Remote access to Library resources and personal filespace

Accessing Library Resources when off-campus

Did you know that if you are off campus you are still able to read all of the Library’s online books, journals and other resources, so that wherever you are in the world you can be studying this rich, varied and growing part of our collections?

To ensure that you can always access these materials when not on campus you need to be aware of the correct way to do so, as there are two different ways to read these electronic materials, depending on where they are located online. Read below to learn how to tell which online route you need to take.

The two routes to Library Resources when off-campus

Shibboleth/Institutional Login

The vast majority of our digital collections are accessed in the same way, whether or not you are sitting in one of our campuses or anywhere else in the world. This route is called Shibboleth, or sometimes Institutional Login. The only thing you need to take this route is your University of Aberdeen computer username and password.

Upon accessing the website of a digital collection you may be asked to use this information to show that you have permission to read the materials. If you are not asked, have a look for the Shibboleth or Institutional Login option somewhere on the page.

When you take this route you are normally asked three very simple questions:

  1. In which country is the University you are studying at located?
  2. At which University in that country are you a student?
  3. What is your computer username and password at that University?

shib steps img (002)

Having answered these questions you will be able to read any of the materials that the university has subscribed to on that site. Unfortunately, though, we do not have access to everything on the sites that you will visit, so even though you have taken the correct route it may still not be possible to read something you have located.

Access via IP Address – Using the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Some digital collections do not use the Shibboleth route and only permit access according to the physical location of the computer being used to read the material. These can often be niche and well-focused digital collections that have chosen not to use the Shibboleth route mentioned above. The University of Aberdeen has no control over whether a website chooses to not use the Shibboleth route.

These digital collections only give access to computers that are located on one of our campuses and the website can tell if you are on campus by viewing the IP Address of the machine. But there is a way of legitimately “fooling” them into thinking you are on campus when in fact you can be anywhere in the world that has access to the internet. This route is called the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. (VDI). Further details on using the VDI are given below.

How to tell which route to take?

If you know the name of the site on which you are trying to read some online materials you can use Primo to determine the correct route to take when off campus. Follow the steps below to learn how.

  1. Within Primo select the Find Databases option near the top of the page.
  2. To locate connection details about that collection you can search by name or browse through an alphabetical list
  3. Click on Show Info for that collection
  4. Locate Authentication Route details:
    • If it states “Shibboleth/UK Federation and IP” you will only need your computer username and password to access it
    • If it states “IP” you will need to use the VDI option when off campus

Guides to using each of these routes when off campus

Shibboleth/Institutional Login

Consult the Library Guide Accessing Electronic Information

Using the VDI

Consult the guidance available on the IT Service Toolkit:

Video briefly explaining the operation of the VDI

Online Guide detailing the steps needed to use the VDI

Once you have set up VDI access you will be able to navigate to Primo from within it and then conduct your searching and linking to digital materials as if you are on campus.

If you have located resources when using the VDI that you want to save for use later you will need to save them to your own personal file space on the servers at University of Aberdeen, your H Drive. The VDI restricts you to saving materials there. So, if you want to access them later from off campus you will need to use another route which is very simple to operate, the University’s Virtual Private Network (VPN). Read on below to learn and about using the VPN.


Access your personal network filespace from off-campus – Remote the VPN

The H: drive is your personal area of file storage on the University network. It provides you with 10GB of secure filespace and is the most secure location to store your course work and files. It appears as HOME on any classroom PC you sign into and is backed up by IT services on a daily basis.  

To access your saved work, simply sign into any networked PC and click on the desktop icon This PC, then select HOME.  

But did you know that Remote VPN provides you with remote access to your H: drive? It also provides access to web-based resources via your personal device, whether on campus, at home or in a wireless hotspot. All you need is an internet connection and a valid University of Aberdeen username and password. 

How do I access it? 

Read on, to find out how to access important files saved to your H: drive, when working from home.  

  • Open your browser and navigate to https://sma.abdn.ac.uk/  
  • You will be asked to read and accept the security guidelines outline in the VPN disclaimer – click Accept  
  • Log in using your username and password (if you are presented with a security warning click ‘Allow’) 

Using the VPN 

  • Staff will see a Home button and a User Apps button, providing links to network shared drives and also a link to their Home filespace (H: drive). Students will see a link to their Home filespace (H: drive) 
  • Click on the Home filespace button. A new window will open, displaying your Home filespace and file structure 
  • Click on a folder in the pane on the left of the window to view its contents. It is recommended that you copy any files from your H: drive, to your computer before editing them.  
  • Select a file and click Download from the top menu bar. Depending on the browser, the file may automatically download to your Downloads folder or, a pop-up may appear with the option to save the file where you want, in which case navigate to the area on your local hard drive (in your computer) that you want to save your file to. 
  • Work on the document as normal.  
  • When you are done, save your changes, close the file and return to the VPN to upload the document there. You can do this by dragging and dropping the file from your computer’s local drive onto VPN’s DROP FILES HERE area or by selecting Upload from the top menu bar. 

Remember to log out of the Home filespace and the VPN home page itself.  

Note: Before you begin, make sure you have an up-to-date antivirus software and that your Windows or Mac updates are current. 

For more information and help, contact the IT service desk by emailing servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk, phoning 01224 273636 or dropping in at The Sir Duncan Rice Library (Floor 1).  

Eleni Borompoka, eleni.boro@abdn.ac.uk

Ewan Grant, e.grant@abdn.ac.uk

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Search our digital collections using Find Databases on Primo

Primo will tell you about the hundreds of thousands of digital resources available through the University and will link you to one of over 200 different online academic databases to let you read the material that you’re interested in.

