2012 Winner: Report on the CAUL-CBUA Electronic Resource Management Study

Prepared by Jennifer Richard, Academic Librarian – Acadia University, May 2014


This study focuses on the current practices, procedures, and tools used in the management of electronic resources among members of the Council of Atlantic University Libraries.  This report aims to make recommendations on how to improve workflows and create efficient processes to provide timely and accurate access to electronic resources, manage administrative data, insure succession planning, improve internal communication, manage usage statistics, and organize and provide access to licensing details. The study was comprised of two elements, a survey (Appendix A) conducted in the fall of 2013 and then follow up interviews and site visits in the spring of 2014.

Fifteen institutional members of the Council of Atlantic University Libraries (CAUL-CBUA) participated in the survey and site visits.  Invitations to participate in the survey were distributed to libraries by email from the principle investigator and the Manager of CAUL-CBUA. The research project was approved by the Acadia University Ethics Board and was funded by a CAUL-CBUA Research and Innovation Grant and the Acadia University Research Fund. Respondents were: Mount St. Vincent University, St. Mary’s University, Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Université Sainte-Anne, Université de Moncton, University of New Brunswick, University of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia Community College, Acadia University, Cape Breton University, St.

Francis Xavier University, Atlantic School of Theology, University of King’s College and Mount Allison University.  A summation of survey results is located in Appendix B.

Though the survey covered staffing, licensing, list management and statistics, the main focus of the research was the perceived lack of electronic resource management systems (ERMS) in the region. The value of an ERMS lies in:

  • Improved internal communication and efficient workflows.  All of the information regarding electronic resources is searchable and available to all staff members in one place.
  • Succession planning: when electronic resource staff retire, go on leave, or even on vacation, all the information is accessible and organized.
  • Centralized control: all information including contracts, statistical reports, administrative information such as contacts, username and passwords, URLs and descriptions are attached to the resource. Centralized control results in fewer errors and access issues and more consistent and timely information made available to the public.
  • Reduced liability: the ability for all contracts to be organized, accessible and easily comparable to public descriptions.

There are a number of ERMS available in the market place.  Commercial options include: Serials Solutions 360 Resource Manager, ExLibris Verde, OCLC WMS, EBSCO ERM Essentials. In addition, there are a number open source options, most notably ReSearch/CUFTS. All ERMS are separate products and have their own subscription costs.

Researcher/CUFTS is NOT equivalent to the SFX Resolver, but rather CUFTS has additional functionality beyond a simple resolver in four distinct areas:

1.    ERMS – this product allows libraries to manage all aspects of their electronic resources:

  • Administrative data such as username, passwords, urls, contact information
  • Dates/Cost/invoicing and renewal information
  • Subject headings and ranking order for display on public website
  • Files: ability to attach contracts and statistical spreadsheets

2.    A-Z List of Resources – libraries do not need to maintain A-Z List of Resources or A-Z list of Resources by Subject as these pages can be generated directly from CUFTS (Appendix D). These subject pages can be directly embedded into libguides (Appendix E).  This allows the library to present consistent, current, and accurate details about electronic resources everywhere on their library site.

3.  Statistics and Reports: CUFTS supports SUSHI and Counter Compliance statistics.  Further investigation of the functionality of the stats reporting is required.  CUFTS does provide a resource comparator program to compare coverage of databases and ecollections, and generates reports on the highest usage of fulltext and not fulltext titles requested through the resolver weekly, monthly and yearly.   This tool is valuable for collection development purposes.

4.    Display Licensing Information:  Licensing information/interpretation can be displayed at the database level and at the journal title level. (Please note: in order to display licensing information at the journal title level, a library must use the CUFTS resolver.) (Appendix C)

As a side note: As a member of the CRKN Subcommittee on Serials Management I can attest that, at least for CRKN title lists, CUFTS is the most current, and therefore accurate, of all of the resolver products. This is largely due to their responsiveness and that they do not wait and batch load their updates monthly or bimonthly.  Acadia University has experienced a marked decrease in title access problems since implementing the CUFTS resolver.   Acadia will continue to use the ReSearcher/CUFTS system for the foreseeable future, likely until a Unified Resource Management System (URMS), such as ALMA (ExLibris) is available to the region.


