Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.
Usage of San José Public Library's eResources "jumped significantly when the pandemic shut-downs occurred. People were desperate for information, connection and entertainment," according to Electronic Resources Librarian Dana Lema. She says that "eResources and virtual programming provided by libraries helped meet those needs for our community."
Librarian Dana Lema finds personal enrichment in her Electronic Resources Librarian role at the Library. Her greatest interest in librarianship is "helping patrons access the information they want or need."
What is an Electronic Resources Librarian? According to Hannah McKelvey in June 2020's Serials Review, Electronic Resource Librarians are responsible for "ensuring that the content is fully accessible to every user." Electronic Resource Librarians "are often responsible for evaluating online resources and negotiating the license agreements for the content." You can find this article in the Library's Explora Complete.
Dana attended San José State University's Information Intermediation & Instruction career pathway within the Masters in Library and Information Science Program. According to Dana,
"This pathway teaches librarians how to help patrons communicate their information needs and teaches techniques for helping answer questions and support patron learning."
While working on her degree, Dana worked as an intern student assistant, helping people to access information in a timely manner. Prior to her Masters, Dana worked as a supervisor in non-profits who helped people of all abilities. Dana has always found satisfaction in service to others.
Currently, she finds fulfillment in her work as an Electronics Resources Librarian.
What Does an Electronic Resources Librarian Do at San José Public Library?
If you go to the “Ask for Help” link on our home page, sjpl.org, you will notice our “Chat With Us” feature. When you type in a question for our staff to answer that needs Dana’s expertise, staff will send a help ticket to the eResources team. Or, an eResource question sent to us electronically or by phone will be directed to Dana, also. You can also leave comments on our website, too!
And that is the start of Dana’s day! Dana thoroughly enjoys interacting with customers and helping them, so she makes sure that answering your eResources questions are her priority! She wants to ensure that you do not have too long to wait for an answer. If she does not answer your questions, you can be sure that one of our dedicated staff will be sure to answer your questions with great care and efficiency.
I have observed that Dana is a great communicator, which is absolutely necessary for her position. Because eResources are constantly changing and evolving, the Library needs someone who can quickly disseminate and communicate information to both the public and staff. Here are some of the ways that she communicates during a typical day:
- Monitors her email “all day for notices of any outages, problems or changes with our eResource platforms so I can notify staff and stay in communication with the vendors for resolution of the problem.”
- “Compiles monthly statistics on our eBook and database usage.” She then communicates requested eResource statistics to other library departments.
- Meets with other staff about eResources or the Technology Department and attends other trainings.
- Writes a “spotlight blog” for customers to inform you about different eResources.
- “Creates and conducts trainings on eResources for staff, patrons and volunteers.”
- “Updates FAQs and eResource information” on our website.
In addition to her communication duties, Dana also has a number of other duties that fill her day, including:
- "Mines popular eResources" for usage statistics, which she enters into a spreadsheet that she started “when the pandemic shut-downs occurred" (because eResource usage has dramatically increased due to the pandemic.)
- "Sets up and participates" in eResource trials.
- “Works with our Information and Technology Engineers to set up access to new eResources.”
- "Updates the eResources budget."
- Performs reference work both online and in the Library.
- As a selector, Dana “selects and purchases Adult and Young Adult non-fiction DVDs" for the entire Library system.
Finally, Dana ends her day as she started, by checking for any communications from customers like you!
How Dana Curates the eResources Collection
According to Dana, there are many factors that impact the decision to adopt or remove an eResource from the Library's website as follows:
- "unmet digital or learning needs"
- "patron requests"
- whether the item fits into the Library's budget
- "the vendor's privacy policies"
- "the support they provide patrons among others"
The usual trigger for new eResource acquisitions is an influx of customer requests. Dana verified that this was the case for a recent acquisition!
I was very happy to have been informed by Dana, through her blog, that the Library acquired The Wall Street Journal as an eResource. The addition of the Wall Street Journal is a great complement to The New York Times, as both resources provide nationally-recognized (often opposing) viewpoints. The Library endeavors to provide equal access to all.
Dana details how the acquisition occurred:
- Multiple patron requests were received.
- Dana talks "to the vendor and arranges a trial."
- "The Electronic Resources Team (ERT) creates eResource trainings and helps promote our eResources."
- "The ERT members will participate in the trial and let me know their impressions of the eResource."
- "In our ERT meetings, we'll discuss the quality of the product, cost, potential patron benefit and other factors and ERT will make a recommendation."
When Dana considers removing an eResource, she says, "we look at if it's been used by patrons and/or has filled the need we hoped it would. We also look at cost and if there have been any changes in the eResource that would suggest we should discontinue it or look for something similar that will meet the same need."
When You Have Questions About the Electronic Resources Collection
You might have a lot of questions about how to access the Library's Electronic Resources.
Here are some of Dana's tips for support:
- Online Resources Help Find FAQs, eMedia Borrowing Rules, and Privacy Policies
- Live Chat Ask library staff questions
- eMedia Support Question Form Submit a question in written form online
- Call 1-808-408-2104 and leave a voice message
Dana says that "Messages and requests are checked multiple times each day by me and the awesome team of library staff who help me answer the help requests. We usually respond within several hours unless it’s a weekend."
Finally, one of Dana's many grateful customers commented:
“Thank you so much for spending time on a computer illiterate person like me. Thanks to you, I think I can enjoy eBooks from now on."
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!