Monday, November 01, 2010

The Joy of SFX

Locating articles following a bibliographic search is frequently the last and most frustrating hurdle a library user faces. With that in mind, the Devereaux Library has established a service to improve access to library resources.

SFX is a commercial mediation service designed to assist the library user in locating copies of articles. While it does not replace the expertise of a librarian, it may prove useful in your research. We invite you to give it a try. As always, assistance is available @ your library.

The Joy of SFX
SFX is a service provided by the Devereaux Library to help our researchers and students link from database references (like GeoRef, WilsonWeb, Web of Knowledge) to a copy of the corresponding full text document. Further SFX is designed to lead the reader to “appropriate” full text documents, i.e., those which are licensed by the Library for the use of students, faculty and staff. Many databases have their own internal linking services. These are often helpful, but in some cases the links are offered whether or not South Dakota School of Mines and Technology subscribes to a particular online journal.
These services are also limited by the agreements between the database producers and the journal publishers. SFX uses a decision table which identifies not only titles that are available full text to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology users, regardless of the publisher, but also alternate sources for full text, specific volumes and years of coverage, and offers other services even when full text is not available (e.g., a search in the online catalog for print volumes).
How does SFX work? SFX uses metadata organized in a standard format called OpenURL. This metadata includes information like the journal name, International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), volume, issue, pages, and year. The metadata is passed from databases that are SFX-aware to a local SFX server at SDLN. The server decodes the metadata and matches it to the appropriate entries in a table of information about the Library’s online subscriptions. An SFX services menu is generated dynamically, offering “appropriate” choices of services to the user.
Not all databases are SFX-aware, nor are all journal web sites structured to have links directly to the article level from an SFX generated link. However, these systems are undergoing constant development, with more and more SFX-compatible resources and services being offered. Therefore, when you are using a database and searching for journal articles, if you see the SFX link, go ahead and click on it!

Please be aware that the “Find Text” button is not a link to a specific page, rather it is a link to a search request which may or may not retrieve results. Please don’t hesitate to contact the library for assistance.

Adapted from original text by Andrea Twiss-Brooks, University of Chicago

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