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The AALL Spectrum® blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.

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7/15/2014 10:09:46 AM

AALL Session Review: Click and Go: Ensuring Smooth Access to Online Resources

Suzanne Graham, University of Georgia
Julie Horst: Ninth Circuit Library
Keiko Okuhara, University of Hawaii

Link Rot is a relatively new and pretty disturbing problem that we as law librarians are facing.  Studies have shown that the Harvard Law Review has over 70% of it's non-proprietary citing links rotted away (not working) and the Supreme Court Legal Decisions have 50% of it's non-proprietary links going nowhere.  Suzanne Graham started the session with these stats and a great image of the 'million dollar website' that, where one dollar bought one pixel...and now about 22 percent are dead!  

One other important distinction that was made was between Link Rot and Reference Rot.  Link Rot means the page no longer exists, but Reference Rot is slightly more devious, with the page still existing but with different, non-cited content.  Librarians must be aware of these problems and how to solve them.

Julie Horst did a quick review of how HTML coding and error code works and gave links to more error links in the session's handout.  Keiko Okuhara then reviewed several add-ons that librarians can use for free to check links on their webpages and in their catalog.  In Keiko's case, she uses Xenu, which can be built to work directly with Voyager.  Keiko also also discussed add-ons for Firefox with a program called Linkchecker. All these programs and resources can be found on the session's handout.

Suzanne then covered more webpage link-checkers, including one that works with the Sierra ILS.  W3C, the web consortium has a good 'base-line' checker.  WordPress has a free add-on for link-checking, as does Drupal web design.  If you are using these programs with your website, these resources are invaluable. Of course, Libguides, everyone's favorite guide creator, has a built-in link checker that is very intuitive.  I have used the Libguide one before, and it is very helpful and friendly for users.

Finding the right website, the one that is cited, can be difficult. Some resources that can be used are the Wayback Machine and Memento.  Both programs catch websites at a moment in time, and can be extremely useful if a citation says 'accessed on a particular day'.  However, you do have to be lucky with those days!  It isn't a perfect solution, but a useful tool to have in your arsenal.

Julie then reviewed how the 9th Circuit Library approached the Link Rot problem.  Julie would receive updates about which websites are being cited, and capture the page and create a watermarked PDF of that page and then add it to the library's website.  A great way to keep track of cited sites.

Suzanne wrapped up the session by discussing some solutions to Link Rot, including Perma.CC, a collection of academic libraries (of which the University of Wisconsin is one), where permanent links are created to preserve cites.  One alternative to Perma.CC is Archive-it, where you can 'force' the Wayback Machine to capture your site before it is changed.  That isn't a perfect solution, but is an option to help preserve a page before it is lost or fundamentally changed. 
This was a great session that was very informative.  I highly suggest that if you work with Law Reviews or with citations or websites you check out the handout for the session (under C4: Click and Go), or at least contact Perma.CC to see if your institution can get involved.

Posted By Kris Turner at 7/15/2014 10:09:46 AM  0 Comments