One Day in the Life of an Electronic Services Librarian

Unlike this, or this, my day usually starts with a coffee, then emails. I don’t have the luxury of email zero, it’s usually just making sure I don’t miss important ones. One of my main areas of work centres on the implementation of Summon,and what’s significant for me about this is that it is a joint Library/CICT project that will hugely impact our access to electronic resources which are currently held in separate places.

Being responsible for ‘Electronic Services’ has up until now meant responsibility  for those platforms where most of our eresources are accessed (eg AtoZ of Electronic ResourcesAtoZ of Electronic Journals, and/or also making sure that the methods of authentication for all of them we have in place (Athens,IP, username and password) work as smoothly as possible. Since last September, we offered a login route to our eresources through iCity that has reduced enquiries solely avia our Athens email box to about 300 over six months, so more common issues now centre around content: have we switched on full-text content to we have actually paid for, etc? Are we giving access to the right people?

Summon isn’t magic: it only ‘knows’ about most of our electronic collections if we tell it what we think those resources are, so today I am trying to work out why the holdings that we have via our subscription agent  don’t match those of the publisher (18% of our initial download from Swets didn’t match up with our Elsevier holdings according to Summon, for example). I contact several publishers eg CUP,Taylor and Francis) to start finding out about metadata for our institutional journal subs. I also begin a template to load third party holdings from Ingenta in to our Summon admin area,but decide to put this on hold for a while. Data problems are a longstanding issue, even with national initiatives like KBART, and especially where we don’t buy that many big ready-made deals.

After some mild twittering with @benelwell from Wolverhampton and then, over lunch, chat with @TheCloudSurfer over a new design for a website for a band I play in, I bump into one of the CICT developers for iCity. He confirms that a recent change he had made to the business rules concerning Athens was now working. Back at my desk,after reading the new Student Access Network Policy,I suggest a rewording to a new message screen for alumni (still to be approved:-).

Working out how all to satisfy both our students expectation & get them through the publisher paywalls as painlessly & legally as possible might be easier once we trial some authentication ‘middleware’ called EZproxy. I am excited about this a) because I asked for this software 5 years ago, and b) I want to stop reduce the numbers of hurdles wherever possible that we throw in front of the student –  hurdles like this damage the student experience.

I’m looking forward to testing EZproxy on my phone, and then I remember the mlibs project from Evidence Base here – if only web platform access was as painless as that via mobile apps : we promoted the EBSCO mobile app here some while back for example, and once students register they get access to our subscribed content on their phones, that can be set to remember their logins. I’m keen to be involved in mobile learning, and without sounding too corny, it is the future.

I manage a central fund for electronic resources,so in the afternoon follows some fund management,checking how to measure spend across financial rather than calendar year, following new procedures I agreed with our Finance Officer. Then it’s more of a mixed bag : reading our Dignity at Work policy for the Line Managers Forum I’m attending tomorrow, trying to establish whether colleagues asked us to renew their subscription to an eresource that has been up on our AtoZ pages for a number of months, signing up for a JISC webinar on www.jisc-elcat.com their new machinable readable license system which I picked up via a tweet from JISC’s @carenmilloy, posting on our eresource blog about an Index to Theses problem (now resolved).

Luckily today I have not had to think about whether our authentication systems are giving the right people the right permissions to access content: I was involved in the initial Information Architecture Review at BCU some years back, and it is an increasingly uphill and relevant struggle, particularly as the University focusses outward on partnerships with other institutions. Last year I raised a CICT project proposal for OpenAthensLA that is still on the table, as our current version of Athens is no longer being actively developed by Eduserv, it has also free authentication ‘middleware’ (like EZproxy) that comes bundled with the subscription. But first we have to define who those users are, in a way that our systems can understand – there is a long legacy of working in silos across the institution to unpick.

My day finishes by replying to a student who couldn’t get into an electronic journal on Swets, who had logged on fine but maybe had not realised that she was only being offered an abstract or summary rather than the full-text, so in a way I end where I began…..

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2 thoughts on “One Day in the Life of an Electronic Services Librarian

  1. Just to let you know that you are not alone: we are also implementing summon and are having fun trying to match packages!

  2. Pingback: eResource troubleshooting | eLibrary

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