“What is Verde?” I looked around the table at my colleagues, wondering if anyone would respond with something other than “an electronic resources management system?” Silence. “Why did we buy it?” I continued, hoping there was a real answer that wasn’t “because we bought Meridian… I looked out at capable and competent librarians… and I saw the same hesitant yet hopeful… blankness that I felt in my own head when I tried to describe what we were doing with Verde. We had an electronic resource management system (ERM) installed and “in production”; we had a notion that this was fairly cutting edge — but cutting edge of what?
Regrouping after a brief holiday break, past our original “do or die” date, we met to discuss what the barriers to production were. To me, it seemed the time to start back at square one: What was Verde, why did we have it, and what was in the way of our starting to use it today? In truth, all that was in our way was ourselves — we expected some magic solution, some transformation that would occur as we declared ourselves “in production.”
Second, an ERM will undoubtedly bring a great deal of change to your library’s workflows and processes. However change is best handled at your institution, prepare yourself to do that, because it’s not just a little system that your electronic resources librarian will have to learn, it’s a glimpse into the future of libraries where e-resources are the bread and butter of library work for nearly every employee.
Finally, and most importantly, ERMs aren’t magic. Sometimes librarians tend to talk and think about them as if they are, and that’s probably because, as Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ERMs are advanced technology for libraries, but in essence, you get no more out of an ERM than you are willing to put in.
Donna F. Ekart, “SOMEWHERE Over the VERDE Rainbow,” Computers in Libraries v. 28 no. 8 (September 2008) p. 8, 10, 44-5
I think ERM implementations are especially good examples of libraries thinking that buying the right very expensive project from a vendor is a substitute for re-examining library workflows, goals, and staff allocations. Adding new expensive software into unclear and poorly designed workflows that do not work efficiently to meet what should be current library goals… only adds insult to injury and gives you a world of hurt. (I don’t mean to suggest I’m describing the author of this article’s library, merely that it rings true to me. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of candor in that article though, something too rare in our library community).