The 7th annual Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) conference was held from April 2-4, 2012, in Austin, Texas. This year's conference was the largest on record, with over 500 in-person and online attendees. Conference attendees and observers were very active on Twitter, using the conference hashtag #erl12 alone or in combination with individual session hashtags. The conference's major themes and selected session highlights are summarized below. In addition, a recording of the conference's fascinating opening keynote by Andrea Resmini, current President of the Information Architecture Institute, is available for free at the conference website. It's well worth watching, especially if you're a fan of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.
ERMS themselves were also very present at the conference. Tim Jewell reported on the recent work of NISO's Electronic Resource Management (ERM) Data Standards and Best Practices Project, the successor to the Digital Library Federation's Electronic Resources Management Initiative (DLF-ERMI). Discussion centered on questions about the continued need for an ERM data dictionary. The project report can be downloaded from NISO's website. Librarians also engaged in the topic of ERMS, most visibly in a two-part panel discussion involving speakers from 8 different libraries (our own Mary Bailey among them!). The variety of panel speakers meant that most of the ERMS available in the marketplace were represented. Panelists answered a series of questions about ERMS implementation and work at their institution, then vendor representatives were given a chance to comment on any of their customers' statements. Although I was only able to attend one of the two parts, I walked away with the impression that our current use of Verde, including its automated workflows, is fairly advanced and unusually widespread within our organization.
Also notable was a presentation by JSTOR representatives on new services they're offering based on their own analysis of internal usage data. Such services include:
- Early Journal Content: free access to early content (pre-1923 in the U.S., pre-1870 elsewhere) regardless of institutional affiliation
- Register & Read: allows users unaffiliated with a subscribing institution to create a JSTOR account at no charge and keep up to 3 articles at a time on their bookshelf
- Institutional Finder: users who are affiliated with a subscribing institution and who are accessing JSTOR remotely through an unauthenticated link (e.g.: from Google Scholar) can use this service to log in to their institution's authentication system and get the access to which they're entitled.
The conference's closing keynote was a panel discussion on leadership within libraries. Panelists were Bonnie Tijerina (Claremont Colleges/ER&L), Char Booth (Claremont Colleges), and Karen Schneider (Holy Names University). The insights about leadership within and of libraries emerged from both the audience and the panelists, including:
- Leadership requires optimism
- Both leadership and optimism are learned traits
- Libraries' leaders are often introverts masquerading as extraverts
- Leadership and management are not the same but are often confused by libraries
- Leadership can happen at any level of a library and isn't always recognized or rewarded
Before the conference, organizers sent out a survey to attendees to gather words describing qualities that leaders should posess. A Wordle of the results was unveiled during this panel and fueled quite a bit of the discussion: