Home convenient as an office
Recently, access to digital data subscribed by the HSE library has become available for home users. Today it is possible to access resources not only at home, but on business trip, at a cafe with Wi-Fi, in a public garden or on a train through GPRS. Vladimir Pisliakov, the deputy — chief of digital library, talks to us about this revolution.
— It’s true. Now subscribed digital data are available in all areas where Web - service is available. Before, we could only say “access from the HSE area”. But now we are able to say that there is no “restricted territory” for our library, but the anywhere on Earth is the HSE library.
— We have been waiting for this event for a long time. Was it difficult to implement?
— It was as difficult as any challenge. As far as I know, such a large-scale and comprehensive experience of library proxy – server providing remote access implementation is unique in Russia. We are extremely grateful to the Management for information technologies for their great contribution to the technical part of the enterprise.
But there was one more point connected with license procedures. Foreign publishers’ attitude to possible access to password for Russians was very careful, for in some cases in the past they’ve experienced widespread file copying. Of course, not by libraries, but so called “individual readers”. But we found a mutual understanding based on a more civilized attitude of our compatriots to license procedures and Authors` rights protection law. The HSE’s reputation as one of the permanent, competent, and active subscribers was a great contribution. “The record-book is working for the student” as they say in Russia.
For our part, we take all possible measures to prevent users from passing on the password and try to convince them to follow the digital resource usage rules prescribed by the license agreement. When registering to receive a password, the reader can see these regulations on the registration form and gives his consent. In this way we follow our commitments to our foreign partners.
— What categories of users can apply for remote access?
— All. But while we’re still in the testing mode, it is available only for HSE digital mail users via an application form. As far as I know, many users have tried to obtain an HSE mail address to get access to a password. I hope the Net-masters can forgive us for the extra work during the summer. Soon, starting from October, things will be changed. We can’t give exact information on the changes, but most likely an obligatory registration and personal visit into library will be necessary. It is not “nuts screw” policy, but a chance for students and post-graduates to obtain access.
— Are you afraid of file copying despite all the license agreements?
— Not at all. Are we worried about the expensive furniture purchased for the library hall in Myasnitskay Street? Nothing of the sort: if we believe in civilized nature of the HSE student, he turns out accordingly. But two types of users must be mentioned specifically. First of all, graduate students who are not HSE tutors and employees. As before, on-site access will be open for them. This category of users has been categorized by providers in a very particular way: license agreements are not obligatory for them. Second, the regional branches are under discussion. There are some serious issues with them. Before access somebody must identify the “person” as digital unit. Taking this into consideration, I can’t, at the moment, discuss prospects for access for regional branches. However, digital recourses are available there from the HSE.
- What resources are already available via remote access?
Don’t worry, you can already access the widely read JSTOR [one third of all articles opened in Vyshka come from JSTOR - editor], and also ProQuest, ScienceDirect, the Oxford and Cambridge magazines, Sage, Taylor & Francis, domestic issues on the EastView platform, citation indexes (Web of knowledge and Scopus), the OECD resources and the Factiva base. When I listed all the HSE electronic resources accessible from home to the HSE management I was answered with a sigh: “Ah, our complete set…” By the way, the HSE Rector has already requested and received a remote access password.
In addition, our aim is to make the remote access mode more functional and easier to use with initiatives such as the electronic A-Z magazines catalogue, the HSE Full Text service that helps to search for an article through a list. We are sure we will do that. We will inform all users working remotely on it by e-mail. I think I may proclaim ambitiously: “At home you will feel as comfortable as in the office”.
— A really ambitious slogan. Are there many lucky people rushed to the target?
— We expected a storm but not a tsunami. There were 22 applications in the first hour after the registration started in August. After that, the situation calmed down. We received 130 requests during the first 2 weeks and 110 have already been activated [meaning that a user requested activation and finished the registration procedure]. But frankly speaking, the majority has taken passwords just in case they need them in the future. In fact, less than half of them have visited any of the recourses using their password. But this is a typical situation. Unused registrations can only be eliminated by making the registration procedure ever more complicated. For example, we might ask users to jump or squat.
— You may be joking but the statistics are quite interesting.
— Unquestionably, and until now, quite inaccessible. When we had the standard IP-address access, all users were one. But now we have personalized statistics – for the first time in the history of Vyshka’ s digital resources. Of course, it is not a case of us being interested in where Petya or Masha visited, but the faculties` statistics is quite interesting. Probably, some incentives may be given to the most active users. This remains to be seen. By the way, today they are V.N. Daninlina, A.V. Poletyev, V.V. Savin and K.Y. Totyev.
Also it is a well-known fact that HSE has brilliant digital resource use statistics. We are even ahead of the Russian State Library by some indicators. But according to Vyshka’s social research, the number of students and tutors involved in electronic resource activity is not very large. Good statistics are achieved not by large scale net of users but by the fact some people use the system a lot. Today we have the opportunity to observe the process - if we assume that remote access work provides us with a good idea of the demand for electronic resources at HSE. We, library staff, are a bit crazy about statistics so we are happy with our new precision tool.
— What a nice picture we have – more comfort for tutors, a good opportunity to receive a necessary article without going outside the dormitory for students and one more statistic thermometer for the library…
— … and a powerful PR-instrument for the University I would like to add. One thing is when someone X claims that “they have a good electronic subscription” and quite other thing when this X shows our treasures while in another organizations building. Just imagine – you go to Harvard University and tell a local student: “Let’s search through Scopus and find out who is citing this article? Ah, here in Harvard, you don’t have a subscription to Scopus?” and then add a bit condescendingly: “Well, never mind, we have the subscription at the HSE. Let me type in the password”.
Interviewed by Ludmila Mesentseva, the HSE news service