E-resource life cycle:
Librarians say that the lives of e-resources are as complicated and challenging as those of human beings: e-resources are born, and at times they also die or are reincarnated under a different name or in a different shape; they form families, and the families may unite with other families, quarrel, or split up; treaties between families are signed and can be later discarded; and so on. Keeping in mind that change is always a possibility, we will now look at the life cycle of an e-resource. The typical life cycle of an e-resource that is available for a fee would include the following stages:
|Caption: Life cycle of e-resource|
- Discovery: The awareness of a new e-resource originates from a faculty member’s request, a recommendation from a subject librarian, an advertisement, a message in a forum, or any other source. The librarian then locates information about the e-resources information that might include, for example, the bibliographical details of an e-journal, the coverage period available, the packages that include the e-journal, and the interface or interfaces though which such packages are offered.
- Trial: In many cases, a librarian will want to try out an e-resource before deciding whether to purchase a license for it. A trial enables the librarian to offer the e-resource to some or all users – who may include patrons and librarians alike – and then based a decision on their feedback. During the trial process, the librarian activates the e-resource in the desired areas of the library environment, notifies the relevant audience, and obtains feedback. Librarians pay considerable attention to specific issues when testing an e-resource.
- Selection: Once the trial is over. The librarian decides whether to acquire the e-resource. A decision not to purchase the e-resource results in its deactivation in the library environment (if it were activated previously as part of the trial process).
If the librarian decides to go forward and subscribe to the resource, he or she carries out an acquisition process that somewhat resembles the process for print resources; however, an additional level of detail is required, such as information about the license and the availability of the resource to various populations of users. Also, when a library is acquiring e-journals as part of a package from an e-resource aggregator, such as EBSCO, the librarian needs to know which journals are covered by the package and for what period of time; ideally, the librarian would have the opinion to pay one lamp sum of the entire package or to pay separately for each title.
Access, of course, is a major issue when dealing with e-resources. Once a library has acquired an e-resource, the librarians want to ensure that it is well used. First, they need to make certain that users can access it easily.
- Decision to renew or cancel: An e-resource subscription is typically valid for a defined time period. When the period ends, the librarian must either renew the subscription or cancel it. Unlike the decision at the selection phase, this decision is based on the information accumulated in the management system, such as the actual usage of the resource while it was available, the reliability of the interface, and the responsiveness of the provide. Whatever the outcome of the decision – renewal or cancellation – the system needs to support it. Furthermore, even after a subscription has been cancelled, the library might have perpetual access or archiving rights to the data, another area that librarians must deal with on an outgoing basis.
The description provided here is a simplified version of real life. Many e-resources today are purchased through consortia, which wield considerable purchasing power.