Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Managing and Accessing Electronic Journals at the Ball State University Libraries

Managing scholarly journal and magazine articles available in electronic format is a major activity in the University Libraries. To facilitate the management, tracking, and access to this important collection of academic content, in 2002 the University Libraries began a collaborative project with University Computing Services to create an electronic journal management system (EJMS). Today, this project serves as the data backbone of the Libraries’ public A to Z e-journals list, www.bsu.edu/libraries/ejournals/subject_all.asp.

Referred to internally as the Warren Database because the principal system designer was Warren D. Dawkins, then Head of Copy Cataloging, the University Libraries’ EJMS is a Microsoft Access/SQL Server-based system. The Microsoft Access frontend, hosted on a library file share, allows personnel in the Cataloging Services unit to access the data in the SQL Server via an Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) connection. The current configuration of the system presents several setup and access challenges for the University Libraries.

Under the administration of University Computing Services, the Warren Database is a closed system because it is very difficult to expand or integrate it with new technologies and services that improve discovery and access to e-journal content. The Libraries’ solution to this dilemma is to migrate the EJMS to an open platform that the Libraries’ technology staff can modify.

Phase I of the EJMS migration project consists of two parts. The first is to move the database from a SQL Server running on UCS systems to MySQL running on the University Libraries’ systems. The second part moves the MS Access frontend to dynamic Web forms. This work is taking place during spring 2008.

While Phase I work will not produce many visible outcomes for student and faculty users, this work sets the stage for integration with the Libraries’ SFX “Find It @ BSU” service, improved statistical and internal reporting of e-journal title data, and the addition of new data fields to the system to improve the public interface.

Additionally, the libraries plan to investigate ways to replicate the functionality of commercially-available Electronic Resources Management (ERM) systems. This work will further improve the management of our growing electronic collections.

Some potential areas of development include:
· Integration of title-level statistical reports available through ScholarlyStats, a subscription service that aggregates electronic journal usage statistics from a variety of major content platforms
· Improvement of indexing of e-journal titles and subjects for enhanced searching and sorting for the public A to Z interface
· unified list of all aggregator, subscription, and open access electronic journal titles available to Ball State students and faculty
· Creation of a seamless, automated workflow notification system to facilitate the management of e-journal information and expedite title additions, deletions, and edits to produce reliable and consistent access to electronic journals

Creation of the University Libraries’ new EJMS will support the goals and objectives established in the Information Technology Strategic Plan and the accompanying IT Action Plan by improving and expediting the growth of electronic collections and offering our students and faculty increased quality and opportunity for knowledge discovery and synthesis.

The University Libraries are diligently identifying ways to continue to enhance our collections and services to meet the growing and changing needs of Ball State University students and faculty. The Electronic Journal Management System is an important component of our sustained efforts to meet the information management challenges of evolving collections in digital formats and to provide our students and faculty with the very best support for classroom teaching, collaborative learning, and explorative research.

For mroe information, contact Bradley D. Faust, Assistant Dean for Library Information Technology Services at 765-285-8032 or Matthew C. Shaw, Electronic Resources Librarian, 765-285-1302.

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