This may change in the future as subscription agents develop their skills and find their niche in this market. There is a recent example 1 of a subscription agent working on a library's behalf to negotiate a license, using a pre-signed standard academic single site license created by John Cox and Associates. As part of this agreement, the subscription agent takes care of registration, licensing, and invoicing. It is an interesting development, and one our general counsel will continue to monitor.
Even after the product is purchased or access is made available, e-resources continue to affect the workflow. With other formats, the concept of sale and ownership prevails and, as owners, libraries can manage these resources under this precept. Within their established policies, libraries can bind, lend, repair, archive, or withdraw as they see fit. With e-resources, constant vigilance becomes a part of maintenance.
Is there compensation for lengthy downtime written into the license agreement?
Licensing and Managing Electronic Resources
Are the peripheral and auxiliary aspects like printing, viewing, and downloading causing a problem? Is the electronic environment consistent within the institution, or are there variations in the levels and quality of access from building to building, campus to campus? Some of these difficulties require technical expertise to untangle, but access to contact information, purchase information, and important background information will often involve technical services staff.
If e-resources are cataloged, then any major changes, such as increase or decrease in the backfiles or URL changes, will entail new responsibilities for the cataloging department.
Duplication is one of the new concerns or decisions that needs to be made when electronic resources are acquired. For example, when an e-resource is requested, staff must verify that the title doesn't duplicate or overlap any existing print resources. If it does duplicate, is it intentional duplication? With shrinking library budgets, staff must be aware of electronic titles that duplicate print titles.
Licensing Electronic Resources to Serve the Library's Mission
These duplicated print titles are often possible candidates for cancellation in the future. Part of the new workflow in e-resource acquisitions is gate keeping. Used in this context, the term suggests that the e-resource manager will become familiar with the content of, the packaging or bundling of, and the patron-use or curriculum-support reason for selection of e-resources.
He or she must learn to evaluate e-resources within a technical services framework.
Which takes priority: a quarterly humanities journal available from a reliable aggregator who advertises that it has 24 x 7 customer and technical support, or a massive engineering e-resource notorious for downtime and the unresponsiveness of the information provider?
The e-resource manager's motto is "Be Prepared," and knowing some of these details will help in the event of an access emergency. Because e-resources are very expensive and in high demand, recordkeeping takes on added importance. Primary records in-clude copies of contracts-from the first draft to the signed copy. Once institution or agency offibjcials have taken their time to sign an approved agreement, always safeguard these signed contracts by using registered mail or commercial delivery services. Secondary records are largely informational, but no less valuable.
E-mails, phone logs, and notes will provide history and background information as well as the all-important list of contacts if something goes a-miss or if there is a question. The above-mentioned information can be included in a checklist. This is filled out at the beginning of the acquisitions process or when problems develop at any time during a subscription. Here at Virginia Tech, this checklist has evolved into the Electronic Resource Diary, available at the end of this article. It has two functions: as a tracking tool for important chronology the diary and as a source for vital contact information.
Having this checklist, or similar tool, just within reach is sound practice.
Common Frustrations When Licensing Electronic Resources
Remember, "Be Prepared. Ideally, all of this "emergency" information should be online for ease of update and universal accessibility by all stakeholders. The online version of the checklist is in development and will be featured on the acquisitions team web page soon. Possible downtime to electronic resources services.
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