Posts Tagged ‘Find it @ Lincoln’

EBSCO information day / Discovery update

Posted on May 24th, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

I was south of the river (Thames, not Witham) yesterday for an EBSCO information day. As I blogged recently, we’ve just signed up for the EBSCO Discovery Service (which we’re branding as “Find it @ Lincoln“). A couple of useful things came out of the event:

Elsewhere, Chris Leach and I have been making some changes to Horizon/HiP, to enable us to get our catalogue records and holdings represented in Find it @ Lincoln, as well as within our new reading lists system (more about which soon).

In particular:

  1. All MARC records in the catalogue now include the internal Horizon bibliographic record number, in field 999$a.
    Screenshot of a MARC record
  2. This MARC field has been mapped to a new searchable index in HiP (with the code .BI), e.g.
  3. Finally, records can now be retrieved by searching by this bib number over Z39.50. It’s also now possible to search for and retrieve records by ISBN/ISSN over Z39.50.

Find it @ Lincoln: looking forward to a new EBSCO discovery service in the Library

Posted on May 11th, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

Following long, looong discussions, we have finally chosen a next-generation library discovery service for the University of Lincoln Library.

After reviewing the four major commercially-available discovery products (from EBSCO, Ex Libris, OCLC and Serials Solutions), and after making several reference visits to see the various products in action in UK university libraries…

(…drum roll…)

EDS logo…we decided upon, and have now bought access to, the EBSCO Discovery Service. Over the summer we’ll be configuring and testing the new system, and in September 2012 it’ll be launched as the new front-end search and discovery platform for the Library at the University of Lincoln.

This new service will provide a single point of search and discovery across nearly all of the Library’s collections, including our ‘traditional’ library catalogue, e-books & e-journals, the Lincoln Repository, archives & special collections, reading lists, and a wide range of specialist and general electronic databases. (N.B. it might not search all of these collections right from day one!) We hope that—along with some of the other new and improved services that are being introduced as part of the Library’s review of ICT systems—it will make it significantly easier and more straightforward to find and use the University’s library resources.

According to the SCONUL HE Library Technology wiki, the EBSCO Discovery Service is also used by:

We decided that EBSCO Discovery Service provided us with a familiar (yet flexible, powerful and ‘serious’) research interface, as well as a good fit with our existing and planned electronic database collections. We were also influenced by EBSCO’s plans to develop and integrate the A-to-Z e-journals knowledgebase and link resolver into the discovery environment.

We’ll be spending the next month or so configuring the system to search all of our collections, designing/branding the interface, training library staff, and working with other University departments on getting the most out of the new tools. We anticipate that early access to the system will be possible from the end of July onwards (though this is subject to change), with a ‘soft’ launch in time for student induction in September, and a formal launch/discovery party with free coffee for all, later in the year.

We have also decided that the service will be branded under the title “Find it @ Lincoln“. (Eagle-eyed readers will spot that this is the name we’ve been using for a while for our EBSCO LinkSource OpenURL link resolver.) Information about the new Find it @ Lincoln service, and about the project to develop and launch it at the University of Lincoln, will soon be available at:

I’d like to thank the staff of all four discovery software companies, for all the presentations, demonstrations & visits, for the information they made available to the University of Lincoln over the past few months about their products, and for the demonstrations and supporting materials they provided which were of such use in informing this first selection phase of our discovery project.

Many thanks also, to the several universities who received staff from Library for discovery-themed visits, and who patiently described their use of their own search tools and answered our many questions profound and otherwise.

Now watch this space :-)

Creating stable links to e-journal articles by hand (Blackboard / OpenURL / “Find it @ Lincoln”)

Posted on September 23rd, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

It can be maddeningly difficult to create stable, persistent, reliable links to articles in e-journals from Blackboard. Links copied from publishers’ websites sometimes don’t include all the information needed to locate the article properly, or else they bypass the authentication processes needed to access an electronic journal: meaning that students aren’t logged in correctly, especially when using Blackboard off campus.

These sorts of links also break very easily – if a publisher alters its website, or if the Library changes its online database subscriptions.

Below is a reliable—albeit long-winded—way of creating persistent links to articles that should always work when placed in a Blackboard site. This method routes all links via “Find it @ Lincoln“, the University of Lincoln’s OpenURL link resolver software (provided by EBSCO). This software will present the user with links to the most appropriate [electronic] copy/ies of an article available.

