Category Archives: resources

Information about resources integrated into the MPG.ReNa and the MPG/SFX link resolver

Information providers gone mobile

Over the last two years, an increasing number of information providers started to offer mobile versions of their platforms or developed specialized applications to access the electronic content. In most cases, users with mobile devices will be automatically redirected to the corresponding version. Access to subscribed content may depend on your IP address, but some providers support remote access via specific measures.

Here you find some further information for selected providers:

Problems with Safari Books Online

Unfortunately, we noticed several problems with accessing the Safari Tech Books collection over the last days:

  1. The MPG/SFX server sometimes fails to redirect requests to the correct entry page, see example.
    Solution: Prefer the link offered by the "MPG eBook Index" as this seems to work much more reliable.
  2. Not all book content loads correctly if you select a particular book section from the table of content, see example.
    Solution: Try to switch to the HTML view instead by clicking the new icon from the Safari tool bar, i.e.
    safari tool bar

Note: We and the Safari support are aware of these problems and hope to solve them soon!

information resource feeds – is this the data we want?

vLib information resources are available in RSS 2.0 format, see

What’s the benefit of this? A news stream to hook interest? A huge list of entry points to be filtered and maintained in a user’s own environment?

As items basically consist of a title, a description and a link, crucial information about the vLib resource represented by an RSS 2.0 item may fail to be conveyed.

This may be a mere mapping issue as discussed at (i.e. map more fields to RSS 2.0 item description) – where we are not taking into account additional atom elements yet (to contain, for example, an html-formatted description), or atom format to contain more detailed data about a resource.

Or we might even consider pointing subscribers to our own interface to a resource rather than to the resource’s original web interface.

The vLib resource interface URL is actually present within items as guid, and, in fact, it is meant to be a permalink – however, certain feed readers appear to prefer a permalink in guid to the URL in item link, that’s why guid isPermaLink is presently set to false.

One week, two new OpenURL sources

Sometimes, it’s really worth asking content providers for OpenURL support – even it may take some time and effort to identify the appropriate contact person. This week was pay-off time and we activated links to the MPG/SFX link resolver on two additional information platforms:

  • Credo Reference has been licensed recently to provide MPG staff with full text access to 150 reference books. OpenURL links to the MPG/SFX server are offered for the references in selected articles, see example.
  • BioOne launched a new platform some weeks ago and mentioned "Open URL compliance" in the the corresponding announcement. The revised user interface provides OpenURL links for all literature cited (see example), but the implementation requires some improvements – in particular for books and book items.

Time to start the weekend!

Usage of OvidSP in the MPG: Login failed?

Two weeks ago, we noticed a nasty problem with the AutoAlert emails created by OvidSP for the database "Current Contents". Last Friday we posted following announcement on the MPG entry page for the Ovid Database Server:

Dear users of the Ovid AutoAlert feature,

Due to technical problems on Ovid’s side you may be experiencing that you cannot login to the OvidSP server when following a link provided by your AutoAlert email. This problem can be solved manually by changing the host address of the link provided, i.e. by switching from[…]


Please feel free to contact Alexander Struck (Ovid) or Inga Overkamp (MPDL) if you are facing difficulties. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience.

This Friday, we are happy to announce that Ovid’s support staff managed to restore the appropriate proxy setting, thus any upcoming email should contain links which can be resolved successfully by users in the Max Planck Society.

Case closed? Not really, because this particular problem was just one indicator of circumstances specific to the Max Planck Society: Neither MPG IP ranges nor personal user accounts are registered on the online OvidSP server itself. Instead, the MPG maintains a local login page which checks the credentials provided by a user (IP address or personal login) and redirects the request to OvidSP if the authentication succeeded. Keeping the login procedure local reduces the administrative effort immensely, but as drawback users from the MPG are not able to login via the "official" OvidSP homepage. This is fine in most cases because all MPG sites point to, but some scientists may try to access the resource via another path and fail. Let’s state the obvious: the current setup is not ideal.

Solution? For now the situation will remain as it is, but we are looking forward to the results of the MPG-AAI project which tries to establish an MPG-wide authentication and authorization infrastructure. A practicable solution for the MPG? I don’t know, but it has the potential to solve the Ovid login problem…

Stuck in hibernation?

Is the vLib project team stuck in hibernation? No, not at all! Fact is that still most subscription contracts are up for renewal at the turn of the year. In addition, a lot of electronic products are newly released or ceased; some resources are transferred from one publisher to another while others just disappear without any notice. Behind the scenes we are busy with keeping all systems up & running – and this is a lot of work!

