The end of eresourcejournal

At the end of the month, I will begin my new job at Norwich University as their Distance Learning Librarian. I am very excited about this position because I’ve wanted to work with distance learning students since the not-so-long-ago days of my own online graduate program. This is my dream job.

And so, eresourcejournal reaches its end. This blog has been more helpful to me than I expected. The process of writing about things that puzzle and frustrate me has been beneficial. First, it makes me think things through. My brain works faster than my fingers, and as I type my mind wanders to another (more appropriate) idea. Had I not taken the time to write about these topics, I may not have come to those more useful conclusions.

In addition, writing is a great memory tool. Writing online with blog software allowed me to easily retrace my steps and remind myself of past discoveries. In some cases, I was able to solve a new problem by looking back at similar situations.

Lastly, blogging connects: the advantage of writing publicly and online is that other people found me. I am grateful for the comments and emails I’ve received from everyone who visits the site or reads the RSS feed. Librarians have been a source of (wonderful) ideas, commiseration, and camaraderie. EBSCO folks have been very generous with their time, emailing me directly about the concerns and ideas I’ve covered in my posts.

Perhaps others will continue to discover these posts and find them useful. Clearly, they’ll be curious about troubleshooting electronic serials problems, as illustrated in this nifty word cloud of all the text at eresourcejournal (made at I don’t know yet whether I will blog about my new job. As I re-read that sentence, I realize I likely will. I want to remain connected to my community of colleagues. I have been and will continue to follow blogs related to distance learning and distance learning librarianship. I’m sure I’ll have a few things to talk about, too.

Thank you for your visits and keeping me in your feed readers. Most of all, thank you for your comments.

(P.S. It’s a time of transition: Kelly retired one of her blogs this week. Great minds think alike!)

(P.P.S. It seems like a good idea to close the comments on all my old posts. So I’m gonna. I’ll keep this post open, so feel free to leave a message.)


Is it IP authenticated?

We received an email with a password to online subscription for Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology. EBSCO’s Access and Registration “Authentication” notes indicates they have IP authentication, so I wondered whether I needed to complete registration.

I went to the website and tried to access an article. I was brought to a page asking me to log in, so I used the password from the email. Once in, I couldn’t find any administrative section to add our IP ranges or any explanation of online access. I could access articles when I was logged in but not after I logged out, so EBSCO’s information may be inaccurate: it seems like password-authenticated access.

Strangely, our acquisitions module says online access was confirmed in 2007. Is this a different site? What was the purpose of the email containing a password? Was EBSCO’s information accurate at one point but no longer?

I replied to that email but it bounced back (must be outgoing-only), so I resent the message to an address I found on the website. I also wrote to my EBSCO customer service representative. If this situation is another case of their information being wrong, I’m glad to help them fix it by bringing it to their attention.

There have been many complaints on SERIALST in the last few days about EBSCO. I was pleased to read Pat Thompson’s response, and I concur that the complaints and corrections I send to EBSCO are usually handled very quickly by our CSR and the entire EAMS feedback team. It’s easy to get frustrated at times like these when the information I rely on is outdated and inaccurate (it may lead me to make inappropriate decisions and/or waste a lot of time), so I look forward to EBSCO’s continued improvement. I do feel they listen to their customers. But sometimes it seems that I’ve spent all day emailing them: it’s as though I’m an embedded EBSCO liaison.

Posted in EBSCO, IP authentication. Comments Off on Is it IP authenticated?

Automatic IP recognition

Publishers that offer IP authentication are generally able to allow seamless, automatic IP recognition. The exceptions that I’ve come across are the sites for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Journal of Hydraulic Research. Both publishers require users to click a link in order for the site to compare the IP address to the approved ranges.

I added End User Access Notes in the EBSCO Registration Tracker tool that direct patrons where to click for access on the publisher’s site. However, we can’t always count on patrons to notice those notes. Automatic IP authentication would be much better. Both publishers told me last summer that they were working on it (in fact, at this time last year NCTE had barely switched from password-only authentication).

Earlier this month someone posted a message about the NCTE access to the ERIL listserv. Last week, another of our patrons had a problem accessing the subscription because of this extra step. These were signs that it was a good time for me to follow up with NCTE. The rep replied that:

we do not currently have this capability. We are however working towards this and hope to offer it later this Summer.

I follow up with the Journal of Hydraulic Research folks every few months, and they haven’t implemented the process yet either.

I decided to remove the direct links to the publisher’s site in our catalog and A-to-Z list until each publisher offers automatic IP recognition; that way, patrons can’t help but get the instructions I added in Registration Tracker (they only show up in EBSCOhost EJS links).

Posted in IP authentication. Comments Off on Automatic IP recognition

Password authentication discussion

There’s discussion on SERIALST today about dealing with password authenticated online access. Most of the responses are that libraries don’t activate online access that requires a password. But Martha at UA Fort Smith had this suggestion:

If there is a better way to do this I would love to hear about it. I created a page (we use TWiki content management) on one of our intrAnets with an A-Z list of the journals that require username/password login. That intranet requires a user to login. Our page in the intranet was set up with specific rules to allow all users associated with the university to be able to log in. The campus webmaster set up these rules so it seems like magic to me. It isn’t as slick as IP recognition but it beats “contacting the library for the login info” and allows 24/7 access.

