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In January 2002, the University of Iowa Libraries introduced its link server--linking related content from one information provider to another--using Ex Libris SFX software. Three basic services appeared on day 1 of the link server's implementation: (1) citation reference linking to full-text electronic journal articles; (2) linking to holdings in the local catalog; and (3) persistent linking to an electronic reference service. The system is now integrated with more than seventy-five licensed databases and includes links to more than 16,000 fulltext journal subscriptions. New developments beyond citation reference linking include links to Journal Citation Reports, Ulrichsweb, and interlibrary loan. This article describes the planning and initial implementation process of the SFX server.
By providing library patrons with the ability to link easily from citation to full text, link servers hold the promise of improving the integration of electronic information sources and are quickly becoming a mainstream service in academic libraries throughout the country. Many libraries are now in the evaluation stage or have already selected a link server product and are moving to the implementation stage. The University of Iowa Libraries (UIL) introduced its link server, which uses Ex Libris SFX software, in January 2002. This article describes the planning and initial implementation process at UIL, and identifies a number of phase 2 services currently in development.
Put briefly, link servers provide libraries with the ability to link from one electronic resource to another. In its simplest application, a link server can provide citation reference linking--the ability to link from a citation, typically in an abstract and index database, to the full-text article. While a variety of licensed databases have embedded citation reference linking, they typically assume a one-to-one relationship between source and target. In reality, multiple copies of electronic journal articles often exist, and the most appropriate copy often depends on the location or affiliation of the library user. As Beit-Arie et al. note, "The 'appropriate copy' problem, then, is essentially the issue of where and how to insert localization into the linking process." (1) Libraries are thus motivated to install and configure their own link servers to address the issue of …