How not to implement a link resolver

My library recently purchased WebBridge, Innovative’s link resolver product.   As I had no prior experience with link resolvers, the implementation, to say the least, has been a bit bumpy.  But after several weeks and many long frustrating hours wrestling OpenURLs into submission, I’m happy to report that WebBridge is working pretty well.  For the record, here is what I would do differently if I had known then what I know now:

1)  Before purchasing WebBridge, I would have evaluated my library’s specific needs to determine if the effort and cost were worth the result.   I would have asked:  How much full-text overlap does my small library actually have?  And are the resources that overlap compatible with a link resolver?   Do you have access to coverage data for all of your resources? For example, it wasn’t until after trying to set it up that I learned LexisNexis, a database critical to our Criminal Justice program with much full-text overlap, was not included in our Serials Solutions coverage load.

WebBridge Resource Panel

Our WebBridge Resource Panel

2)  I would have had a better understanding of how the link resolver relates to Encore Synergy, our new discovery tool.  Encore Synergy is a product that, like many of the newer discovery tools, does not require a link resolver to provide full-text article-level access across multiple databases.   If I had it all to do over again, I would have spent more time investigating discovery tools to determine if there was one that could provide cross-database access to ALL our resources, thus perhaps eliminating the need for the link resolver. As it is, our access is still fragmented.

3)  I would not have set up all of our databases in WebBridge at the same time!  Many resources took hours of testing and troubleshooting before they worked  effectively, and because WebBridge needs to be live in order to test resources, this resulted in live broken links and frustrated users!  If I were to do it again, I’d set up only one or two at a time, test only during non-peak use periods, and make sure each resource was working satisfactorily before going live.

WebBridge button

Links to WebBridge, Serials Solutions, and ILL: still too many complex options to get to full-text!

4)  I would have learned as much as I could about the OpenURL standard and link resolvers BEFORE implementation!  I wish I been on the WebBridge listserv, read Innovative’s WebBridge tutorial, and thoroughly familiarized myself with the WebBridge admin interface before starting to set up databases.

Conclusion:  I naively thought that implementation of both a link resolver and a discovery tool would miraculously solve all our discovery and access problems.  Not so.  The link resolver merely makes the user’s path from citation to full-text slightly less tortuous.  In many cases, the user will remain as confused and frustrated as before, and will sometimes even find herself going in circles.  Our silos remain: all WebBridge has done is provide some tenuous footpaths between them.

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