Discovery, but not so discoverable

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OneSearch.  We like it a lot.  It’s the main search on the library website and will give you everything from journal and newspaper articles to books, images and DVDs.  It’ll retrieve anything it can find somehow related to your search terms.  It’s a great tool and time saver.

Despite all the positive things we have to say about OneSearch, we’re feeling a bit frustrated at the moment.  We always knew, and do our best to explain, the results in OneSearch would not include everything which the library owns or has access to. OneSearch provides a service.  It pulls results from the library catalog and databases in one search, on your behalf, so you do not have to search the catalog and databases individually.  In exchange for this service (and in order for this service to function properly and legally) the company which owns OneSearch, EBSCO, has signed licensing agreements with other database vendors and publishers.  The providers who do not agree to such terms do not participate in the service.  We knew about these agreements, always and from the beginning.

OneSearch is accessible from off-campus.  Students, faculty and staff members can search and must only authenticate into the system to access the full text of articles.  Members of the community can search our holdings and view citations, but not access licensed materials.  To borrow a book or read an article, a community member would have to physically come to the library.  This “guest access” is helpful to our community members who rely on our resources for their research needs, and to students from other academic institutions who also use our resources.

Something has changed in the licensing agreements. Now, some of the citations themselves are inaccessible and un-viewable to anyone off-campus unless that person authenticates using a network ID and password.  What does that mean?  Faculty, staff members, and students, have to login before being able to view all the results displayed.  It’s an extra step, but not any different from searching a database from off-campus.  Members of our community, however, can no longer search across our collection and view article citations from the databases while off-campus.  Essentially, OneSearch, which is designed to promote discovery and access, is now limiting that freedom and access and our patrons are suffering because of it.    What to do about it?  We’re not really sure yet.

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