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At the Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) conference in Austin, Texas, I enjoyed seeing industry experts and librarians sharing ideas and learning from their peers. Most notable in this year’s conference activities was the importance of sharing best practices within management and assessment efforts.
Building successful workflows and analytical reports is an evolutionary process as libraries derive increased value from their management and assessment tools as data is added. Increased return on investment is seen when libraries efficiently get data into systems, engage users, and streamline their approach to data management. The concept of “best practices” for the most successful workflows is the inspiration for two sessions I facilitated at the conference.
“All You Can Eat ERMS, Laying out the Buffet of eResource Management Systems” brought together a group of librarians who actively use an ERMS solution. I worked with two clients (Dani Roach and Anna Creech) to recruit participants; the panel represented a broad spectrum of open source and commercial ERMS products. The educational objectives focused on delivering practical information to help attendees learn how to choose and use an eResource Management approach for their library, staff and systems.
Each panelist described value in centralizing eResource data in a single place. But when asked to describe an ERMS feature that has become essential to workflow, the answers varied widely from “license details,” to “contact information,” to “alerts.” It seems that libraries focus implementation and derive value based on their own biggest challenges.
The other session I hosted was called “A Penny Spent is a Penny Saved” and was designed to help attendees consider whether committing to an assessment service would generate a favorable return on investment. Three presenters from different institutions demonstrated how they use assessment tools (like 360 Counter) as part of the larger workflow to make better decisions about their collections. Highlights from their projects included creating a Core Journals list, incorporating print titles into eResource Usage assessment, and trimming a big deal “responsibly” by using auto-harvested usage stats at the point of need.
It was clear that having usage data easily available when needed is a huge benefit in any process. There are a variety of ways to use this data, but what matters is reporting on the value and servicing the library’s mission.
At conferences like ER&L, creating opportunities to share information helps libraries be more effective at management and assessment. I look forward to finding more ways to connect our clients and their peers for this purpose.