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Interconnectivity and the Hybrid Library

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Interconnectivity and the Hybrid Library

For those of you who are not so familiar with EBSCO I would like to start by briefly introducing our company to you. We are the largest subscription agency in the world, head quartered in Birmingham, Alabama and we operate from 32 different offices in 21 different countries. Our offices in Europe are in the following countries and as you can see we have an office in Prague too. These offices are not just sales offices, but they are fully equiped offices with a complete customer services department.

As the main theme of this conference is online delivery services, I would like to focus my presentation on the online services that EBSCO offers to libraries. As you probably all know, the journal market is in the midst of a rapid and radical change, as all of the major publishers roll out full electronic versions of what used to be printed serials. Without question, we can say that this market is rapidly moving to the Web.

At present we are now talking about the hybrid library. It is not the building that is hybrid but it refers to the information which is being offered. For one part this is still paper copies on the shelves and for the other part it is access to online databases or access to individual e-journals.

There are two developments which took place over the past 10 years or so which I would like for you to understand.

First the coming in to being of aggregators. Companies like UMI, IAC, H.W. Wilson, OCLC and EBSCO Publishing have gone to individual publishers, obtaining the rights to abstract the journal articles and to retrieve the full text (the intermediary will do this or obtain this electronic information from the publishers themselves) and then bundles this by subject.

At EBSCO we have two databases of this kind which are very famous in the university library environment. One is called Academic Search Elite and the other one is called Business Source Premier. Both databases contain over 1,000 full text journals, most of them in PDF format, in social sciences as well as business, finance, marketing, accounting and management information.

The second development is the creation of individual online journals being made available by the publishers electronically on the Web and the number is increasing daily. Subscription agencies such as Blackwell`s, Dawson`s, Swets and EBSCO, therefore, have developed their own electronic journal management and access systems.

At EBSCO we were visionary in the past as we have gone one step further, we have the collection of journals, the so called databases and we have an individual online access system called EBSCO Online and I am happy to report that those two systems have now been integrated.

Let`s have a look a the second development, the development of individual online journals, first.

The advantages of electronic publications are numerous.

Librarians and academic officers began in the early 1990s to explore the capabilities of electronic technologies as solutions to the problem of scholarly communications in print form. The advantages of electronic publications are numerous and have been widely discussed, hence, we will only briefly enumerate them:

  • Faster access to the most up to date information: electronic journals can, in principle, be more current than print journals; their content can be released to readers as soon as it is ready.
  • Access possible 24/7 from any PC: they can be accessed wherever an institution`s telecommunications network or the Internet reaches, 24 hours per day. Their contents may be downloaded into readers` workstations for further analysis and manipulation.
  • Many simultaneous users: many individuals can use them simultaneously, eliminating the need for multiple subscriptions.
  • The information is searchable.
  • Added value of hyperlinks: they make a wealth of value added services possible, e.g., customized selection of information, electronic navigation within and among documents, the incorporation of multimedia information, etc.
  • Save physical storage room: they do not need to be bound or shelved so they make minimal demands on space. Missing issues and missing pages do not need to be replaced.
  • Arguably, they do not need additional indexing.
  • They permit an interactive dialog between and among, readers and authors.
We also have problems with the new medium electronic journals when we are dealing with maintaining access. Many different URLs from publishers have to be maintained and what is even worse, they sometimes change. The "dynamic" URLs from Elsevier are already proving to be a problem and linking to other information, therefore, is hardly possible. There are many different interfaces and every publisher uses a different lay out and a different structure. The search engines differ in functionality; can one do a truncation or not, if yes, do we do this with an asterisks or a hyphen or maybe a question mark, can we limit or expand our searches or can we search at all. The basic question we are all having is how do we manage access and maintenance effectively.

As an intermediary between libraries and publishers subscription agencies have developed management and access systems for electronic journals nothing different than the classic role agencies fulfilled in the paper world. Swets has developed SwetsNet, Dawson`s has developed IQ, Blackwell`s has developed Blackwell`s Navigator and EBSCO`s is called EBSCO Online.

