Christina's LIS Rant

With the recent snowstorms and all, I brought an official work machine home so I could work on full VPN. We have an SSL VPN option and with full network connect, it’s just like I’m in my office. Most of the time, when I need an article here or there, I just use the proxy server. From my end, how this works is I either link out from the catalog or I right click and reload through proxy using my LibX plugin. I then login with my directory ID and password.

If I need something more “popular” – like reviews for an upcoming purchase, car repair diagrams, or how-to information – I’ll just use my local public library’s research databases. I happen to know my library card number, so I just type it in and away we go.

So this is really very easy for me, but clearly we’re not doing a good enough job telling people what they can get to from home. I think it used to be much harder, even just a couple of years ago. One of the main things is probably that it is an extra step if you just use a major search engine and rely on IP authentication on campus. Maybe people who have a lot of things through aggregators are more accustomed? I think a lot of people make assumptions about what they can and cannot do and don’t even try.

How can we let people know? The public libraries have a hard time getting people to use things in the branches and it must be even harder to get people to use things at home.  For research libraries, we know that for our {users|patrons|customers} a lot of reading and writing is done after hours and on weekends – so it ought to be easier to get them to try.

Maybe it’s a misperception? Maybe I only hear from the people who have problems?

Comments

  1. #1 Kim
    February 15, 2010

    I usually find out what new things we’ve got available at home (or on campus) during my once-a-year session with the librarian with one of my classes. My department’s library liaison does a great job of sending me info, but if I don’t need it right away, I forget.

    I think my librarian does a good job of keeping me in touch with the options. I just don’t use everything regularly enough to get good at it.

  2. #2 Doug Alder
    February 16, 2010

    I’ve worked from home full time for the last 10 years. I log into the server at work (a commercial datacenter some 180 miles away) via Terminal Server and go to work. I keep two separate internet connections here, one cable, one dsl, and two working laptops, so as to be certain I’m never without connectivity.

  3. #3 Otto
    February 16, 2010

    Is the issue really one of awareness? There has never been an occasion that I’ve found myself in the morass of SFX/FindIt window-hijacking popups that resulted in anything but aggravation. Looking at the LibX Web site, there’s no clear explanation of why this might be helpful in actually finding information, although it leaps right into subterranean jargon.

    Lose the gewgaws. They’re an obstacle in an academic setting and determinedly repeat the Compuserve “content added” mistake in a public one.

  4. #4 Christina Pikas
    February 16, 2010

    So everyone (who has commented here) is well aware of what’s available and happy with it? That’s great. I’m surprised. As for LibX – the page my users have has a lot more details on it, but it’s on our intranet. There’s definitely an issue when SFX/findit doesn’t. Even if it’s good for 90 out of 100 things, you really need it for those 10 and that’s what sticks in your mind.

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