Did you know that Google Scholar can automatically direct you to free full-text copies of articles that Touro Libraries have in our subscription databases? This is a fact I tout frequently in library workshops, but until a particularly astute question from a student in my orientation last week, I hadn’t ever given much thought to exactly how this piece of internet magic actually worked.
But first, let’s back up a little:
As its name implies, Google Scholar is like Google for academic books and articles. It can’t find all of the scholarly writing on a topic since most of this material is only available through subscriptions funded by institutions like colleges and universities. Instead, it relies on a mix of open access materials and the abstracts that publishers make available on their websites. The problem with the latter is that publishers, being businesses, want you to pay a fee before you can read the full-text of their articles.
This is where your library comes in. There’s a good chance that some of the articles you find with Google Scholar also exist in the library’s collection, except those versions you can access freely as a member of Touro College. Since Google is all about making finding information easier, they’ve taken out the guesswork and will automatically show you a full-text link to one of Touro Library’s databases if an article is available. My student last week naturally wondered, how does Google know which articles Touro provides access to and where they are located?
After a bit of sleuthing, I can confidently tell you that it all comes down to something called Serial Solutions 360 Link, but you might know it as Article Linker or QuickSearch. Article Linker is the tool that can find full-text in a different database if it’s not available in the one you’re currently searching (ever wonder why databases even bother listing an article if you can’t read it?), while QuickSearch is the main search on the library homepage that lets you search across all of the library’s materials at once, but both, along with Google Scholar library links, are made possible by the same underlying technology.
Obviously, I’m a librarian not a computer programmer, but the gist of it is that information about all of our library materials – books, ebooks, articles, videos, and more – that come from many different providers and are accessible in different ways, gets collected all in one place and organized into a big database. In this way, 360 Link has records for everything we have and where it is located, information that can then be made easily accessible to library tools like Article Linker and QuickSearch, or external services like WorldCat and Google Scholar. This information is then regularly updated as we acquire new materials and replace outdated items.
When you’re on-campus, the campus computer’s IP address or your connection to Touro WiFi qualifies you for a direct connection to these services and resources. Just look for a “Full-Text @ Touro” link on the right-hand column of any Google Scholar search to get access to the articles in your results.
If you’re off-campus, it won’t happen automatically, but Google Scholar library links are easy to set up. Open the triangle menu in the upper right corner and chose Settings. Select Library Links from the left-hand menu, then simply search for Touro. If you’re logged into Google, these settings should save for your next research session. When you find an article you’d like to read, click on the Full-Text @ Touro link and you will be prompted for your off-campus username and password to gain access.