In a recent posting Justin talked about the issues around reliably deep linking in to library OPACs.
As more library services become available for linking to, and they become a more important route into the library (see Richard?s blog), the problem of control and quality is only going to get worse. Even now there are a surprising number of systems that link, or try to link, deeply into the library OPAC, for example www.redlightgreen.com, OCLC WorldCat, WhichBook.net and many different bookmarlets or browser plugins.
How does a library inform these third parties of a change to their systems? In most cases the library doesn?t even know there is another system depending on the exact syntax of their OPAC url! Let alone being able to inform them of changes. For the third-party system there is an expensive array of changing urls and syntaxes to be maintained.
At Talis we didn?t feel this was a very scalable solution to our customers needs. So, working with partners RLG (RedLightGreen), the Talis Research group, as part of the Silkworm project, have built a prototype OPAC deep linking directory. RLG is now using the directory live for a subset of its OPAC links.
The directory provides a single point of control and change. It hides the details of both physical location (i.e. URL) and syntax from the linking client (such as RLG). This way the client doesn?t need to know if the OPAC is a Talis OPAC or another vendors OPAC, it just links, using OpenURL and the library ID. The library can now mange the migration of systems by simply updating the directory entry as needed.
Working with redlightgreen we have now successfully launched this service. They are now using the directory for reliable deep linking into the OPACs of the community of Talis Libraries.
To see the results of this:
- Go to www.redlightgreen.com
- Search for something (eg. “The origin of species”)
- Select one of the entries (eg, Genetics and the origin of species)
- Click on the ‘Get it’ icon, top right of the page. (You may have to sign in at this point as a new user)
- Select England from the country list, then Birmingham, then Birmingham University
- You should now arrive at the correct record for that library inside their [Talis Prism] OPAC.
- If you were quick and observant you will have seen the URL in the browser being redirected via our directory to the eventual destination.
So why again is this so useful to ReadLightGreen? Having routed their deep links via the directory now only have to be aware of a single syntax for constructing the url and just insert a logical location code for the library they are interested in. The directory takes care of the rest.
This is only a first step, increasing the coverage of the directory and providing open to its contents will add benefit to all.
In the meantime thanks to RedLightGreen for their help in proving the worth and the technology behind the directory.