That LibGuide thing I do

Hello again from Tampa Bay! It was wonderful to see so many of you at AISL this month. Many of you kindly asked me about my method for getting resources inside LibGuides to authenticate without resorting to something like EZProxy. A couple of you were interested enough to come on up to my room and watch while I demonstrated on my laptop with a nice cool lemonade to keep us perking along. For those of you who missed that demo, I bring you this very detailed explanation with screenshots and red arrows. It’s a lot more how-to than my usual musings, and I’m glad to be able to share this practical guide.

I realize this method won’t work for all of you – not everyone’s school website is configured to allow it. But if your circumstances will permit, give it a try and save some time and aggravation. The short version is that I’ve asked my library product vendors, primarily Gale and EBSCO, to use a referring URL to authenticate and it makes the experience more like a single sign-on environment for the user. Deep breaths, here goes, with screen shots that are a bit small but still illustrative (I hope):

The Out-of-Door Academy currently uses Finalsite to run its website and act as its Learning Management System (LMS.) We are transitioning to Canvas, but my spectacular officemate and bestie is working with me to ensure the same setup for next year. Here’s a shot of our front page.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.06.52 AM

So, this is our welcome page that any visitor sees. The red arrow points to a link where students can click to log in with their individual user names and passwords. These are purged when students change schools or graduate, so the user pool is limited only to current students.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.08.39 AM

Once logged in, students land on a page that lists all of their current courses. Faculty create their own course pages in the portal and enroll students themselves, so I created an Upper School library “course” with my array of resources and one for Middle School,  and then I enrolled users accordingly. “Sue Student” is enrolled in both Upper and Middle School Library, so she can choose either one for library resources.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.09.20 AM

After Sue clicks on Upper School Library, she is taken to this friendly-looking page of library offerings. Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.47.27 AMI have databases and the catalog set up under the  home button, and under resources I have a series of tutorial videos to refresh users on how to access their Questia accounts or interpret an EBSCO results page. Sometimes I even manage to update the blog . . . (that’s my Rory, by the way, with a “Librarians Rule” temporary tattoo.) The LibGuides are all parked, here, and that’s the key to the whole business. All the LibGuides I have created exist as live links in that box to the lower right, on a variety of subjects and arranged in alphabetical order, because that is the library way, ahem. Within the LibGuides are an assortment of things: suggested titles from the physical collection for print books & DVDs, database search widgets, etc. but also live links to Gale ebooks and even links to selected articles from EBSCO Discovery Service. These authenticate on or off-campus automatically with no need for something like EZProxy or additional student logins because the databases authenticate via referring URL. The referring URL is the Finalsite page into which I insert the links to the LibGuides, so, because the LibGuides are accessed via that referring URL, all I had to do was call Gale and EBSCO and tell them that’s how I wanted to authenticate. And boom – done!

Thus, when a user chooses a LibGuide, such as the Book Thief guide, I’m showing here, Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.50.51 AMhe or she is able to click on those links I have provided within and go directly there without being asked for another password. (Feel free to ask me how I set up the DVD, too, if you like.) Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.51.13 AMI’ve noticed that the setup on the Gale books sometimes asks for a general password and sometimes doesn’t, so I provided it just above them at left. Again, because all of these LibGuides are behind a wall limited to users only, providing that password is still acceptable as only authorized users will see it, and I can change it periodically as students graduate or move on.

I’m including some shots of other LibGuides here if you’re curious about my general technique. I try to maintain a balance between not doing too much for the researchers, because they need to learn how to do it for themselves; and showing them that we do have rich resources right here – no need to Google in most cases. In the case of Shakespeare, we have very deep print holdings, too many to list in the LibGuide itself, so I made them into PDF bibliography and simply posted the bib instead.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.52.18 AM For Greek mythology, I thought it was important to include some other goodies, like the Perseus Project, that students could really benefit from but which they otherwise might have overlooked.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.53.10 AM

If you’ve got remaining questions, or would like to see this in action yourself using the dummy account I give to vendors so they can test my security, please get in touch at amandel@oda dot edu.

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2 Responses to That LibGuide thing I do

  1. David Wee says:

    Hi Alyssa,
    Very cool! Love the ease of access for your students. The intractable problem I’ve always struggled with as been student-to-student sharing of database content. If, for example, 3 kids are on a debate team and someone wants her teammates to read an article, when our kids share a permalink it lacks our EZProxy prefix and won’t find the item.
    1) Will permalinks from databases authenticate properly for remote users?
    2) Will permalinks in a collabortive Google Doc be accessible or do vendors see the referring URL as Google?
    3) LOVED the blurb you wrote up about AISL Tampa in the screenshot with the awesome tattoo! #LibrariansRuleBoom! LOL!

  2. Hi David! Nice to see you in Tampa last week. The permalinks WILL authenticate for remote users as long as they are logged into the portal as themselves. This works for EBSCO; Questia requires that everyone log in (even just to search). EBSCO offers password-protected folders for individual users if they wish to set one up. A benefit of doing so is that one user can invite another to share a folder and all of its contents, so that would be an easy way for debaters to have access to one another’s materials without emailing a bunch of links (or worse – tons of printouts.) Sometimes I share materials with other instructors this way, too.

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