Find it at Lincoln button

For example, taking the journal article:

  • Martin, J., et al. (1993) An accurate ab initio quartic force field for formaldehyde and its isotopomers. Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 160(1): pp.105–116

[N.B. Lincoln doesn't actually have electronic access to that article!]

We can build up a stable URL (web link) out of the following building blocks: up to 12 elements, strung together to form a great long link containing the citation details:


This is the ‘base’ for the URL, routed through the national EDINA OpenURL Router service, and authenticating the user via the UK Access Management Federation. The national router service logs requests and provides a standardised, platform-independent web address at

[2] ?url_ver=Z39.88-2004

This tells our link resolver, a.k.a. “Find it @ Lincoln”, what version of the OpenURL standard (ANSI/NISO standard Z39.88-2004) to expect.

[3] &genre=article

This tells the link resolver to expect a journal article, rather than some other sort of publication.

[4] &rft_id=info:doi/__________

Fill in the blank space with the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) of the article, if one exists. For example: &rft_id=info:doi/10.1006/jmsp.1993.1161

[5] &issn=__________

Fill in the blank with the ISSN. For example: &issn=0022-2852

[6] &volume=_________

Fill in the blank with the volume number. For example: &volume=160

[7] &issue=__________

Fill in the blank with the issue number. For example: &issue=1

[8] &spage=__________

Fill in the blank with the number of the first page of the article. For example: &spage=105

[9] &aulast=__________

Fill in the blank with the surname of the lead author. For example: &aulast=Martin

[10] &aufirst=__________

Fill in the blank with the first initial of the lead author. For example: &aufirst=J

[11] &atitle=__________

Fill in the blank with the title of the article. Replace any spaces with a ‘+’ character. Percent-encode any nonalphanumeric characters (&%*/!£$, etc.). For example: &atitle=An+accurate+ab+initio+quartic+force+field+for+formaldehyde+and+its+isotopomers

[12] &title=__________

Fill in the blank with the name of the journal. Replace any spaces with a ‘+’ character. Percent-encode any nonalphanumeric characters (&%*/!£$, etc.). For example: &title=Journal+of+Molecular+Spectroscopy

…stringing all of the above together gives a finished URL which looks like this:

Once you’ve built it up, you can take the finished link and add it to a Blackboard Site by using the ‘Build Content’ menu to add a URL.

Screenshot from Blackboard

Paste your link into the URL box on the ‘Create URL’ page, and give it a Name (that’s the text the student will see, and the bit they will click on to access the article) and a Description.

You should also scroll down to the option marked ‘Open in New Window’ and select ‘Yes‘. If you don’t do this, your students may not be able to log in to the journal article. Then hit ‘Submit’.

Screenshot from Blackboard

It will then appear on Blackboard as hyperlinked text. When students click on the link, they will be asked to log in via Athens, then will see options for accessing the article online (or in print, if an e-version is not available).


  • Don’t worry if you don’t have all the details of the citation: just leave out the elements you’re missing. Find it @ Lincoln will do its best to locate the article from even a partial citation.
  • If your link is very long, Blackboard may truncate it – breaking it in the process. If this happens, reduce the length of the URL by passing it through a link shortening service such as Linking You (for example: the shortened link for the article above is, then add that URL to Blackboard instead.
  • You should percent encode any nonalphanumeric characters—i.e.many of the characters or symbols which appear in this list—that appear as part of the article title, the name of the journal, and potentially even accented letters in the name of the author. Doing so makes it much less likely that your link will break.
  • Remember to set the link to ‘Open in New Window’ from within Blackboard. This ensures the authentication processes will run correctly, and is also good practice from a copyright perspective.
  • A very small number of electronic journals do not permit you to link to them from Blackboard; the most notable being the Harvard Business Review (issn:0017-8012). The terms of use of that e-journal specifically prohibit your linking to it in the course of your teaching. (Crazy, I know.)
  • See the ANSI/NISO standard Z39.88-2004 documentation for more information about the OpenURL standard. Or read this Library Journal article (from 2004 but still relevant) or the Wikipedia page.
  • If you need any help with creating these links and adding them to Blackboard, please contact your subject librarian, or email:

Notes on: EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS)

Posted on July 22nd, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

The EBSCO Discovery Service is EBSCO’s own next-generation resource discovery system, built on the already-very-familiar EBSCOhost database platform.