Did you know, though, that if you go straight to the website of specific academic databases you can perform even more powerful searches, often looking across every word contained in every item within that collection? A simple search in Primo is the best place to start a piece of research but using the Find Databases option is the next step, improving the quality of any academic research that you do.

These databases often focus on specific subject areas, meaning that your searching becomes more focused and efficient, saving you time looking and giving you more time to read and write. See below for details of how to use the Find Databases feature in Primo to link straight to digital collections best suited to your area of study.

Use the Find Databases option at the top of Primo. Please remember to login with your username and password.
You can search for specific databases or you can filter by subject area. It is also possible to browse an alphabetical listing of all databases available.

Once you have identified an academic database that you wish to search simply click on its name to link out to it. You may be asked to log in again.

Please note that it is not possible to search across multiple databases at once using this Find Databases option. You must link out to each database that you are interested in and search them individually. This method will allow you to perform the most powerful searches available to you.

For further guidance on using Primo please see our short videos on its various features. For guidance on accessing online resources, particularly when off campus, please see our Library Guide on Accessing Electronic Information and the Toolkit’s section on Remote Access.

Ewan Grant, e.grant@abdn.ac.uk

New Primo videos on the Library website

We are delighted to introduce our new series of short videos, demonstrating how to use Primo – our library catalogue – to find resources in paper and electronic format.

Primo

The videos can be accessed at:

https://www.abdn.ac.uk/library/support/information-skills-179.php#panel547

Stay tuned, more videos coming soon!

Scopus and ScienceDirect currently experiencing access issues from off-campus

It is not currently possible to access Scopus or ScienceDirect from off-campus in the usual way, using Shibboleth login. It is still possible, though, to access these two online resources via our VDI. You can find information on using the VDI in the Learners’ Toolkit.

Unfortunately, personalisation features in these databases are also not working correctly, whether you are on-campus or off-campus.

This intermittent access issue is also being experienced by other Universities. Scopus and ScienceDirect are currently investigating this and hope to resolve the problem soon. We apologise for any inconvenience caused while this is being rectified.

The Library launches induction sessions for PhD Students

The Library Service has recently introduced new and regular induction sessions to our services and resources for new PhD students and they are proving popular. Complementing the Information Skills Workshops which we have been delivering to them for a number of years, these induction sessions introduce the fundamentals of how to get the best out of the Library, while the workshops go into much greater detail on the research cycle they will be undertaking during their time here in Aberdeen and the role that the Library can play in that.

The second of these definitions is what we aim for in the induction sessions, and we hope for them to be regular, not rare.

The need for these regular sessions was identified due to the fact that PhD students now arrive at the University of Aberdeen throughout the academic year and, more importantly, from all around the world. The culture of libraries and how they operate differ greatly throughout the world, and also vary between each academic institution, with the systems of one library being designed for the specifics of the particular University of which they are a part. We recognised, therefore, that many of these PhD students needed more basic guidance in terms of how to use our services.

The induction sessions begin with the basics of library opening hours, how many books they can borrow and how to search for them with Primo, and even how they can find them on the shelves. In some countries, for example, students themselves do not go and get the books from the shelves as that would be the work of a librarian. That is not something we normally do here in Aberdeen, unless, of course, someone is struggling to find it themselves. We also cover how to borrow and return them using our self-issue and returns machines.

We then move on to introduce the vast range of online resources we offer, such as e-book collections and academic databases, and their importance to doing great research. We also outline how to access them easily when away from our campuses – important when much research is done in the field and all around the world. The Information Skills Workshops we run are also introduced to let them know that further detailed help is available to help them get the best out of these online materials and our paper resources, and make it clear that Library staff and subject-specific Information Consultants are here to help throughout the time they are working to achieve their Doctorates.

After introducing these services they are given a tour of the impressive Sir Duncan Rice Library to begin to turn the theory of the library which we have just introduced into reality. This also gives them the opportunity to ask any questions about any aspect of the library which we have not already covered.

These inductions sessions are a great opportunity for us to begin to build the relationship with the Library Service that these early career researchers will need over the next few years. It is an exciting time as they set out on the start of their research, but can also be a daunting time with so much to take in and learn in a very short space of time and often in a new country and culture, and our aim with these sessions is to simplify and clarify the Library Service as much as possible for them and make it clear that we are here to support them in their information needs, so that they can focus on the fundamental research questions they are here in Aberdeen to investigate and answer.

To book on one of these induction sessions, or any of the workshops offered by the Library Service visit the University’s Course Booking System and search for Library Information Skills. There are two sessions on offer this week and another on May 12, but do keep an eye on the Course Booking site for details of our next Workshops (not yet confirmed) as well as other excellent classes delivered by other areas of the University.

 

MAINTENANCE: Web of Science – Sunday April 10

The Web of Science database may be intermittently unavailable this coming Sunday, April 10 due to systems maintenance. The maintenance window is 13:00 to 16:00 BST.

There may be occasional outages to Web of Science throughout this time and it is expected that there will be two instances of downtime, each 15 minutes in length.

They apologise to users for any disruption and inconvenience that may be due as a result of the required maintenance work.

Please contact Web of Science Service for UK Education Support by emailing webofscience@jisc.ac.uk should you have any queries or require assistance.

 

MAINTENANCE: Selection of Humanities databases will be unavailable this weekend

A selection of Humanities databases will be undergoing vital maintenance this coming Saturday, April 2, and will therefore not be available for a number of hours. It is expected that this work will begin at 10pm BST and last for eight hours.

The databases effected will be:

Early European Books

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers

The John Johnson Collection

Patrologia Latina

ProQuest, the provider of these databases, apologise for the inconvenience this may cause to some students and staff here at the University of Aberdeen, but we have been informed that this is important maintenance required to ensure the service becomes more reliable into the future.