General information

Evaluating Databases: Prioritizing on a Shoestring

database schema graphic

Libraries have limited resources, and the portion afforded to electronic resources requires some savvy prioritization to meet patrons’ needs while sticking to budgets. Allocation of spending is a key issue for many libraries, and database subscriptions can cost thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars. For smaller libraries, it’s possible to spend the electronic resources budget on a single amazing all-purpose database or piece together a collection from low-cost alternatives. What’s a librarian to do? It’s important to note that there’s no right/wrong dichotomy in deciding which electronic resources are “best”; it’s always a matter of “best for the community”, i.e., the librarian’s rule of thumb: know thy service population. Does your library serve a population with a high unemployment rate? You may need to prioritize electronic resources focused on job training, skill-building, and resume writing. Are you situated in an area where students hang out after the school day?…

Original Content

Tips for Managing Electronic Resources

Last fall, I unexpectedly took on the electronic resources management (ERM) role at my university. Consequently, I had to teach myself–on the fly–how to manage 130+ electronic resources, along with a budget of several hundred thousand dollars. My initial six months focused on finances, licensing, and workflows rather than access, discoverability, or other key issues. So here are some life-saving tips for all you new e-librarians, because I know you didn’t learn this in library school! Let’s start, as always, with the users. Evaluate user needs. Are you new at your job? Then begin by conducting a needs assessments, formal or informal. Check the programs and course offerings to make sure they still align with the e-resources for which you pay. Seek out faculty, colleagues, and students to get a sense of what resources they assign, use, or see used. Pull usage statistics from each database–and be sure to cross-reference this vendor data with…