Library:EResources&Access Documentation Core Competencies

From UBC Wiki


The idea behind putting together a document on core competencies is to organize a list of the many and complicated elements required to fully access, manage, problem-solve and assess online resources. As well, the desired elements can then be grouped together into stages of training. These stages (tentatively Collection Management, eJournal Problem Solving, Higher-Level Problem Solving) should build on each other with the introduction of both new competencies and new abilities within competencies already touched on. For example, Knowledge of common systems/software/browsers will need to be introduced during collection management (noting a new resource is not “Mac/Safari friendly”, for example) but expanded on during training in problem solving.

Following the Rensik1 model, ER&A Core Competencies fall into three broad groupings of knowledge: Communications, Technical Knowledge and Collections Knowledge. More specifically:

  • Communication with patrons
  • Communication with vendors/providers
  • Communication with internal staff [Library, Systems Help Desk & UBC IT]
  • Knowledge of E-R&A specific workflows & systems
  • Knowledge of Library-wide workflows & systems
  • Knowledge of common systems/software/browsers
  • Knowledge of IPs
  • Knowledge of authorized users
  • Knowledge of remote access methods
  • Knowledge of link resolvers/OpenURLs & PURLs
  • Knowledge of points of access & Discovery
  • General Licensing & Copyright knowledge
  • UBC Library Collection knowledge

Note: the focus here is “general” E-R&A competencies. Specialized positions (such as Licensing Specialist) will be focused on specific competencies, but should still be aware of these as well. Support Center documents listed below are via the Ex Libris Knowledge Center.

Communication (Patrons)

  • Patrons can be: Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni or the general public - basically anyone using (or wanting to use) Library resources
  • Each must be treated courteously and honestly
  • If you cannot answer a question, admit it and provide options or direct them to the appropriate person - but give that person a "heads up"
  • Always invite feedback


Be aware of the importance of customer service. Develop the ability to “read” users and respond appropriately: an undergraduate should get a different level of answer than a faculty member, an impatient user needs different handling than a patient one. Assess user mood and tolerance and respond with a suitable level of detail. Be clear and concise. An answer may need to include general instructions or service explanations. Share with fellow E-R&A staff any news that arises out of conversations.


Open with a “thank you”. They didn’t have to use our services, but we’re glad they did. Only answer what falls within our scope: access and general information. CC Subject Librarians when specific, resource-related instruction is needed. CC other “specialists” (Circulation staff, Licensing, Copyright, etc.) for areas outside the E-R&A scope. Close with an invitation to communicate further when appropriate.


Less common than email, but usually trickier as someone is obviously in too much of a rush (or too uncertain about how to explain the problem) to email. Answer the phone by identifying our unit and yourself. Take notes as you listen and encourage the patron to follow up via the Help Form if more information is needed. If they try to describe what they are seeing on their computer, be aware no one does this well, everyone has their own technical/non-technical lingo and you absolutely need to know how they are trying to connect (on-campus IP, off-campus IP, EZproxy, remote desktop occasionally for faculty). Remember, you may have to remind them that myVPN is not an option (unless in conjunction with remote desktop... but we would rather they didn't go that route). Be patient and be aware of the patron’s technology comfort level. And remember, a phone call doesn’t mean the answer must be provided right away if there is information that needs checking. Generally, follow up should be by email.

in person

Very rare, but happens (usually it's Library staff). Take notes. Be aware that what you see on your screen and what they might later see on their screens could be radically different depending on system settings, browsers, etc. As well, Admin and back-end views and diagnostic tools will usually be new to them. Follow up via email to create a record of the interaction.

social media

Know that we use a blog to post major news items (important sites down, new resources, trials, etc.), Twitter to post lesser news items (sites temporarily down, etc.) and a Google Calendar for known dates of site maintenance. How to post to sites will eventually also become part of the job. We do not monitor Twitter for incoming queries.

Communication (Vendors/Providers)

  • This can include: vendors, publishers, subscription agents, technical/customer service folk, consortial contacts, sales people, other institutions, etc.
  • Be clear in identifying the resource involved either with an account number, customer number or other ID or latest invoice number and mention if the subscription is via a consortia or agent. Providing more info initially is better than having to clarify later
  • Be clear on problem or request
  • If it is necessary to attach screenshots to email, do so in a Word document
  • If it is necessary to attach a video clip of the problem, the tools SnagIt and Camtasia are now built into workstations to generate the clip
  • Re-use successful contacts and keep Contacts in the 360 Resource Manager up to date
  • Record & share any news that arises from your communication
  • Be aware of the authentication method used for the resource (IP or ID & Password)


Communication with Providers & vendors (or agents) is mostly for the purpose of reporting a problem, gathering information, making a request or responding to vendor/provider requests. Know some of the background of the resource (how subscription is handled, how authentication is handled) and try to use the “lingo” of the resource (what they call different areas of their site, for example). Be as detailed as possible in initial emails as conversations (especially when time zones play a role) can take days. Keep it professional, keep it courteous (even if they are not). Cultivate contacts that work. Record new information. Share information and especially long-term problems with the rest of E-R&A staff. Watch for patterns with vendors regarding persistent/recurring access or content problems. Don't hesitate to call their service hotlines if a major resource goes down. Major vendors (like Gale) often restore access immediately (if possible) and sort out any payment-related problems later.