Any big news for 2009? Actually not, but some minor changes may be worth noticing:

  • The new Wiley contract includes all former Blackwell titles. Therefore, the number of Wiley e-journals available to all users in the MPG increased to more than 1.400 titles in total.
  • On the other hand side, it wasn’t possible to extend the trial of Oxford’s e-Books collections (Oxford Scholarship Online, OSO and Oxford Reference Online, ORO) any longer. At this point in time, the trial won’t be converted into a regular subscription due to high price expectations by the publisher.
  • INSPEC – the database for Physics, Electronics, and Computing – has been removed from the Ovid platform and is now available via the Web of Knowledge (WoK). Please notice that the WoK provides additional access to the INSPEC archive, launching the entire collection of Science Abstracts Journals dating from 1898 to 1968.
  • Check the vLib portal to find a continuously updated list of new resources.

Happy new year!

Integration of electronic resources

On the one hand, there’s a rich abundance of electronic resources, on the other hand, it requires some effort to maintain and organize them.

An integrated platform may be a solution, but at least to some degree we’ll always be dealing with multiple interfaces and decentralized data.

From a user’s point of view, it may be desirable to integrate the various interfaces like links to web platforms, search engines, lookup tools, etc., with his or her own browser environment. Maybe this is actually a good place to combine everything, because this is where other useful tools and interfaces provided by third parties are to be found, see

e-resources in browser environment

If a browser search engine does not deliver results as desired, access to a more specific search interface is probably the best solution. By using vLib resource feeds, it is possible to organize these links in a feed reader or as bookmarks. Above I’m using Wizz RSS, a Firefox add-on feed reader.

Combining resources tends to blur the precision of a search, but on the other hand covers a wider range of content. Hence it may be useful to organize resources (with search interfaces) in sets, such as

vLib resource set

or use a deep link to point users to the interface which may best serve their purpose, examples: a list of resources, vs. a specific search triggered right away.

Documentation about deep linking may be found here.

ISI Web of Knowledge cross search released

In addition to Web of Science (including Conference Proceedings), major ISI WoK databases (Biosis Previews, Current Contents, Zoological Record) are now cross-searchable on vLib – example (MPG on-campus only) – which may be considered to be used as an alternative to the WoK All Databases search.

The metadata quality of the All Databases data source does not seem to match the quality of data as retrieved from single databases, which involves all sorts of disadvantages, e.g. problems with full text linking (wrong metadata is sent to the link resolver which is thus unable to provide a correct full text link).

Please note that cross search in general may or may not deliver results as desired. Please see vLib search tips for more information.

Activating reference links on HighWire Press

Some time ago, we learned that the HighWire Press platform supports the activation of OpenURLs in the reference sections of selected journals. This allows us to link these references to the corresponding MPG/SFX service menus, e.g.:

screen shot of reference section in PNAS

Users from MPG will now find MPG/SFX links on following HighWire-hosted journal platforms:

Please note that OpenURL links are currently displayed for selected journal references only, but Oxford University Press already announced:

Future releases will include functionality to display OpenURL links for a wider range of references (for example, books) as well as additional metadata fields in OpenURL-encoded links (e.g. issue values).

… that sounds promising!

Why not participating in Google Scholar’s library link program?

Google Scholar offers a preference called library links which enables users to access licensed resources through their institutional link resolver. This works with any SFX server, but we haven’t registered the MPG link resolver and therefore you won’t find the Max Planck Society (MPG) being listed:

Screenshot Google Scholar preferences

So, let’s ask the obvious question: Why?

The first and major obstacle is that the institution needs to provide complete electronic holdings information in the course of registration. This information is used by Google to position the SFX link in order to indicate when electronic full text is available for a particular reference.

On the other hand, the MPG has no central knowledge base including all electronic full texts available to a specific employee in his local context. The SFX link resolver mashes up holding information from various resources on request, i.e. after a user clicked on a MPG/SFX button. An example is the lookup in the Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek to check for content additionally licensed for the particular institute (see documentation, in German). In short: We are not able to deliver the requested holdings information under these circumstances.

But would we register it if we could? At least this would bring the discussion back to the table, but there are some further concerns:

  1. Replicating institutional holding information contradicts one of the basic principles of the OpenURL concept: Generating context sensitive links on request.
  2. Google’s policy of emphasizing electronic holdings discriminates other library services, e.g. print holdings and document delivery services.
  3. The scope of the Google Scholar index is undefined and the interface offers basic retrieval options only. Therefore, we recommend using high-quality resources for information retrieval, e.g. the Web of Science.

Honestly spoken: I’m not too sure that any of the above arguments would prevent us from registering the MPG/SFX server at Google Scholar if our users would ask for it. The truth is: we haven’t received a single request until now. You want to be the first? Submit a comment or post us a note.