Despite the fact libraries have been buried under the burden (for at least the last half-dozen years) of trying to manage the information tangle related to electronic content subscriptions, this is the year in which electronic resource management (ERM) software is breaking surface in a widespread manner. This past January in Boston—the 2005 venue for the annual ALA Midwinter Meeting—a number of vendors showcased their ERM offerings.
It should be recognized, however, that one library automation vendor has offered a product in this category since 2002. Innovative's ERM offering pioneered the commercial ERM path, and, to date, has sold to more than 120 libraries. Major libraries utilizing Innovative's ERM product include the Library of Congress, Cornell University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Utah State University.
Among the vendors showing an ERM offering at the ALA Midwinter meeting was Endeavor, which unveiled its Meridian ERM system at its semi-annual “Endeavor Digital Breakfast.” According to Endeavor, Meridian is expected to be in general release by June 2005, but discounts are available to libraries that agree to purchase the product between January 1 and June 30, 2005. Endeavor reports it will be working with information-management technology developer Cognos to integrate Cognos ReportNet software into Meridian. With the integration, the vendors say the ERM offering will provide libraries with “sophisticated” capabilities to produce and distribute detailed reports about the use of their individual electronic resources.
Ex Libris also took the Midwinter opportunity to demonstrate a prototype of its ERM system, an offering dubbed “Verde.” Designed to operate as a standalone ERM system, Verde extends the architecture and data elements of its SFX link resolver.
In June 2004, Ex Libris made its Verde development announcement and reported the anticipated release of the initial version would come late in 2004. Though not yet released market-wide, by Midwinter this year, Verde seemed to be well along in its development, with a prototype operational at the two co-development sites, the Harvard University and the MIT libraries.
VTLS is also getting in on the ERM act; the company reports it's working with four libraries as development partners in preparing VERIFY, what the company calls its new, integrated or stand-alone ERM system. According to VTLS, three of these libraries—that were represented in the ERM initiative of the Digital Library Federation—currently are using a beta version of the product. General release of VERIFY is expected by Q2 or Q3 of calendar year 2005.