Resolving Our Hosting Dilemmas: Comparing Remotely and Locally Hosted OpenURL Link Resolvers
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A number of OpenURL link resolver products are currently on the market for libraries to evaluate and implement. Criteria to consider when selecting a link resolver include ease of use and management; reputation of the vendor and service provided; depth and quality of maintained knowledgebase; vendor commitment to ongoing development and willingness to meet industry standards; support of extended services such as ILL. Selection criteria are also determined by the specific institution's environment. Does the product require extensive and knowledgeable IT support? What control over customization is desired? What staffing level will be committed to the support of the product? Most libraries choose between remotely hosted systems or locally hosted systems. Remotely hosted systems house the server, provide the programming in configuring the public interface, and add targets. Libraries may be able to customize the public interface through product support staff at the vendor site. Locally hosted systems offer an "out of the box" server setup, software environment and public interface that many libraries mold to their own specifications. While vendors offer technical support for these purchased systems, library staff are responsible for the bulk of maintenance and troubleshooting. Between Fall 2005 and Spring 2006, both the University of Kansas (KU) and Kansas State University (K-State) initiated procedures to separate themselves from the Endeavor link resolver, LinkFinder Plus. Endeavor announced the discontinuation of LinkFinder Plus in early Spring 2006. Each institution separately conducted a review and selected different products. In April, the KU Libraries selected ArticleLinker from SerialsSolutions. There were two main reasons for choosing this product: minimal support required from IT staff for this remotely hosted system, and a service that would integrate easily with SerialsSolutions' A-Z title list already in place at KU. Also in April, K-State Libraries purchased a locally-hosted implementation of SFX from Ex Libris. K-State Libraries wanted to own and customize their product while allowing for future extensibility. The Libraries perceived that SFX offered this kind of server and software environment, plus a large and active network of customer-users to draw on for collaboration and assistance. The presenters will compare advantages and disadvantages of the two hosting models in the context of their libraries' implementations. Product selection, start-up, and ongoing maintenance influence a library's choice between local and remote hosting. The presentation will outline personal experiences in these areas as part of the overall comparison of hosting models.