Digital Libraries: Authentication, Access & Security for Information Resources

About this Event

Authentication and access control is a critical aspect of the existing infrastructure that provides library subscribers and their patrons with the digital materials delivered by the publishing community.  Currently, users face a complex and frequently confusing authentication processes when attempting to log into library resources, particularly when users are working outside of a library or institutional network. A number of work-around solutions have been implemented to address issues caused by IP-authentication, such as proxy servers, but each work-around presents its own set of issues and concerns. This event is intended to bring together the information community to discuss the means by which the community may be able to simplify the user experience while still preserving necessary privacy and security protections for all stakeholders. Attend this NISO Live Connections event and be an active participant in ensuring that any recommended set of solutions are based upon library principles and goals, such as privacy, interoperability and unencumbered access.


New: Listen to two outstanding talks from this event! 


  • Ann West, Associate Vice President, Trust & Identity, Internet2
  • Mark Beadles, Chief Information Security Officer, OARnet
  • Jeremy Frumkin, Executive Director, Research Technologies, University of Arizona
  • Don Hamparian, Senior Product Manager, OCLC
  • Phil Leahy, Service Provider Relationship Manager, OpenAthens
  • Tim Lloyd, CEO, Liblynx
  • Judy Luther, President, Informed Strategies
  • Todd Digby, Chair, Library Information Technology, University of Florida
  • Heather Flanagan, Academic Pilot Coordinator, RA21
  • Rich Wenger, E-Resources Systems Manager, MIT
  • Cody Hanson, Director, Web Development, University of Minnesota
  • Amy PawlowskiDeputy Director, OhioLINK
  • Theda M. Schwing, Manager, Catalogs & Technical Implementation, OhioLINK


Event Sessions

Tuesday, May 22, 9:15 – 10:00 a.m. Trust Federations: What We Have InCommon


Ann West

Associate Vice President, Trust and Identity

Trust Federations were founded over 15 years ago to enable access to collaboration and related services to support the academic mission. Early on, librarians drove a multi-year effort to engage publishers to move away from IP to federated access and developed many of the access-to-content approaches that we commonly use today. Fast forward to 2018 and Trust Federations are indeed serving outreach, teaching and learning, and research and scholarship missions, involving a rich set of stakeholders. Why is that important to libraries? This session will discuss the use cases that Trust Federations support and provide some grist and context for the discussion that follows.

Tuesday, May 22, 10:15 – 10:45 IP Authentication for STEM e-Content Access– Going, Going, Gone ?  Past, Present, and Futures


For many years, libraries relied on IP authentication to access licensed e-content.  In the last few years, a variety of market forces have emerged that reveal limitations in IP authentication as an e-content access method.

Don will review these market forces and compare the existing access technologies and the challenges libraries face moving to them.

Tuesday, May 22, 10:45am - 11:15am What can SAML/Shibboleth do for your institution?


Access to digital content via SAML/Shibboleth has been used at academic and research organisations around the world for several years. The OpenAthens Federation has made the same technology available to any organisation type in any country, helping to grow a standards-based ecosystem which anyone can join.

At the outset, there was a high technical bar to participation; ten years on, some organisations can now set up access in less than an hour, and the number of content providers they can connect to continues to grow. Phil Leahy explains how SAML/Shibboleth can help libraries become more efficient by leveraging their organisation’s internal identity management processes, as well as the challenges which might be encountered along the way.

Tuesday, May 22, 11:45 - 12:15 Web proxy vs Federated SSO: A practical guide to the pros & cons


Web proxy is the dominant technology solution for authenticating offsite access to electronic library resources.  While Federated Single Sign-On technologies, such as Shibboleth, have been in use for over a decade, the debate over their potential as a replacement for web proxy solution entered the mainstream relatively recently.  This presentation examines how these foundational technologies stack up against the often-messy reality of library needs, and in relation to core library concerns like privacy, security, the user experience, cost efficiency, and reporting.  It identifies the practical pros and cons of each approach, with the aim of providing an objective assessment of these technologies as input for the following discussions.

