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Remote Patron Authentication Forum

Coordinator/Presenter:
Jim Gingery, Milwaukee Federated County Library System
Presenter:
Peter Murray, Case Western Reserve University


This forum was designed to provide an opportunity for participants to share their experiences in setting up remote patron authentication. The two presenters represented two different approaches to the problem of remote authentication. Jim Gingery described a system that uses Innovative’s Web Access Management, while Peter Murray had set up a local proxy server to accomplish the same task.

Mr. Gingery first described Milwaukee County’s use of Innovative’s Web Access Management (WAM). The need for this service derives from the increasing use of distance learning. In such situations, patrons need access to databases though they may have little access to the library itself.

Milwaukee County’s web access management is still a work in progress. Remote users access a web page (http://www.mcfls.org/wam/) that requires identification. In the library this authentication process is bypassed. The remote access web page includes “wm” in the link (<a href=“http://wm/sbank/serachbank/waupl/”>) This routes the request through INNOPAC’s WAM table. This table contains “tokens,” IP addresses, and other setup information. Through this process, information the patron enters at the remote site is checked against INNOPAC’s patron information. Verification is done by name, barcode, and (optionally) PIN. If the verification is successful, the patron is forwarded to the database. Some problems remain to be worked out. Service levels don’t work in a consortium with different products, verification by patron type is needed, and JavaScript can interfere with the correct operation of WAM.

Mr. Murray described a beta-test proxy server locally developed at Case Western to solve the same problems as INNOPAC’s WAM. On the client side, Netscape is used. This solution is more difficult to set up, and local expertise must be available.

In answer to several questions concerning WAM, Gingery stated that WAM does require an INNOPAC logon, that remote user traffic does go through the INNOPAC, and that the performance of WAM had exceeded expectations. In response to a question concerning the performance differences between WAM and a local proxy server solution, Gingery said there was little difference while Murray said that the proxy solution was potentially faster.


Recorded by: Maria de Jesus Ayala-Schueneman, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

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