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Off-Campus Access

What is OpenAthens?

OpenAthens is an identity and access management service that replaces the proxy server that Le Moyne College has used for many years. Both technologies are designed to give you access to the Library's online subscription resources (journals, books, videos, audio, research databases and more) as though you were on-campus. This matters because these subscriptions are only licensed for use by Le Moyne affiliated people. Most of them allow access when you are on-campus, but what if you are working from home, coffee shop, or a friend's house? How does it know that you are a legitimate user?

How OpenAthens Works

OpenAthens links the College's Single Sign On (SSO) service to library resource providers. When you login to campus systems, including Canvas, the Bookstore, Interlibrary Loan or Connect NY, you are also able to connect to library resources without having to login again. A majority of the library resource providers support the OpenAthens identity protocol. For those that don't OpenAthens provides its own proxy server as an alternative.

Install the "OpenAthens This" Bookmarklet

If you use the Find Journals, Find Databases or the Library catalog to find library resources, they will use either an OpenAthens link or the old proxy link. (A project is underway to locate proxy links and change them over to OpenAthens.)

However, if you are following a link from the open web, you will likely need to authenticate to that resource's website using OpenAthens before you can access content there. The bookmarklet method is a simple way to do this step.

Drag the OpenAthens This "bookmarklet" button to your browser's bookmark toolbar to install it. Bookmarklets can be installed on Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Microsoft's Edge and Internet Explorer browser's do not allow the installation of bookmarklets.

When you click the "bookmarklet", it will read the original URL of the page you are viewing and rewrite it to add a snippet to the front that will redirect the page through OpenAthens. If the page represents a Le Moyne subscription, after logging in to the campus Single Sign On (SSO) system, you will be passed back and gain access to that resource.

If you get an OpenAthens "We are sorry that we cannot complete your request" error page, that indicates that the resource is not set up to use OpenAthens. Contact a librarian if you think this is an error.

Note that Library subscriptions may not include all the content of a given e-resource. For example, some publishers have backfiles of older material that are not included in current subscriptions. You can order articles we don't own free of charge through Interlibrary Loan. It may also be possible to find an open access version of the article using the Unpaywall browser extension.

When in doubt, check the "Find Articles" Library guide or contact a librarian for help.

What is a Bookmarklet?

Bookmarklets are browser bookmarks that contain a contain a tiny bit of JavaScript code instead of a normal URL. Clicking the bookmarklet runs a program that does a specific small task. The "OpenAthens This" bookmarklet rewrites the URL in your browser address bar to include the OpenAthens redirector information and then loads that new URL in the browser. Read more...

Technical Overview

If you right-click the "OpenAthens This" button, you can copy the code into a text file and inspect what it does.

Here's the code for the bookmarklet with the various parts broken out into separate lines for easier readability:

javascript:
ur=encodeURIComponent(location);
oa='https://go.openathens.net/redirector/lemoyne.edu?url=';
void(location.href=oa+ur);

where:

  • javascript: tells the browser to run the instructions that follow
  • location is a JavaScript system variable that refers to the URL of whatever page is currently being displayed in the browser
  • ur is a variable that holds the URL-encoded value of the original location using the JavaScript encodeURLComponent function – e.g.,
    • https://www.sciencedirect.com/search?qs=javascript%20framework becomes
    • https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sciencedirect.com%2Fsearch%3Fqs%3Djavascript%2520framework
  • oa is a variable that holds the URL of Le Moyne's OpenAthens redirector prefix
  • void(location.href=oa+ur); replaces the original location with the newly composed OpenAthens redirector link and sends it to the browser
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