Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Database: Boston Business Journal / Bizjournals Online

Sawyer Library users have always had many options when it comes to searching through business news sources. We have the Wall Street Journal as a current database (as well as a deep--back to 1889!--archive). Business and industry news sources are available through general databases like Business & Company Resource Center, and the massive LexisNexis Academic has a specific search page just for "Business & Industry News." These are all good options for the national and international scene.

As for regional business news, our excellent Business Source Complete has a specific adjunct database called Regional Business News (RBN) that claims to provide an added component of "comprehensive full text coverage for...more than 80 regional business publications covering all metropolitan and rural areas within the United States." BUT, sadly, the regional business news of New England and Massachusetts has never been the strong suit of this database, despite its claims. RBN does include New Hampshire Business Review, the Rutland (VT) Business Journal and Valley Business Journal (also of Vermont), and a few New York State publications like Hudson Valley Business Journal, but it does not have the key business paper of eastern Massachusetts, the Boston Business Journal (BBJ), which we have always subscribed to as a current-reading paper and for which we have microform backfiles (with gaps) back to 1981.

Since newsprint falls apart and no one wants to deal with microform (even when someone bothers to produce it!), we have always wanted a reliable online source for the BBJ that would provide access wherever our library users have an internet connection. And now we have it. Sometimes called "bizjournals" or BBJ, we list in on our database list as Boston Business Journal/Bizjournals Online. This online file will likely be a valuable resource for both researchers and job-seekers here in Massachusetts and also for those interested in other business markets throughout the country.

Our opening screen for the database offers towards the upper left, the "featured local publication" of the BBJ. Click on the title link to the Boston Business Journal, and you will be offered the latest issues as either a PDF or a digital newspaper. Note, too, that the latest issue of the Book of Lists will be available here. These rankings of local companies and nonprofits can be handy in many situations. For example, here's the very top of a page on accounting firms:

Besides coverage of the current BBJ and Book of Lists in digital (sometimes a bit slow to load and navigate, according to your machine specs) editions, there is also a news archive in quick-to-load HTML available back to 1996. If you are looking for articles on a local company, this is probably your best option. Look for the "Search Archive" box to the right of the opening screen.

And if you are not interested in Massachusetts, but instead are interested in other US markets, the Boston Business Journal/Bizjournals Online also includes similar digital editions and archives for the other forty or so papers published by American City Business Journals. A few other "regional" business papers like Albany and Buffalo, New York are available here. The others are as wide-ranging as South Florida, Phoenix, Puget Sound and Honolulu.

The Boston Business Journal/Bizjournals Online should fill a real gap in local business research. We hope you find it useful. And if you need to expand your research of Massachusetts business topics, you might want to run your topic through Massachusetts Newsstand, as well. This database covers most of the general newspapers of the state, including the Boston Globe and Herald.

[FIND Boston Business Journal/Bizjournals Online on the "Databases by Subject" List for Business & Management, on the first column, right above Massachusetts Newsstand. ]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Library Systems Alert--Evacuation Day Proxy Shutdown

Update: 7pm, 3/17/10-------The proxy server is back up and database access, off-campus, has been restored.

Please be advised that major electrical work is being done at Sargent Hall (the Law Building) on Evacuation Day/St. Patrick's Day, Wednesday, March 17th. This will result in an outage that is expected to start around 11pm on Tuesday the 16th and last until computer equipment is brought back up on the morning of the 18th, at approximately 9am. Why does this matter to Sawyer Library users? Well, our proxy server--the computer server that authenticates Suffolk users off-campus--is actually located at the Law Library. If this server is shut down, as it must be on the 17th, all of our databases will be unavailable off-campus.

Since this is a legal Suffolk County holiday, as well as the middle of Spring Break week, we are hoping that this will have little impact on our researching students and faculty. But please be warned of this disruption, and plan your research accordingly. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

RSS Feeds and Periodical Databases

Those little square orange boxes with the radiating white rings, the symbol for RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication), have quietly advanced over much of the internet. RSS ennables the automatic gathering of the latest updates to online news sources, blogs, and other websites. Once established, the user may view their personal collection of RSS feeds in one place, such as: Bloglines, My Yahoo!, and Google reader, or browser customization, such as Live Bookmarks in Mozilla Firefox.

However, making use of RSS feeds in an academic setting is not necessarily seamless. Users who wish to access RSS feeds of scholarly journals and subscription news publications may be faced with several hurdles:

  1. The publishers of many scholarly journals provide RSS feeds of the table of contents of their most recent issues. The logical next step is to want to go directly to the full text of a featured article. However, RSS feeds obtained directly through a publisher/journal website (or through a service such as
    ticTOCs Journal Table of Contents service), are likely to require either a paid subscription to the journal, or payment for the individual article, when the user follows the link to an article. The user then has to check to see if their university/college library has access to the journal, and assuming the answer is yes, the user must go through the library's system to reach the journal.

