Athens is changing

We are changing the way staff and students login to electronic resources. Where people had to use an ‘Athens account’ to access databases and electronic journals, they will, from July 2011 onwards, be asked for their University username and password, just as they would be for their email, Blackboard or MyDMU.

The software that makes this happen is produced by Eduserv, known as OpenAthens Local Authentication and gives people access to the OpenAthens Gateway. So should we be talking about Athens logins or not?

Talking only about Single Sign-on would emphasise the consistency of approach across the university. You might have to ‘sign-on more than once, but it would be the same username and password in each case.

Many of the resources they are using have links to ‘Athens, or other institutional login’. At present people type in their Athens details, since the usename begins ‘dmu‘ the system can recognise that they are members of De Montfort University. A largish group of people, (current staff, and 2nd plus 3rd year students) can still use their Athens details here, but new users would need to find De Montfort University from a list of institutions.

The alternative, is that people look through the list of participating members of the UK Access Management Federation. Again this is a list of institutions.

Two factors ease this situation.

  1. Cookies. Once DMU’s login screen has been found and selected it will remain in the user’s browser as their default choice for one year (if the relevant checkbox stays ticked).
  2. The library web site will link, where possible to resource with the DMU bit built in. With so-called WAYFless URLs you avoid presenting people with the Where Are You From screen.

How do other institutions present their login screens?

Here are some examples:

University of Exeter

University of York

University of Greenwich

About Philip Adams

Senior Assistant Librarian at De Montfort University. I have recently introduced a Single Sign On service for the library's databases and electronic journals. I am interested in digital preservation and the use of data to measure a library's impact. All comments own.
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