Library Technology at the ALA 2017 Annual Conference

ALA 2017 Annual Conference

The ALA 2017 Annual Conference is just one week away.  The conference covers a myriad of library topics and sorting through the program sessions to find the ones focused on library technology takes effort.  Let us do the work for you.

Here is our list of programs related to library technology.  You’ll find interest groups and sessions on data and metadata, makerspaces, UX, Linked Data, ILS and LMS, websites, mobile apps, emerging technologies, and more.  Committee meetings were not included.

For official descriptions, speakers, and final schedule, please check the conference Full Schedule page.
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6 More Chrome Browser Extensions Every Librarian Needs

Google ChromeA look at global browser market share data will show that Google’s Chrome browser commands more than half of the browser market (61.2% for April 2017, to be specific). The market share might be even higher among librarians (who have a choice at work). If you’re not a Google Chrome user, these additional six browser extensions might make you switch.

We previously posted 6 Chrome Browser Extensions Every Librarian Needs.

If you’ve never considered browser extensions, they are plugins or small applications that add functionality to your browser.  Sometimes they work in the background (like Unpaywall, below) but usually they work when you click on a small icon that gets added to the browser’s toolbar.

Chrome browser extension icons

Google has a huge Chrome Web Store for browser extensions, most of them are free.  They offer help to install and manage extensions but for the most part, a single click will install an extension.  Sometimes additional configuration options are available.

Here are six more Chrome browser extensions every librarian needs.

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Common Library Technology Acronyms Part 3

Throughout your professional library reading, you will occasionally come across esoteric library technology acronyms.  It’s annoying to have to stop reading to look up their meanings.  To help prevent that, we present our list of more common library technology acronyms.

These acronyms have been added to the Library Technology Acronyms page, a dictionary of library technology terms.

AD FS – Active Directory Federation Services, a Microsoft service that allows for single sign-on (SSO).

APC – Article Processing Charge, a fee charged to an author by an open access journal to publish an article.

AWS – Amazon Web Services, a cloud Web services hosting platform used by several library vendors including ProQuest and Springshare.

COinS – ContextObjects in Spans, bibliographic metadata added to HTML in a webpage.

DNS – Domain Name System, a decentralized system for looking up domain names for conversion to IP addresses.

EAD – Encoded Archival Description, an XML standard for encoding archival finding aids by the Library of Congress and Society of American Archivists.

EDS – EBSCO Discovery Service, a discovery service offered by EBSCO.

EPUB – Electronic Publication, a standard for ebooks and other electronic publications by the International Digital Publishing Forum.

FOLIO – The Future of Libraries is Open, an open-source library services platform currently in development.

III – Innovative Interfaces, Inc., a library software vendor.

LMS – Learning Management System, used to manage educational courses. (Occasionally Library Management System.)

OAI-ORE – Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange, standards for the description and exchange of aggregations of Web resources.

OAI-PMH – Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, a model for extracting metadata from an open repository.

OCR – Optical Character Recognition, the process of converting scanned text into text-based documents for reading and indexing.

OER – Open Educational Resources, freely accessible materials such at open access textbooks, articles, and educational videos.

ORCID – Open Researcher and Contributor ID, a unique and persistent digital identifier. (Read more about ORCID.)

SSH – Secure Shell, usually used to refer to a remote computer login to run system commands.

SSO – Single Sign-on, typically using your institution login credentials to access third-party database and websites.

VIAF – Virtual International Authority File, a global file of standardized bibliographic creator names with links by OCLC.

VPN – Virtual Private Network, a secure network connection that allows a remote user to access an organization’s internal network.

Proxy Servers: Basics and Resources

A proxy server is a service that provides authentication and mediation between database or publisher websites and the end user by routing Internet traffic through its system.

Why learn about proxy servers?

A proxy server is a service that libraries use to authenticate their users to provide access to many online databases and publisher websites.  Using a proxy service allows library resource vendors to authenticate users from a single point-of-access regardless of where they are located, on-campus or from their home computer.

The Basics

For our examples, we’ll use the popular EZproxy product from OCLC.

Authentication

To avoid having to provide users with an individual or institutional login and password, most database and publisher websites authenticate users by IP address.  Sometimes vendors will limit access to a range of IP addresses—on a single campus, for example.  But for users outside of the physical campus, you must provide a known IP address (or set of IP addresses). This is accomplished by routing users through a proxy server so that the access requests come from its IP address(es) which are recognized by the vendor.  The content is then returned to the proxy server and routed back to the original user.

EZproxy process
Source: http://www.oclc.org/support/services/ezproxy/documentation/learn/overview.en.html

Because libraries can’t let everyone access their resources via EZproxy, they must authenticate their users before access.  EZproxy allows user login itself, but EZproxy also provides a method of authentication using your institution’s single sign-on (SSO) server.

Resource Access

EZproxy is accessed using an HTTP request.  To access a website via EZproxy, you must prepend the EZproxy server URL to the database or publisher’s website address.  A typical EZproxy URL looks like this:

http://ezproxy.yourlib.org/login?url=

To this proxy URL, we add the URL for the website we wish to access through EZproxy. For example:

http://ezproxy.yourlib.org/login?url=http://www.credoreference.com

The above URL is referred to as a “pre-proxy” link.  Once a website is accessed via EZproxy, the address changes to a “post-proxy” URL.  For example:

http://search.credoreference.com.ezproxy.yourlib.org

As you perform a search or click on links on a database or publisher site, you are submitting your requests to your EZproxy server which passes them on to the original website.  Data is returned to the EZproxy server which sends it back to your browser.  That is why the post-proxy URL ends with .ezproxy.yourlib.org (ignoring the path).

