TERMS ver2.0 Introduction


After a couple of years break, we have decided that the TERMS project needs a re-vamp to remain relevant to the needs of e-resources librarians and future managers of content in libraries. This iteration of TERMS, which we’re calling TERMS 2.0, is both an update of, and a replacement of, the initial 2013 Library Technology Reports publication and the TERMS web pages, which were updated by a number of editors, Ann Kucera, Nathan Hosburgh, Stephen Buck, Anita Wilcox, Anna Franca and Eugenia Beh. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our Version 1.0 editors for their comments, edits, and support.

In just four years, many aspects of electronic resources management have advanced and evolved and new online content models have emerged, while principles have not. Over the past few years, electronic resources librarians have learned and developed numerous new ways of managing the acquisition, maintenance, and cancellation of electronic resources. In addition, the needs of digital preservation have also risen as a key concern within the profession. We aim to highlight a number of these changes in this update to the original report.

For TERMS 2.0 we would like to announce a third contributor who will join Associate Professor Jill Emery (Collection Development & Management Librarian, Portland State University) and Graham Stone (Jisc Collections Senior Research Manager, Jisc, UK). We are very pleased to welcome Peter McCracken (Electronic Resources Librarian at Cornell University). As a Co-Founder of Serials Solutions, Peter brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the project.

TERMS (Techniques in E-Resource Management) began in 2008 and grew out of a discussion between the authors over a lack of consistency in e-resource management practices. TERMS aimed to set out an e-resource life cycle and to define a set of best practice using real world examples gathered from libraries in the UK and US. The original 6 TERMS were crowdsourced for a number of years before a first draft was launched in 2012. During this period a number of very positive and constructive comments were gathered. This version of TERMS was recorded in Library Technology Reports during 2013 (http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/ltr.49n2; OA version at: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/16113/). The final version of the TERMS blog (Version 1.1) is archived at https://works.bepress.com/jill_emery/63/.

While electronic resources have been a central resource in academic libraries over the past two decades, their importance has obviously grown rapidly, and will continue to grow with the further fracturing of scholarly content. They provide us with continuing challenges, like licensing, ensuring accurate access and entitlements, and they present new challenges, as we seek new formats, such as streaming audio and video, or data sets, and new paths to delivery, like demand-driven  or evidence-based acquisition.

In addition to the works mentioned or cited in the original TERMS report, much has been written in the past few years that can help the overwhelmed or incoming electronic resources librarian manage their daily workflow. In the end, however, most of the challenges facing the management of electronic resources is directly related to workflow management. How we manage these challenging or complex resources is more important than what we do, because how we do it informs how successful and how meaningful the work is, and how well it completes our goal of getting access to patrons who want to use these resources.

Soon after starting a role in electronic resources, and faced with a daunting collection of “complex” resources, McCracken developed a basic set of guidelines in how one should approach the management of these resources. The goals of the electronic resources librarian, in this construct, are that one should keep the following points in mind.

In seeking an appropriate solution to managing complex resources, the following points should be balanced:

  1. Ensure the broadest possible access,
  2. In the most convenient possible manner,
  3. With the least investment of time or money,
  4. While following the letter and spirit of relevant licenses.

Oftentimes, we fail to keep in mind point 3, because we do not sufficiently value our time. However, time spent dealing with complex resources is time lost from doing something else. If you have an unlimited amount of time, then you should feel free to spend as much as you like on managing the most complex of resources. However, remember that your patrons and staff also have other work that they could be doing, as they wait for you to make the resource they need, available. Unlike this imaginary you, they have deadlines.

1.1 Revised structure

The original 6 TERMS were:

  1. Investigating new content for purchase or addition
  2. Acquiring new content
  3. Implementation
  4. Ongoing evaluation and access
  5. Annual review
  6. Cancellation and replacement review.

However, after comments from colleagues and an open access mapping exercise by the HHuLOA project in the UK (https://library.hud.ac.uk/blogs/hhuloa/2016/05/11/mapping-open-access-to-e-resources-workflows/), which was influenced by TERMS, our sister project OAWAL – Open Access Workflows for Academic Librarians (https://library.hud.ac.uk/blogs/oawal/) and the US open access life cycle (http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/24261/), we have decided that a new structure was required to support the community.