EBSCO’s particular ‘angle‘ for EDS is that its content is built up out of a lot of high-quality, ‘scholarly’, subject-indexed content (similar to the individual bibliographic databases on EBSCOhost), which they are keen to push as superior to basic ‘Google-type’ keyword-indexed searching, where the quality-assured, ‘information literacy’ aspect to resource discovery may not be as strong.

(Enough scare quotes for ya?)

Features of EDS:

  • Highly customisable/’brandable’ – logos, colours, background images, text/field labels;
  • Uses the same administrative interface (for back-end configuration) as EBSCOhost;
  • Integrates with EBSCO Electronic Journals A-to-Z and LinkSource (i.e. Find it @ Lincoln) for access to full text via OpenURL;
  • Harvests MARC records from local catalogue, and repository etc. records (via OAI-PMH, presumably, although I forgot to ask);
  • Content: as well as the library’s own local collections (above), EDS searches a central EBSCO ‘base index’ of content/metadata from ~20,000 providers, plus content from those EBSCOhost databases to which the library subscribes; it also contains a lot of enhanced book metadata (cover images, subject headings, reviews, etc.). See EBSCO’s website.
  • It’s possible to set up a public, ‘guest’ version of EDS to search catalogue, repository, and the main EBSCO index – then allow your own users to log in and search the more complete content including subscription databases (though EBSCO suggest that few libraries actually provide guest search in practice, despite asking for it to be made possible!); it’s also possible to use EDS to create custom search interfaces for groups of packages/databases (or even for individual databases) – e.g. subject clusters;
  • Users can extend their search out to remote databases (i.e. those not included in EBSCO’s central base index + local databases) via a traditional metasearch facility (related: EBSCOhost Integrated Search);
  • It’s possible to limit the default search to full-text items only (making use of the coverage information held in the A-to-Z/LinkSource knowledgebase) – however EBSCO advise that most subscribing libraries don’t do this – instead starting their users off with searches of the complete EDS collection, then later on allowing users to narrow the search results down to full-text-only, if they want to;
  • Various APIs, HTML widgets, and other extension tools available through an ‘EBSCOhost Integration Toolkit’ ( – N.B. some of these can also be used with the existing EBSCOhost databases;
  • Developer community of library people extending and customising EDS – example blog posts here and here;
  • While the advanced search options and user interface are highly configurable, there’s no facility to adjust the search ranking algorithms – i.e. the relative placing of items/collections against each other in search results (as is possible in e.g. Ex Libris Primo);
  • FRBRising of search results will be introduced in 2012;
  • EBSCO will offer libraries free trial access to EDS, including MARC record harvest where possible.

UK HE libraries using EDS include:

Managing e-journal holdings: different types of package: any tips?

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

The University of Lincoln Library provides access to lots and lots of electronic journals72,000-odd unique e-journal titles, at last count.

Some of these 72,000 titles are individual subscriptions – that is, journals that we pick off the shelf and pay for one-by-one – because they’re particularly appropriate to the teaching/research of the University. Many, many more of them are journals that come to us as part of a one-size-fits-all “Big Deal” database package, where we have little or no control over the titles on offer, but where there’s a critical mass of valuable content with makes it worth our while to subscribe to the whole thing. Yet more are freebie and/or Open Access titles available on the Internet which we list to make it easy for our users to find them.

In all, we maintain access to 73 separate e-journal packages (plus a handful of individual oddities that don’t form part of a package), and nearly 110,600 e-journal links (a fair number of titles are duplicated across packages).

Screenshot of the A-to-Z

To help us keep tabs on all this content, and to make sense of the many different e-journal access points on behalf of Library users, we make use of a nifty tool called the Electronic Journals A-to-Z, which is provided and maintained by a company called EBSCO Information Services. The A-to-Z consists of:

  • A hosted e-journal ‘knowledgebase': a directory of all the possible e-journals available, from which we can select those titles to which we have access;
  • A public, searchable journal listings site, with tools for customising the display of particular e-journals (or entire packages), including the holdings data (i.e. the start- and end-dates of full-text holdings) for each title;
  • An OpenURL link resolver, which we brand as – Find it @ Lincoln
  • Various admin services including usage reports.

Even with the tools that the A-to-Z provides, it’s still a lot of work to keep on top of so many e-journals from so many different sources. To help us (“us” being me and two colleagues from the E-resources and Acquisitions teams), we maintain an ERM spreadsheet in Google Docs: this contains details of all the acquisitions & technical information we need to manage each package in the list.

