Archive Page 2

ERMes v.2010.05 – Part 1

At long last, ERMes v. 2010.05 is now available! To download the latest version as well as release notes and substantially updated instructions visit the ERMes web site.

The release notes give a quick overview of the new fields and report names while the instructions now provide detailed field-by-field descriptions as well as descriptions of what’s in each report.

If you are a new ERMes user, please register your use with us via e-mail (doering.will at or chilton.gala at so that we can send you ERMes updates.

While the new  A-Z list module is receiving its final finishing touches, code for a previous version and an accompanying Readme file is still available.

ERMes v.2010.05 Dashboard

New Release Update

The snow is long gone and we are very, very close to releasing a new version of ERMes! We’re working to resolve a known bug, update the license, and finish a few interface tweaks. While the new version will include release notes, revised documentation will probably come a bit later. Thanks for your patience, and apologies for the delay!

The Serial Nature of Managing E-Books

While ERMes was originally designed primarily for managing aggregate databases, I have been using it to track our e-reference books and my colleague, Jen Holman has entered journal package information in ERMes.

Last week, I attended the Library Technology Conference (#LibTech2010) and one of the many great sessions I attended was “E-Book Management – It Sounds Serial!” by Carolyn J. Deluca and Dani L. Roach from University of St. Thomas.

I was buoyed to learn that they too track e-book titles in their ERM due to the serial nature of managing renewal/access fees, access URLs/problems, licensing terms, etc.

Now I know that managing e-resources like being in a fun house, but that Managing e-books is like caring for creatures on the Island of Doctor Moreau!

A Place for ERMes Users

If you use or are interested in ERMes and would like to converse with other users, there is a Google Group just for you!

This group is a forum for user-to-user interaction be it theoretical discussions about e-resource management or practical questions about data entry in ERMes.

ERMes Receives Coutts Award for Innovation in Electronic Resources Management

William and I are extremely honored and excited to share the news that ERMes has received the 2010 Coutts Award for Innovation in Electronic Resource Management!

Determined by the Collection Management and Development Section (CMDS) of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), this award “recognizes significant and innovative contributions to electronic collections management and development practice.”  Here’s the official press release.

We will invest the award funds right back into ERMes with me continuing to improve user documentation and the interface while William plans to seek the programming expertise/knowledge necessary to enhance functionality.

Though I believe passionately in librarians’ ability to change the world of e-resource management, ERMes would never have grown to be a little ERM that could without librarians’ willingness to use it, enhance it, and tell us your ERM dreams.

So thank you ERMes users, we are so grateful for all 35 of you!

Coming Soon: Spring and a New Release

Here in southwest Wisconsin there is still a heavy layer of snow on the ground with a significant likelihood that more snow will fall before the daffodils bloom. However, there are subtle hints that there will someday be a thaw — birds are singing again, we had 4 days in a row with temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and a new version of ERMes is in the works.

While I cannot predict exactly when spring will come, I can say with more certainty that we hope to send forth a new version of ERMes by the time the snow melts.

Here is a short list of what’s has been done or is in progress:

The Biggest Thing

Thanks to our colleague, Jen Holman, the biggest enhancement that we are working on is a user-side A-Z list! Before SFX, Jen taught herself ASP [wow!] so that she could generate a periodicals holdings list for Murphy Library. Last year, Jen created code for an A-Z list that we used as a back-up for our LibData-generated A-Z list.

Now, she has graciously agreed to upgrade her skills to ASP.NET and help turn this back-up A-Z list into our primary A-Z list. In the meantime, William and I are creating more data entry fields, reports, and updating the documentation.

New Reports

  1. List by Subscription Status
  2. Databases by Subject
  3. Count by Database Type

A Few of the New Data Entry Fields

  1. Database Description
  2. Database Type (e.g. Full Text, Index and Abstracts, etc.)
  3. Database Full Text Counts by Type (e.g. Scholarly, Magazines, etc.)
  4. Contract Start, Contract End, and Invoice Number

In the coming weeks, we’ll be asking ERMes users to rank other enhancement ideas, but in the meantime, please tell us what’s on your ERMes wish list.

What would like ERMes to do? What little or big tweak would make your e-resource management world just a little bit brighter?

Happy 31st ERMes!

I’m pleased to welcome Nicolet Area Technical College (Rhinelander, WI) as ERMes’ 31st user!

