(Not) connecting search engine users to library resources

Now that the many of the content kings we work with in the library world (publishers, aggregators, etc.) have begun to expose their treasures to the spidering efforts of Google et al., we’re beginning to see searchers encounter this content locked down tight. If someone finds a great article on JSTOR, say, from a Google search (or more likely, a Google Scholar search), how can we in the library world help connect that person to the article. Here are the usual options:

  1. if the user is in the library itself (or on a college campus) IP authentication lets them right in if the user’s library is a subscriber to that content
  2. if the user is savvy enough to have bookmarked their link resolver or, even better, downloaded and correctly installed a bookmarklet like OCLC’s OpenURL Referrer (Firefox only) that helpfully provides a “find it” link next to the resource listing in search results, then the user can navigate the treacherous shoals between discovery and access (assuming that the library’s info about access is up-to-date and accurate)
  3. the poor soul can ask a librarian for help (maybe the library has online or print access or is willing to ILL it)

With the exception of the first option, it’s generally not easy or likely that our hapless user is going to be able to move from the Google search result to the item needed. For a window into the frustration this creates, check out Tom Matrullo’s post that details his frustration with not being able to access articles in JSTOR that he found while searching Google. Matrullo reports that JSTOR has been exploring models for individual access (useful for those whose local library does not subscribe to JSTOR) but has not made much progress so far.

FYI: I found Matrullo’s post via David Weinberger’s site, Joho the Blog. I’m eagerly awaiting for my ILLed copy of Everything Is Miscellaneous to arrive any day now.