openurl, firefox, and google scholar

Peter Brinkley of the University of Alberta Libraries has developed a Firefox extension that adds an OpenURL button to Google Scholar search results.[web4lib]

“The purpose is to enable users at an institution that has an OpenURL link-resolver to use that resolver to locate the full text of articles found in Google Scholar, instead of relying on the links to publishers’ websites provided by Google. This is important because it solves the “appropriate copy problem”: the link to a publisher’s site is useless if you don’t have a subscription that lets you into that site, and your library may provide access to the same article in an aggregator’s package or elsewhere.”

From all appearances, this is a fantastic tool that embraces Google while still providing even more of that useful service that librarians do. If you have an OpenURL link resolver that you are able to tweak like SFX, go for it! (Next step, educate your users about Firefox….)

Update: One of the library coding gods, Art Rhyno, has developed a bookmarklet that prepends your library’s proxy server URL string to the links in the Google Scholar results. That’s another work-around if you don’t have an OpenURL link resolver. If it’s something your library gets, then you’ll get passed through authenticated to the full-text content. If not, then you can obtain access or the content some other way.

One snag I seen in all of this is that depending on how your proxy server is set up, this may not work. Some libraries *cough*UofKY*cough* use a proxy server that requires the user to make modifications to their web browser before authenticating them. I’m not sure whether or not this would cause confusion for the users who haven’t done that modification.

conference presentation

Musings about my presentation at KLA last week.

I gave my first conference presentation last week at KLA, and I haven’t really had the time to sit down and write out my thoughts about it. The topic was my library’s implementation of SFX, an OpenURL linking software. My library is the first in the state to go with this particular company, and possible the first to make use of the technology at all. I had two co-presenters who provided perspectives from other areas of the library (public service and systems administration) to balance the presentation.

We were very prepared with the material. I wanted us to make sure we weren’t using PowerPoint as a crutch, so we limited its use to slides that contained screen shots of our SFX setup. Turns out that was a good thing, since our antiquated projector was so weak that even with most of the lights turned out it was difficult to see. Despite our efforts to encourage attendees to move towards the front, most stayed in the back few rows. Later, we received comments about the dim, small images. Gee, no kidding.

Other than the technical glitches, everything went well. I fielded quite a few questions on the fly that I hadn’t expected, but thanks to my improv theatre experience, I think I handled them pretty well. Attendance was smaller than I had hoped for, but there were a lot of other conflicts at that time. Still, 20+ attended and about 17 actually filled out the feedback slips. It seemed to me that most everyone who was there was interested in the product and our experience with it. I think we’ll be writing up the presentation for publication in Kentucky Libraries, since the feedback indicated that would be desired. Also, a friend in Oregon has talked me into submitting a proposal for Online Northwest on this topic. I plan to modify the presentation from not so much of how we did it but why other comprehensive universities should do it and how it has effected the usage of our A&I databases.

I’m still stunned that anyone would want to hear what I have to say about something in my profession.

homegrown OpenURL

If you are developing (or plan to develop) your own OpenURL link resolver, there is a listserv for you.

If you are developing (or plan to develop) your own OpenURL link resolver, John Weible of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has created a listserv for you.

A small but growing number of libraries have already or are now developing non commercial link resolving solutions with OpenURL at the core. These libraries need a peer support group for the exchange of ideas and solutions. Specific information about how to construct deep linking URLs for a particular target site is likely to be a frequent topic. I expect that the exchange of open source software tools related to link resolution will also be a frequent topic.

So, if you are involved in the development or maintenance of an open source or “homegrown” OpenURL link resolver at your library or institution or interested in doing so, this list is available for you.

To subscribe, send a message to listserv@listserv.uiuc.edu The body of the message should be:

subscribe lib-openurl-dev-l Your Name

lessons learned

I have re-learned something today: technology never works in a live setting quite the same way it works in a test setting. Also, if anything can go wrong in front of a group of twenty collegues, it will.

Today (actually yesterday, as I am typing this well past midnight), my library was to go “live” with our new SFX service, or at least as “live” as we could so that the Research and Instruction division could get prepared for teaching it to our students and faculty before the semester begins next week. I have been working with a team of librarians representing all areas of the library as well as our systems administrator to get this service set up. All of us have been working hard this summer on this project, but since I am responsible for our electronic resources, I did most of the work with the knowledge base and configurations. That being said, it was incredibly frustrating that when we finally were able to share this product with the rest of the library, nothing worked the way it was supposed to. Arg.

Lesson learned — hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.