Identifying broken links in items on Talis Aspire Reading Lists

The Problem

For every tenancy that exists within Talis Aspire Reading Lists there will be thousands of links being used, from ebook links to website links. As we know these links can change on a regular basis and may over time cease to work. Talis Aspire does not come with an automated link checker.

Why can't we integrate a link checker?

To provide a complete link checking service, some of the things that we would need to identify and deal with might include (but aren't limited to):

  • Most links sit behind a login service and for each of you this is different so would make it very hard to run a tool
  • Links can be temporarily broken while a service is down
  • The link may go to a page but this may not be the correct page
  • We have many links in an item, DOI, OpenURL, link resolver which would we check and if one fails does that mean the rest do as well
  • Some links behave differently depending on the location or even territory of the link checking service, a link that is "broken" to the general web might actually be serviceable to a user behind the university firewall. This is quite common in a University setting with a lot of publishers filtering access based on the user's network

As we are sure you can appreciate, even checking the above five areas would lead to a very complex tool, which still risks not being effectively able to identify if the link is broken, or there is another issue; the only real option to this is a manual check.

The current solution

Our customers successfully manage this requirement in several ways, including:

  • While completing a review of the reading list, any URL's will be present. Clicking on the links allows the user to ensure they are still working and taking you to the correct place.
  • Using the Reports facility to create a spreadsheet of all links and then run those through an online link checker to find those that are broken.

Advanced MIS users

For institutions with access to Advanced Management Information System (Advanced MIS), Tim Graves of University of Sussex has shared some code with our Developer Community which will automatically check the links across your tenancy as a background job without impacting on performance. Further details are available here.

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