Friday, June 26, 2009

Databases, part 1: How to get in from off-campus

I recently got a question about access to our databases, especially off-campus, so let's talk about that a little bit today.

See, every once in a while (but especially during summer and semester breaks), a student or faculty/staff member will be off campus and decide that they need an article from, let's say, the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. They go to our Web site,, and click on the "ALADIN" link in the heading of the "Shortcuts to ALADIN" box.

Suddenly, they see something unexpected:
They're taken by surprise because they haven't seen this screen before, so they hit the Meebo Library chat widget on our home page, asking if they've done something wrong or if we've changed anything. The answer to both questions is "No." Generally speaking, the reason for this reaction is just that they've only ever used the Library's online resources while on campus. Off campus, though, is a different story.

There are a lot of reasons for this, which I'll explain in later posts (sorry, I'm feeling too Fridayish to get technical), but the main one is just that our contracts with the people who own our research databases require that we limit those databases to Gallaudet people only. When you're on campus, the system automatically knows you're okay because you're using a Gallaudet connection, so it lets you in seamlessly. When you're off-campus, though, the system has no idea who you are, so you have to tell it.

And that's why we have the login screen. Just enter your last name, your ID number or your Library barcode, and pick "Gallaudet" from the Institution: drop-down menu. If you don't know your ID number and don't have a Library barcode (shame on you -- get over here and ask for one), you can log on to Bison, go into "Self Service" in the sidebar on the left-hand side, click on "Personal Information," then "Personal Information Summary." You'll see your ID number on the very first line under the big blue "Personal Information" header.

Anyway, once you've logged in, you're basically as good as gold. It all proceeds just like it would if you were on campus.

Short post today, and it's basically one big Question of the Week, so we'll skip that. Also, since we're closed next Friday for Independence Day weekend, next week's post will be up on Thursday. Have a good weekend!

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