Electronic Access to Information Resources Committee (EAR)
Purpose of Committee
The EAR Committee was formed in 1990 to explore ways in which the resources of the CSU libraries could be maximized through shared acquisition of databases and information. The Committee evaluates information from the CSU libraries, seeks consortial arrangements, and works with vendors to develop economies of scale.
The Committee meets quarterly at various locations, with additional meetings scheduled for completion of special projects. Product demonstrations and regular business meetings are open meetings.
Membership is as follows:
- Two library deans/directors who serve as chair and chair-elect
- Eight librarians from collection development, electronic resources, reference, systems and technical services
- One ITAC representative
- Director, Systemwide Electronic Information Resources
- Membership Roster
- Survey and analyze the needs of CSU libraries regarding existing and desired electronic information, databases, hardware, and computer-based information resources. See Systemwide Library Surveys.
- Review and compare the relative costs of the various services currently available in the marketplace, and of options which are technologically feasible but currently not commercially available.
- Analyze the effectiveness of various products for delivery of information services to CSU library users based on vendor presentations, Committee reviews, vendor responses, and systemwide trials. See the Product Reviews and Vendor Responses.
- Develop benchmark criteria for decision making, vis-a-vis databases and selection/acquisition.
- Review and revise as needed the Principles for CSU Acquisition of Electronic Information Resources (.doc) and the Criteria for the CSU Electronic Information Resources Core Collection (.doc).
- Review and revise, based on established principles and criteria, the Core Collection of Electronic Resources as approved in the Recommendations for the Initial Electronic Information Resources Core Collection (.doc).
- Develop RFQs and RFPs as needed to develop the Core Collection of Electronic Resources.
- Disseminate regularly Committee activities, information-gathering methods and decisions through SEIRWeb and EARInfo.
Scope of Committee Activities
The EAR Committee has identified the scope of its activities to include:
- Identifying ventures which would yield the greatest return on investment (the economic imperative). In this context the EAR Committee is striving to provide the CSU library community with a workable and practical "market basket of good choices and opportunities",
- Promoting programs which would fit comfortably in the existing CSU environment (building on strength),
- Sponsoring working conferences which provide an opportunity for CSU and possibly other universities to engage in practical brainstorming with information and service providers,
- Developing projects which fit into long term "futuring" for libraries in general and CSU libraries in particular.
- Coordinating activities with working groups and committees involves with electronic contexts, e.g. the Unified Information Access System (UIAS).
See the Committee Minutes and the Summary of 1996-1997 Activities for details.
Committee Review Process
Each EAR Committee member is expected to review and evaluate formal proposals as they are submitted. The review process is initiated by either the Chair of the EAR Committee or the SEIR (Systemwide Electronic Information Resources) representative. Committee members may consult others in completing their evaluation, rating the proposal upon potential value to the CSU as a whole, and not solely on the needs of a specific campus. The EAR Review Reply Form is completed by each Committee member for each formal proposal under consideration.
Each item to be reviewed must pass several phases before it may be submitted to library directors for their acceptance or rejection. An item may be withdrawn from the review and evaluation process at each phase. The phases are:
Anyone may request the Committee to examine an item. However, either the Chair of EAR or the SEIR representative may reject an item and therefore eliminate it from further consideration.
Items are then subject to fact finding and prepared by the SEIR representative in written form for the formal review process by the EAR Committee. This initiates the Review Reply Form. Reviews consider the INFORMATION DATABASE (functionality, content, coverage), SEARCH INTERFACE (functionality, ease of use), USER SUPPORT SERVICES (online help, training), COST, ACCESSIBILITY OF SERVICE , and OVERALL ASSESSMENT.
3. Proposal or Withdrawal
Tabulation of the Review Reply Form responses determines whether or not the item is further prepared and issued as a proposal or withdrawn. Withdrawn items may be recycled via the subcommittee route on the basis of new fact finding. Recycled items start over as new items. An overall borderline result may or may not result in a proposal. If such a proposal is issued, the specific detail of the overall evaluation shall be provided.
Implementation is based upon acceptance of the proposal by a sufficient number of participants.
History and Background of the Committee
The Committee for the Study of Electronic Access to Information Resources was established as a Task Force in Spring 1990, by vote of the CSU Library Directors' Council. Its mission was to examine the state of technological application and the implications of technology on the CSU libraries. Members and staff to work with the Committee were chosen from a list of nominees submitted by the Library Directors and by Dr. Tom Harris of the Office of Library Affairs.
The original charge for the EAR Committee was:
- Analyze the needs of the users of CSU libraries, as they relate to access to all types of electronic information, databases, and computer-based information resources.
- Summarize the current availability of services in CSU libraries, and in the CSU, whether in CCR or in specific departments.
- Analyze the relative costs of the various services currently available on the market, and of the options not commercially available, but technologically feasible (e.g. mounting databases on mainframe computers, to serve individual campuses or regional or statewide groups of campuses).
- Analyze effectiveness/efficiency of various products for delivery of information services to CSU library users.
- Draw up draft lists of benchmark criteria for decision making, vis-a-vis databases and selection/acquisitions.
- Discuss findings with the CSU Library Directors' Council, the Library Affairs Office and appropriate IRT staff, Computer Center representatives, and individual faculty on campuses.
- Draft final recommendations for submissions to Vice-Chancellor, Academic Affairs, California State University.
The committee first met in Fall, 1990. Since the committee's initial meeting, many issues and concerns have been explored and discussed by committee members and invited guests. Particular attention has been paid to the CSUNET, BITNET, the INTERNET and the WORLD WIDE WEB and their potential for improving information services for students and faculty in the CSU. In that respect, a number of possibilities for networked access to bibliographic, numerical, and full-text databases have been investigated. Additionally, the Committee has investigated paper and fax-based document delivery vendors, the availability of CD-ROM products in the CSU, the willingness of various vendors to offer group discounts on electronic information products, and the application of standards to networked resources.
Present EAR activities reflect the guidelines established in 1991. By November, 1992, EAR had been made a permanent standing committee of COLD. As a result of the discussions surrounding the CSU libraries strategic plan, representatives from the Media Directors and the Information Resources Management Council were added to the EAR Committee between 1995 and 1997.
COLD has tried to achieve representation not only from the libraries but also from major service areas. At any given time EAR does not have members from every CSU campus but there is always representation from both north and south, from both large and small campuses, and from major service areas.