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InCommon Library Services Collaboration

Access to library online resources and services has skyrocketed as opportunities for distance learning and the user expectations for availability of online information have increased. Providing access to these resources requires substantial time and resources by libraries, as well as often being complex for the users. The InCommon Library Services collaboration formed in 2007 to explore implementing access to library services and electronic resources using Shibboleth authentication.

Phase 1 - Understanding the Problem

Use Cases and Technology Recommendations

What: Libraries face special situations in making online resources available. Some resources, such as the catalog, may be open to all who enter the building. Other resources, such as specialized databases, may be open to anyone physically in the library, as well as to those with university credentials regardless of their physical location. Add to this the desire for campus-wide single sign-on, remote access for those with university credentials, and providing a positive experience for walk-in public users; and the situation becomes complex.

Who: Several libraries formed the InCommon-Library collaboration to explore various potential solutions. The consensus was a hybrid technology, using EZProxy (for remote user authentication) and Shibboleth for single sign-on convenience and federated access to external resources.

See the Phase 1 page for use cases and presentations and other information. Phase I included six institutions: Cornell University, Penn State, UC-San Diego, The University of Chicago, University of Maryland, and the University of Washington.

Phase 2 - Piloting Technology Approaches

You can help the InC-Library collaboration take the next step and implement the EZProxy/Shibboleth hybrid technology. This will be a collaborative effort among several schools to use the hybrid solution in providing access to protected library resources, as appropriate, to campus-based users, walk-up users, and remote users with campus credentials. We are looking for colleges and universities interested in implementing this solution -- and working with others in making it better. To participate, contact Steven Carmody (Steven_Carmody AT brown DOT edu).

New! Resource Registry and Best Practices

The Phase 2 Vendor Subgroup has produced two documents, in draft form, for community review:

Best Practices: documents best practices for resource providers and libraries.

Registry of Resources: Information about resources that we have contacted and are in various stages of Shibboleth-compliance.  The intent is to provide a checklist for vendors for Shibboleth implementation, and to provide implementation details to universities who would like to integrate with Shibboleth-enabled resources.

We invite you to review and comment on these pages.