Based on the information gathered from the surveys, a review of the literature, and discussions during the site visits, the recommendations are as follows:

Staffing: It is difficult to make specific recommendations regarding staffing.  In general, each library has migrated staff from existing/traditional areas to manage electronic resources. Given this, libraries should still evaluate their staffing structures, recognizing that a major shift in collections has occurred over the last ten to fifteen years and the workflows and tools that successfully managed printed materials for many years (catalogue, paper files, email communication and excel files) do not necessarily work for the management of electronic resources going forward.

Licensing: That CAUL-CBUA develop a licensing checklist to be used as a guideline by the CAUL- CBUA Manager when negotiating or renegotiating consortial resources.

That the checklist, along with other resources, such as the CRKN model license (with permission), be posted in a section of the CAUL-CBUA website to assist electronic resources librarians/staff in the region.

That public access to licensing information is important because it reduces liability, libraries should embed this information at the resource and/or title level.  Please note: that libraries who currently subscribed to Mondo can cancel in lieu of CUFTS

Electronic Resource Management System: Based on a literature review, Acadia’s experience, and the current lack of ERMS in the region it is recommended that CAUL-CBUA Directors consult with their librarians and staff who participated in this study to determine whether implementing CUFTS is appropriate at this time.

If any libraries want to proceed with CUFTS, the CAUL-CBUA Manager/CAUL-CBUA Board Chair contact Kevin Stranack at Simon Fraser University to negotiate a potential offer.

For those that implement CUFTS, a partially pre-populated installation be made available. The pre- populated database would be modeled on Acadia’s installation and would contain licensing information and descriptions for CRKN and CAUL products. This would be done by Acadia in an effort to reduce duplication and shorten the implementation period for new libraries.

It is also recommended that the CAUL-CBUA Manager have an installation of CUFTS to manage the CAUL-CBUA subscriptions. The manager could then push trials, descriptions, licensing interpretation, and renewal offers of products to participating CAUL-CBUA libraries.

For those libraries who are interested in implementing CUFTS, that they carefully compare and evaluate resolver products, particularly if displaying embedded licensing information is an important criteria (Appendix E).

Title List/List Management: the management of title lists has improved over time, but libraries continue to report problems and issues with these lists and a lack of communication and coordination in fixing, reporting, and updating custom lists (specific to CAUL) or in the identification of the correct lists from resolvers. Where many of the libraries share common resources, CAUL-CBUA should create a communication mechanism to facilitate discussion on problem lists and determine how to share responsibility for updating within the region – this could be in the form of a committee, email list or web-based solution.

Statistics:  still tends to be a difficult area.  CRKN is currently working on some analytics for CRKN packages and we should stay abreast of these developments. CUFTS does have options for the management of COUNTER and SUSHI statistics, but further work is needed in this area. One product of notable interest is JISC Usage Statistics Portal (JUSP) from the UK.  It may be worthy of more investigation, however the cost of subscription may be prohibitive.

CAUL-CBUA Support: There seems to be substantial work for a CAUL-CBUA Collections//Eresources Committee. The formation of a CAUL-CBUA Collection/Eresources Committee could support the CAUL-CBUA Manager in her new role as contract negotiator, assist in the creation of the licensing checklist, assist libraries who chose CUFTS in the implementation phase, work with the new Novanet Collections Committee or perhaps form a joint committee (as many of the members would be the same), oversee the Last Copy project, and develop processes regarding the collection of statistics.


I would like to thank the University Librarians, the former CAUL-CBUA Manager, and the current CAUL-CBUA Manager for their support and assistance throughout this research project. I would like to recognize and thank CAUL-CBUA and Acadia University for funding this project and I would also like to express my appreciation to all of the librarians and staff members who took the time to meet with me. The insights gleaned from in person conversations are worth a great deal and put important context around the survey results.  Portions of this report will be reworked into an upcoming article for either the Partnership Journal or the APLA Bulletin and/or an APLA conference presentation.

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