The development of those systems has cost a lot of time and requires an immense technical know-how. This because there are no standards and this because publishers are using a variety of different software packages, the so-called electronic can openers to obtain access to the electronic content. We have Acrobat from Adobe Systems, TechExplorer from IBM, RealPage from Catchword and HTML. Also some major STM publishers such as Elsevier, IEEE and the American Chemical Society for instance, at this point in time do not want to work with agencies.

Others do work in a full cooperative mode with agencies supplying citations, abstracts and full text to be stored on the agency`s servers. Others only supply the headers and indices to the full text and others simply let us link to their home page. We at EBSCO are fighting hard to obtain full cooperation from all the publishers as this is the only way we can help our library customers to offer complete access to all the electronic content which is out there.

However, if a publisher will only allow us to create a link, we choose to start working with the publisher in that way, and we hope that the cooperation can be extended later on. Experience has shown that this is actually happening. Another important factor is that publishers do not have to pay EBSCO for offering their journals via EBSCO Online. The end result is that we offer much more online journals than other subscription agencies with a more strict policy.

I would now like to give you a short demonstration of EBSCO Online.

At present we offer access to almost 3500 journals and this number is growing daily.

Log in screen

Normally, access will be offered via IP address. Some privileged users, however, can obtain a password from the library which makes it possible to have access to electronic journals from a home based pc.

Entry screen

The entry screen has a menu listing and a text area. The menu listing is a navigation support tool which you will always see at the top of the screen, no matter what functionality you are in. The functions of the menu listing are once more shown in the text area so that a user of the system has a choice from where he or she wants to work.


EBSCO offers the library staff a variety of management and control functions and this function is called Admin. The structure of the screen is similar and the administrator can switch between the two parts. The administrator for instance can set up single users, user groups or journal groups. Single users can obtain special privileges, such as: must access be offered via IP address or via password or via a combination of the two. Single users can obtain the privilege to make subscription procurement suggestions. Or they can obtain a listing of favorite journals. After having logged in the listing of favorite journals then appears on the screen.

The administrator can establish journal groups, for instance a medical journal group and these can be coupled to a user group `Medicine`. In this way only the medical journals will be searched. Next to the user administration, online journals can be managed and usage reports with statistical information on for example search or site activity can be created and analyzed.

Switch to Reader Site


At the far right of the menu listing there is a help button. And the help button is context sensitive. It works in various areas such as article search, journal search and our browse function.


The browse function will give you an overview of what you will find in EBSCO Online. For instance, a user can get a listing of what journals the library has ordered in electronic format. However, a user can also expand the search to include all the journals that are viewable on EBSCO Online. Those are the journals of which we have the full text or the header information, which are the abstracts and the indices all stored on our server. Viewable on publisher`s side means that in this case the publisher is not willing the have this information stored on EBSCO`s servers. Here we can only offer a link to the journal home page.

Containing free sample issues` adds all the journals of which one can read an issue in full text. Those are issues from publishers who are publishing electronic journals at a subscription price and in order to invite you to place a subscription to this journal they make one issue freely available via the World Wide Web. Out of the 3,500 journals that we have in EBSCO Online at this moment more than 2,100 are viewable on EBSCO Online and we have the following symbol, the EBSCO Online symbol, to show you this. At present we have over 308,000 articles available from more than 27,500 individual issues.

Simultaneously, one can do subject searches, key word searches, etc. on all those journals. For the others, as mentioned before, we just offer a link. The glasses symbol tells you that there is a subscription in place to this journal. In this case then, a user has access to the full text. For the journals for which there is no subscription, a user can have access up to the abstracts level. And because EBSCO Online is free of charge for our customer, access to those abstracts is free too.

Journal Search

In the option journal search you can very specifically look for a particular journal, by publisher or in the journal description. In case I now click on this journal, I will get a listing of the available volumes. I will choose an issue and I will then get to the table of contents. A user has the option to either first go to the abstract or the full text. The systems tell you where we store the full text and local means on the EBSCO server. Full text is in PDF format and comprises … kilobyte.