Tuesday, May 22, 1:15 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Authentication and Access of Licensed Content in Ohio: A Summary


Mark Beadles

Information Security Officer
Ohio Technology Consortium

OhioLINK has been purchasing electronic content on behalf of member libraries for over 20 years. In this capacity, OhioLINK has been helping our member libraries access licensed content in a variety of scenarios. To better understand the different technology circumstances at each of our institutions, OhioLINK recently surveyed member libraries. The survey included questions about authentication methods currently in place as well as libraries’ relationships with their campus IT department. Presented by Amy Pawlowski and Mark Beadles, this presentation will cover the results of the survey and outline areas where implementing a new method of authentication will be a challenge (technically and contractually) for libraries and their campus as a whole.

Tuesday, May 22, 2:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Replacing IP Filtering: Challenges for Academic Libraries


Rich Wenger

E-Resource Systems Manager, MIT LIbraries
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This presentation will review the history of IP filtering, examine the assumptions contained in the IP filtering model, and enumerate some of the issues and challenges academic libraries face as we attempt to specify an infrastructure that meets current needs.

Tuesday, May 22, 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.  What if Libraries Designed RA21?


Jeremy Frumkin

Executive Director, Research Technologies
University of Arizona

Resource Allocation for the 21st Century ( states that it is an “initiative aimed at optimizing protocols across key stakeholder groups, with a goal of facilitating a seamless user experience for consumers of scientific communication”. More specifically, RA21 focuses on the areas of network security and user privacy, and even more specifically, it really tries to focus on user authorization and authentication. RA21 is an effort that originated from the publishing industry, and has engaged libraries through the mechanism of NISO. This talk looks at the goals of RA21 and imagines what the effort might look like had it originated from the library community, with follow-up engagement with publishers and other resource providers.

Tuesday, May 22, 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.   Exploring identity and library resource access management at a large public research university


Todd Digby

Chair, Library Information Technology
University of Florida

This session will provide an overview of the current state of library resource access at the University of Florida. This will include examining the challenges of providing a robust and low barrier experience for both off-campus and on-campus users. Additionally, this session explore how campus-wide identity management efforts are influencing the approaches being used by the library in providing access to electronic resources.

Tuesday, May 22, 4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.  Ask Anything Roundtable Wrap-Up 


Wednesday, May 23, 9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. RA21 As A Potential Solution


Using an IP address to support authorization to online material has one point in its favor--and a wealth of points against it. During this session, we will look at how the Resource Access in the 21st Century (RA21 project) moves past the downsides of IP address authorization, and how the use of federated identity provides for more useful access controls that work anywhere, at any time, without any prior set up on the part of the user. We will talk about what using federated identity means to the library and its associated IT groups, and how it improves the user experience while still protecting the privacy of the individual.

Additional in-depth discussion of RA21 and its pilots may be found here.

Wednesday, May 23, 11:30 am - 12:00 p.m. In Defense of the Proxy Server


Cody Hanson

Director, Web Development
University of Minnesota Libraries

A discussion of the benefits libraries gain from direct control of authorization and authentication to licensed electronic resources through management of a proxy server. Topics will include privacy, security, business intelligence, and user experience.

Wednesday, May 23, 12:00 - 12:30p.m. Challenges to Successful Authentication Change: Barriers for Libraries Based on Institution Size


Along with its role in purchasing electronic content on behalf of its members, over the years OhioLINK has also helped its member libraries adjust to the product and platform migrations that have accompanied this content. This experience has shown again and again that libraries of different sizes face different challenges when undertaking any planned migration or change in services. To find out what these differences would mean in the context of a shift in authentication processes, OhioLINK interviewed several libraries of different sizes to find out from their perspectives what kinds of staffing, financial, and technical roadblocks they would expect to encounter on the way to successfully making any change in their current authentication environments. This presentation will outline the main challenges identified in these interviews for small, medium, and large libraries so that these barriers can be addressed as improved authentication options are developed.

Additional Information

  • Cancellations made by May 4, 2018 will receive a refund, less a $35 cancellation. After that date, there are no refunds.

  • If you are registering someone else from your organization, either use that person's e-mail address when registering or contact to provide alternate contact information.

  • Conference presentation slides and Q&A will be posted to this event webpage following the live conference.