This is long-winded, but if you’re serious about doing quality research, it’s worth it.
Usually when you add a procedural layer to a system, the result is a more complex process; after all, you’ve added another step. But what if, instead of adding a layer of complexity, it were possible to add a layer of simplicity? That is essentially what Alliant library staff, under the direction of Electronic Resources Librarian Glenn Tozier, have done by implementing ArticleReach.
Most Alliant library users are well-acquainted with Link+, the system which allows them to request books from other library systems as easily as they request books from other Alliant campuses. What has long been missing, is a similarly streamlined process for requesting articles not available through Alliant’s subscriptions. Article Reach fills that void.
ArticleReach is basically two things: it’s a consortium of libraries that Alliant belongs to, in which members agree to share with one another articles from subscribed journals; it’s also a software layer that sits between the researcher and the traditional interlibrary loan process. How does it work?
A researcher locates an article in an Alliant database, notes that it has no link to online full text, and clicks on the option to “Check LinkSource for possible full text from other sources.” A few seconds pass as servers talk to one another, and then one of two things will happen: either Linksource will display the full text of the article (having located it in an Alliant subscription you were unaware of), or you’ll see a screen listing other ways to try to find the item. The one you want looks like this:
|Can’t find it? Request it for free through ArticleReach/Interlibrary Loan!|
Click on this, and the system will automatically grab the citation information for the article you want and populate an ArticleReach request form with it. Submitting that request will send it to all the members of the ArticleReach consortium. As soon as someone in the consortium finds it in their collection, they will scan and email it directly to you. If the item cannot be provided by any member of ArticleReach, your request will not be automatically declined, or lost under someone’s desk; it will automatically move over to Alliant’s interlibrary loan system, where we will try to fulfill it using traditional means.
So what, you say? Here’s what: Interlibrary Loan typically delivers articles in a matter of days; ArticleReach frequently delivers articles in a matter of hours. I’m writing this post at 2:53 p.m. Shortly before 1:00 p.m. I submitted five ArticleReach requests, and so far two of them have popped up in my inbox (“Live Imaging of Axon Stretch Growth in Embryonic and Adult Neurons” and “Scent-marking behaviour of the honey badger, Mellivora capensis (Mustelidae), in the southern Kalahari,” in case you were interested). Of course some requests will take longer, and some will ultimately have to be fulfilled by interlibrary loan, but this is a significant step forward. It’s also worth mentioning that this feature, unlike Link+, is available to students at international sites.
Many thanks to Glenn and all of the staff of Alliant Library for the months of work they put into testing, configuring, and retesting this system. We hope you’ll give ArticleReach a try, and we encourage you to contact email@example.com if you have questions or concerns about this or any library service.