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Penn partners in portal project

The University of Pennsylvania Library is reaching out to alumni via a new information-rich portal (library.upenn.edu/portal).

The Alumni and Friends Portal allows graduates to access many of the same resources that are available to Penn students and faculty. It includes a link to high-content Web sites, selected by library staff and organized by subject, as well as to thousands of e-journals and e-newspapers. The library has also included thousands of online books and journals through its Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image, including access to digital facsimiles of rare materials.

“A key element of the Alumni & Friends Portal is its link to millions of full-text articles,” says Adam Corson-Finnerty, director of Library External Affairs. “That’s where our partnership with Northern Light Technology comes in. Northern Light has negotiated arrangements to supply full-text information online for over 7,100 magazines, journals and newspapers exactly when you want it. We could never have negotiated such contracts on our own. It would have been too staff-intensive and too expensive.”

The new portal contains a customized, co-branded link to the Northern Light search engine. Explains Corson-Finnerty, “The search results come back with the Penn look and feel. The amazing thing is that 80% of these results are entirely free. Northern Light searches the Web for research-quality information, as well as its own licensed Special Collection. If alumni wish to purchase an article, the cost ranges from $3 to $5 with a money back guarantee. If we had to acquire these same resources and then sell them to alumni, it would have cost everyone a fortune.”

In January, a small group of Penn alumni began testing a pilot version of the portal, and responded enthusiastically, according to Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Paul Mosher. “Some people have made it their home page,” he adds.Says Corson-Finnerty, “We get millions of hits on the library’s home page every semester. When our alumni see the direct link to the portal, they will click over to check it out. I think they’ll be delighted with what they discover. And I believe other universities will look to this portal as a model for reaching out to their alumni and other lifelong learning communities.”

The University of Pennsylvania has 248,000 alumni, and one of the oldest academic libraries in the nation, containing more than 5 million printed volumes, and subscriptions to more than 33,000 current serials

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