ERM and e-Books

Firday June 22, 2007

LITA ERM Interest Group did a managed discussion on e-books. Ted Koppel, Verde ERM Product Manager (ExLibris) gave the talk. (Note: Verde just starts working on e-books management system.) His function in this talk was basically asking questions and raising awareness on e-books management.

Koppel suggested that we start thinking about e-books management now. Even though many libraries are just getting used to e-journals management and might still learning the ins and outs of the licensing management stuff, many of these libraries are already delivering e-books.

Start thinking on usage scenarios such as use for e-learning, e-reserve, and e-books as e-textbooks. Other e-books scenario are possible: single use circulation, institutional repositories, archiving and preservation especially in the wake of the digitization projects from Google and other commercial companies.

There are several functional areas that a library needs to consider, ask, or make decisions:
Acquiring e-books commercially

  • Does the supplier offer a collection management tool?
  • Does the supplier provide metadata or cataloging tool?
  • What is the role of licenses and permissions and how do we manage those into the data.
  • How does the industry deal with the open access model as well as the so-called free e-books such as government documents?

Acquiring or creating e-books locally

  • what departments within the institution that produce the e-books, who manages the collections, who does the collection development
  • e-books only or other digital materials as well?
  • where is the metadata coming from for the locally created material?
  • Granularity: how is the ERM system used to managed the collection?
  • Use/copyright restrictions, licensing/contracts for the locally produced e-books.


  • What description/identifier should we use (Dublin Core, MARC, etc.)
  • What Unified Resource Identification (URI) that is used?
  • Shall records added to OPAC or do we need to keep them separately?
  • Differences in indexing and access points.
  • Use publisher’s search platform or should we develop it locally to our own need?

Discovering e-books

  • At the discovery level, are e-books different than their physical version?
  • What kind of search mechanism is the one and how the indexes are built? Do we need indexes?
  • Which thesauri to use? Should it be LCHS or our own local practices?
  • Combining e-book search results with other results, presumably related material?
  • Do we need to FRBRized the result?
  • Can we embed e-books search in other platform such as a course management system?
  • Does it offer relevance ranking result?
  • User tagging?
  • Rules for use – who tells the users and how? When ERM stops and DRM kicks in?
  • ‘Unlimited access’ vs. charge out this copy model?
  • Pay per view or other use model?
  • Prerequisite requirements for delivery (specific browser, computer OS, etc.)
  • Granularity
    • deep links to title/chapter/page within an e-book?
    • Indexing and retrieval depth: chapter? pages? paragraph?
  • Resource sharing system, is it possible?

e-books management

  • Is e-books management different than e-journals?
  • Has the role of Collection Management changed?
  • Staff role?
  • License, usage, DRM?
  • Budget, support, maintenance?

Koppel summarized that:

  • e-books are still in their infancy.
  • e-books usage will follow, as will users expectations.
  • our experience with managing e-journals will make the move to managing e-books easier.
  • but there is still much to learn.

There were several questions, discussions, and updates after the talk. A representative from Overdrive talked about their product and mentioned International Digital Publishing Forum, formerly the Open e-book Forum (OeBF). He also mentioned that Adobe just released a free Adobe Digital Edition 1.0 , for Windows and MacOS (linux version coming soon). This is a rich internet application (RIA), Flash-based. The software can also open and read PDF docs.

Several ERM members presented reports from several conferences they went to: NASIG, ACRL, and ER&L. They participated at several focus groups discussing various issues on ERM:

  • ERM implementation and workflow planning space for discussion/online community for sharing best practices
  • ERM systems that come with some default settings
  • staffing for e-resources
  • training and appropriate staff levels
  • standardized licenses from publisher that they can upload to ERM
  • no standards for publishing e-data
  • ERM vendors to provide consultation services for ERM implementation

Other tidbits mentioned:

  • Blog for ER&L
  • Victoria Reich from LOCKSS encourages libraries to use e-books because we can utilize preservation initiatives like LOCKSS to have permanent archive of our e-book collections.
  • ONIX standards for holdings data:
    • SOH (Serials Online Holdings) format v.1.1
    • SRN (Serials Release Notification) User Guide is available
  • OPLE – open source tool for ONIX for Serials

One attendee wondered if there’s a possiblity for direct communication mechanism between publishers and libraries, as well as communication between publishers and agents, especially in term of licensing. Coincidently, my co-worker just reported that NISO has a working group called SERU (Shared e-Resource Understanding) that just published a draft on common understanding between libraries and publishers. This draft is aimed for publishers and libraries that prefer to simplify (or even remove the need of) journal licenses.

ERM-IG now has a new mailing list.