User Hostility: EBSCOhost Connection

The other day a result from EBSCOhost Connection appeared in one of my searches. This was a first for me. I was initially very excited (Library resources! On the open web!) but this feeling soon faded into that special Yeah-I’m-using-library-resources malaise.


First, I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of EBSCOhost Connection. Attempting to learn more, a Google search returned 15 results including a Web4lib post from 2006.

I wasn’t particularly interested in the article returned to me but wanted to look at it as a proof of concept so I clicked though. As expected I was presented with the article’s abstract and further action was needed to get to the full text. I assume that if I was in a library and my IP was authenticated the article would have been right there, but since I wasn’t I needed to search for my library to log in.

Problem. My library, Multnomah County, wasn’t listed even though it provides me with access to EBSCOhost through their website.

EBSCOhost Connection-2Note the “Library Sponsored Research Content” seal of approval

Having worked in an Oregon library I happen to know that the state library provides this particular database to libraries in Oregon and that’s probably why MCL wasn’t listed. No one outside of the library field would know this. Would they think to click on the “Oregon State Library?”

Since I did I eventually got to a login box. I tried to use my MCL credentials to login but they didn’t work. I had been defeated by the system and had no other options.

Here’s where we could start assigning blame. Who is responsible for this situation? Our profession for giving money to vendors providing stuff like this? EBSCOhost for not conducting effective user testing or even heuristic evaluations? I dunno. Both? Whatever the case it boils down to this:

We should be ashamed for putting (potential) library users through these experiences.


P.S. I found the article quite easily searching EBSCOHost’s MasterFILE Premier through the Multonomah County Library website. Here’s the permalink they provided. Can you login and see the article with your barcode and PIN? I could not.

15 thoughts on “User Hostility: EBSCOhost Connection”

  1. Ebsco’s attitude (and this may be catering to academic libraries) is that the public isn’t smart enough to use this database so it shouldn’t be easily accessible. I tried creating a path to get into just Consumer Reports of the Master File Premier from Ebsco and it is a huge pain! You can create these links and put them into the public realm, but it doesn’t link through the IP or even through a password. It can only come from the url you provided to ebsco. So you have these tools, but they don’t actually work.

    Ebsco also threatened to shut out libraries that allowed online card applications because it allowed any user to backdoor into their system. That’s a really great vendor…They really care….

  2. I’m in the library and got through to the full article fine with just a couple of clicks, but I suspect that’s more the exception than the rule. I sometimes wonder if it would be possible to set up some mechanism whereby EBSCO et al. would allow their content on the open web and libraries would all pay into a fund that helped support that. Seems doubtful, though.

  3. I don’t understand the rush to crush the concept- I think that it’s a neat idea, but it is one that is going to take a while to reach a critical mass of either content or subscriber awareness. Snarking about it on a blog isn’t going to make it better, since the database administrator at the state library needs to work with EBSCO to set up the profiles and could probably make them more accessible or obvious with constructive assistance when problems like this are encountered

  4. Richard,
    I wasn’t in a rush to crush the concept. I was really excited about it at first. However, the service has been out for over three years. That’s eons in internet time, plenty of time to iron out problems if they cared to.

    Very good point about the state library though. Perhaps they’re not aware of the problem. I know the folks there, and they’re sharp, so maybe it never came to their attention.

  5. It worked for me — hit number six.

    I must admit, as a fairly active Google web search user, this is the first EBSCO Connect result hit that I’ve encountered. And the program has been in place for three years? I like how the results display, but it is somewhat disappointing that the results don’t show up more often. It probably has something to do with the lack of inbound links to the EBSCO Connect URLs resulting in a lower page rank.

    Now that I have an example, though, it is time to do some more investigations…

  6. I was able to access it when I was inside an IP address range recognized by EBSCOhost. From outside, though, I was presented with a search system to identify my library, which I did. Selecting the library link, though, and going through the “We need to log you in” splash page brought me to a generic EBSCOhost login screen. It is the same problem you saw — nothing entered here gets me into EBSCOhost. A colleague helped me get into EBSCOadmin at MPOW and we turned on the Proxy setting, but that still didn’t help. Something isn’t quite right…

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