E-resource Use and the Role of the University Library

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E-Resource Use and the Role of the University Library


  • Review the factors that affect and determine the use of e-resources
  • Explain the part played by the university library in enabling effective and sustainable use

Objectives (continued)

  • Indicate constraints under which libraries work
  • Suggest ways that academics and administrators can assist the library

Issues in E-Resource Use

  • Technology
  • Costs
  • Management
  • Training
  • Content
  • Medium

Technology essentials

  • Dedicated Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth
  • Campus backbone, LAN, WAN, and peripheral hardware, e.g. printers
  • Computer workstations
  • Appropriate software
  • Support - maintenance, trouble shooting


  • Capital (infrastructure) investment: network, bandwidth, hardware (computers, printers, etc.), software
  • Maintenance: insurance, repair, depreciation, replacement, updating
  • Staff salaries
  • Training: staff and students
  • Consumables: journals, databases, document delivery, paper, ink cartridges

Examples of costs

  • Bandwidth:
  • Makerere: $22,000 p.m. for 1.5Mbps/768Kbps
  • Univ. Ghana: $10,000 p.m. for 1Mbps/512Kbps
  • Infrastructure
  • Set up an IT network: $75 per student
  • Maintain an IT network: $50 per student p.a.
  • • Computer
  • Initial purchase price of a Windows Computer is 20% of total cost of ownership over five years

Examples of costs (continued)

  • Journal subscriptions
  • Average per title in 2003:
  • Social Sciences $758
  • Science $1,134
  • Medicine $661
  • Big deals (2004)
  • Blackwells Synergy: 670 titles $630,000
  • Springer (Kluwer): 1,200 titles $840,601
  • Wiley: 520 titles $654,000


  • Selection and purchase
  • variety of publishers and aggregators
  • different delivery options
  • annual subscriptions
  • Legal implications
  • licences and copyright
  • Organization of information
  • guides to relevant resources
  • archiving
  • evaluation of use


  • Users need to:
  • know how to use a PC
  • how to search for and find information resources
  • be aware of resources that are available
  • Different users have different needs:
  • academics, researchers, librarians, students, administrators
  • • Different training strategies required for different users


  • Much WWW content is Western-orientated
  • More locally produced content is required:
  • online indexes to locally published material, e.g. AJOL, CARINDEX
  • online local journals
  • networked institutional repositories


  • Physical collections can still be important:
  • Print textbooks
  • Core journals in hard copy
  • Archives
  • CD-ROM for back files of journals, databases for information retrieval

Role of the University Library

  • Access to Internet and PCs
  • Acquisition and administration of e-resources
  • Guides to relevant e-resources
  • User education
  • Assistance in setting up VLEs
  • Integration of traditional and digital materials

Access to Internet and PCs

  • Adequate number of PCs and peripherals
  • recommended library standard: 1 PC:25 students
  • Supervised facilities
  • trouble shooting, long opening hours, timetabled computer use
  • Authentication
  • Bandwidth conservation

Selection of E-Resources

  • Is content suitable for programme needs?
  • Is online the most appropriate medium?
  • What are the licensing arrangements?
  • What are the costs?
  • Which delivery option is the most cost-effective?
  • What are the archiving arrangements?
  • Is e-journal identical to print? Does it have links to other sites?

Purchase of E-Resources

  • Enter annual subscriptions
  • Negotiate best terms
  • Share costs with other libraries
  • Use library consortia to bring down costs

Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Collect statistics of online resource use: who uses, how and when
  • What is the cost per article downloaded?
  • Decide whether a particular subscription is worth its annual cost or whether the information could be obtained more cheaply by another delivery option

Guides to E- Resources

  • What e-resources are available through the library?
  • Which are the most appropriate resources?
  • Library portals

User Education

  • Formal training in information literacy for u-g students, combining IT skills with information handling skills
  • Advanced subject-oriented training for p-g students
  • Seminars at faculty or departmental level to introduce new e-resources
  • One-to one workstation sessions

ICT-enabled Learning

  • Input at departmental and faculty levels to curriculum development and programme assessment
  • Provide library web pages with course related resources, e.g. list of journals held, full text of relevant articles, study guides for those undertaking research

Integration of Print and E-Resources

  • Selection policy that combines, compares and contrasts all media
  • Integrated access to all library holdings, e.g. through an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue)


  • Lack of funding
  • leading to deteriorating buildings and collections, decline in use, demoralized library staff and marginalization of the library
  • Lack of knowledge and skills in library staff
  • Lack of understanding and knowledge amongst university staff about information access and delivery

What Can You Do?

  • Some suggestions:
  • Become an ICT-champion, promoting the use of e-resources in your department and university
  • Become your departmental representative on the Senate Library Committee
  • Campaign for the library to get its fair share of the university budget

What Can You Do? (cont.)

  • Encourage the inclusion of funds for library resources in project proposals and budgets
  • Talk to librarians and explain how you need them to assist in your teaching and research


  • Providing access to e-resources is a costly and complex process
  • The library impacts everywhere on the implementation and use of e-resources
  • The library requires funds, skills and university-wide support to fulfil its role

Thank you Any questions?

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