In the past few years, many libraries have shifted much of their budget towards the licensing of databases made available via the World Wide Web. During those same years, ever increasing numbers of our users have gained access to the Internet, either from home or work. If we can combine the delivery mechanism of our databases with the technology available to our users, we can extend our services beyond the hours our libraries are open, save our users travel time, and provide new services to faculty and students who may need access from across town or around the world.
Unfortunately, making your licensed databases available to remote users can require a great deal of work. You need to be able to authenticate that a remote user is actually one of your authorized users, then provide some mechanism for these validated users to gain access to your licensed resources. One product that can address both of these needs is EZproxy.
EZproxy is an easy to setup and easy to maintain program for providing your users with remote access to web-based licensed databases. It is available for servers running Linux, Solaris (x86), and Windows (7, 2003, 2008, XP and XP Professional). It operates as an intermediate server between your users and your licensed databases. Your users connect to EZproxy, then it connects on their behalf to your licensed databases to obtain web pages and send them back to your users. Since EZproxy runs on a machine on your network, your database vendor sees the requests as coming from an IP address on your network, so it permits access.
EZproxy works by dynamically altering the URLs within the web pages provided by your database vendor. The server names within the URLs of these web pages are changed to reflect your EZproxy server instead, causing your users to return to the EZproxy server as they access links on these web pages. The result is a seamless access environment for your users without the need for automatic proxy configuration files. EZproxy only alters references to your database vendors' web pages, so if your database vendor provides additional links to other free web pages on the Internet, these are left as-is. In this manner, if your users elect to follow one of these links, the EZproxy server is automatically taken out of the communication loop.
EZproxy is compatible with a wide range of databases, including Britannica, ebrary, EBSCO, FirstSearch, Gale, Lexis-Nexis, NetLibrary, Newsbank, Ovid, ProQuest, SilverPlatter, and most others. See EZproxy Database Specific Issues for a list of major databases. If you have questions regarding any specific databases, contact firstname.lastname@example.org assistance.
EZproxy maintains a standard web server log file of usage. Using standard web log analysis tools, you can evaluate which databases are being used remotely and use these statistics to help justify your budget requests for database licensing.
A fully functional version of EZproxy is available for testing in the Download area.