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Categories of Vendor-Provided Mobile Access and Common Issues


This is a list of the different types of mobile access points that CDL has encountered in our experiences assessing vendor-provided mobile functionality. This information is relevant to both locally licensed and systemwide licensed resources.
Use of campus-provided remote access methods may or may not be supported with a particular mobile device. For assessing your campus’ authentication methods and their compatibility with popular mobile devices, please see “Considerations for Assessing Campus Mobile Support Readiness“.

Mobile access to licensed resources can be provided via one of two methods – through the device’s browser or via an installed mobile application.

Authentication options for mobile access

CDL prefers that access to licensed resources be authenticated via methods under the subscribing institution’s control (such as IP or Shibboleth). If the device is connected to the campus’ authenticated wifi network, resources should be accessible from on-campus.

Access via methods of authentication not under institutional control have additional legal and contractual implications. For this reason, proactive promotion of mobile access points using this method of authentication is not recommended. Please see the Technical Guidelines for Vendors for more information about this configuration.

Access via the mobile device’s browser

The user experience is comparable to accessing a web page via a browser on a desktop or laptop computer. The majority of vendor web pages (both regular and mobile-enhanced) use IP to authenticate by default.

Regular web pages for (systemwide) licensed resource access. No special treatment is needed to access with a mobile device. These pages are not optimized for mobile viewing. The display and functionality of the page itself is usually not affected by the particular model of the device used, although some page functionality may not be compatible with the mobile browser.

Mobile-enhanced web pages for (systemwide) licensed resource access.

Vendors may provide mobile-enhanced web pages for viewing on mobile devices. There are two types of mobile-enhanced web page options, responsive design (which changes display dynamically from the same URL upon detecting browser size or screen resolution) and mobile-optimized (which involves a new page on a different URL).

Ideally, automatic detection and display of the mobile-enhanced webpages should occur at all landing levels of the website – top, title/journal and chapter/article.

  • Responsive design. Responsive design does not need additional accomodation to work, the mobile device is autodetected and the page displays in place. In addition, sites using responsive design can often be tested from the desktop by resizing the browser window.
  • Mobile-optimized web pages. In many cases, mobile devices are detected and redirected to the mobile-optimized web page. If the mobile optimized web page uses a new or different domain or subdomain, this information may need to be added to the local campus proxy configuration file.

    In the case that the a systemwide resource’s main page does not automatically detect the mobile device (and instead requires the user to enter a different URL), its is at the local campus’ discretion to promote, document and maintain information about this alternative access point.

Mobile Apps

Some vendors offer mobile applications (apps) to access their content. These applications are often versioned and updated, as well as being uniquely offered for the OS and form factor of a particular mobile device (i.e., all applications may not be available for all devices or OS versions).

Some applications can use IP based access, but others require other authentication methods such as vendor-managed user accounts and device affiliation.

Vendor-provided mobile applications that provide access to (systemwide) licensed resources. These fall into two categories:

  • Free to institutional subscribers.
  • Requires purchase by end user. In most cases, applications requiring additional purchase by the user are not compatible with access to institutionally subscribed content, and only provide access to personal subscriptions, not institutional subscribers. It is up to the campus as to the level of promotion/support that will be provided.

Third party mobile applications that integrate with or provide access to (systemwide) licensed content. At campus discretion to promote, support and license (if applicable). It is also the responsibility of the individual campus to provide information and testing support for campus remote access infrastructure compatibility.

If the application requires holdings data to integrate with systemwide licensed content, please contact for available reports and licensing considerations.