Last week I attended the virtual version of the ER&L Conference. There was a mix of live and pre-recorded sessions (and eventually recordings of the live sessions). Since I dedicated all of Spring Break week to it, I’ve already seen everything interesting.

By contrast I attended the much larger Charleston Conference in-person in November, which had a similar mix of live, pre-recorded, and live-but-recorded. I’ve been watching the recordings a few at a time and I still haven’t finished. However, my dedicated readers will want a report sometime, so here you go.

Open Access

The Charleston Conference was chock-full (is anything ever chock-empty?) of presentations about Open Access. ER&L had some too of course. The Transformative Agreement model was hotly debated (as in an actual live debate – as well as some other presentations). Subscribe to Open is also emerging. At ER&L, a Taylor & Francis rep shared candid details (well, not naming the title, but otherwise candid) about a flip to Gold Open Access that was not working out for a particular journal in the social sciences/humanities.

At Charleston, a rep from DOAJ explained how they add in new titles, including steps taken to make sure a journal isn’t predatory. We currently have DOAJ activated in Primo as well as various other collected-but-not-necessarily-curated Free Journals. Maybe we could review whether the non-DOAJ OA titles are worth the links.

Alma vs. the Spreadsheets Redux

One presenter was trying to settle on just one place to store all the vendor admin logins. As part of that, she did a stopwatch test of finding the same info using Alma vs. Springshare products vs. a Google Sheet. 15 seconds for Google. 2 minutes for Alma. (Springshare in between.)

An Ivy League school has a very complicated procedure for making sure they have all the journal content they’re entitled to. (They acknowledged that not everyone has the privilege of dedicating a person to this effort full time.) They used a combo of spreadsheets, a documents library, and a form where anyone can initiate a review. This school mentioned the fraught nature of journal transfers from one publisher to another.

Another library dedicated its entire presentation to the e-journal transfer problem. The most useful part for me was a flow chart outlining the whole process. (Especially since Lauren got to see it too. Haha!) It affirmed for me the difficulty of tracking these, and how Alma is not (and probably cannot be) the place to track these.

Another presentation covered how one library maximized their use of the Alma E-Resource Activation Task list to do handoffs from one person to the next. We’ve been delaying major work with this feature until the new ER Librarian arrives. Furthermore, Ex Libris plans to revamp the feature in 2024, so it might pay off to wait.

Both conferences featured a presentation on how a new EBSCO/Alma integration is working out for libraries. The Charleston version hailed this as Very Beneficial and Saves Tons of Time. The ER&L version was more nuanced: If your library isn’t entering certain EBSCO data into Alma because of a lack of staff time, then this process will not Save Tons of Time. However, it is still Very Beneficial.