were more willing to make concessions during the pandemic, so they were able to obtain flat or discounted subscription renewal rates. 

A journal survey to determine essential core journals for faculty and research needs was a major source of feedback from the faculty. They were asked to name 7 journals that they used regularly in teaching or research. 172 responses (28%) from 34 departments were received, and 690 journal titles were identified as core. Many expressions of thanks for the library’s efforts were also received.

The budget reduction was met; 81 journal subscriptions, 6 databases, and 1 journal package were canceled, (some of the individual titles in the package were subscribed to). All areas of the collection felt the impact; about half of the titles were in a package. 

It is important to consider all types of access. Not all clicks are equal, and use does not always mean usefulness. Context is key when considering a journal’s importance. Low usage does not always mean low value. A journal may have many access options beyond the library’s subscription: ILL, personal subscriptions, OA, or association memberships. Past research needs vs. current or future needs must be considered. A simple use metric provides an incomplete picture.

There are still many unanswered questions:

  • What would the 72% of non-respondents say?
  • How is the faculty defining “essential journals”? Sometimes they listed titles that are not actually being used but are still important to the discipline.
  • Is database access to a journal sufficient even though providers are always adding and dropping titles?
  • How important is perpetual access?
  • We cannot subscribe to every important title, so where do we draw the line?
  • Should newly published content be prioritized?
  • Some 200 titles mentioned on the survey were not subscribed to; should the library therefore obtain new subscriptions? 

Do data curators dream of electronic resources? Integrating licensed data sets into e-resource workflows

Kate Barron, Research Data Curator, and Sarah Forzetting, Associate Director, Acquisitions and Collections Services, Stanford University Libraries, noted that Stanford is a research-intensive institution where graduate students and postdoctorals outnumber undergraduates. The libraries have been acquiring research datasets for many years, and demand for them has increased dramatically in the last 5 years. The datasets are selected by bibliographers or subject specialists and then made discoverable in a variety of formats and on a variety of platforms. Licensed datasets are not special or unique when compared with workflows for other types of content, but the variety of formats cause special problems. A Data Workflows Task Force was created to examine these problems and found that datasets are not so unique, but they were not integrated into any existing library system for discovery and access, which resulted in confusion about who does what with them. The recommendations were to hire a research data curator and make the workflow as transparent as possible.

Acquisitions specialists formerly shepherded new e-resources through the process, but subject specialists are needed for datasets. However, they had difficulties working with them because:

  • Licensing decisions create barriers to system integration,
  • Standards do not yet exist for data sets,
  • Some vendors impose conditions that create barriers, especially when the license term expires, and
  • Other vendors limit the amount of data that can be shared with peer reviewers or published in journal articles. 

A data curator who is also an e-resource librarian in the workflow can help solve these problems. The curator handles evaluation and licensing of the datasets, overseeing metadata and MARC record creation and depositing the dataset in the university’s institutional repository. Positive results of the new workflow were realized.

Hitting Refresh: How two university libraries pivoted to a new Library Sources Platform (LSP) and what opportunities were identified in the process

The University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) migrated to EBSCO’s FOLIO platform in 2021. Panelists from each institution discussed their experiences in the migration.

Patrick Roth and Marcia Lee from GVSU said that they had multiple systems and were manually keeping data updated. They migrated because they wanted a single modern system that made sharing data and information easier. Migration presented opportunities in user services: fines were eliminated (they only work for people unable to pay them!), loan rules were reduced from 30 to 8, they worked towards updating records more frequently, and provided staff time to attend FOLIO interest group meetings. 

FOLIO is very flexible and permits librarians to monitor and share e-resources and acquisitions data among 3 major groups: collections team, liaisons, and user services. Moving forward, streamlined communication, revision of workflows, and usage consolidation will be implemented.

Heidi Busch and Hong Li from UTM migrated to FOLIO because they had been using their previous system for many years and needed to upgrade. Detailed preparation for a migration, cleaning the database, and adapting to new workflows was essential in bringing OCLC’s records into it. After the migration, ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting became necessary because any new system will result in challenges. Two new systems, OpenAthens and Panorama, were implemented. Training of the staff was also necessary. 

What Do We Publish and How Do We Know?

Susan Vandagriff, Scholarly Communications Librarian, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) asked how we know what faculty members publish and what is the research activity on the campus. These measures are useful in generating gains in funding, productivity, and impact, so it is useful to know what is being published. However, their data was difficult to work with because it contained duplicate, incomplete, and incorrect records2. Susan therefore searched on affiliations in Scopus and Web of Science, and data entered by the faculty in Watermark (formerly Digital Measures) from 2016 to 2020. Publications were matched using DOIs or titles.