The packages fall into four distinct categories [below]; each category has to be maintained in a different way.

  1. Big Deal“-style databases, to which we subscribe in toto. These cause little or no bother. EBSCO do most of the work for us. Their A-to-Z knowledgebase contains details of all the titles in the database; EBSCO add new titles and remove old ones for us; we can be reasonably confident that their holdings data accurately reflect the database. The only real problems we have with these (and all) packages are around authentication – but that’s another story. This class of packages includes all the EBSCOhost databases (such as Academic Search Elite), most business databases, quite a few packages from JISC Collections, and all Open-Access platforms.
  2. “Vendor packages”, made up of a selection of individual titles from a single publisher or journal aggregator. Although all the titles exist within the knowledgebase, ready to be selected, EBSCO have no way of knowing in advance which titles we hold (save for a few titles for which EBSCO Information Services act as our ‘subscription agent’ – keeping up with all this?), nor the details of our full-text holdings. These packages (which include most of the high-impact scholarly journals from recognised academic publishers; those which—by definition—the Academic Subject Librarians have chosen on their constituencies’ behalf) are hard work to maintain, as well as being very prone to error. For any more than a small handful of titles, we can’t possibly keep on top of them ‘manually’, and must rely on downloaded publishers’ holdings reports, which we then have to process into an EBSCO-friendly, tab-delimited format before uploading them to the A-to-Z. Publishers rarely make their holdings reports available in an immediately usable format, and subscription holdings tend to be irritatingly regularly subject to change, making this the Forth Bridge (Sisyphean task for non UK-ers!) of e-resources admin. We’re starting to try and reduce the size of the job by looking to see if all of these packages are absolutely necessary: I’ve a suspicion that some of the smaller publishers could be rolled up into the larger ‘aggregator’ packages with no loss of access.
  3. “Other” titles that don’t belong to any package. These represent a tiny proportion of our e-journals (we currently list 45 “Other” titles out of 72,000 = 0.06%) and an even more minuscule proportion of our overall usage… BUT are responsible for a disproportionately large amount of work: especially around authentication. For that reason, I try and keep the number of “Other” titles to the absolute minimum possible. I’ll use any excuse to drop one :-)
  4. Finally, what EBSCO refers to as “Custom” collections (we have 13 in total): ‘local’ packages (for local people?): stuff that doesn’t appear in EBSCO’s knowledgebase at all. This is a grab-bag of oddities, experiments, print holdings (surprisingly popular), RSS feeds, and packages with really, really funky authentication requirements. Same as for the Vendor packages in 2, we have to add these to the A-to-Z by constructing and uploading a tab-delimited file. Again, I battle to keep these “Custom” packages to a minimum: but in actual fact they’re less trouble than they might be. We have complete control over the data, so they’re relatively easy to update, and they tend to be fairly low-maintenance once they’re up and running.

You can browse a list of our current e-journal packages at:

I’d really, really like to simplify things, especially for classes 3 and 4. Question for fellow e-resources librarians: what tricks do you have for managing your e-journal packages and holdings information?

Taking the register

Posted on May 23rd, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

In talking about authentication issues, the notion kept coming up that single, central, shared registries of information about libraries (e.g. the WorldCat Registry) could be valuable in helping publishers to make it easier for users to navigate to subscribed content via their own institution’s login option(s).

This spurred me to thinking: in what central/shared registries are our library details held, and what use can I [and our students/staff] make of this information?

This’ll be one of those blog posts that I’m still adding to in a year’s time, as I remember more stuff. I’ve(And a passing thought – wouldn’t it be cool if there was a single über-registry for libraries that brought all of these details together using a single API? Anyone?)

