The Portal: A Flexible Technology for Managing Journal Access Information

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Web-based portals bring together information from many sources and add value to that information by providing a single browsing interface and more consistent display of individual content items. However, designing a portal has typically required developers to pick one or two primary organizing facets at the expense of other valid ones or else face maintenance-intensive cross-referencing between different views of the same information. A new general-purpose portal technology developed at Mann Library offers greater flexibility for coordinating multiple modes of access to information. Developed originally for the VIVO virtual life science library at Cornell (, the Vitro portal technology leverages a flexible ontology structure to link related information and deliver multiple facets or views to a top-level interface. Individual records display in a richly cross-linked structure designed to optimize context for the user while highlighting the original resources gathered together in the portal. The new portal provides a common Web presence for a consortium of international programs than provide free or reduced cost access to scholarly journals for developing countries, including AGORA, eIFL, HINARI, INASP, and TEEAL. Resources are equally discoverable by country, by program, by donor agency, by publisher, and by topic area, meeting the needs of diverse users including librarians in the developing world who are potential program participants, staff at the programs themselves, donor agencies, publishers reviewing availability of their own and other services, and librarians in the developing world who have partners in developing countries. A free-text search facility brings up individual entries along with any relevant donor, publisher, program, or country information, allowing users to navigate via multiple independent paths depending on their needs. Detailed content listings at the individual journal level are maintained on the program's own Web sites and linked at the page level from the common portal. Over the last 7 months the system that supports both and VIVO has been rewritten to promote maintainability and with the hope of releasing the source for use by other institutions. The system is written in Java and runs on the Apache Tomcat servlet container. MySQL is used for back end storage and Lucene is used for full text indexing.
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Contributing institutions: Cornell University; Albert R. Mann Library
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Web portals; Developing countries; Serials control systems
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