It is exciting to know that ERMes seems to be a little ERM that could, and to know that institutions around the world (yes the world!) use it.

As the fall semester winds down, I’m looking forward to the holiday break as a time to answer user questions via updated documentation.

In the meantime, thank you for your interest in, and use of ERMes; in just 1.5 years we’ve gone from this…


Database of Databases

…to this…


ERM Blueprint Spring 2008

…to this!

ERMes Switchboard

ERMes 200905 Switchboard

Customizing ERMes: Creating New Data Entry Fields

So you’re using ERMes and need to add a field or two to match your institution’s needs and workflow.

Adding fields to ERMes is not difficult, but it is a two or three-step process. Two steps if you want basic text fields, and three steps if you want to format the field type (e.g. date) and/or the form labels.

Here are three short videos that show this process. Unfortunately, the video quality is not great, but I hope it will provide enough information to get you started. While I’ve embedded the videos below, you can see more detail when viewing the videos on YouTube in full screen mode.

  1. First, you will need to add the field(s) to the appropriate ERMes table (e.g. Database_Cost_History) like this:

  2. Then, add these fields to the form that matches (e.g. Database_Cost_History) the table like this:

  3. Optionally, you can customize the table field data type (e.g. Date/Time) and format the form field labels like this:

Vendor Fail

All my plans of writing more documentation for ERMes, making small enhancements, and posting more about how I’ve been using ERMes last month were waylaid by an insurgence of necessary “Other Work” (OWs?), most notably multiple e-resource failures.

In the last month, we’ve had eleven database outages or interface/functionality problems along with four instances of off-campus access problems. Eleven and four might not be many if I could solve such issues in a few minutes or an hour, if I had a whole posse of troubleshooters at my side, or we were not paying thousands of dollars to access this content. However, I’m a lone ranger at present, some of the issues have taken days to resolve or remain unresolved, and we are certainly not getting what we paid for. In the meantime, students and faculty have assignment and research deadlines.

In my ideal little e-resource world, I wish that all e-resource vendors were customer-centered. Unfortunately, my experiences in the last month have done a mighty fine job of illustrating how this is decidedly *not* always the case.

While I am well aware that technology has hiccups and may even come down with a bug analogous to H1N1, there are significant, substantial, magnificent, plentiful, and <insert more adjectives here>, ways in which many vendors (i.e. humans) could better support their library customers.

Why? Let’s just say we pay $10,000 a year for access to one resource, and lack of customer service leads to four days of lost access. This means that $109.89 of our subscription fee was lost for access we did not get. Of course, this is not thousands of dollars, but an amount that rings loudly at renewal time when budget cuts lead to cancellations especially since $109.89 does not even begin to account for troubleshooting time or the immense frustration of faculty and students who actually need and want to use the resource instead of Google.

Based on this month’s experiences, I have a few suggestions for e-resource vendors:

  1. Support thy Customer
    After multiple voice mail/e-mail messages and a multi-day e-resource outage, I am very relieved to hear from a sales representative! I am even more relieved when the vendor “researched [our] issue,” made “an adjustment” to our account and access was back in less than an hour.However, this means that the multi-day outage could have been reduced to minutes *if* I had been able to contact technical support immediately. When I asked if I could please have a direct phone number/e-mail for tech support, since I could not find one said vendor’s website I was told “Well, that’s kind of by design.”  (!) When I heard this, I heard how profoundly the vendor cares for their customers – or not. An e-resource outage is frustrating enough, but the inability to even report the problem and have it fixed within a timely manner is excruciating to colleagues, faculty, students, and me.
  2. Know thy Customer
    To fix an access issue, one vendor suggested that a “cookie would have to be installed on your systems.” While this might be a viable and doable solution for some customers, it is not at all feasible for an academic campus with more than 500 lab computers that all have security settings that erase cookies upon logout, not to mention the faculty and staff computers and/or off campus access via EZ Proxy as permitted in license agreement.
  3. Speak to thy Customer
    While the ability to submit a problem report via a website is a welcome convenience, it is a bridge to nowhere if a. I do not receive verification that you received the problem report and b. the vendor does not alert me when the problem is resolved. Furthermore, it is wonderful when vendors offer to alert me when a problem is fixed, but if vendors do not follow-through with this offer, I assume the problem persists.
  4. Provide  for thy Customer
    While the links may not be broken for higher-paying corporate subscribers, the fact that they are broken for academic users means that future customers are seeing a dysfunctional product. Bad experiences linger long and vividly in one’s memory and could result in these future customers choosing a competing product. Also, just because a vendor added content to a database without a subscription increase does not help if functionality to access this content does not work (e.g. over 2,000 broken links) — kind of like it doesn’t help to have a GPS system in a car if the steering wheel is missing.

