The Electronic Resources Troubleshooting Guide

Available Formats
ALA Member
Item Number
ALA Editions
AP Categories

Primary tabs

You don't need to be an ALA Member to purchase from the ALA Store, but you'll be asked to create an online account/profile during the checkout to proceed. This Web Account is for both Members and non-Members. 

If you are Tax-Exempt, please verify that your account is currently set up as exempt before placing your order, as our new fulfillment center will need current documentation. Learn how to verify here.

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

A library user can’t access an article. Your log in credentials won’t work. In the realm of electronic resources everything runs smoothly—until suddenly, without warning, it doesn’t. Invariably, systems will break down, but a trial and error approach to finding out what’s wrong is highly inefficient. This hands-on guide from two expert ERM librarians walks you through the essentials of troubleshooting. It outlines a methodical process that will help you identify the source of a problem even when it’s not obvious and take steps to reach a resolution. With the goal of developing a library-wide workflow in mind, this guide will teach you how to

  • familiarize yourself with the components of electronic resources, using flowchart diagrams of common access chains such as discovery services, knowledge bases, research guides, and library services platforms;
  • navigate the complete triage and troubleshooting workflow, illustrated through 14 in-depth examples;
  • recognize the symptoms of common access disruptions;
  • conduct efficient troubleshooting interviews;
  • manage help tickets and design problem reports that capture key information without overburdening the user;
  • create publicly available help pages for problems originating with users’ devices or computers;
  • communicate with vendors and IT personnel for speedy resolutions, providing dozens of clear definitions of library and technology terms that will help you minimize confusion; and
  • customize your own troubleshooting workflow chart for common use across departments and staff hierarchies.

Acting as a ready reference, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills to troubleshoot common ERM problems.


Chapter 1    Troubleshooting as Problem Solving
Chapter 2    The Access Chain
Chapter 3    Soliciting Problem Reports
Chapter 4    Diagnosing Access Issues
Chapter 5    Resolving Access Issues
Chapter 6    Common Access Issues and Examples
Chapter 7    Troubleshooting Workflows and Training
Chapter 8    Proactive Troubleshooting


Holly Talbott

Holly Talbott has more than six years of experience with electronic resources and is coauthor of Electronic Resources Librarianship: A Practical Guide for Librarians (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). She is the electronic resources librarian at Kent State University and was previously the electronic resources and licensing librarian at the University of Arizona Libraries and the electronic resources librarian at Lasell College.

Ashley Zmau

Ashley Zmau has more than ten years of academic library experience and is coauthor of Electronic Resources Librarianship: A Practical Guide for Librarians (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). She is the serials cataloger for the Dallas County Community College District and was previously the electronic resources librarian at the University of Texas at Arlington and the electronic resources management librarian at Southern Methodist University.

"The strength of the guide is in its description of electronic access models used by libraries and the lists of common issues and their solutions ... The book is recommended to library students and those new to the area of troubleshooting electronic resources and understanding their ongoing management. Those with more experience may find the explanations and diagrams useful to explain concepts to managers and others who need to understand the library’s electronic access model."
— Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association (JALIA)

"By focusing on the most important elements of troubleshooting as they arise in a library-specific context, the authors fulfill their promise ... [This guide] is not only quite readable from cover to cover, but also perhaps serviceable in the longer term as a ready reference for the troubleshooting e-resource librarian. It is written in clear and unadorned prose, with helpful visualizations and abundant bibliographic references. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to colleagues in libraries and other resource-based institutions, whose work depends on reliable access to electronic resources—which these days is more or less everyone."
— Technicalities

"A title that can be used as a thorough introduction to the rapidly evolving world of eResource troubleshooting and systems for those new to the field. The title also offers something for the experienced eResource professional, by providing fresh perspectives on problem-solving, workflows, and resources. Further, the incorporation of a variety of illustrations, charts, workflow maps, and graphs allows users of all learning types to engage with the material in a meaningful way. This is a welcome addition to the library literature."
— Technical Services Quarterly

"This book is simply an essential tool ... a must own resource for all libraries. This book not only teaches librarians how to solve problems, but it is also rich with proactive measures to halt things before they happen."
— Journal of Hospital Librarianship