January 2021 Newsletter

SeamlessAccess is a service designed to help streamline the online access experience for researchers using scholarly collaboration tools, information resources, and shared research infrastructure. We’re back from a short hiatus in newsletter writing, and the last few months have seen quite a bit of work happening within SeamlessAccess and in the broader federated identity community! We’re excited to bring you up to date on the latest news.

Upcoming Events

The NISO Plus conference will be a wholly online event this year from February 22-25, and SeamlessAccess is on the agenda! Come join us on Monday, February 24 for an Introduction to SeamlessAccess as well as a more in-depth conversation, SeamlessAccess - a Conversation between Service Providers and Librarians. Registration is available here: https://niso.plus/register-for-niso-plus-2021/

LIBER’s Federated Identity Management for Libraries

LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) is the voice of Europe’s research library community, and hosts the Federated Identity Management for Libraries (FIM4L) working group. FIM4L released their first set of recommendations, “Federated Access to Online Resources: Principles & Recommendations for Library Services.” From the abstract:

“Publishers and suppliers of licensed online resources want to provide authorized users of institutions for higher education and research with access to their services in a controlled way. This document aims to function as a reference for libraries and publishers who want to set up an SSO connection.”

Please feel free to join the conversation. More information about FIM4L is available here: https://www.fim4l.org

Kicking off the First Integrator’s Workshop

Service Providers who have a SeamlessAccess integration in production met in December to discuss various aspects of the user experience, share best practices, and discuss the SeamlessAccess project road map. The group focused on evolving aspects of the user experience, among them, the varied approaches implementers have taken for displaying when there is an IdP choice stored in the browser but that institution either is not configured for federated access or does not provide access to the content or service. The participants also reviewed user experience recommendations for notifying the user about what is being saved in their browser and what entity is doing the saving.

These discussions were exploratory in nature; the goal is to work together to refine the best practices based on the real-world experience these implementers bring to the table. Our goal is to have these meetings once a quarter. Any changes will ultimately be reflected in our documentation and in the implementations themselves.

Lead UX Designer - job posting

And speaking of integrations and user experience, we have posted a contract position on our website for a Lead UX Designer. Please share in your networks! https://seamlessaccess.org/posts/2020-12-31-lead-ux-designer/

An Update on the Proposed Entity Categories As is common with these kinds of diligent standardization processes, it has taken some time, but the final step for approval of the proposed entity categories is expected this month as the REFEDS Steering Committee votes on whether REFEDS will accept the entity categories as revised through the consultation process.

See our blog post, https://seamlessaccess.org/posts/2020-07-08-entitycategories/, for more information on the entity categories and the consultation process.

Contract Language Working Group - Update

The Contract Language working group is working together to put together language that libraries, Identity providers, and Service providers can use to ease the burden of agreeing on contract terms in the face of new federated authentication efforts. Traditional contracts in use by libraries and publishers have focused on IP authentication, and the language needed to allow for federated authentication is very different. Our goal is to produce a toolkit that different players in the authentication efforts can use to have some standard understanding and language to use as federated authentication becomes more and more prevalent in the information ecosystem.

To this end we have thus far agreed on a set of use cases that fit library and publisher needs in regards to information exchange, limiting information exchanged to the minimum necessary for the service in question by using the work of the Entity Category standards mentioned above. The next stage of our work is the development of the toolkit itself, which will take place through at least summer of 2021. .

Monitoring the Services

The availability of the SeamlessAccess services is publicly viewable at https://status.seamlessaccess.org. You can sign up for alerts for outages or to be notified when software updates are made to the services.

SeamlessAccess.org is a service, governed as a coalition between four organizations: GÉANT, Internet2, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), and the International Association of STM Publishers. Participants include researchers, service providers, libraries and identity providers and federation operators, vendors, publishers.