Knowledge Base Management: e-Forum Summary

This article was co-written by the e-Forum moderators.

ALCTS held an e-Forum on knowledge base (KB) management on March 19–20, 2019, moderated by Tina Buck (University of Central Florida) and Christina Torbert (University of Mississippi). Topics included staffing, migration, maintenance, learning resources, linking, and more.

Word cloud of e-Forum summary text


Most participants had one or two people working at KB updating and management. Sometimes these staff also handle troubleshooting of electronic resources, while other libraries have separate staff to handle that side of the KB. Most believe they could get “ahead” of problems with more people to do more checking of links and holdings.


Several participants had changed KB providers at least once, and some are currently preparing for migration. All of the big-name providers were mentioned. Reasons for migrating include price, compatibility with other systems, vendor-neutrality, consortia arrangements. Advice? Allow a lot of time to get the details right.

Materials tracked

All participants track electronic journals and databases. Some only track electronic journals in big packages or collections, not as individual subscriptions. Some track e-books and streaming videos. The desire to track everything was recognized; some attempt it, and some do not. Tracking print holdings can be tricky. 

GoKB and KB+

The moderators asked if any libraries worked with or used information from the open knowledge bases GoKB or KB+. There was no discussion on this topic.

Maintenance activities

Participants discussed what “managing the KB” means in different libraries. Most libraries handle maintenance on a case-by-case basis. Typical scenarios include when a new resource is added, an “old” resource is cancelled, publishers change URLs, and patrons report access problems. Most try to rely on “managed collections” that do not need updating. Advice included use of student workers to check access.

Learning resources

There was a lot of interest in resources for improving one’s understanding of how to manage KBs and improve local workflows. The following were suggested: Transfer Alerting Service; LIB-STATS email discussion list; LIBLICENSE email discussion list; EZproxy email discussion list; consortium librarians in similar roles and consortia staff; state library email discussion lists; library associations’ tech services-related groups; Computers in Libraries magazine; Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L), Charleston, and NASIG conferences; ALCTS Fundamentals of Electronic Resources Acquisitions online course; ALCTS webinarsALCTS mentoring program and NASIG mentoring program; National Information Standards Organization (NISO); discovery and KB vendors; and literature searches.


When is it worth it to take advantage of automated workflows facilitated by NISO RP-9-2014, Knowledge Bases and Related Tools (KBART) Recommended Practice, and when is it easier to simply do the work manually? Participants had various takes on using the new-ish “auto-load” options from publishers in the KB. For more information about emerging standards to underpin such workflows, see the work of the KBART Automation Working Group.


OpenURLs are only as good as the data supplied by the provider. Supplements and similar weird issues are often problems. For more information on this topic, see ANSI/NISO Z39.88: The OpenURL Framework for Context Sensitive Services, as well as as the DOI® System and OpenURL Factsheet.

Thanks to everyone who participated for making this a successful e-forum! To view the full e-forum transcript, visit the ALCTS e-Forum email discussion list.

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