Report of the Electronic Resource Access and Integration Task Force

Ann Montanaro, Chair
April 21, 2006

The Electronic Resource Access and Integration Task Force was formed in September, 2005 by Jeanne Boyle and Grace Agnew to "develop requirements for an integrated system for metasearching, OpenURL linking, and resource management and to develop an RFP for submission to university procurement." Kayo Denda, Marty Kesselman, Ann Montanaro, Laura Mullen, Jim Nettleman, Mary Page (joined in January, 2006), Cathy Pecoraro, Gracemary Smulewitz, and Chris Sterback served on the committee which met six times between November, 2005 and April, 2006.

Discussions were held during the initial meetings to review the benefits of an integrated software solution for handling electronic resources, the complexity of keeping records up-to-date, the problems with the existing OpenURL product, the value of metasearching and its impact for library users and staff. As a follow-up to the discussions, each task force member had reading assignments.

In December the committee focused on electronic resource management systems and viewed an online presentation (PowerPoint) by Tim Jewell, Coordinator of the Digital Library Federation's Electronic Resources Management Initiative, entitled "E-resources Management Systems: Past, Present and Future." From that presentation, as well as from the readings and previous discussions with vendors, six potential vendors of viable electronic resource management products were identified: Gold Rush (Colorado Alliance), Meridian (Endeavor), Verdi (ExLibris), Innovative ERM (Innovative Interfaces), ERMS (Serials Solutions), and ERM (SirsiDynix).

The committee prepared an electronic resources life cycle chart similar to one used by Tim Jewell. The chart outlined the major steps taken to investigate, provide access, administer, provide support, and evaluate/monitor use of electronic resources at Rutgers. (See attached) Using the chart, the committee identified the areas where a resource management system might consolidate efforts, simplify reports, and unify the processes. The questions raised during the review of the processes were used to form the basis of questions and discussions with vendors.

During the January ALA Mid-winter conference in San Antonio, committee members attended meetings and presentations, met with vendors, and reviewed specific products at demonstrations and at booths. At that conference SirsiDynix announced that they were no longer developing their own ERM product but, instead, would be contracting with Serials Solutions to market their fully-developed electronic records management system, known as ERMS.

In early February the SirsiDynix account representative visited Rutgers and described their expanded product line: Serials Solutions= ERMS would be offered for electronic resource management; OpenURL could be Sirsi Resolver (based on Openly Informatics) or Serials Solutions= Article Finder; and federated searching could be Sirsi's Single Search (based on Muse Global), WebFeat, or Serials Solutions' Central Search.

Vendor demonstrations were scheduled and the committee met with Danielle Shaver from Serials Solutions in February and with Todd Miller and Gail Rosenberg from WebFeat in March. However, by the time the WebFeat meeting was held in early March, 2006-2007 academic year budget cuts were already expected because of state-wide economic problems and it was anticipated that no funding for the products would be available if the purchase were held off. Rather than delaying the anticipated purchase until 2006-2007, as projected in the charge to the committee, the Cabinet authorized a sole source purchase from SirsiDynix from remaining end-of-year funds to cover, among other things, an electronic resources management system, OpenURL, and federated searching using the Serials Solutions products. Acquiring the products any other way would have required an RFP and the review of vendor proposals. There was not enough time remaining in the 2005-2006 fiscal year to complete that process. The purchase order and sole source letter were reviewed by Purchasing and the Budget Office and the purchase order was issued during the week of April 10.

In addition to the charge to the committee to prepare RFP specifications, the committee appointment letter also included the following statement: "we would appreciate your advice about what steps the Rutgers University Libraries will need to take to implement whatever system you recommend."

The task force members recommend that they be re-charged as the implementation task force as they have invested significant time and effort to learn about OpenURL, federated searching, and ERMs, and would like to put that knowledge to work.

At the April meeting the committee reviewed the charge and recommended the following implementation timetable:

1. Article Linker, A-to-Z Title Lists, and MARC records. July 1, 2006.

2. Central Search - prototype by August 1, 2006.

3. ERMS - during the 2006-2007 academic year.

Serials Solutions, following their very aggressive implementation schedule, began working on the implementation of Article Linker, MARC records, and A-to-Z as soon as the order was confirmed. Their goal is to provide access to their Client Center and Administrative Module and to set a training date for a limited number of local resource people as soon as possible.

The committee recommends implementing a prototype of Central Search to offer federated searching in a limited number of subject areas. This would provide the opportunity to review the strengths and limitations of the product and to see how well users respond to it and use it. Current public service committee members would like to build on the knowledge they have gained during the product review and work with appropriate subject selectors to establish core databases and resources in selected areas to demonstrate how Central Search could be promoted. Coordination with WAC will be needed in order to determine how Central Search is presented on the web pages.

Implementation of ERMS is suggested to take place during the 2006-2007 academic year. Since SirsiDynix is no longer developing their own electronic records management system and has adopted Serials Solutions' ERMS, they have stated that they will be working on an interface from the Acquisitions module to the ERMS database and will provide links between the two modules in the next version of the Unicorn server software, known as GL3.1, scheduled for release in the summer of 2006. That interface, which is not yet under development, should facilitate the populating of the ERMS database and reduce the amount of data entry. Rutgers has offered to partner with SirsiDynix to test the interface.

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