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OpenAthens: What is Open Athens?

The Health Sciences Library at Upstate Medical University uses a service called OpenAthens to manage user access to library managed electronic resources, including journals, ebooks & databases. 

What is OpenAthens?

OpenAthens Logo

OpenAthens is an access management platform that allows us to link our library resources to your Upstate account.  Developed in the 1990s at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, it is an open-source solution that provides the Library more flexible resource management options to provide better access to our resources to both on-campus and off-campus users.

 

Benefits of OpenAthens

In addition to providing the usage information that supports decisions about electronic resources renewals and cancellations, OpenAthens offers other benefits, including:

  • Greater flexibility for licensing resources for targeted groups. Previously all electronic resources were open to everyone at Upstate, limiting our ability to purchase a resource needed by a specific group. OpenAthens allows us to move beyond “all or nothing” licensing.
  • Better account security - OpenAthens authenticates using a more secure method (SAML) than is used by the previous system (EZProxy).
  • Single Sign-On (SSO) reduces the amount of logging in.

Authenticating creates a single sign-on session that will persist across most resources without reentering log in credentials. As the campus and more and more publishers and platforms increase support single sign-on, moving between resources will become even more seamless.

 

In a Nutshell

OpenAthens went live during May of 2019. Your authentication credentials are unchanged if you log in with an @upstate.edu account (the same used for email, Epic, Self-Serve, etc.).  Upstate affiliates using a different email account will receive a message from the Library with instructions for activating an OpenAthens account. Like many other Upstate online services, you will be required to log in through the Library website (http://library.upstate.edu/), from both on and off campus. The session will persist for as long as you are actively searching, after an hour of inactivity, or until you log out of/restart the computer/device used.

 

How OpenAthens is different that what is currently used?

Currently the rest of SUNY Upstate uses a system called EZ-Proxy to manage access to certain off-campus resources. EZ-Proxy has limitations on granting access to resources based on specific user groups, as well as information on resources usage. Because of these limitations within EZ-Proxy, the Library chose to use OpenAthens as our access provider to address these concerns and to expand overall access. 

 

What it will provide to our users?

A unified login experience for users, both on-campus and off. OpenAthens will request that you login with your Upstate username and password regardless of your location when accessing resources through the Library website. Once you login to OpenAthens on your browser of choice (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge), you will no longer have to login for the duration of your session.  Depending on the resource, any search preferences that you set, may also be carried over from session to session.  OpenAthens will also provide additional layers of user security over our current EZ-Proxy login system.  

Additionally, if you are accessing database or journal directly that allows for login using your OpenAthens account, you should be able use your Upstate credentials, provided that the Library subscribes to the resource.  Some vendors may also provide an enhanced experience for their resources based on your OpenAthens login. 

 

Logging in with OpenAthens

Your authentication credentials are the same as your Upstate issued account (the same used for email, Epic, Self-Serve, etc.).  If you are an Upstate affiliate or are allowed access to resources through our Volunteer or Emeritus , please refer to the Requesting Access section of this guide

Like other Upstate online services, you will be required to log in through the Library website (http://library.upstate.edu/), from both on and off campus. The session will continually persist as you are actively utilizing the resources, or will deactivate after not using OpenAthens for an average period of about an hour, or until you log out of/restart the computer/device used.   

 

Still Have Questions 

Questions may be directed to the Library Service Desk (315) 464-7091 or at library@upstate.edu.