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Library Quarterly Report FY21 Q1: July-Sept 2020

Spotlight: EZProxy Helps Employees Struggling With VPN and Zscaler

Graph depicting EZProxy accessess 2020 vs. 2019

In the first 8 months of the year EZProxy login attempts rose from 105 to 256, with an extra large spike in March 2020.

Many years ago the library tied the user name/password system for the library catalog (which allows users to check out books online) to subscription databases through a hosted EZProxy remote authentication system offered by OCLC. That means any Card holder can access databases "remotely" such as from a home PC or a personal smart phone as well, a fact not well understood by patrons who are used to using their VDOT computer only from the VDOT nework. When they do that their VDOT IP address is recognized and they pass through to resources unhindered.


However, we set up database links so that if a VDOT IP address is not recognized EZProxy authentication is an option. With more than 2,200 library card holders this came in handy when the pandemic hit. At that time the agency probably only had a few hundred employees who teleworked occasionally (the number of "full-time" teleworkers could be counted on one hand) but according to VDOT Chief Deputy Commissioner Rob Cary's August 5th Webinar "Maintaining a Resilient​ Culture During COVID-19," the agency migrated more than 4,000 employees to full-time telework status.


That happened almost overnight in March of 2020 as an emergency health and safety measure, despite the fact that VDOT did not have adequate Cisco Virtual Private Access (VPN) access, laptops or other IT equipment needed to make such a dramatic shift.  According to an a July 2020 report,  VITA Expanded VPN capacity by 700% (from 5,000 to 35,000 concurrent connections) in just over a month and launched Zscaler, a cloud-based VPN alternative.


Zscaler helped, but can behave in unpredictable ways depending on browser choice and other variables and we have VPN slow down or stop working at times. So we are happy to see EZProxy working as a "safety net" for library patrons. We have seen access via the Virtual Library Card more than double over last year for Jan.-Sept., from 105 in 2019 to 256 in 2020 without any marketing or promotion.
Virtual library card log in screen

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