Part of the eLib On-demand Publishing Programme, the ERIMS Project aims to test the viability and user environment for provision of reading materials, in electronic format, to a cross section of users in Management Studies.
Management Studies information has provided an interesting context for the development, and study of use, of the ERIMS resource. On-line databases are heavily used, and taking periodical literature for example, two full-text systems are used in UK Business Schools: Business Periodicals On-Disc and General Business File. The availability of these and other full-text resources combined with improved opportunities for networking has prompted Business Schools to re-evaluate print collections and divert resources to electronic media. This trend opens up the prospect of a more rapid transition to an integrated electronic library system than in other subject areas.
Four Academic Partners are involved with the ERIMS Project. The School of Management Studies/ Templeton College at Oxford University is the lead site, the other participants being the Business Schools and libraries at Aston, Newcastle and Sheffield. Each institution has been involved in the compilation of reading list information, and the libraries will act as test sites for the transferability of the system and for user studies.
Several processes have been fundamental to the development of the ERIMS system: the identification of priority reading materials; negotiations with publishers to gain permission to use material; and the development of the technical framework.
A combined database of Management Studies reading lists has been compiled, in Procite. The Project is working with four leading publishers of Management Studies materials to gain permission to make electronic copies of existing printed documents, as identified from the reading lists. Journal articles and key chapters from books are being used. Items are mainly held in image format, but other formats are being explored, in particular for newly published items. One of the participating publishers aims to provide the project with new books, in PDF format. The original demand driven approach to the selection of reading material has thus been extended to explore the issues of a supply driven approach. User access is via the Internet, supported by a database system for information retrieval and copyright management. Only registered users have access to the system and mechanisms for monitoring usage are also in place.
Full user trials are scheduled for the new year. User reaction to the delivery of full-text under different hardware, software and payment environments will be explored at each site. Comparisons between the use of electronic texts and traditional short loan collections and reading packs are planned.
An initial survey has been carried out at Oxford to examine students' access to and experience of electronic resources. At Aston a similar exercise has been undertaken to assess user reaction to an electronic library environment.
Further details about ERIMS can be found at our Web site.
 ERIMS Web site,
Catherine Hanratty, based at the University of Oxford School of Management Studies and Templeton College, works on the ERIMS project.