The results of the searches were: 

Scopus 388

Web of Science 327 

Watermark alone 2160

Watermark total 3117 

Overlap in all 3 593. 

The results by subject varied in the amounts of overlap. Watermark dominated in the humanities, public affairs, and education. Journal articles made up the majority of records and the amount of overlap in all 3 databases; Scopus and Watermark had similar numbers and overlap; book chapters and books were greatly dominated by Watermark because of its emphasis on the humanities. 

None of the 3 databases provided a complete picture of any subject area because some research is conducted outside UCCS, student research sometimes does not have faculty coauthors and so is not reported in Watermark (because faculty input data to it), and some affiliations were attributed to a UCCS author but were actually conducted at another institution.

Conclusions of the study; 

  • No source offered complete coverage of any subject area or material type,
  • Areas where faculty submitted data could be improved,
  • Identify more granularly what is being missed, and
  • Make informed decisions about which tools to use and when.

Scholarly Database Indexing: Implications for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Researchers

Beth Strickland Bloch, Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky iSchool; and Julia Proctor, Head, Acquisitions Services, Penn State University Libraries, studied the information needs of Biomedical Engineers (BMEs) and found that they frequently work in interdisciplinary environments. They use literature databases for retrospective searching but are challenged because index terms often use disciplinary terms or general terms such as “test results” or “properties”, so they risk losing complex results on a topic.

Here are the research questions of this study.

Sample sets of articles were created using Clarivate’s Journal Citation Reports to identify journals with high Impact Factors in biomedical engineering, PubMed citations and MeSH keywords, and Scopus citation counts and indexed subject terms, resulting in 22 journals that had 66 relevant articles which were used in a content analysis of terms. 

Preliminary results: 

  • Both PubMed and Scopus use MeSH terms; PubMed is generally more specific. 
  • 80% of items without MeSH terms were primarily reviews.
  • Only 2 articles were indexed using the term “human”. 
  • Engineering uncontrolled terms are more likely to retain a medical context.
  • Engineering controlled terms emphasize technology or devices.

Future work will be a correlation analysis between the number of citations an article has vs. the number of index terms; determining the relationship between interdisciplinary author groups and assigned terms; examining when the MeSH term “human” is assigned and if it varies by technology; and explore why only PubMed MeSH indexes “reproducibility of results”. 

One Is the Loneliest Number: The Self-Training Electronic Resources Librarian

Eve Stano, Collection. Development and Electronic Resources Librarian, Ball State University, presented most of this session and was joined by Chris Vidas, Electronic Resources Librarian and Acting Head, Collection Management, Clemson University at the conclusion of her talk. She began with a list of things to do and challenges at the start of the job:

  • Learn who does what with electronic resources. She is the only e-resources librarian, but 4 departments—acquisitions, collection development, cataloging, and library IT— are involved in their life cycle. Clearly defining the role of each person will prevent duplicating work and result in a more cooperative environment.  
  • You may be the sole e-resources librarian. If your colleagues are able to provide only limited assistance, it may be useful to find other institutions with a similar environment or join an e-resources email list. 
  • It will be necessary to communicate with various library and campus departments about e-resource updates, so create contact lists for them. 
  • Learning a new ILS or ERM takes time. Find out if these have a “sandbox” version where you can practice using them.

Understand that self-training will be continuous. Assess what you need to learn and what should take priority, and then develop goals. Evaluate your training. What helped your capabilities? 

Chris reviewed how to create a process for crafting and retaining workflows and how e-resource librarians can be supported. Here is a timeline of his career path:

Ball State University and Clemson are developing improved processes in the manner in which they share documentation. A website to store the documentation and allow it to be stored and searched is being developed.  

Here are ways that we can collaborate with colleagues:

  • Conferences: ER&L (of course!), Charleston Conference, and NASIG,
  • Listservs: ERIL, Almo/Primo,
  • Publications: ATG (of course!), Techniques for Electronic Resources Management (TERMS) and the Transition to Open, a book by Graham Stone and Jill Emery, (ALA Tech Source, 2013), and
  • Networking: Joining professional committees, reaching out to colleagues.

There are still things that may be unique to your environment so must be learned on the job. No two e-resource librarians are identical and their skillsets vary dramatically, so don’t be discouraged if you are not the top cataloger or are essentially another systems librarian at your institution.

