Citation Linkers for Effective Information Search in Academic Libraries

The citation linker is a robust searching environment which allows users to search for articles, journals, books and eBooks with the use of minimal metadata, that is, the known citation of an item which generates a list of links to direct the users to the desired resources.

SFX Citation Linker

There are various OpenURL link resolvers available from library automation providers such as the LinkFinderPlus (Endeavor Information Systems), LinkSolver (Ovid Technologies), LinkSource (EBSCO), 0L2 (Fretwell-Downing Informatics), Serials Solutions 360 Link, SFX (Ex Libris), Sirsi Resolver, TOUR (TDNet), VLink (Infor), WebBridge (Innovative Interfaces, Inc.), and WorldCat Link Manager. However, active in about 1,500 libraries around the world, the SFX is the most widely used link resolver due to the number of facilities that it offers.

The SFX has the largest number of OpenURL products installed and it is mainly used as a URL link resolver and a linking solution between libraries. It helps to retrieve full-text effortlessly from the library collection while enabling users to find subscribed resources in licensed databases by providing the citation information without having to know which database should be searched for. Moreover, the SFX directs users to the OPAC for items available in print and if the items are not found in the library collection, the interlibrary loan service shows up. It also provides two ways for accessing a library’s resources:

a) The A-Z list which is a searchable and browsable list of journals that are subscribed by the library. It allows browsing and searching by journal title, category, ISSN, and vendor.

b) The citation linker that helps to quickly find a specific article, book, or issue of a journal.

The citation linker prevents users from performing the usual steps to search for a specific article such as searching the journal in which the article is published, accessing the journal’s webpage through links, locating the specific volume and issue and, finally, looking for the specific article in a particular issue of the journal. The citation linker facilitates searches with minimal effort and citation metadata as follows:

The Article Citation Linker

To locate a particular article, the minimal and sufficient citation metadata are “journal title” or “ISSN”, “volume”, “issue”, “start page”, and “published date”, without the usage of any author metadata such as “last name”, “first name”, and “initials” which are considered unnecessary. Usually, “published year” is also judged as enough to be used as metadata for “published date”.

The Journal Citation Linker

Similar to the article citation linker, the journal citation linker helps to locate a specific issue of a journal quickly with a minimum of metadata. Often, it requires only the exact journal title for searches while the month and day metadata are considered as optional metadata.

The Book Citation Linker

An alternative to the library catalogue and OPAC, the book citation linker is more effective for finding, discovering, and selecting the growing resources. The book citation linker is an essential aid for users to search for books and mostly ebooks because most libraries which are subscribed to ebooks do not include the latter in the catalogue. Therefore, the book citation linker help users locate ebooks while using citation metadata such as “author”, “book title”, “published date” or even the ISBN.

Adding a complementary dimension to the traditional online catalogue, the citation linker furthermore provides many search options such as title, ISSN, ISBN, DOI (Digital Object Identifier), PMID (PubMed Identifier) and so on for users to locate research materials within a much lesser time frame. In short, the citation linker promptly determines if items are available electronically in full-text, if items are available in print in the library, or if items need to be recalled from other libraries through the inter library loan service. Consequently, the citation linker simplifies the search process, routes the information searches to appropriate locations while saving ample time of the users.


Xu, F. The SFX citation linker and its enhancements.


Re-inventing the Online Catalogue

The traditional definition of the library catalogue as a ‘key to exploit the resources of the library’ is now considered as something of the past. Technologies have pushed the limits of the catalogue beyond the holdings of the library, as many academic libraries are nowadays providing pointers in their online catalogue to items not only in their holdings but also to digital contents stored on servers in remote places outside the geographical boundaries of the library.  There has operated a paradigm shift in library operations with a  focus on accessibility to materials, irrespective of their location rather than  on the availability of locally held materials. It matters little, or not at all, for the user then to know where the item is held, provided the librarian provide access to the required document within the premises of the library or even outside the library. The explosive growth of  digital contents on the web backed by a customer-centric policy have led academic libraries in more advanced countries to add machine-readable catalogue records to their online catalogue to link hundred of thousands of URLs with freely available contents.

The Penrose Library at the University of Denver is one such academic libraries which has added links to MARC records and by 1999, the catalogue contained about 1,848 URLs for government documents available freely. Gradually, the library also added URLs with licensed documents, microfilms, full-text online version of  publications, links to publishers’ Web sites, reviews, or tables of contents and online serials. The catalogue search function enables users to locate print and digital content easily as formats are distinguishable from both the browse screens and the full record in the OPAC including the clear display of URLS. Consequently, the library catalogue now not only provides access to its own holdings but also serves as a gateway to web content that the library has selected for its users.

