Accessing Sconul Access

This is a very quick lunchtime post to document a script I’ve been working on over the last week or so. SCONUL Access is a scheme that offers reciprocal access to various university libraries across the UK.

The SCONUL Access website allows you to enter details of a UK university affiliation, and then will list details of those libraries which you can use via the reciprocal agreement scheme (you have to apply for a SCONUL access card at your ‘home’ institution before you can use the other libraries).

I’ve occasionally thought it would be nice to do something like map the results of a SCONUL access enquiry on a Google map, or integrate the question of ‘which libraries can I use’ with ‘where can I get a book’ – so that users could potentially do a search of all the libraries they can access (perhaps limited by a geographical radius?). Aside from these ideas, the SCONUL Access directory actually contains quite a bit of useful information on each library it lists – including the insitution website, the library website and the library catalogue URL.

Further, I was recently inspired by Philip Adams from Leicester (@Fulup) on Twitter who pointed me at http://www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Resources/OPAC/index.php?page=366 which combines information from SCONUL access with the Talis Silkworm directory to show SCONUL Access libraries (relevant to those at the University of Leicester I guess) on Google Maps.

Unfortunately the SCONUL Access website doesn’t provide an API to query the data it has on the libraries, so I thought I’d start writing something. I haven’t (yet anyway) tried to replicate the function that SCONUL access provide of taking user details, and giving a list of available libraries – to get this function you still have to go to SCOUNL Access website and fill in their forms. What my script does is simply provide SCONUL Access member library details in an XML format. The script lives at:

http://www.meanboyfriend.com/sconulaccess

It supports three modes of use:

1. Summary of all SCONUL Access libraries
URL: http://www.meanboyfriend.com/sconulaccess
Function: returns a summary of all institutions participating in SCONUL Access from their A-Z Listing. This XML (see below for format) only includes the SCONUL Access (internal) code for the library, the name of the institution and the URL for the full SCONUL Access record

2. Full records for specified SCONUL Access libraries
URL: http://www.meanboyfriend.com/sconulaccess/? e.g. http://www.meanboyfriend.com/sconulaccess/?institution=2,3,4
Function: returns full records for each institution specified by its SCONUL Access ID in the URL (see full XML structure below)

3. Full records for all SCONUL Access libraries
URL: http://www.meanboyfriend.com/sconulaccess/?institution=all
Function: similar to 2 but returns full records for all institutions that are obtained via 1. This takes some time to return results as it retrieves over 180 records from the SCONUL Access website – so it isn’t recommended for general use.

XML Structure

<sconul_access_results>
 <institution code=”4″ name=”Aston University”>
  <inst_sconul_url>
    http://www.access.sconul.ac.uk/members/institution_html?ins_id=4
  </inst_sconul_url>
  <website>http://www.aston.ac.uk/</website>
  <library_website>http://www1.aston.ac.uk/lis/</library_website>
  <library_catalogue>http://library.aston.ac.uk/</library_catalogue>
  <contact_name>Anne Perkins</contact_name>
  <contact_title>Public Services Coordinator</contact_title>
  <contact_email>a.v.perkins@aston.ac.uk</contact_email>
  <contact_telephone>01212044492</contact_telephone>
  <contact_postcode>B4 7ET</contact_postcode>
 </institution>
 <source>
  <source_url>http://www.access.sconul.ac.uk/</source_url>
  <rights>Copyright SCONUL. SCONUL, 102 Euston Street, London, NW1 2HS. </rights>
 </source>
</sconul_access_results>

The <institution> element is repeatable.
For (1) above the only elements returned are:
<institution>
</inst_sconul_url>
<source> (and subelements)

Anyway, I’d be interested in comments, and would be happy to look at alternative functions and formats – let me know if there is anything you’d like to see.

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