  2. Many periodical databases offer 'journal alerts' (or RSS feeds of the most recent table of contents) for the journals contained in their databases. Theses alerts may be sent to an email address (where they may rapidly fill up an email box with new mail), or the user may subscribe to the alerts as an RSS feed. However, when users capture the feed URL and put it into a feed reader, they may receive an error message. This is because the URL code for feeds obtained through a periodical
    database are likely to include code that includes the library's proxy server (the system by which libraries authenticate their current students and faculty.) One solution is for the user to identify and delete the portions of the URL which designate the proxy. The RSS feed should then be legible to the feed reader, and as long as the links to the individual articles remain proxyized, then the user should also be able to reach the full text of the article, once (s)he is verified as a current student or faculty.

For example, to create a journal alert RSS feed for the journal Computers in Libraries, one could do the following:

  • Check the online catalog, or the Electronic Journals List to see if the journal is contained in any of the periodical databases that the library subscribes to. This journal is available through several databases. For this example, the Ebsco database Academic Search Complete was chosen.

  • From the record for that journal in Academic Search Complete, click on the Alert/Save/Share link.

  • Choose "Create an Alert" from the pop-up screen.

  • Copy the RSS Feed URL.

  • Before you submit the URL to your feed reader, edit out the parts of the URL that refer to the proxy server. A feed URL that started out as:

    will be changed to:

    The initial 0- (zero hyphen) and the are removed.

  • The advantage to using the Ebsco databases as a source for an RSS feed, is that the links to the individual articles retain the proxy code, thus enabling users to reach the articles from off campus through the usual authentication procedures.

Many periodical databases, notably Ebsco and Gale Cengage, offer 'Search Alerts' whereby a search strategy can be saved and captured as an RSS feed. All of the same problems (and possible solution) that 'journal alerts' have apply here as well: users must remove the proxy parts of the feed URL in order for a feed reader to properly interpret the code.

With a little bit of initial effort, RSS feeds can be an effective way of keeping current with specific publications and/or customized search topics. And for those who are willing to invest some extra effort, there are services such as Yahoo! Pipes that ennable the creation of
'mash-ups' of multiple RSS feeds into a single feed. There is a truely excellent post about this using Pipes on the Library TechTalk blog, by Michael Shochet, a Systems/Reference Librarian at the University of Baltimore.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Technical Issues: Scary Browser Warnings When Accessing Databases

All internet browsers are increasingly conscious of security challenges these days. They want to warn people who use their software of any possible scams like phishing schemes (wherein a crook tries to steal sensitive information from you by creating a fake website that pretends to be a legitimate one). But in an attempt to protect internet users from cyber-thieves, browser developers have ended up frightening nice, unsuspecting library users who only want to do a bit of online research!

How? Well, many security warnings are based on the browser spotting a mismatch of a known URL (web address) or a website's recognized secure (SSL) certificate. This looks like a evil phishing masquerade to the browser software, but--in the case of library databases--is completely innocent. Libraries authenticate users by sending them through a proxy server. A proxy server redirects the user, verifying their bona fides (when they not at a campus IP) before sending them into the database. To do this, the shortcut/link is altered.

As an example, the base URL for Ebsco's Academic Search Complete is,uid&profile=asp

but if you write this for our proxy server, it looks like,uid&profile=asp

There are extra bits to the address. In other words, there is a mismatch. This causes warning triggers in some browsers in some situations. We at Sawyer Library see this problem most often with Firefox.

What sometimes happens is that you click on a link at our Library database lists or other resource links and all of a sudden you get a scary screen:

Understandably, when a browser offers a button that says "Get Me Out of Here!" many people are going to click it. But in the case of using our library links to get to a database, this is not the right choice. (Not if you really want to do some research!) Instead, look for the bottom option on the error message that reads "I Understand the Risks"

When you click that option, the area expands underneath the statement. It says that if "you understand what's going on," you can add an exception that gives the browser permission to make the connection. See below:

The thing to do is to click the button to add an exception for connecting to the database. This brings up yet another scary screen. The URL is indicated, and the option at the bottom is to "Confirm Security Exception."

Click that button, making sure that the little box is clicked that says "Permanently Store This Exception." (That will keep you from having to go through this procedure again for this database.)

Since most libraries use proxy servers, other libraries have experienced similar issues. For example, to see this page from Bowling Green State University's Librarie. And here's a support blog entry from Firefox on the "This Connection is Untrusted" error that has a bit more information on this message.

To state the obvious, there are times when you do not want to go to an untrusted site--like when you receive an email purporting to be from your bank, and it instructs you to verify your password! But the Sawyer Library links to our databases can be trusted. Do not fear! Confirm the exception. Login in with your name and Suffolk ID if you are off-campus. And Happy Research!