Communications (Internal Staff)

  • If they are acting as a “patron”, see above
  • Internal staff can be Library Support Staff, Librarians, people in UBC IT or other UBC Departments
  • Keep it focused and simple. They have their own jobs to do too
  • Use approved methods of communicating (Online Forms, Feedback emails, etc.) and contact the appropriate person, not just those you know
  • When forwarding patron requests, make especially certain you have the correct staff member
  • Do communicate. Everyone likes a “heads up” if something that may impact their work is about to happen. No one likes work-related surprises


This type of communication generally involves forwarding a patron’s request, asking for information, requesting an action or responding to requests from others at UBC. Communication is key to keeping everyone apprised of what is going on.

ER&A Specific Workflows & Systems

  • Trial, Review, Acquire
  • Implementation of New Resources
  • Collection Management
  • Problem Solve
  • Assess, Renew, Cancel
  • Archive

(These are laid out in separate documentation currently under construction)

Be aware of the basic outlines of the workflows and processes related to the selecting, trialing, acquisition, renewals, licensing, etc. of online resources. We try to follow TERMS - under revision 2018 more or less.

  • The Serials Solutions Suite (360 KB, 360 Core, eJournal Portal, 360 Link, 360 Resource Manager, 360 MARC Updates, 360 Counter)
  • Summon
  • Resource Pages
  • WonderTool (EZproxy)

Serials Solutions Suite

Note: As of 2014 the "Serials Solution" brand was semi-retired when taken over by "ProQuest". In 2016, ProQuest merged with Ex Libris.

Familiarity with all components is essential as this remotely hosted suite is the backbone of everything we do with online resources. The components we use include:

360 KB (formerly Knowledgeworks)

  • This is the knowledgebase at the core of Serials Solutions.
    • know how to search for Providers, Databases or Titles
    • understand how it tracks all our online resources
    • recognize when it is appropriate that we edit the data and when we request an edit from Serials Solutions
    • understand the difference between Library Specific Holdings and other Providers
    • Ex Libris Knowledge Center

360 Core

  • This is the control centre for discovery and management of online resources.

eJournal Portal

  • The ejournal A-Z list.

360 Link

The OpenURL resolver and Citation Linker.

360 Resource Manager

360 MARC Updates

  • eJournal/ebook bib record service.
    • not all electronic bib records come from Serials Solutions, but many do
    • recognize a Serials Solutions bib by (WaSeSS) in the 035(a) subfield
    • batch records should come every month (around the 19th, so there is a delay in them appearing in the catalogue)
    • Ex Libris Knowledge Center

360 Counter



  • This indexed database is the Library’s over-arching discovery tool
    • patrons often confuse it with the “Catalogue”. Be aware of this
    • know how it works
    • know how OpenURL metadata and linking can go wrong
    • records from UBC Catalogue, cIRcle and Archives/Digital Initiatives are added to the publisher supplied metadata from publishers in this index
    • it does NOT included everything in Knowledgeworks
    • we send Catalogue bib records nightly to be indexed, but Summon doesn't index nightly. Be aware of the lack of synchronization between Summon and the Catalogue that this can create
    • Ex Libris Knowledge Center


Resource Pages

  • Information pages generated in-house that provide information on and linking to online resources (such as Indexes & Abstracts, ebook platforms, databases, data sets or aggregators) that often can’t be found via other discovery tools (ie Summon or the OPAC)
  • each is "owned" by a Subject Librarian
  • pages are added to the LibGuides A-Z Database List



  • UBC IT-built tool for editing the EZproxy Config file.
    • understand the “Host” & “Domain” portions of a URL
    • be aware of how stanzas are generally constructed
    • bookmark the OCLC site where many official stanzas are located

Library-Wide Workflows & Systems


Be aware of basic "library-wide" knowledge and know who to contact (for example, who for: UBCcards, Library accounts and services, InterLibrary Loans & Document Delivery, UBC IT-related issues, Public Service, Cataloguing, etc.) so that the right person can be contacted the first time.

  • Library’s ILS (Voyager)
  • OPACs
  • The Library Website
  • Windows file management
  • Microsoft Office (primarily Outlook & Excel)
  • Confluence, Wiki, Shared Drive
  • Canvas or LOCR (online Reserves)
  • JIRA ticketing system


Know how to i) find Orders & Invoices in the Acquisitions Client, ii) search the Catalogue Client and iii) look in the Circulation Client for patron contact email. There is also a Guest Barcode & PIN in the Circulation Client that can be set up (with a short end date) for vendors who need to get past EZproxy for troubleshooting. Very rarely, access to Voyager's SnapShot OPAC may be needed to see pre-2004 order history.


