Managing Electronic Resources

One of the responsibilities that came with my new position here at the New York Law Institute is the management of our electronic resources. Although at first it didn’t seem like we had a significant number, once we started compiling a list we realized that we did have quite a few. I wanted a way to keep track of all of the dates that the license agreements were up for renewal, what we’re paying for each, who our main contacts are at each provider, etc.

My first thought was to check to see if we had an ERM (electronic resource management) module in our ILS (integrated library system) that would have the functionality I wanted. It turned out that while we do have an ERM module available, it lacks the ability to automatically send out email alerts to myself and other stakeholders when an electronic resource is nearing the expiration of the license. This was a major criteria of mine so I kept looking for something beyond what I could achieve simply through an Excel spreadsheet.

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I came across a free open-source Electronic Resources Management System called Coral that’s been developed by the folks at the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries. I’m so impressed with it I wanted to share the details with everyone. The application is made up of four modules, each offering different functionality. They are all interoperable, but you don’t need to install all of the modules if you don’t want to use certain functions.

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The Resources module lets you set up records for each of your electronic resources including Acquistions information, contacts, access information. This module will let you set up email alerts to remind you before your licenses are up for renewal. You can set the emails to send 30, 60, or 90 days beforehand or you can set up a custom time period.

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The Licensing module lets you store current and past license information, including uploading the actual documents.

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The Organizations module enables you to set up and store contact info and account information for all your vendors. You can also enter all issues you’ve had with each provider by date to keep track of problems you’ve had in the past.

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The Usage Statistics module will provide you with stats for all of your resources.

There is a demo available on the website which will let you play around with the application without having to install it yourself. It’s a typical open source application which necessitates being on a server with PHP5 and creating MySQL5 databases. Although this is typically uncomforable for most of us who aren’t used to working with OSS (open source software) daily, I was able to install the sofware on my server in about an hour.