The University of Lincoln has library information registered with:

1. ISIL – International Standard Identifier for Libraries

An ISIL is like an ISBN or ISSN for an entire library: a way of uniquely and unambiguously identifying “an organization, or one of its subordinate units, throughout its life“. We have an ISIL for each of our five libraries, assigned to us a year ago by the British Library (the UK national agency for the ISIL). We use them for RFID stock control; to associate a copy of a book with its home library. The ISIL standard is ISO 15511:2009. Our five ISILs are:

GB-UkLiUGCW University of Lincoln: Great Central Warehouse University Library
GB-UkLiUTRR University of Lincoln: Theology Reading Room, Chad Varah House
GB-UkLiURPC University of Lincoln: Riseholme Park Campus Library
GB-UkSnHOC University of Lincoln: Holbeach Campus Library
GB-UkHlHUC University of Lincoln: Hull Campus Library

2. LibraryThing local

LibraryThing local ( is a user-maintained directory and “gateway to thousands of local bookstores, libraries and book festivals“. LibraryThing users can create and edit entries for individual libraries, browse libraries by geographical area (including via a nice Google Maps display), add libraries to a list of favourites, and subscribe to RSS feeds of library events in their area (e.g.). We don’t really make use of these features – we don’t run a lot of ‘public’ events at the moment.

We’ve had directory entries since 2009 for four out of our five libraries, which I’ve “claimed” using my own LT account – writing this, I’ve noticed that the Theology Reading Room doesn’t have an entry.

  1. University of Lincoln – GCW University Library
  2. University of Lincoln – Theology Reading Room [no entry]
  3. University of Lincoln – Riseholme Park Campus Library
  4. University of Lincoln – Hull Campus Library
  5. University of Lincoln – Holbeach Campus Library

3. OpenURL registry

Our OpenURL link resolver (EBSCO LinkSource) is registered with the OpenURL Router service, maintained by EDINA for all UK HE and FE institutions. The registry holds details of our base URL for constructing links, our preferred link resolver button image Find it @ Lincoln, and our authentication details (UK Federation scope and IP ranges).

Registry entry at:

Service providers can construct OpenURLs for our users with the base URL:

4. Talis Silkworm Directory

We have (had?) entries in the Talis Silkworm Directory (directory.­talis.­com) for all five of our libraries. This is (was?) a community-driven open directory of information about libraries, that powers (powered?) mashups like Philip Adams’ SCONUL Access libraries maps on the De Montfort University library website.

As you can probably tell from my present/past tense confusion above, I don’t know if this directory is still operational. I’d heard it was defunct some time ago, and it now appears that the subdomain has been switched off.

5. Social networking websites

The GCW University Library has a page on Foursquare, the “location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore”. An interesting one this – it’s not a library-focused service, and not one we ‘control’ (though the official @unilincoln Twitter account is listed as ‘staff’), but probably the site that most of our users will interact with.

We also have a Flickr profile: I used it to upload a set of (mainly) historical photos of the GCW building, back in October/November 2008. I haven’t used it since. We’ve never bothered with specific Library accounts on Twitter or Facebook*.

6. UK Access Management Federation

We’re a member of the UK Access Management Federation: this controls all sorts of authentication to third-party electronic resources and comes with its own set of jargon:

7. WorldCat Registry

This is the newest one on me: although I think I remember someone from OCLC (Mark Allcock?) talking about it at the first UK Mashed Library event in 2008; it was only a Twitter conversation last week that promopted me to look at it in earnest.

Again, four out of our five libraries already have profiles (which I’ve now “claimed”). I’m still exploring the site, and I haven’t yet updated/registered all of our details, so I’m not entirely sure what benefits we can get from it – I’d appreciate any advice from WorldCat Registry old hands. I don’t understand how the WorldCat Registry relates to the WorldCat Affiliate Tools—if at all—either.

  1. University of Lincoln, GCW University Library
  2. University of Lincoln, Theology Reading Room [no entry]
  3. University of Lincoln, Riseholme Park Campus Library
  4. University of Lincoln, Hull Campus Library
  5. University of Lincoln, Holbeach Campus Library

8. Document supply (added 23 May 2011)

Owen Stephens suggested this one. We’re listed in the British Library’s Directory of Library Codes for document supply, where we have our own identifier (it’s HL/C-3). I’m sure my colleagues in inter-library loans won’t hit me for not knowing that off the top of my head.

E-journals A-to-Z unavailable this weekend

Posted on April 27th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

The e-journals A-to-Z and Find it @ Lincoln link-resolver service will be unavailable this weekend.

  • From: Midnight on Friday, 29 April
  • Until: 5.00pm on Sunday, 1 May

This is being done so that EBSCO (who provide these services to the University of Lincoln) can upgrade their systems. Please accept our apologies for whatever inconvenience this causes you. You will still be able to search for and access the full-text of electronic journals by using the databases listed on the e-Library section of the University Portal.