Know how to search the public interface and be aware of how it differs from the back-end “Catalogue”, recognize PURLs for bib records, know why the UBC eLink appears (or not) in a Serial bib record, know purpose of the “Online Access” button, know some basic MARC fields (245, 856, 035, etc.).

Library Website

Be familiar with the Library Homepage and various sub-pages from a patron point of view, know the various routes to search interfaces and discovery tools. Know how to direct patrons to our Help Form.

Microsoft Office & Windows Environment

Must be able to work with email (Outlook) adding attachments and using filters & folders and to keep email organized. Being able to create file folders then store, sort and retrieving files in the Windows environment a must. Outlook Tasks are being used frequently to keep upcoming work organized. Shared drives house Licensing and other important information everyone in E-R&A needs to know.

Confluence & Wiki & Shared Drive

Used to store documentation that needs to be shared (role of each still evolving). Must be able to search, open, edit and upload documents in each environment.


Online Reserve system using in-house software "LOCR" for both "e" and Print items placed on course reserve. Links may need to be reviewed during problem solving.

Knowledge of Common Systems/Software/Browsers

  • PC vs Mac
  • Adobe Reader / .pdf
  • RefWorks
  • Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome

Everybody has a unique system made up of a combination of components. Be familiar with the more common components and how a resource may not be able to interact with certain systems (for example, not Mac or specific browser friendly) or requires third-party software (for example, .pdf reader or specific video player) to function fully.

Knowledge of institutional Internet Protocol (IP) ranges

  • Know UBC’s IP ranges and where to find the UBC IT IP list
  • Be aware of the IPs we send to Providers and where that list is on the shared Drive
  • Know which IP is EZproxy [ ]
  • Be aware which are UBC-O
  • Be aware which are wireless
  • Be aware of IP ranges associated with specific locations (like Triumf) or are excluded (Triumf and myVPN, for example)
  • Recognize an off-campus IP

Authentication for almost all resources is by IP authentication.

If ID & Password are used, a special set up is required. If Patrons must create an account, this can get trick and involve privacy issues.

If a Provider blocks an IP, know the procedure to follow.

Knowledge of Authorized Users

  • Understanding who are “students”, “staff”, “Faculty”, “Walk-ins”, “Alumni”, “Community Borrowers”, etc.
  • Understanding it is the license that determines who legally can/cannot access a resource, but it is our technological limitations that actually control who has access
  • Recognize “Free” resources
  • Understanding institutional affiliations (hospitals, Health Authorities, theological colleges, etc)
  • Awareness that hospital & Health Authorities are on their own network and what that entails

UBC Library subscribes to online resources for the benefit of UBC Library patrons. Not everyone who wants to access a resource where they want to access it from can. Generally, a UBCcard or CWL is required to access subscribed resources. A “guest” CWL has strict limitations on what it allows (no remote access to resources, for example, but access to UBCsecure wireless). Free resources are open to all, but some do require that a personal account be set up on the site. Here is a list of Patron Groups who can/cannot get past EZproxy.

Knowledge of Remote Access Mechanisms

  • EZproxy

Currently, EZproxy is the only "direct" method for remote authentication and access to online resources. MyVPN can be used for Remote Desktop connection (and access to online resources from there) but not direct remote access to online resources.

Recognize the typical EZproxy error message that indicates a problem with the EZproxy Config file, the "NeedHost" errors.

Understand that off-campus users (coming from non-UBC IPs) must authenticate somehow before accessing subscribed resources. Be aware of other network firewalls (such as those used by hospitals & Health Authorities) which may mean a patron will have to be referred to UBC IT and their own IT in order to solve their access problems.

Knowledge of Link Resolvers/OpenURLs & PURLs

  • 360 Link (see above)
  • General knowledge of how Link Resolvers work
  • UBC eLink Button
  • Info (Metadata) Contained in OpenURLs
  • Constructing Permanent URLs (PURLs)

While the ability to link from a citation to a full-text resource with the click of a button is great, it is also fraught with so many fussy little ways to go wrong. Knowing how it works, how to tweak the metadata and how to “read” URLs to some degree is necessary. There are several online tools that can help with this.

Each site has a different method (and often their own name) for PURLs. The majority but not all require EZproxy pre-pending to work off campus.

Knowledge of Points of Access & Discovery

  • UBC Library controls:
    • Summon
    • OPAC Catalogue (incl. URLs in MARC records)
    • eJournal Portal
    • Citation Linker
    • Resource pages
    • cIRcle & other UBC digital databases
    • online reserves (Canvas/LOCR)
    • LibGuides to some degree
  • we can’t control:
    • Google / Google Scholar
    • Personal bookmarked URLs
    • external URLs

Practice and familiarity with the access points that UBC Library controls from the perspective of a patron is essential to being able to “read” questions and understand what the patron really means. To many, Summon or the eJournal Portal is just “the Catalogue”. A problem often can’t be solved if it can’t be approached from the same perspective as the patron.

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