You might notice some post-proxy URLs use hyphens instead of dots between parts of the original website’s address.

https://refworks-proquest-com.ezproxy.libproxy.db.erau.edu.

The short explanation is that the EZproxy server uses a wildcard security (SSL) certificate for *.ezproxy.yourlib.org which allows one subdomain before the EZproxy server domain (ezproxy.yourlib.org).  The hyphens “trick” the server into seeing the original website as a single subdomain. This is done only for original websites that use HTTPS.

EZproxy Configuration

EZproxy has many settings that are configured during initial installation (using hyphens with HTTPS, for example).  You also set the maximum number of virtual hosts (typically from 5,000 to 20,000).

For each resource you access through EZproxy, you must configure it separately in a block of code called a stanza.  In the stanza for a database or publisher website you must specify at the minimum a Title (T) and starting URL (U).  Other basic stanza directives are Host (H), HostJavaScript (HJ), Domain (D), and DomainJavaScript (DJ).  Below is a basic database stanza:

Title SPIE Digital Library
URL  http://www.spiedigitallibrary.org
DJ   spiedigitallibrary.org

The Title directive is used to identify the resource (and is used for the link text on the default EZproxy list page).  The URL is used to match the EZproxy request link with the appropriate stanza to apply.  Once accessed, any further links on the resource site will be compared to any D or DJ lines and if there is a match, will be proxied and given access (including any JavaScript if a DJ line is encountered).

If a database or publisher website includes multiple domains or subdomains or uses both HTTP and HTTPS, you need to add Host (H) or HostJavaScript (HJ) directives to account for them.  More advanced directives are used to manage website cookies, set domains that should never be proxied, find and replace HTML code, and many others.  OCLC publishes an EZproxy Reference Manual to list these directives.

Here is a more advanced database stanza:

Option DomainCookieOnly
Title Engineering Village
URL http://www.engineeringvillage.com
HJ https://www.engineeringvillage.com
HJ engineeringvillage.com
HJ www.engineeringvillage.com
HJ www.engineeringvillage2.org
HJ www.ei.org
HJ acw.elsevier.com
DJ ei.org
DJ engineeringvillage.com
DJ referexengineering.elsevier.com
Option Cookie

OCLC publishes a list of recommended database stanzas for many of the most popular databases.  Of course, websites are frequently updated and these changes often require revised or completely new stanzas.  These stanzas are found in the config.txt file.

Resources

Here are some resources to learn more about EZproxy.

 

Library Service Status Pages

Online library services play a vital part in providing access to library resources and services.  Thus, it is very useful for library staff to know the status of these third-party services.  Downtime is rare, but when staff and users need to know the availability of online services, having a library service status page can be extremely helpful.  Fortunately, library vendors know this and increasingly are providing access to websites for displaying current service status and notices of planned interruptions.

Here is a list of the known major library service status pages:

bepress

bepress Current Statusbepress supports institutional repositories with Digital Commons, SelectedWorks, Expert Gallery Suite, and ExpressO online manuscript delivery service.  Their website has a Current Status page that covers all of these services including status details, scheduled maintenance, and recent product updates.

Access the bepress Current Status page.

EBSCO

EBSCO Help Alerts

On its EBSCO Help website, the company provides News and Alerts for its wide range of databases and EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS).  You can enter your email address to subscribe to alerts, as well.

Access the EBSCO Help Alerts page.

Ex Libris

Ex Libris System Status

With the merger of Ex Libris and ProQuest, Ex Libris took over the support of all library systems and discovery services.  The company has created a unified system status page for Alma, Summon, Serials Solutions 360 Link, Intota, Primo, SFX, and more.

Access the Ex Libris System Status page.

OCLC

OCLC System AlertsFrom the OCLC Support & Training website, you can access OCLC System Alerts.  This blog-like site reports current and past maintenance and issues for services including Connexion, hosted EZproxy, WorldCat, and WorldShare products.

Access the OCLC System Alerts page.

SirsiDynix

SirsiDynix Status

SirsiDynix is a major library vendor with cloud-based systems such as their BLUEcloud services.  The company’s status page contains notifications of scheduled maintenance and outages by region.

Access the SirsiDynix Status page.

Springshare

Springshare Systems Status Dashboard
Source: Springshare http://www.screencast.com/t/fs0G5Y5yu

Springshare understands the importance of providing status information for library resources and services to library users.  That’s why they created the Systems Status Dashboard in LibAnswers that allows your library to set up and display the status of your website, LibGuides, local resources, and databases.  You can alert users to any planned system maintenance and explain unexpected downtime.  For any LibAnswers site that has enabled the public status dashboard, you can view it by adding /systems after their LibAnswers URL.  Some examples are Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Maryland Libraries, and Georgia College.

Read more about the Springshare Systems Status Dashboard.

TwitterIn addition to bookmarking the above sites, follow your important library vendors on Twitter.  That is where they will often post the first announcements of issues and further status reports.