It is worth noting that when the State of Colorado made MARC records for state online publications available on a monthly basis to all libraries, the Penrose Library became the first virtual Colorado depository for state documents with an enhanced access to over 6,000 online titles.

However, several measures are adopted by the library for the smooth running of such platform and written procedures are developed to ensure that the digital materials are integrated effortlessly into the existing workflow. A Catalogue Management Group (CMG) is formed to look after user convenience that minimizes user confusion by providing clickable links to online contents.  It also facilitates interaction between the teams directly affected by the online catalogue. Moreover, a Collection Development Team is put into place to develop policies for selection of online content for inclusion in the catalogue. There are also copy cataloguers in the Monographs Unit who provide systematic access to digital materials.

Since physical processing (barcode, label, etc.) of items is not needed in the digital world, the library is able to load large numbers of records. At  the Penrose Library, loading batch records is accomplished by a team comprised of the head of Technical Services, a catalogue librarian, a catalogue technician, and a student worker. Furthermore, the MARCEdit software is used to manipulate these large record loads.

It is evident that the staffs have responded to the ever changing environment by developing innovative strategies. They were driven by the need of the users and focused on easing accessibility. They saw this as an opportunity to improve and expand their skills too while becoming full-fledged citizens of the digital world. Libraries are evolving over time as digital content is proliferating at an exponential rate. The answer to the question of how to harness the tide of digital information on the web seems to be the provision of a one-stop shop service to access both information held locally and from external sources via a revamped online catalogue with links to full text digital content. It is a model worth studying to be adapted in the local context.

Lalita Chumun


Meagher, Elizabeth S. and Brown, Christopher C., (2010). “Turned loose in the OPAC: URL selection, addition and management process.”, Library High Tech, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp.360-376.

Generational Change and Academic Libraries

An academic library consortium based in Australia has established that understanding the effects of generational change help recognize and anticipate the future professional development needs of library and information workers. Findings of  a survey indicate that for the former generation (1960-1980), “the more they learn the more they stay” and for the new generation (1980-2000), “continuous learning is a way of life”. This compels academic libraries to use better  strategies to attract and keep the right staff from both generations.

Historical events, economic trends and social upheavals have definitely an impact on a generation that usually takes about twenty years to reach full economic maturity. Friction and change that often arise between generations are not new phenomena. It also includes the different interactions in the workplace where three or even four generations are represented. The academic libraries are exposed to continuous technological change and could be at the risk of marginalization if generational change is not managed effectively. Consequently, recruiting and retaining new library professionals are critical to secure the future of academic libraries.

To attract and keep a new cohort of library professionals, libraries need to consider a range of enticements that align directly with the core values and characteristics of both generations. Selection of staff incorporates added skills such as teaching, marketing and promotion and liaison roles with academic departments. The learning style of the former generation is generally given more consideration because it is motivated by a desire to enhance professional skills. In addition, their thinking is clear; they work across a range of professions whilst they remain with an organization for a longer term. The new generation on the contrary looks for transferable careers whilst its needs extend to a greater degree of personal flexibility, professional satisfaction and immediacy. The new generation can also afford to be fussy in its choice of employment and employer as social networking technologies become more pervasive and there is a trend towards “smaller entrepreneurial operations”. For the new generation, born since the advent of the Internet, self-employment is a real alternative. It provides additional career challenges such as moving to knowledge Management, Administration or Public Relations where better opportunities for skills development and personal flexibility exist. Hence, for the new generation, continuous learning is a way of life and the “talent squeeze” of younger professionals is increasingly becoming in the composition of the actual librarianship workload.

As a result, three simple strategic measures are employed during the selection process of library professionals to satisfy the rigours of the academic libraries. These are:

1. Value the individual – in word and deed

Flexible workplaces and work-life balance should be part of the nuts and bolts of the work environment, along with a fair share of remuneration for the library professionals. These “basics” avoid talented staff to compare and contrast elsewhere. While both generations of staff work together, factors such as the degree to which they will be respected as individuals and colleagues in the workplace, how their ideas are valued, how they will be developed professionally, and how they are supervised are considered. There is no value, for example, in offering flexible work hours at an organizational level if supervisors or outdated work practices make their application problematic at the operational level.

