SPEC Kit 316: Evaluating E-resources  · 11
Executive Summary
SPEC Kit 253, Networked Information Resources, was
published by the Association of Research Libraries
(ARL) only a little more than 10 years ago, but it ap-
peared in a vastly different world, one in which the
majority of academic and research libraries still op-
erated on a growth economy. The developments in
the ensuing 10 years have included the rise to ubiq-
uitous preeminence of Google and its various offer-
ings, economic recessions in 2000 and 2008, and the
significant administrative and organizational restruc-
turing of the majority of academic research librar-
ies. Accompanying all of these changes, and perhaps
changing to accommodate them, has been the way in
which electronic resources are acquired, assessed, and
served to library users.
This survey on Evaluating E-resources was de-
signed to re-examine the ways in which ARL member
libraries have (re)structured themselves to identify the
availability of new e-resources in the market; evalu-
ate them for acquisition; decide to acquire/purchase
them; evaluate them prior to renewal; and publicize
or market them. Nearly identical questions were
posed regarding purchasing/licensing by consortia
and by individual libraries, enabling comparisons in
process to be made. For the purposes of this survey,
networked information resources were defined as
“commercially available electronic information re-
sources (databases, e-texts, e-journals, datasets, and
information resources) funded or enabled by the li-
brary, which are made available to authorized users
through a pre-existing network.”
The survey was conducted between 1 February
and 8 March 2010. Seventy-three of the 124 ARL mem-
ber institutions (63 US academic, 9 Canadian aca-
demic, and 1 nonacademic) completed the survey for
a response rate of 59%.
The survey began by asking respondents if their
libraries had policies specifically addressing com-
mercially available e-resources. Of the 72 respondents,
slightly more than half (38 or 53%) reported they had
such a collection development policy. The comments
indicated that the answer may really be yes and no.
Several respondents explained that e-resources are
broadly addressed by or integrated into either an
overall or discipline-specific policy. Others reported
that the collection policy is format neutral, though
there may be guidelines that address e-resources. A
number commented on their preference for selecting
electronic or e-only modes of access. A few respon-
dents are in the process of developing policies or plan
to do so.
The responses were more clear-cut with regards
to use of an Electronic Resource Management sys-
tem (ERM); 68% of the respondents (49 of 72) use an
ERM. A significant percentage of these indicated the
ERM is used for all components of the e-resources
process, including licensing, holdings management,
usage tracking, overlap analysis, cost data, data feeds,
link resolvers, automated reminders, OPAC features,
vendor statistics, and contact information. A number
of comments indicated a preference for Ex Libris’s
Verde ERM. One respondent indicated that the ERM
received minimal use because it is “time consuming
and labor intensive.”
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