Lack of reliable access or acceptable speed of display is a strong disincentive to use. Although obvious, managers or technical support often underestimate the impact and concerted attention may be required.
A range of network or system factors potentially may influence:
Keep an accurate log of availability for a period, noting any downtime or significant slowdowns. Monitor the average response speed to display results or download documents in the eResources. Absolute speed is not as useful as the perceived – if staff or users tell you it’s too slow to reliably use then it’s an issue.
It may require tweaking of a number of factors to effect improvement – try to identify and work on them one at a time.
If evidence of external authentication failures (e.g. lack of reliability or a number of users failing to successfully log in) then review the method you are currently using.
Common authentication options include:
IP Address: The unique address for your computer network. Vendors maintain a list of accepted IP ranges and when you link to products they will recognise a subscriber and pass them through without a password. The IP address(es) need to be “static”, that is they mustn't change from session to session.
Referring URL: Provides access from a secure page that users must log into to access. The vendor can register the URL of that page and will recognise requests coming from it as from an approved site.
Username and Password: Most vendors allow you to assign your own user id and passwords for accessing products.
Membership Patterned ID: Access via a library card/bar code number - useful for public libraries. The vendor will register the membership number pattern and then recognise pattern matches when your users login.
Using your own authentication system: Using vendor authentication means you don’t need to implement your own system. This can though result in users having to authenticate more than once to move from one product to another in a session. Options around this include using an LMS authentication module (if available) or “pass through proxy systems” such as EZProxy.
Discuss these options with your IT staff and contact vendors or NSW.net for further advice.
In resolving availability issues, work with all parties, get them involved and talking to each other. Solutions can usually be found if all angles are systematically considered.
If it appears to be related to issues in the eResources set up, contact the vendor technical support or NSW.net for advice.
If you can’t get resolution then document examples of service failure that result from these issues and present them to management. Emphasise the lack of full value for the investment in the eResources