EZproxy links within reading lists

This guide explains how the EZproxy widgets work

Introduction

Database vendors will often sell campus-based licences to institutions for their content. For off-campus users, this can be an issue - they have the rights to view the content, but as the domain they are accessing the content from is not that of the institution, they are denied access.

EZproxy addresses this by operating as an intermediate server between your users and your licensed databases. Users connect to EZproxy, which connects on their behalf to the licensed databases to obtain web pages and send them back to the user. Since EZproxy runs on a machine on the institutions network, the database vendor sees the requests as coming from an IP address on that network, and permits access.

To find out more about EZproxy, visit the OCLC website.

NOTE: EZproxy is NOT an authentication mechanism. It is just a proxy server.

Many of you may be wondering why you can’t just put links into the resource itself for example in the marcfield 856. The danger with doing this is if your ezprozy link changes this will result in you needing to make that change across all your urls and this would be a big task for you. The two widgets outlined below complete the same task but don’t create a lot of work for you if something changes.

If you have already hardcoded your items to include the EZproxy link when we come to read the link we will see that it already contains EZproxy and will ignore it.

What happens with a reading list item?

In Talis Aspire Reading Lists, we can configure various outbound links to be directed through your ezproxy service. We configure this for you so that your academics don’t have to remember to enter the ‘EZproxified’ base url for all their links.

When a user clicks on an outbound link from Talis Aspire Reading Lists the user’s browser will follow these three steps.

  1. From https://university.rl.talis.com/link?qurl= to your EZproxy server
  2. At your EZproxy server you are authenticated
  3. Your EZproxy server takes you to the item

The EZproxy widgets allow you to complete these three steps all in one go to make it a seamless process for users. To do this they need to construct a url that combines all three steps.

Why do we recommend using qurl and not url?

Talis recommends that you should use qurl because it accepts a url-encoded parameter, whereas url does not. Read more in this helpful article

How does this work with the EZproxy DOI widget?

We pull DOI’s from many different places, so from ebooks, direct DOI’s, journal articles etc. Using the widget we can take your base url:

https://university.idm.oclc.org/login?qurl=

and add the doi onto this making it:

https%3A%2F%2Funiversity.idm.oclc.org%2Flogin%3Fqurl%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fdx.doi.org%2F10.1362%2F026725798784867671

This means that a user is taken directly to the resource.

How does this work with the EZproxy ebook widget?

To add a url to an ebook we need to append the ebook url with the EZproxy prefix. We take the following steps:

  1. We take the target url: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AN=269854
  2. The target url needs to be urlencoded.  This means replacing all the unsafe characters like the “&” with percent encoded characters so the url above becomes: 
    http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebscohost.com%2Flogin.aspx%3Fdirect%3Dtrue%26AN%3D269854
  3. We then add this to the EZproxy base so this becomes: 
    https://university.idm.oclc.org/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebscohost.com%2Flogin.aspx%3Fdirect%3Dtrue%26AN%3D269854
  4. This whole string is then urlencoded again to make: 
    https%3A%2F%2Funiversity.idm.oclc.org%2Flogin%3Fqurl%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fsearch.ebscohost.com%252Flogin.aspx%253Fdirect%253Dtrue%2526AN%253D269854
  5. This is then what is passed through the systems to ensure that the correct resource if found.

How do I add this to my tenancy?

If you are interested in implementing either of these widgets do raise a support ticket.

If you are in a position where you have hardcoded links and therefore want to remove that link from your items on mass in reading lists then please do raise a tickets and we can discusss consultancy with you on this.

There may be other occasions when you wish certain links to be passed through EZproxy under certain conditions. This is something that could be explored using Talis Consulting.

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