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Hello SFX!

June 30, 2008 Leave a comment

A screen shot of Babson Library’s new SFX linking menu.  SFX enables patrons to find the full text resources they need, regardless of where they exist in the library’s collection.

After numerous planning meetings, several conference calls, one in-depth training session, and a lot of data gathering, we are ready to roll out Babson Library’s new SFX link server.  SFX, from Ex Libris, provides library users with links to full text articles and other library resources, such as the online catalog and open web services such as Google Scholar.  It also provides access to library services such as Interlibrary Loan and online reference assistance.  By pulling all of these different resources together, SFX helps connect library patrons with the information they need  regardless of where it is located.

Unfortunately, this is not our first experience with link resolver technology.  We previously used DiscoveryResolver (formerly LinkFinderPlus) from Endeavor and, while the product worked, it was difficult to manage.  Things went from difficult to horrible in January 2007 when two key events happened.  First, we upgraded from LinkFinderPlus to Discovery Resolver.  We quickly learned that the new product had several back end problems that made it even more difficult to administer.  In addition, technical documentation was practically non-existent and it was almost impossible to talk with someone from Support.  Next, Ex Libris formally announced that it had purchased Endeavor.  This now meant that Ex Libris had two link resolver products:  DiscoveryResolver, which was buggy at best, and SFX regarded by many as the industry standard.  It quickly became obvious that DiscoveryResolver would be rapidly phased out, which meant that we were stuck with a doomed product.    Fortunately, Ex Libris was willing to work with former Endeavor customers and help them migrate to their products, which led to our adoption of SFX.

My involvement in the SFX project started from the very beginning when the Director decided that the implementation team should be made of up key staff from both Technical and Public Services.  Together, we worked our way through all of the steps in the implementation process:  data gathering and processing, SFX configuration, training, testing, and all the other little things too numerous to mention.  I have learned a great deal about how SFX works, how to manage the system, and how to teach others to use it.  Of course, there is a great deal more to discover and I am looking forward to developing my skills with SFX in the weeks and months to come.  Hello SFX and welcome to Babson!