2. Provide plentiful access to meaningful professional development opportunities

It is a fact that professional development preferences of the library workforce are moving inexorably away from higher-level conceptual matters towards more vocational and work-based skills. The library workforce is looking for professional development that is directly relevant to their needs, credible, convenient, good value for money, and above all, practical which is related to outcomes and outputs. Professional development must have meaning and training must be effective, relevant, interactive, personalized, and entertaining.

3. Provide rich and varied access to mentors and other living career guides

Despite an apparent confidence and independence, both the old and new generations do not have all the answers. Like generations before them, they still require guidance from older and hopefully wiser colleagues. Hence, academic libraries looking to attract and retain staff into the future provide access to a mentor or coach as part of any employment package.

In short, the understanding of generational change and commitment to professional development plays a critical role in the recruitment and retention efforts of future academic libraries. Seniority as a concept has almost ceased to have meaning in many contemporary work settings. In addition, merit selection and the “talent squeeze” are causing later generations to leap ahead of earlier generations in terms of responsibilities and remuneration. The same scenario is mirrored in the local context too. For a long term success, the academic libraries could consider giving library workers similar variety of work and attractive opportunities for their professional growth and development.

Lalita Chumun


Sayers, R., 2007. The right staff from X to Y: generational change and professional development in future academic libraries. Library Management. 28 (8/9)

Faculty-Librarian Collaboration in Academic Libraries

Courtesy: Ti Yu., 2009. A new model of faculty-librarian collaboration: the faculty member as library specialist. New Library World. 110 (9/10)

In view to serve and satisfy all the users in the academic community and also provide the right information to each user, academic libraries overseas are looking for better ways and means to promote their services and resources. The faculty-librarian collaboration is a new approach to assist users find, organise, evaluate and apply content of the information they require. It consists of active, close and consistent work between faculty members and the personnel of the library. It is found that the sharing of individual experiences and knowledge of both groups enables the provision of suitable guidance. Consequently, in order to establish effective faculty-librarian collaboration, the Jinwen University of Science and Technology (JUST) in Taipei, Taiwan introduced the new model of “Faculty member as Library
Specialist  to improve the provision of services in various ways”.

Provision of subject-specific information needs:
It is not easy for qualified professional librarians to provide accurate subject-oriented reference services to students and faculty members from different fields of learning in a particular university. As a result, the Library Specialists are assigned to provide more in-depth information, reference advice services on subject-specific information needs and database retrieving skills for students and teachers. Complicated topics are thus passed on by the library staff and handled by Library Specialists to better answer the users.

Integration of library resources into courses:
At the same time as teaching the students how to find and use both printed and electronic resources in the library, the Library Specialists work closely with the library staff to integrate the library resources into their curricula. They design library assignment sheets, workshops, classroom activities which in addition encourage the students to use the library resources and
share the knowledge and experiences.

Organising book clubs:
The JUST library provides a reasonable budget to Library Specialists to organise book clubs in particular subjects. Stories and ideas in fields like Business Management, Hotel Management and Chinese Literature are posted in the blog by different lecturers where they are able to share their experiences, discuss a famous person or talk about a new book with different readers online. Moreover, there are regular reading workshops and introducing of the works of a particular author in order to attract students to read and encourage them to borrow more books from the library.

Consultation support for collection development:
Library specialists become consultants to the library staff as they provide suggestions, answer inquiries, select the right monographs, journals and e-resources to review the quality and build the collections of each discipline in the library.

Providing e-portfolio skills:
The Library Specialists give training and advises to students in the JUST to create their own e-portfolio on the web which is an important collection of electronic evidence of their learning record and achievements.

The implementation of the faculty members as Library Specialists clearly marks a positive influence in the use of the library which led the university to recommend a teacher from each academic department to be a Library Specialist to provide professional knowledge to users. Incentives such as extra two points for their annual teaching evaluation and financial
rewards for their time and efforts are also given to motivate the faculty members to join the project with the aim to help the library to promote its resources and assist students to become a knowledgeable person.

The traditional methods of providing services and building up the collection in the academic libraries in Mauritius compels the users to depend on the inadequate resources and knowledge of library staff to satisfy their information needs in particular disciplines. The faculty-librarian collaboration system is indeed required at some stage in higher learning
and it could be given some thought in the local context. Obtaining a good support from the authorities, establishing an active relationship and good communication with the faculty members could facilitate to set up a harmonious faculty-library collaborative platform for the benefit of the users.

Lalita Chumun