OpenAthens Implementation, 2022-2023

What is it?

Publisher agreements limit remote access to WSU Libraries’ paid subscriptions to current faculty, staff, and students. When you are on campus, your IP network address is recognized by its affiliation with WSU and you gain access to online content because of that affiliation. When you are off campus, you will be prompted to log in with your WSU Network ID and password, which, when available, will provide federated access to the content.

OpenAthens is a single sign-on authentication system (like Shibboleth) that works with Okta to connect users to WSU Libraries online resources. Rather than making users sign in to an additional screen to access online resources, users will either be prompted with the Okta sign-in screen or be taken straight to the online resource if they have already authenticated through Okta.

Not all vendors are able to use OpenAthens Federated Access to authenticate users. Some vendors and platforms will still need to be proxied. Once we move completely to OpenAthens these vendors will be proxied through OpenAthens and not EzProxy.

What is the implementation timeline?

  • Fall 2022 / Spring 2023: Internal testing with Reference and Instruction groups
  • May 2023: Production switch-over of all patron-facing links and access
During this gradual change to OpenAthens, you may be asked to log in twice if you are off-campus. On-campus access should not change. If you encounter OpenAthens on a publisher site before full implementation, you may be able to select Washington State University to authenticate directly with OpenAthens/Okta through the publisher’s site to gain access to subscribed content.

What does it look like?

Resources with OpenAthens authentication
  Resources with OpenAthens Proxied

<video forthcoming>

What are the potential implications of this change?

  • The streamlined process eliminates an additional sign-in, which makes the user experience more seamless, but also makes the WSU Libraries role in patron access less visible. Rather than telling users that they know they’re accessing online resources through The Libraries because of the sign-in process, it may be necessary to tell users to look for the WSU Libraries logo in the database interface.