Accessing and Maintaining Electronic Resources

Accessing and Maintaining Electronic Resources

Meghan Finch (Oakland University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch377
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History of Electronic Resource Development and Use in Libraries

Some of the first library resources to develop electronically were electronic information resources (EIRs). Today libraries commonly refer to these as databases. As early as the 1960’s, computer systems that indexed bibliographic data were made available. These early databases, such as Chemical Abstracts, were available on magnetic tapes and could be searched offline in batches (Weber, 1997, p. 1) At this time, searching for citations was an activity performed by a librarian on behalf of a patron.

Technology rapidly developed through the 1980’s and 1990’s, bringing forth personal computers and the Internet. Eventually, these databases were made available online and interfaces were developed to allow non-expert users search for their own research. Lists of citations soon advanced to include full-text articles available in multiple new formats, such as HTML and PDF. It is now typical to find online databases, image collections, data sets, ebooks, ejournals, and streaming video available in public, academic, school, and special libraries.

Importance of Electronic Resources for Library and Information Science

In the last decade, libraries have seen a significant shift in their collecting practice, showing an increase in the acquisition of electronic resources for their collections. Electronic resources have increased in number, and libraries in turn have increasingly purchased more e-resources.

The increased availability of electronic resources, in combination with shrinking storage space, rising costs of print materials, shrinking budgets, and the potential for theft of physical volumes, made e-resources very appealing for libraries. (Weber, 1997, p. 5) E-resources have many potential advantages of their print counterparts, including efficient storage, availability beyond library building hours, and the potential to serve more than one patron at a single time with no need to purchase additional copies.

Electronic resources also present unique challenges. As technologies grown and absorbed some of the early tasks taken on by librarians, librarians and information scientists have shifted their focus to the management, from purchase to preservation, of the growing electronic resource collections available to them.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Preservation: The effort aimed at ensuring that information is available for the future in digital formats. This includes digitizing existing physical materials as well as ensuring that born-digital items can be accessed by future technologies.

Digital Divide: Refers to the unequal availability of technology or technology education experienced by certain groups of people.

Open Access: Free access to information without payment or other barriers, including unrestricted use of that information.

Discovery Service: A search service that typically provides an index of available discoverable resources, search algorithms, and a user interface to enable users to search for and access resources, both print and electronic.

Electronic Resource Management: Electronic resources complicate more traditional acquisition workflows. While a print book is typically purchased once and owned until removed from the collection, electronic resources have various methods of acquisition. Many electronic resource content providers choose to lease, rather than sell, content to consumers and libraries, and so these.

Patron-Driven Acquisitions: An acquisition method, dominantly used for ebook acquisitions. Records of available (unpurchased) titles are listed in a library’s catalog or discovery service, allowing users to search for and discover these titles. Only after “use” of a title is a purchase made, allowing a library to list many potential titles without purchasing unneeded copies.

Digital Rights Management (DRM): Technology used to control use and distribution of an electronic resource after it has been purchased by a consumer.

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