Navigating Mountains of Books: Using Title Matching to Convert Physical Collections to E 

Tracy Gilmore, Collection Development Officer, California State University (CSU), Long Beach, described the 2020 pandemic disaster, when 32,000 students and faculty were locked out of the library, and over 1 million print volumes were locked inside the library. With no Hathi Trust membership, they wondered what to do, but an account manager suggested that title matching could unlock the print collection by converting it to e-books, which would satisfy the immediate need to make the collection available at an affordable cost. Using ProQuest’s Title Match Fast (TMF) service, they were able to unlock nearly 1,000 monographs in less than 2 weeks. 

Courtney Fuson, Asset Management Librarian, Belmont University (a private college in Nashville, TN with about 8,700 students and 16 library staff members) said that the library has used the TMF service several times since 2019, most recently to convert print books in 5 LC classes to e-books, which resulted in removing about 550 books from their shelves. (To convert the entire collection would have cost about $60,000.) TMF is one of their first choices for end of year purchases, and they plan to keep using it, especially for a new medical library which will open in 2023.

Elizabeth McGough, Client Analytics Manager, ProQuest showed some data on e-book usage after using TMF services which showed that moving to e-books significantly increases their usage. Science, health, and law e-books have highest average usages.

Making the Cut: Killing the Library Materials Budget

Sharon Whitfield, Electronic Resources and User Access Librarian, Rider University (a private university with 3,630 undergraduate students), said that because of COVID, a $20,000 cut in the 2021 library materials budget was expected, primarily because fewer students were enrolling, but the final cut was much more—$300,000, about 35%. The library also had 3 fewer librarians, 20% fewer hours, and 50% fewer staff to support the curriculum so it was decided to close the library on Saturdays. 

The library staff decided to fight the budget cuts and did not try to control the rumor mill—an important decision. The faculty were told that anything could be canceled, even vital services such as JSTOR, Science Direct, or Project Muse. This approach generated many public comments by professors criticizing the administration’s prioritization decisions. The AAUP union of faculty members was also critical of the budget cuts, especially when they found out that some administrators were going on international trips using university funds. Library staff asked to make presentations at union meetings, discussed their concerns, and did not try to hide anything. They sent emails to various departments listing journals that would be cut if the funding was not restored. They also informed the students and the university newspaper about how the cuts would impact the curriculum by visiting class sessions and telling them, for example, that ILL was not a magic service and that things in the library are not free but are paid by them through their tuition fees. 

The result of these activities was that $20,000 was restored to the budget.  Although this was not sufficient to restore many journals and databases, it also meant that in future years, library budget cuts will likely be made more cautiously. The library’s fight is continuing, and it is important to use services to promote advocacy because the library has more access to faculty and students than the administration does; it sees them more frequently and knows their concerns. 

The Farmer and the Cowboy Can Be Friends: The Value of Strong Partnership Between University Libraries, Security Offices and Campus IT

Daniel Ayala, Managing Partner, Secratic (a security and privacy firm); David Green, Library Systems Analyst, State Library of Ohio; and Juan Denzer, Engineering & Computer Science Librarian, Syracuse University, discussed how libraries can build stronger relationships with their partners. Security is important for research integrity. 

Libraries and campus IT have been going down separate paths; what has kept them apart? Libraries pre-date IT departments by hundreds of years, but are now learning to work with them in a time of great change. The needs of libraries were not always recognized in the early days of IT even though they have been adapting to lots of the technology as it has appeared. Recently a need to bridge the gap has arisen. Both groups are more closely aligned than they realize—libraries still think that IT departments are most concerned with restricting access and locking things down, but libraries want to broaden access and liberate information. 

What has changed with the culture to bring the 2 groups together? Formerly the library relied on its own IT department and was independent of campus IT and security. Now, everything is cloud-based, and the cloud-based systems will be with us for many years to come. Openness and understanding the world of the other group does much to unite them. A virtual “open office hour” between the library and IT department has been very successful. Here are some relevant questions and answers.

What do you wish that IT people knew about libraries? 

  • They are not totally concerned with books and they are very knowledgeable about technology.
  • Every user searches differently, which is how research is done.
  • Librarians are very good at pointing out the best cases and the best exceptions to a plan. 

What are you glad that you know about campus IT and security?

  • Technical people have a desire to collaborate, especially on new ideas and new technology.
  • Technology people make good volunteers to try new technologies. 
  • Some suggestions they make may not seem appropriate but they turn out to be good ones.
  • Integrity and availability are core concepts of information security and they are very much in line with what librarians want to do.

What are your recommendations for how to get started speaking about security and privacy?

  • Learn the vocabulary and fundamental concepts. 
  • Get involved with committees, system implementations, and security within the library.
  • Involve people who don’t have a strong IT background but who can make good recommendations.

