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Creating “full-text always available” current-awareness services

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Interesting to see academic libraries starting to use the journalTOCs API. Library IT staff have came out with different ideas for re-using journal TOC RSS feeds, from the early “pre-API downloads” to the a little bit more complex “easy receipts” developments. One of these applications that attracted our attention today was the implementation of localised instances of journalTOCs in the library web sites, by creating mashups with the journalTOCs API and other library APIs and web services.

100% Free-Text Access

In addition to the current awareness service provided, the main point of having a localised journalTOCs-based service is that its search results lead to 100% guaranteed full text to members of the University searching from on-campus, or logged in via the institutional portal from off-campus. That it’s something attractive, in particular for under-graduate students who are less likely to be interested in papers for which they do not have immediate full-text access.

Here in the UK, the library of the Heriot Watt University (H-W) has registered an institutional identifier (*) with JournalTOCs in order to be able to create a tailored journal current awareness service for its library, which should search only the latest papers published in the library holdings in order that the full-text of the articles returned in the search results be always 100% freely available for students and staff of the Heriot-Watt University. Here it is the prototype (beta) of a localised JournalTOCs. The prototype searches the TOCs of 4,500 journals that the University subscribes to which have TOC RSS feeds. It’s still under development, but shows you one or two possibilities. The prototype combines the journalTOC API with an H-W API that exposes the University holdings and with the SerialsSolutions 360Link Resolver to provide OpenURL access.

In general, librarians should not find it difficult to add OpenURL links into their own localised TOC services, because the search results always provide the article title and journal title for each article and, if available in the RSS feed, the DOI, the authors, vol., issue, etc. Thus, adding OpenURL links is simple. You need just to know either the DOI of the article or the article title and journal title (or ISSN) and if possible the first author surname, the vol., issue and pub. date.

We hope that journalTOCS become a useful tool for academic libraries. However, we are aware that, as long as not all the publishers produce OPML feeds as well as rich TOC RSS feeds for their journals, any possible service developments arising out of JournalTOCs would be unlikely to have all the bells and whistles of a commercial aggregator, but as some librarians have pointed out, libraries facing cutbacks will have to make some sacrifices and be more imaginative; and journalTOCs can help them in that sense. Additionally JournalTOCs, in line with the CrossRef guidelines, is interested in continuing to advocate the widespread use of OPML and rich TOC RSS feeds among publishers, which in time will have a gradual impact in the quality and the potential of library services using JournalTOCs content.

(*) Registration of JournalTOCs API Institutional identifiers is free for any institution, on request done via JOURNALTOCs Help

Written by Santiago Chumbe

April 22nd, 2010 at 6:12 pm