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Re: Non-IP Based Institutional Subscriptions?


Yes, INCOLSA's INSPIRE service uses digital certificates for those folks
who don't have Indiana specific IP addresses.  If you want to see what the
process looks like, you can see our procedure for the certificates at
www.inspire.net.  However, only Indiana folks can successfully request and
receive a certificate so please do not attempt to request one unless you
are from Indiana.

So, how well do they work?

I think most of the INSPIRE staff feels that at this time digital
certificates are still a necessary evil.  First a little background;
INSPIRE is a service for the citizens of Indiana wherever they may be:
home, school, office, library, etc.  To complicate matters we have
unserved areas of population that have no public library access.  (Public
libraries in Indiana rely on local funding so having a public library or
not is up to the local community.  But, since INSPIRE does receive state
funding for databases, it must serve all citizens of the state.)

The majority of the INSPIRE authentication is done by IP addresses.  But
we have always had, and see an increasing trend towards, dynamic,
non-geographic restricted IP addresses by some of our ISPs.  Given that,
we need to have a system that will allow our citizens access, whether or
not they have a public, school or academic library.  The digital
certificate does allow this.

However, there are several problems with digital certificates.  First, it
is a two step processs with three to five intervening days, depending on
the mail.  While mailing the password that allows downloading of the
certificate lets us use the zip code for Indiana residency verification,
those intervening days can prohibit access on demand.  For example, we
have to train teachers to tell their students to plan and to get INSPIRE
authenticated long before the term paper is due. There is some staff time
involved daily in getting the mailers which print overnight, processed and
in the mail.  This is fairly insignificant, just a routine that must be
done.  We make no attempt to capture data from the mailers.  The
certification application will only accept Indiana zip codes, providing
the authentication screening.

There are also technical considerations such as Netscape and IE looking an
acting differently during the loading procedure.  AOL is the most
problematic, requiring all filtering to be turned off and re-booting after
the download.  These considerations make for cumbersome instructions.
One of our tasks for first quarter 2002 is a serious re-write of the
instructions on the INSPIRE web site. In sum, our user support desk says
the vast majority of the questions it gets are about certificates at about
an 8 to 1 ratio over the next category.

We continue to look for alternatives that might provide more timely
responses and/or more flexibility for INSPIRE users.  We have asked our
information system department to help us look into alternatives, perhaps a
combination of short-lived passwords and the digital certificate.  We are
not sure.  We do know that we want to provide quicker access for the
patron with an immediate information need.  We need to work around the
problem of the unserved citizen.  And, we need to be aware of costs and
resources.  So, if you find or use another solution, please share it with

Becki Whitaker
Information Retrieval Specialist
6202 Morenci Trail
Indianapolis, IN 46268-2536
317-298-6570 / fax: 317-387-7442 / becki@incolsa.net
http://www.incolsa.net / http://www.inspire.net

"Paula N. Arnold" wrote:

> Does anyone use digital certificates?
> Paula Arnold
> Ingenta Inc.
> Cambridge, MA 02138