Seamless library services using the OpenURL syntax
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With the rise of the Internet, scientists expect to be able to access all library services from anywhere they can carry their laptops, and to go from database to full-text article in one session. The impact of these expectations on the traditionally separate services of a library catalog, on-site collection of printed resources, document delivery system, database searching, and current awareness will be discussed. A key component to the integration of these library services is the OpenURL syntax, which forms the basis of communication among disparate systems from a variety of vendors. A solution that has been implemented in the small special library of a non-profit research institute will be presented as an example. The library's decision to abandon use of multiple proprietary linking solutions provided by database vendors, and instead rely solely on SFX (the OpenURL resolver tool from Ex Libris) is reviewed. The extraordinary usefulness of this tool is discussed, particularly the ways in which it simplifies the researcher's access to full text, reducing the time and effort spent on this important and necessary part of their work. It relieves the researcher from having to learn the complexities and peculiarities of multiple publisher web sites, from having to fill in forms, and from having to re-enter search strategies to run new jobs in related databases. The most popular menu options in the distributed SFX product are highlighted. Additional customized options that may be offered on the SFX menu are also reviewed. Attention is paid, as well, to ways in which the tool might be made even more useful by extending its integration with even more library products, such as current awareness alerting tools. The Library Community can play an important role in making suggested improvements become reality by educating, lobbying, and encouraging their vendor partners to enhance their products and improve their inter-operability with OpenURL resolvers.