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veritas Harvard University Library Notes, For Harvard Library Staff, Number 1325 May 2005

DigAcq Announces Revamped E-Resource Stewardship Program

Since 1998, the number and the use of e-resources on the Harvard Libraries web site have grown by 885% and 1,271% respectively. As Ivy Anderson observes in her Library Notes interview, "E-resources are volatile in ways that physical collections aren't: they're constantly evolving to include new features and interfaces, new or changed or withdrawn content. . . . In short, many of these resources require active management and evaluation."

In order to manage Harvard's rapidly expanding electronic resource inventory, the Digital Acquisitions and Collections Committee (DACC) of the Library Digital Initiative has revamped the e-resource stewardship program according to a ULC mandate late in FY 2004. Now, each major e-resource on the Harvard Libraries portal is assigned to a principal stewarding library—and not, as in the past, to a single Harvard librarian. Anderson notes particularly, however, that broad-based resources will continue to be stewarded by COERS (the Committee on Electronic Resources and Services), an interfaculty committee reporting to DACC that organizes and oversees the stewardship program.

Assignment as a stewarding library is based on a variety of factors such as subject coverage, financial support, and usage. Each stewarding library is asked to designate a coordinator for stewardship activities, but the responsibility for those activities is managed and distributed among library staff. Managers are encouraged to consider revising staff position descriptions to include stewarding duties. Currently, 28 libraries across nine Harvard faculties are serving as stewards for approximately 556 resources.

For each e-resource, the stewarding library may:

  • Serve as a center for resource expertise within the library community.
  • Respond in a timely manner to user comments and questions.
  • Provide feedback to COERS on platform configuration changes.
  • Monitor resource developments and changes.
  • Periodically review portal and (where available) vendor-provided usage statistics.
  • Participate in re-evaluation and renewal and retention decisions, in conjunction with other stakeholders and OIS.
  • Update and maintain portal information pages on an annual or as-needed basis.

The library/steward model encourages each Harvard library to incorporate stewardship duties within existing responsibilities. It also encourages each library to leverage expertise across the staff—just as libraries "steward" books and other media. Technical Services departments may catalog and classify resources; then Public Services departments may focus on users' needs and evaluation.

Stewarding libraries are free to assign duties within the library. This model was devised, in part, to ensure that e-resources are managed despite personnel changes. Though each stewarding library appoints a coordinator who facilitates stewardship activities and information flow, DACC strongly recommends that responsibilities not be limited to a single individual.

In Anderson's words, "Electronic resources are becoming increasingly important to our library collections and services. COERS has been a driving force behind the move to make stewardship of these resources an integral part of what we do and for cultivating a sense of ownership of these resources throughout the libraries."

The Stewardship Toolbox, developed by COERS to assist libraries in fulfilling stewardship responsibilities, can be accessed on the DigAcq web site at http://hul.harvard.edu/digacq/steward. The site also provides a directory of stewarding libraries and stewardship coordinators.

Members of the COERS task force that developed the current stewardship model are Ivy Anderson, Sarah Dickinson (Frances Loeb Library—Harvard Graduate School of Design), Heather McMullen (formerly HCL), Patrice Moskow (Monroe C. Gutman Library—Harvard Graduate School of Education), Kristin Stoklosa (Cabot Science Library—HCL), and Suzanne Wones (John F. Kennedy School of Government Library). Questions can be directed to the current cochairs of COERS, Ann Cullen (Baker Library—Harvard Business School), 5-5918 or acullen@hbs.edu, or Kristin Stoklosa, 6-9499 or stoklosa@fas.harvard.edu.


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