Article search

In the option article search you have the choice between two search screens; a simple one and a more professional one. In the more professional one you can use Boolean operators. I can also click what should be searched; all, inclusive full text, the abstracts or only the journal title. This here is very important: "include journals not on subscription". In case a library only has a subscription to lets say 20 online titles, with this function we allow you to search all the journals which are residing on EBSCO`s server. Here, the user can, although there is no subscription to the journal, read the abstracts and all is free of charge. You have access, as mentioned before, without any costs to all the TOC`s and all the abstracts.

This ladies and gentlemen, was an introduction to EBSCO Online. In the first three months of its release, EBSCO Online was accessed more than 1.8 million times and at this time already more than 500 academic libraries, corporations and other research centers are using it. Of course EBSCO Online is a dynamic system, it is very much alive and new functions will become available almost every week. For example an alerting service on favorite journals and the possibility to agree to license agreements online will be available soon.

Now that I mention license agreements, I can also tell you that EBSCO, in partnership with John Cox Associates and four other subscription agencies is sponsoring the development of generic standard license agreements for electronic journals. They contain a range of variables and so that appropriate clauses can be selected to create a license that complies with both the customer`s need and publisher`s policy. There are four models, all international in application. These are for single academic institutions, academic consortia, public libraries and corporate, government and other research libraries. The licenses are in the public domain and available online.

To go back to the beginning of my presentation, I mentioned that there were two major developments of which the first one concerned databases.

Long before the development of EBSCO Online, EBSCO, under the label of EBSCO Publishing, has been building databases. On the one hand we have the so-called licensed databases such as Medline, PhychLit, Sociofile, existing databases which we buy and which we make accessible via an EBSCO search engine. On the other hand we have taken the route (very unusual for a subscription agency) of an aggregator such as UMI, IAC and Wilson. An aggregator buys permission from a publisher to get the abstracts as well as the full text and makes this electronically available under a specific name describing the nature of the database. One such database is for instance Business Source Elite, where the emphasis lies on business information. The full texts of all those journals are residing on EBSCO`s server in Boston and the full texts of all those journals have only one format, either plain ASCII or PDF.

On first sight it looks as if we are dealing with the same thing as EBSCO Online. Both systems guarantee access to full text. The difference however is the nature of the system because in EBSCO Online we offer access to journals to which a library individually subscribes. The full text of those journals, depending on what agreements we could make with the publishers, are either on EBSCO`s server or on the servers of various publishers. In addition the full text has different electronic formats.

I also mentioned in the beginning that I was happy to report that both services have now been integrated. The ultimate goal of the integration, we call this "linking", is to give the user a link to the full-text of articles on EBSCO Online regardless of where he or she found the citation/abstract or journal title. The first step in this integration process was the linking from our databases to the full-text in EBSCO Online. Also other database suppliers such as Silverplatter and Cambridge Scientific Abstracts will link to the full text in EBSCO Online. Besides linking from Abstracting en Indexing databases we also offer linking with library`s web based OPAC`s which means that user can get seamless access from the OPAC to the full-text.

To conclude my presentation I would like to give you an example how this integration has been successfully implemented in practice. 23 State Academic Institutions in California selected 1,600 electronic journals from a variety of publishers, among which were titles from all the major publishers. The objective was the integration of OPAC, licensed databases and individual electronic journals into a single user interface, controlled by the institution. Because of the combination of our full-text databases and our web based service for electronic journals, we are well positioned to meet this objective and this lead to the fact that the California State University awarded us with the implementation.

I hope I have given you an overview of the online services that we can offer for the library. In case you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my colleagues or me.

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HEIJTING, Inge. Interconnectivity and the Hybrid Library. Ikaros [online]. 1999, ročník 3, číslo 10 [cit. 2024-06-16]. urn:nbn:cz:ik-10412. ISSN 1212-5075. Dostupné z:

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