These comments and suggestions identified an area that TERMS had not covered – preservation. Therefore TERMS Version 2.0 plans to alter the 6 headings to include the addition of troubleshooting to implementation and a section on the preservation of electronic resource content whilst consolidating two of the existing sections, Ongoing Evaluation and Access with the Annual Review section.

Over the coming months the TERMS team will start to re-work the original TERMS to transform it into TERMS 2.0:

  1. Investigating new content for purchase or addition
  2. Acquiring new content
  3. Implementation & troubleshooting
  4. Ongoing evaluation and access, and annual review
  5. Cancellation and replacement review
  6. Preservation.

1.2       Differentiation between “basic” and “complex” resources

When it comes to managing electronic resources, one finds that they are similar to many other areas: the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, is definitely in effect. Most of the resources you purchase will not require a large amount of your time – that is, about 80% of the resources you acquire will take just 20% of your time. In this project, we’ll call those “standard,” or “basic,” resources. Not because the content is basic or standard, but because the electronic resources librarian’s time is efficiently used in processing the resource. While there may be some correlation between the cost of a product and the amount of time it takes to get purchased and available to patrons, that is not a given; some will be easy to establish, despite all of the money being spent on them. The other 20%, however, will take up about 80% of your time managing electronic resources. These may be simple or inexpensive resources, but remember that time is also money, and time spent on an inexpensive resource quickly makes it an expensive resource. We will call these “complex”, or “advanced” electronic resources, as they take up more time than they really should.

In fact, the 80/20 rule is recursive: of the 20% of the resources that take 80% of your time, a small number of those are taking most of that time devoted to those electronic resources. At some point, the amount of time going into managing an electronic resource may make it not worthwhile in purchasing and implementing, even if the monetary cost is not high.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know if an electronic resource will be “basic” or “complex” at the beginning of the negotiation, licensing and acquisition process. Furthermore, a resource may be easy to negotiate and license, but may be very difficult to manage when you are trying to get usage statistics for it, for example. Through this work, we will try to identify ways of managing those complex resources, and minimize the work that must be invested to make them work.

1.3       Focus on open access in each area

Open Access workflows are often seen as a separate add-on set of processes. However, open access (OA) has become a critical subject in library acquisitions, and has application across the library management board. TERMS 2.0 will present different ways that OA content can be efficiently and effectively incorporated into the library electronic resources management workflow. For example, APC offsetting, as well as work with faculty to insure the open access content provided is of quality and meets standard scholarship requirements.

Some of the sections on open access will be sourced and updated from TERMS’ sister project, OAWAL (Open Access Workflow for Academic Librarians) (URL).

There are intersections with the production lifecycle of scholarly content and the management of electronic resources lifecycle but there are also times when the two lifecycles do not overlap. Our goal is to show that even if this may be true, there are enough similarities to consolidate the workflows instead of creating separate silos of workflows and management of open content.

To this extent we will build upon the work already done by the Jisc funded HHuLOA project who investigated how open access workflows could be embedded into e-resource management, specifically TERMS (https://library.hud.ac.uk/blogs/hhuloa/2016/05/11/mapping-open-access-to-e-resources-workflows/).

1.4       Greater focus on non-serial content

Since the publication of the first version of TERMS, several specific topics have come to the fore, and we will look to discuss them as completely as we reasonably can. In particular, we will look at purchasing and implementing of e-books and streaming media services. Other resources and themes will appear in the future, and we hope that we, or others, will provide guidance in how to manage those as-yet undetermined content formats.

Ultimately, defining workflows becomes a valuable and important method for managing electronic resources. A review of current such resources unequivocally shows that, at present, electronic resources librarians do not have efficient or effective tools for managing these workflows. They can be complex, and one often cannot know when a method will become complex until it happens. If the library management community is able to come up with an effective framework from which one can build accurate workflows for most situations, the eventual product or process will be a great boon to librarians everywhere.

Through this version of TERMS, we will consider what those workflows might look like, and how we might be able to define and implement them.

We will crowdsource each section as we re-work them over the coming months. We welcome your comments via the blog, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/174086169332439/) and Twitter (@6TERMS).

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