For further information on library-security-IT partnerships, see the Educause page, connect.educause.edu and the Scholarly Networks Security Initiative

Getting Out of the Forest: Privacy-Focused Web Analytics in Your Library

Denise FitzGerald Quintel, Discovery Services Librarian, and Robert Wilson, Systems & Analytics Librarian, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), described Matomo Analytics, a free open source platform, as a possible replacement for Google Analytics. Matomo’s FAQ page has 64 questions covering many of its features and capabilities. One of its major benefits is that the data always belongs to the user; which Google cannot match. More than a million websites in more than 190 countries are using Matomo, which is an excellent indication of an open and active community. Hosting Matomo on an in-house platform is easy, but it can also be hosted on Matomo.org. 

Matomo was hosted at MTSU and easily generated analytics on EBSCO’s EDS discovery system, which was their most complex system.  However, they needed some IT expertise to help install the server.  Matomo requires updates every few months because it is being continually improved, and the database times out if the system is processing too much data. Positive features include easy installation and customization, reports similar to those from Google Analytics, data ownership by the user, and user privacy.

Navigating Consortia: Data-Driven Review of Consortial Memberships

Catherine Price, Content Services Librarian and Kassie McLaughlin, Electronic Resources Librarian, Rockhurst University (a small Jesuit institution in Kansas City MO with about 3,600 students), analyzed 2 long-running consortial memberships, MOBIUS and MOREnet, which had not been reviewed for some time to determine if they were still a good fit with the students’ needs and usage of the resources, and if the costs fit in the library budget. 

MOBIUS is a regional consortium with 76 members and provides courier and shared resources such as e-book collections, and contracts for e-resources. MOREnet provides services to K-12 schools and 59 higher education institutions, public libraries, and government. Its services include internet connectivity, hosting, cybersecurity and bundles of online resources. The university does not fit MOREnet’s profile, and they do not use many of their services.

Database usage was measured and the cost per use (CPU), then calculated the percentage cost savings. They found that they were saving more with MOREnet because some of its resources were heavily used even though several others were not used. There were no surprising patterns of user behavior, but some lesser used resources performed better than expected and were valuable to their users. Big ticket items performed well as do e-book packages; so both consortial memberships will be continued.

Serials Threshing: separating the wheat from chaff to find value in large journal package renewals

In common with many libraries, Ian Knabe, Head, Acquisitions & Resource Sharing; Kerry Creelman, Head, Collections Strategies & Services; and Shawn Vaillancourt, Collections Analytics Librarian, University of Houston (UH) Libraries, wondered whether to break up a Big Deal to find the best fit for their users’ needs, which is being done by many institutions. They joined over 40 libraries in the Texas Libraries Coalition for United Action (TLCUA) to collaboratively negotiate with Elsevier and provide options to address local needs.

The negotiations saved UH $83,000 and provided for a discounted rate on additional subscriptions. As many of the lowest use titles as possible were discontinued. Data considered included maximum and average usage over 2 years, overall cost, CPU, citations, and usage of the back file. 

What data is valued? Usage was the highest priority, followed by CPU. Citations were of lesser importance because they are reflected in overall usage. Authorship was not considered because UH has a robust repository. Titles that were performing exceptionally well were automatically retained. Finally, librarians used their expertise to review the results title by title, which resulted in 3 lists

  1. Titles to retain,
  2. Titles to drop with no post-termination access (PTA), and
  3. Titles to drop with PTA.

Faculty members were not consulted in the decision making process, but were informed about the decisions, which will be critical because faculty will want to how the decisions were made and how they will be impacted by them. Most of the faculty members have been supportive of the coalition’s efforts.

Final Thoughts

Camp ER&L 2022 is over, and by all measures, it was a great success.  The campers have cleaned up the campground, folded their tents, filled their backpacks with sustenance for the journey to the real world, shouldered them, and headed out on the trails. We are now wondering what comes next for ER&L. For that, we will need to wait and see what comes from the fertile minds of Bonnie, Sandy, and Danielle.

Donald T. Hawkins is an information industry freelance writer based in Pennsylvania. In addition to blogging and writing about conferences for Against the Grain, he blogs the Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian conferences for Information Today, Inc. (ITI) and maintains the Conference Calendar on the ITI website. He is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, (Information Today, 2013) and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits (Information Today, 2016). He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked in the online information industry for over 50 years.


  1. See Learned Publishing, 29: 97-101 (February 2016)
  2. A useful article published in 2018 compared data from Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus: Journal of Infometrics, 12(4): 1160-77.


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