Summary: Trends, Ideas, Looking Ahead #erl14
ER&L 2014 did not disappoint. The three great keynote speakers offered a good frame for describing the breadth of topic the conference typically offers. Opening keynote, Barbara Fister, reminded us that where the issue of the 90s was ownership to access, today the issue is toll access to open access. Fister approached her topic by challenging the passive language that predominates library missions and our somewhat hypocritical promotion of “lifelong learning” when it comes to providing access.
Fister encouraged us to find more activist methods that connect us and our patrons to the open access and scholarly publishing issues, including devoting portions of budget and staff time to OA projects. (Check.) Expanding our neighborhood. (Check.) And beyond that, finding and offering solutions to problems. “Do more than negotiate favorable terms; provide alternatives to market driven economy that is eroding our mission.” Sarah Dutton shared her research and consulting practice in resilience, addressing the negative biological effects of constant disruptive change and the potential solutions that personal practices of resilience can offer. Soundbites include: “Embrace vulnerability, failure, resilience through connection. Pay attention to “being” in addition to “doing” in our work” (Durant, Red Sage consulting). Will maybe begin exploring possibilities for bringing her in for future organizational development related programming in my library.
Finally, Brent Hecht shared some brilliant applications of data mined from open information sources, primarily Wikipedia. With this data he showed how English language bias could be found in Wikipedia and how that led to better shared knowledge applications using alternative data visualization models. You might check out some of other wiki-applications in the Resources at the end, as well as a great summary of this closing keynote by eclectic librarian, Anna Creech.
The concepts the keynote speakers offered echoed across multiple presentations I attended revealing several trends in each of these areas and leading to some key ideas for actions, areas to begin looking ahead and keep in mind, and useful resources to refer back to.
Pulling these ideas into areas specific to e-resources, one constant refrain was how to maintain agility and resilience when e-resources continues as an increasing portion of budget and a small portion of organizational staffing resources. While there is justified need for increased staffing or addressing staffing to e-resources, it remains perhaps most problematic that a majority library workflows remain predominantly centered on print — not just technical services workflows, but also content development and access services. (ALL SESSIONS, but #erl14humanterms specifically addressing collection development, #nexuserm specifically to Access Services)
How organizations understand and begin to address this revealed an interesting interplay, debate maybe, between e-resources=”someone(s)” vs. e-resources=”everyone”. There were many different approaches to workflow and reorganization based on how you conceive of e-resources management in these two ways. Those who divide by format, aka the e-resources=someone(s), see it as a way to address the problem they see that the continuously changing nature of e-resources requires staff to devote more focused time in e, not divided time in both p and e (MIT). Alternatively, the everyone does e-resources model argues that it can’t possibly be focused or siloed in this way and requires on-going communication, coordination, check-in, training, and evaluation. The questions I was left with was, “which one best supports your organizational or staffing strengths?” (ALL SESSIONS, #erl14humanterms specifically “e should be our core”, #nexuserm).
Both TERMS and NASIG Core Competencies for E-resources [in] Librari[es] popped up in various context, including addressing organizational analyses of e-resources workflow interdependencies. (#nexuserm, TERMS workshop). Both were also mentioned as a way to advocate for staffing and to frame team development and training (#erl14humanterms). This lead me to the idea of using TERMS as a workflow checklist, or a documentation tool in my department. But perhaps more broadly, and following the “e-resources everyone” model, why not make a survey where people can identify whether they feel certain activities/workflows (TERMS) and competencies/skills (NASIG CC for E) fall within their responsibility?
Workflow analysis and restructuring was prevalent, and approaches had some commonalities such as positions and workflows re-aligning with libraries strategic plans, including many creating digitization programs to manage OA resources and born digital assets. Key points repeated about these workflow analyses efforts emphasize:
- it will take time (years!)
- it will be painful
- it will require concerted attention to information management.
Information management also stood out as a critically important goal and ongoing activity in its own right, with repeated emphasis on visualization/process maps, and with common sets of success measures, including:
- reduce reliance upon email and human memory,
- automate hand-offs and notifications,
- promote ease of access to existing documentation,
- improve visibility of (and to those responsible within) the entire life cycle. (Duke, MIT, TERMS).
Related both to information management and shared/open knowledge, using wiki as a conceptual model, specifically for workflow and procedures documentation was mentioned frequently, as were various perspectives on the readiness (or lack of) on the part of new ILS systems to address our key information management needs. I still agree with the vendor who said at ALA Midwinter, and I repeated in a session at ER&L: “You can’t tell [vendors] soon enough that you are considering ILS migration”. However, given all this, I began to admit and come a little bit closer to acceptance with (kind of) the point that these new ILS systems are not quite ready for what we really need. But, what are we supposed to do in the meantime that is NOT EMAIL!
Other bits here and there related to nagging e-resources needs to address include: needs in usability, navigation, mobile access, DRM & Licensing, E-books (#nexuserm). Perpetual access problems to solve include the problems with providing proof of payment, whether license language should be specific or vague, and the fact that even new ILS systems still rely on outdated DLF standards, not covering all fields that are needed.
IDEAS & LOOKING AHEAD
In addition to a few ideas in workflow and information management, I jotted down some other, perhaps less thought-out, ideas to consider working on here at home.
- Working with external vendors and user services office (in our case the Centers?) to establish training and promotion of e-resources.
- Establishing paid fellowships/apprenticeships to deal with staffing issues and practical learning opportunities for graduate students. (#erl14humanterms)
- Standards vs API and open source: should move toward outcomes based partnerships and work. (Playing Nicely)
- How can we apply “dogfooding” in the library organization: internal customer service as you would external customer service. (Playing Nicely)
- Access Services is demand driven, E-resources Management is workflow based, challenge or opportunity? (#nexuserm)
- E-resources troubleshooting as Access Services function, could benefit from merged service desk, merged tracking tools. (#nexuserm)
- Information Mgmt: consolidate storage places for title list spreadsheets with the licenses (Duke)
Looking ahead to some specific e-resources trends on a more immediate horizon, I noted some takeaways from the presentation on Streaming Video is an E-resource — both commercial and digitization of local assets. I also paid attention to a bit I overheard from publishers that the short-term loan model for demand driven acquisition is problematic, unsustainable (#niso #dda).
Also, on the more hazy horizon, the concept of how we support OA resources management in our organization came up, as this is strategic priority in my library. But, we still don’t exactly have clear answers. Jill Emery & Graham Stone, who lead the TERMS project for e-resources management, are building on that approach for a new project, Open Access Workflows in Academic LIbraries (OAWAL) to gather collective techniques and workflow approaches for open access resources management. Other OA projects mentioned for which to keep on the look out include: Bluejar (like Knowledge Unlatched, crowd-sourced funding for making books open access) and Pivots (not monographs, but shorter e-bits of content — of interest for online learning).
RESOURCES to Read, Explore
– listen.hatnote.com (Lightening Talk)
– OpenStreetMap, Omnipedia, Atlasisfy (Closing Keynote)
– Catalog 2.0 by Sally Chambers (2013) recommended reading for thinking of transitioning ILS. (Playing Nicely)