The Lean Library Access module provides users with easy off-campus access to e-resources that are licensed by their library. When a user lands on a domain that is licensed by their library, the extension will automatically redirect them to their library’s login page. Here the patron simply has to fill in their institution credentials and they will instantly have access to that resource.
Current library solutions
Most access to e-resources is provided through IP address recognition. Many libraries provide one or more of the following facilities:
- On-campus access
Seamless, transparent access as long as one’s authenticated on the institutions’ network. Through logging in, the patron is assigned an IP address within a range that’s known and recognized by publishers, thus granting access.
- Off-campus access through a proxy server
Besides automatic on-campus access, many institutions operate a proxy server (mostly OCLC’s EZproxy). By accessing e-resources via that proxy server, patrons are perceived – by publishers – to be on their institutions’ network, which grants them access.
For this to work, libraries need to explicitly instruct their users to not directly browse to sites with licensed e-resources (by, for instance, simply typing in ‘jstor.org’ in the address bar of their browser). Instead, patrons need to be told that, whenever they’re off campus, they should open those sites via specially crafted, ‘proxied’, links on the library website.
Many libraries offer a so-called bookmarklet that, with a push of a button, rewrites web addresses to proxied web addresses.
Some institutions offer their users the possibility of starting a VPN (virtual private network) as a means to obtain an IP address within their institutions’ range.
The current solutions are not user-friendly
The before mentioned methods of letting users gain access do function but merely in a technical sense: it is possible for end users to access licensed resources, either on or off campus, but these methods are not always intuitive and may require knowledge of the inner workings of the library. For instance:
- Not everybody is aware of the fact that the automatic on-campus access is because of the library. Some users even think that the resources they have access to, are simply free of charge.
- Not everybody knows that, in the case of a proxy server, access to licensed resources is possible from anywhere, worldwide. When unaware of that, users may physically go to the campus to get access. Some even specifically go to the library buildings to access e-resouces, thinking that’s necessary.
- Users who are aware of the possibility of getting by opening the special proxy-links on the library website, invariably face a few hurdles on their route to the full text:
- It takes time to locate the proxied link to a specific database
- Users need to know beforehand whether a specific database or e-resource is licensed by their library, and thus will be locatable on the library website. If it isn’t, they’ll search for it in vain.
- Bookmarklet users have it a little easier, but they also need to know in advance whether a specific e-resource is licensed. Otherwise, clicking the bookmarklet becomes a miss or hit-game. After a few misses, users usually aren’t bothered checking anymore, causing them to unknowingly miss out on access to resources for which the library does have licenses.
- With a VPN, users need to determine beforehand whether they will want to open licensed resources. When trying to open a licensed resource without having set up the VPN first, users will have to step back, start up the VPN and retrace their steps to the licensed resource.
Library Access: Simpler and easier
Advantages for users
With the Lean Library browser extension:
- users don’t have to know about the distinction between being on and off campus access;
- users don’t have to know whether a website or database contains material licensed by their library;
- the process of getting access is reduced from typically more than 10 steps across multiple systems, to just one.
Advantages for libraries
The Lean Library browser extension isn’t only convenient for patrons. For libraries, there are various other benefits:
- Extra insights into the use of e-resources;
- Less time needed for library instructions;
- Database or website specific instructions, for instance for e-resources that aren’t accessible via a proxy, or only on campus;
- Better visibility of the library within the workflow of the patron;
- Better statistics and higher security by phasing out all automatic on-campus access, and routing all access via the proxy server.
Watch our animation and get a quick preview of how the extension works:
The Lean Library browser extension is useful for every library that wants to be more visible in the users' workflow and wants to present its services precisely when and where they are needed. Because the browser extension works in the patrons browser, no changes to the infrastructure or work processes of the library are needed.
For more information, please contact Lean Library: firstname.lastname@example.org or +31 6 151 24 862.