Friday, 18 April 2014

'Implementing E-Resources Access for Alumni at King's College London' - Anna Franca (Subscriptions & access manager, KCL)


King's College London (KCL) is a multidisciplinary research-led university with a long history of notable and prominent alumni worldwide, who act as ambassadors for the college. KCL Library Services offers to its alumni a wide range of benefits, including the option to apply for library membership. However, this was ‘traditional’, i.e. focus on walk-in physical access and print borrowing for an extra fee. There are increasing numbers of international students & alumni not based in the UK, and walk-in access is not so practical. Therefore, Library Services started to explore the options to provide e-resource access to alumni and so met with the Alumni Relations team representatives to try and find a way forward.

In June 2012 King's Library Services began participation in the JSTOR Alumni Access pilot project, which gave alumni access to JSTOR. As a result of this, there was an unprecedented number of new requests for alumni benefits, with over 700 requests for Alumni Online membership in first day after the announcement of the trial! Indeed, there was over 14,000 accesses in the first year. JSTOR can also provide access statistics by collection, title, etc which helps with collection development.

There were a number of challenges to overcome in offering this benefit to alumni. The Library Service had to carry out investigative work to identify what publishers had to offer, but was pleased to see that many suppliers are adding alumni access (either as standard or for small fee). However, authentication was a particular problem. KCL uses both ezproxy and Shibboleth. It would have to add data on alumni to Shibboleth, which would be too much of an undertaking. Therefore, it was reliant on the publishers allowing different authentication routes. There was also the question of funding the work. JSTOR access is funded by library services, but access to additional services means looking at long-term funding options.

This pilot project showed how giving alumni access to e-resources can work, with a key learning point being to maintain good relations with the Alumni Relations team. It has also helped give JSTOR and the participating libraries an understanding of how to implement and develop an approach that is valuable and sustainable (http://about.jstor.org/service/access-alumni).

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