This wasn’t something that I just knew how to do. I called the IT folks and explained what I needed and this was their solution.

The marc record requires two 856 fields. One goes to the “lookup” page in the intranet with instructions to write down the information and return to the catalog; the other goes to the publisher’s web site login page.

Another person asked the list about setting up invisible password authentication. Of all the ideas I’ve heard for keeping password access, that would be the better option. Libraries can’t control keeping passwords confidential, and it avoids requiring library staff to retrieve password-protected content.

But the best idea is still IP authentication. And I look forward to the day when it is more widely offered.

Posted in IP authentication. Comments Off on Password authentication discussion

Problems with publisher changes

When we return a subscription to print format, it’s because the online access was inappropriate for an institution of our size. It may be for a smaller audience, or not allow IP authentication. Generally, we discover these when we confirm access to titles that have switched from print to online access.

Today’s problem is a little different. Africa Confidential went online last year. It was a Blackwell title that’s been working fine. A troubleshooting report this afternoon led me to discover that the publisher had changed to Asempa. And the Asempa access we were switched to at the beginning of 2007 is not appropriate for our institution. In fact, none of the Asempa access models fit our authentication and price requirements.

So we went from IP authentication to a no IP/single-concurrent user/no password sharing subscription. My recommendation is to return it to print, due to what would be a significant increase in price to change it to the most appropriate access for our institution.

The most important lesson from this is that we are reminded to confirm our subscription’s access model (e.g. IP authentication) when the journal changes publishers or platforms as well as when the subscription first switches from print to online.

Posted in Access, IP authentication. Comments Off on Problems with publisher changes

EBSCO won’t add Z Magazine to A-to-Z list

I emailed an EBSCO rep about adding a title to the A-to-Z list. Usually I do this for non-EBSCO subscriptions so we can get non-EBSCO access, but this is a rare case where something we subscribe to via EBSCO isn’t yet listed in the A-to-Z list. The reply from EBSCO:

A EJS link will not be added to A-to-Z on this title, because this titles cannot be accessed through EJS. The title password cannot be shared and they do not offer IP authentication, so it does not qualify for EJS access.

OK, we’ll return to print if they don’t offer IP authentication. But this still seems wrong. We’re paying EBSCO, so they should make an EBSCOhost EJS link, even if it only leads to the publisher’s site. I’ve removed lots of EBSCOhost EJS links using Content Exclusion because the publisher doesn’t allow IP authentication and we return the subscription to print, but there were EBSCOhost EJS links for these titles. My response:

Shouldn’t there still be an EBSCO EJS link in the A-to-Z list for this title? While I understand that some journals don’t qualify for “Available on EJS” access for the reasons you listed, there are numerous cases like this that still have EBSCO EJS links in the A-to-Z list with only an “Available on Publisher’s Site” link. Here are some examples:

Atlantic Monthly
Career Network
Energy Journal
Middle Matters

I’m curious why EBSCO won’t add an EJS record to the A-to-Z. New policy? Misunderstanding? I’ll update this post when I receive a reply.

Update 4/12/07, 9:00 a.m.:
The EBSCO rep replied that the examples I gave (above)

are publisher hosted journals and do not have an note added that says “the title password cannot be shared”, however the Z Magazine does have this added note.

Well, you learn something new every day. However, I still think that’s not the whole story, because I know some examples of non-password-sharing, non-EJS-content titles that still have EBSCO links in the A-to-Z list (I’ve removed them myself). My response:

I know I’ve removed EBSCOhost EJS links for titles that didn’t allow password sharing and had no EJS content, so I’ve found some better examples that seem similar to Z Magazine:

Energy Journal
Financial Analysts Journal
PC Magazine

Would you explain the difference between these journals and Z Magazine?

I don’t need Z Magazine to be added to the A-to-Z list, because we’re not sticking with online access, but I need to understand the rationale. I’ll post when I have a response.

Update 4/12/07, 11:30 a.m.: Response from EBSCO:

Thank you for the additional information on the titles you have listed. I am sending a service issue to our Content Team to disassociate the titles… from EJS. These titles passwords cannot be shared and they cannot be IP authenticated, therefore, they cannot be accessed via EJS.

Very interesting. My head is still swimming, because it’s hard to fathom (no pun intended) that there wouldn’t be an EBSCO link for a resource we pay for through EBSCO. But that’s just a rule I made up because we’ve been doing this for a while and it’s the first time it’s come up.

Posted in EBSCO, IP authentication, Updates. Comments Off on EBSCO won’t add Z Magazine to A-to-Z list

Single-user access

Single-user access is something I’d like to avoid. That’s my personal opinion. Sometimes it’s necessary when access is restricted to a single concurrent user (there is a difference between single-user access and single concurrent user access). I feel that single concurrent user access is appropriate for an institution, but single-user access isn’t; clearly, we have multiple users. When I’ve noticed subscriptions with single-user access as the only online option, I’ve flagged them with the recommendation that they return to print.

But here’s a great idea: Ron, a fellow participant in the ER&L Conference, shared with me the Marshall University library’s form to access an article that is restricted to single-user access. Librarians have access to the passwords and retrieve articles for patrons.

I think this is a smart solution. Still, I look forward to a more universal offering of IP authentication by the publishing community. It’s more secure and doesn’t require library staff to take on the additional workload of retrieving articles for patrons.