Ebsco with Serials Solutions (was: Anyone using this combination of vendor tools?) Patricia Thompson 06 Aug 2007 16:55 UTC

Thank you Judith, for your reply on the list.

This is a summary of the off-list responses I have gotten so far:

1. Unhappy with EJS in general; do not want to pay for enhanced;
bypass EJS whenever possible and just go to publisher's site.

2. Says I should not pay extra for EJS Enhanced. Strongly suggests
that I start insisting that Serial Solutions and Ebsco work together
to implement one of the existing ONIX codes for the transmission of
serial subscription data between them. "This will make your life a
lot easier because it would mean that Ebsco should be able to push
the information per your subscription entitled access to the Serial
Solutions profile and automatically update your A-Z list and/or ERM system."

3. Says that even the Enhanced EJS product is labor-intensive, and
that the coverage indicated by EJS is inaccurate and prefers to link
to publisher site directly in Serials Solutions.

4. Almost never uses EJS for anything; tries to avoid using it
because it is clunky and doesn't seem to have reliable usage
statistics.   "I feel like everything gets garbled when EBSCO is
involved, but that may be because I haven't had any good experiences
with them yet."

5. Uses EJS Enhanced, but finds that Registration Tracker is not
reliably correct. Prefers to go with publisher's site for coverage
rather than EJS interface.

In addition,
5 people wrote saying that they want to know what I find out because
they are in the same boat.

My comments:

a. First of all, I am frustrated that people do not post to the list,
because that's what the list is for: discussion. It's not just this
list. It happens to me every time I post a question on any
email-based discussion list. People write to me, and then I have to
take the time to summarize, which doesn't usually happen, or pass on
all the messages, which I don't feel entirely comfortable with. However:

b. Probably the reason people did not post to the list on this
particular topic is that we are discussing vendors by name, and
people do not want to say bad things about anyone, and it isn't
really fair, and perhaps not even legal!  Please note: I DO NOT THINK
THAT THESE ISSUES ARE LIMITED TO EBSCO, or that they are entirely
EBSCO's "fault."  Serials Solutions is not perfect either. Both of
these companies rely on information from myriads of publishers, who
are not always cooperative.

But until companies like Ebsco allow users to share and communicate
in a protected environment (such as ILS User Groups) then I think we
should be allowed to compare notes and share experiences in a more
public list. Our only other option is to complain to our reps, which
I have done. (I usually get told that I am not using the products
correctly and need more training.)

c. Lots of people think that an ERM product is going to solve all of
their problems. I thought so too, and so we purchased Serials
Solutions ERM product a couple of years ago. However, it just sat
there-- I never had time to put the information in it!  And it has
limitations in what you can do with it.
I have felt very guilty about not using this product. But I spoke to
a librarian who attended NASIG, who told me that at one session,
people were asked to raise their hands if they had an ERM. Then out
of those people, who was actually using it? The people with their
hands still up was MUCH smaller.

d. Something is drastically wrong with this whole picture. No one has
time to check and recheck the dates of their online coverage for
individual titles. I am not the only librarian who is floundering.
All of these online advances (full-text explosions, link resolvers,
etc.) just keep raising the bar. Small libraries can get access to
thousands of online titles through publisher packages, aggregator
packages, consortial deals with publishers, etc. But we don't have
teams of people to manage them.

My challenge for this summer was to come up with a workflow for
managing e-resources that the staff in my serials group could
participate in and gradually get caught up with all the registrations
and changes and record-keeping that I have not been able to keep up
with. I am not much further along in that goal.

I've been a technical services/cataloging librarian for almost 20
years. I've always been good at working out the steps of a process
and training people to do them. I am comfortable with technology and
good at finding out how to do things. However, I've never been at
such a loss about how to approach something as I am this e-resource
stuff, and so frustrated at how little I accomplish when I work on
it. And this is only PART of my job!

I guess this was a big whining rant on my part. Maybe it helped to
get it out of my system. I am certain that I am not the only person
who feels this way. I do feel very fortunate to work in a library
that can actually afford to buy as many resources and tools as we
have. I also appreciate the work of the forward-thinkers who are
working on standards and cooperation between libraries, publishers,
and vendors.

Pat Thompson

Patricia Thompson
Assistant University Librarian for Resource Management Services
Jessie Ball duPont Library
The University of the South
Sewanee, TN 37383
Phone: 931-598-1657
Email: pthompso@sewanee.edu