Rutgers University Libraries Open URL Implementation Project Progress Report
March 17, 2005

Prepared by the Open URL Implementation Team
   Gary Golden
   Dave Hoover
   Ann Montanaro
   Cathy Pecoraro
   Karen Wenk
   Myoung Wilson
   Marty Kesselman, co-chair
   Mary Page, co-chair

During the fall of 2003, RUL contracted with Ebsco as a development partner on their Open URL product, LinkSource. The benefits to RUL included a complimentary subscription to LinkSource, along with a significantly reduced price on Journals AtoZ, another Ebsco product that provides holdings and access information for e-journal subscriptions. These two products are designed to share a single "Knowledge Base."

Beginning with three resources - Academic Search Premier, ScienceDirect, and Web of Science -- we made LinkSource publicly available during the summer 2004 semester. Since that time we have made available more than twenty databases as full-text sources, meaning that regardless of which RUL database our patrons search, they can link to available full-text if it is part of our LinkSource Knowledge Base.

Overall assessment: This project began with a few glitches, but the majority of problems have been resolved successfully. Over the course of the academic year, librarians have grown more comfortable with LinkSource, and it is a regular component of bibliographic instruction classes and reference services. We recommend continuing with LinkSource through FY2006 once our complimentary subscription ends on June 30th, 2005. The cost to RUL will be about $12,000 to $15,000 annually. We will then be able to continue to troubleshoot existing problems and improve the quality of LinkSource, while keeping an eye on new linkresolver products and developments.

Known problems

Databases without ISSN

Resources that have not included ISSN in their indexing are not retrievable via Open URL. One example is Social Work Abstracts prior to 2000. This problem is most prevalent in older publications.

Error messages

Sometimes, patrons are led to believe that every citation they retrieve is available in full text via LinkSource, and the error messages can be confusing. As LinkSource use becomes routine, there have been fewer requests for help in finding full text when none exists (we are now seeing about one such request per day). Nonetheless, we could improve this aspect of the service by making a few textual changes to headers and result screens. For example, when patrons are led to IRIS for a title that is not held by RUL, they are presented with a long list of ISSN that do not match their search. Clearer textual descriptions are needed in this and a few other instances.

Inter-database inconsistencies

We have had a few problems that have been difficult to troubleshoot, because the source database provider will claim that it is an Ebsco error, and Ebsco will claim that it is a provider problem. This situation is typical with multiple services providers, and we believe these problems will decrease as Open URL technology standards are consistently applied throughout the information industry.

Current Open URL Activation Workflow

To function correctly, LinkSource must recognize the digital products to which Rutgers subscribes. RUL staff take the following steps to activate resources in LinkSource.

Add content to A-to-Z list

1. Large journal packages (e.g., ScienceDirect) and database collections (e.g., Factiva) are identified in the AtoZ list, and Rutgers staff activate each collection to include it in the Knowledge Base.

2. Activation includes selecting individual titles for collections for which we do not have comprehensive coverage (e.g., we can access about 1,300 titles out of 1,600 available in ScienceDirect).

3. Smaller publishers and individual titles are usually added individually to the Knowledge Base and AtoZ. RUL staff research these products and provide Ebsco with detailed bibliographic information.

Contact content provider with LinkSource information

1. RUL staff investigate to determine if the vendor is open URL compliant.

2. If the vendor is OpenURL compliant, RUL staff provide the base URL and LinkSource text image to the vendor with instructions to activate RUL's linkresolver in their system.

3. We then test the newly activated resource by searching for its content on LinkSource enabled databases (e.g., Academic Search Premier, OVID Databases, WOS).

4. Librarians are then notified which databases have been activated with LinkSource.

Troubleshooting Access Problems Reported By Librarians And Patrons

Patron queries are posted to the ListServ we created for LinkSource implementation team members and Ebsco's development staff.

Typical problem reported to the team: I cannot access the full text from LinkSource- why is it not getting me the content I need?

Answer: Usually, "title is not held locally," means that LinkSource does not recognize that Rutgers has access to a particular subscription. It could be that we did not have the title properly listed as a subscribed title in either AtoZ or the LinkSource Knowledge Base. Or, we might not have access to an electronic version of this title in any LinkSource enabled database

Occasionally, denials of access result from strange indexing or other inexplicable problems that are reported to Ebsco's development team.

Questions to answer when investigating and resolving access problems in LinkSource

  1. Are we entitled to the content? Are our IP's registered with the provider?
  2. Did we pay for it?
  3. Is it listed in IRIS? Is it listed in AtoZ? Is it listed in LinkSource?
  4. What database is the content in? Is the citation correct?
  5. Is it a content problem? Is it a LinkSource specific (technical) problem?
  6. Can EBSCO resolve this problem?
  7. Does Dave Hoover have the answer? (Or at least a better perspective on the technicality of the problem?)
  8. Notify the patron of the status.
  9. Notify the patron of resolution, either by providing access to full-text or recommending ILL.

Next Steps

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