While I illustrate examples of poor service and support here, let it be known that I also work with vendors that do provide support, support us well, that do understand us, and that do provide content or make great efforts to fix content errors when found. I also wish to note that some of the humans I dealt with in the above-mentioned scenarios were professional and courteous and clearly trying to be customer-centered within the constraints of a system that was not.

We libraries could always walk away from e-resource subscriptions due to customer service failures now couldn’t we? Except that, it is not always that simple is it?

In the meantime, I am logging all such problems in ERMes so that, come renewal time, I can total days without access and deduct the cost of lost access from our invoices.

What ERMes did on Summer Vacation

Though it may appear to have been a quiet summer for ERMes due to the lack of blog posts, ERMes was busy:

  • I just finished a data audit of our e-resources in which I added and migrated more data to  ERMes. In other words, I made ERMes work hard and while these activities ignited new excitement for finally having an e-resource management system, it also fostered ideas for ERMes’ future. I have a growing list of enhancements from ERMes users that I added to, and I’m overwhelmed thrilled how – after using ERMes for multiple budget cycles – having such a system forces supports evaluation of e-resource management work flow.
  • The September 2009 issues of Computers in Libraries includes a follow-up to last year’s article: “ERMes: Open Source Simplicity for Your E-Resource Management.” A big thank you to my colleague, William Doering for initiating the article-writing and letting me tag along, and to Jenifer Holman, Norma J. Dowell, Anna Hulesburg, Tessa L.H. Michew, and Qinghua Xu for providing user feedback for the article!

In coming weeks, I’ll be sharing more about these summer adventures, but in the meantime, happy fall everyone!

ERMes Website

Download the latest version of ERMes, get instructions, etc.

Author Affiliations

Galadriel Chilton, Electronic Resources Management Librarian, University of Connecticut

William Doering, Systems, Catalog & Digital Initiatives Librarian, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Norma J. Dowell, Library Assistant IV, Iowa State University

Jen Holman, Periodicals & Acquisitions Librarian, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Anna Hulseberg, Academic Librarian, Gustavus Adolphus College

ERMes Users

Alverno College Library

Baker College

Beloit College

Bethel University

Birmingham City University

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health

Capella University

Cardinal Stritch University

Carleton College

Carroll University

Deerfield Academy

Drake University

Florida Institute of Technology

Georgia Perimeter College

Gustavus Adolphus College

Harrisburg Area Community College

Illinois Wesleyan University

Indian Institute of Management Bangalore

Iowa State University

Irish Research eLibrary

Lincoln University (Lincoln, New Zealand)

Loyola University Health Science Library

Manhattanville College

Monterey Peninsula College

National Science Foundation

Nicolet Area Technical College

Northern Michigan University

Northwestern College

Oakton Community College

Presbyterian College

Ripon College

Rivier College

St. Norbert College

Southwestern College

Springfield College

SUNY-Rockland Community College

Technical University of Denmark

University of Alabama in Huntsville

University of Idaho

University of the Pacific - Stockton

University of Wisconsin-Colleges

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Viterbo University

Walden University

Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds

ERMes Articles & Presentations

Presentation: The ERMes Story: A Work in Progress (Galadriel Chilton) part of Open to Change: Open Source and Next Generation ILS and ERMS
ALA Annual, Washington, DC, June 2010

Presentation: The ERMes Story: A Work in Progress (Galadriel Chilton)
Minnesota Innovative Users Group Conference, October 2009

Article: ERMes: Open Source Simplicity for Your E-Resource Management By William Doering and Galadriel Chilton
Computers in Libraries 29(8), September 2009

Presentation: Keeping It All Together: One Library's Strategy for Electronic Resource Management (William Doering)
WAAL, April 2009

Presentation: Getting a Handle on E-Resource Management: An ERM Panel (Galadriel Chilton)
Library Technology Conference 2009, March 2009

Article: A Locally Created ERM: How and Why We Did It By William Doering and Galadriel Chilton
Computers in Libraries 28(8), September 2008

May 2021