Scan for your angle: AI, UX, Open Access (ILL impacts), privacy (Open Athens helps), finding library resources via Google, e-resource librarian vacancies in 2022…. So many angles got covered at the E-Resources & Libraries Annual Conference this week! A lot of people might want to know just one thing!

Carol and I both attended and can review recordings for a full year from now if anyone has any follow-up later.

Keynote and 9 more miscellaneous tidbits

The keynote session by Lionel Robert, Jr. delved into a lot of human questions related to Artificial Intelligence (AI), including what does it mean to be a human and what is AI. Fun fact: I asked about his favorite AI-inflected movie. He answered that he likes Dr. Who.

I learned:

  • about Miami University’s systematic methods for checking access points for all e-resources to be sure all is working: LibGuides, discovery/catalog, A-Z list, on- and off-campus. (This session was in the User Experience track of the conference. Richard Wisneski)
  • from multiple sessions on collection assessment:
    • Using OCLC for benchmarking e-resources as part of an assessment effort is flawed in multiple ways: in cases with multiple records, holdings are split; some libraries don’t put holdings into OCLC for some types of e-resources; data inaccuracies in the records (even wrong title). Higher use items tend to have more holdings. (Lynn Gates, Matthew Jabaily)
    • How much can you trust COUNTER statistics came up in one session’s Q&A (Richard Wisneski)
    • regarding ROI on shared e-book purchases: a speaker from Oxford University Press suggested that because it is hard to measure value of use, thinking about rate of use as another aspect; she also said that one institution in OhioLink had only something like 3% use when she was examining across the group and she found that institution did not have the ebooks in the catalog
  • from multiple sessions on Open Access that things go from not being open to being open, and possibly back to closed again if a title is sold to another publisher. The industry needs to figure things out — the dramatic example is that since all of the infrastructure is set up for paywall access, it can have an undesirable result of ILL requests for open access material, such as with a hybrid journal where we don’t have a subscription.
  • about privacy issues for researchers and libraries where libraries don’t have much control yet. Products that have researchers create individual accounts based on their institutional identity is one example. John Felts talked about federated access and Seamless Access. Tim Lloyd of Liblynx talked about browser security and referenced this FAQ for librarians at Seamless Access. Tim Lloyd and Russell Palmer agreed that infrastructure in the industry is getting in the way of privacy and security. Felts and Palmer are both in places using Open Athens, which helps with privacy. See below for more on Open Athens. (Beth Bernhardt, Heather Staines, John Felts, Russell Palmer, Tim Lloyd)
  • in a session about the “amenities” on various journal platforms (which included things like author info, article sharing, saving and citation options, etc.) how the presenters plan to use the Kano method (see 5 Prioritization Methods in UX Roadmapping) to slot the various amenities into basic/necessary versus nice-to-have types of categories as they do more research. (Esta Tovstiadi, Gabrielle Wiersma, Natalia Tingle Dolan)
  • about Journal transfers: Quelle horreur! A medical journal that transferred from one publisher to another went from unlimited access to a 3-user model and the title was required for med school accreditation. I’d never heard of this happening with a journal before.
  • in Slack, in the Alma tips and tricks channel: use LibreOffice instead of Excel to work with comma or tab delimited files because it doesn’t mess up date formats and apparently can handle larger files (like e-resource usage stats).

So many vacant e-resources librarian positions in 2022 — and being new

What it means to be an e-resources librarian (ERL) is definitely changing, partly driven by external factors (pandemic, great resignation), but largely due to e-resource growth and the growth of technical aspects to the work. (I would add that the shift of a preponderance of libraries to a current generation library services platform with e-resource maintenance functionality is a major factor too.) There were multiple sessions on being a new ERL and one session presenting research on all of the ERL ads we were seeing in 2022. Besides analyzing the ads, they attempted to uncover what became of the person who left the advertised position as part of the research. They squashed a rumor that ERLs were going to work for vendors, and gained some answers: there were some retirements, a number of internal shifts (e.g. an ERL became a department head) or other restructuring, and lateral moves. Other points they made from this research included: that e-resource work has “grown exponentially” and you cannot have one person managing all the aspects of e-resources any more; put more detail into ads — ads are currently too lean (say if you need cataloging expertise or experience with a specific system); there seems to be a pipeline issue and more work needs to be done in developing people in this area of work. In another session based on the 2022 shortage of ERLs, titled “Fearlessly interim – Best practices for eresource management when the position is vacant,” four librarians talked about letting things go (dropping off of committees, some regular job duties), getting help from wherever possible (other librarians and vendors), occasionally working extra hours at night and on weekends, and emotional support. Expectations must be reset. Once a new person is hired, remember that change is hard (for everyone) and to set realistic expectations. One new ERL recommended getting Alma certification and doing it early in a new job.

Specific products mentioned besides Alma/Primo VE and Folio

Making content more findable: Libkey, Bibgraph, Lean Library

  • I heard multiple mentions of a Libkey suite and specfically the Libkey Nomad browser extension to include open access content in search results in Primo along with some other Third Iron products
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute had EBSCO convert its catalog to Bibframe and deployed a new product from EBSCO called Bibgraph to surface the library’s content via Google which is where everyone starts searching these days; RPI also uses a feature of Bibgraph to embed a carousel of book search results into a Libguide; RPI uses WMS with EDI (EBSCO’s) discovery layer, but I suspect we could (do already?) embed code for a Primo search into a Libguide. The Lean Library browser extension from Sage was also a product demonstrated for surfacing content via Google.

Medical expansions lead to library infrastructure changes: Open Athens (AND EZ Proxy)

The University of Kentucky and its Medical Center went through a hospital partnership/acquisition that bears many similarities with our situation with Wake Forest Baptist and Atrium. King’s Daughters is located in a different city than the university; they use Alma/Primo VE and EZ Proxy; and they had to get pricing for adding more hospital employees as users of their e-resources. Systems Librarian Jason Griffith explained how they’ve excluded categories such as community borrowers and expired borrowers from accessing e-resources all along, with EZ Proxy. They moved from EZ Proxy to Open Athens as a technology solution mainly because hospital employees don’t have university IDs and they needed an alternative. “With Open Athens you have the ability to sign into publisher platforms that are globally federated with preferred signing credentials.” Additionally “the primary issue at hand was that we wanted to limit the resources that King’s Daughters employees can access” since they could not provide access to everything and “Open Athens was designed to do just that.” Griffith said they foresee more of these medical partnerships, and we’re seeing that too with the Aurora merger.

In figuring out the transition, they got a lot of information from EBSCO and posted questions to an electronic list for Open Athens and talked with other institutions. (Galileo was especially helpful.) Open Athens has “great options for creating the patron account either with the university IDP or a custom form” created by EBSCO for self-registration by the patron. Other benefits included management of “permission buckets” by user groups or IP settings and a “redirector prefix prepended to make it easier to create direct links” to resources. A big migration challenge was not knowing how much time was needed for set-up because EBSCO contacts the vendors to set up the access. They were satisfied with the arrangements for patron data privacy and security, which had been one of the most important questions on initial list when exploring this solution. They are keeping EZ Proxy through Open Athens at least transitionally because of some resources that do not work as well with Open Athens as they do EZ Proxy. They are hoping for a summer 2023 launch.

In another session I learned that Georgia Tech has moved to Open Athens, but is keeping EZ Proxy for a few resources. In yet another session, I learned that Illinois State University used a hotspot to test off-campus access while implementing Open Athens.