Reading New York Times articles with LibX

 Posted by on June 21, 2012
Jun 212012

Stephen Francoeur asked on the LibX mailing list about the New York Times Libapp that allows users to read NY Times articles through their institutional subscription.  Here’s what it currently does. When a user visits a NY Times page and the paywall goes up, a display appears offering the user to look for this article in Lexis Nexis. This idea is based on work by James Van Mil at U Cincinnati Libraries.

It looks like this for this article. Note the gray box on the top.

When the user clicks on this box, a search is issued against Lexis Nexis using the byline, the heading, and the date of the article.

If the activated edition has a proxy, the provided link is proxied, else a direct link is provided.

LibX tries its best to follow the specification provided by Lexis Nexis for how to create URLs. For instance, it strips out “unsearchable” words such as “the”, “this”, “a”, “not”.

The notification will not appear unless the page refers to an in-print article or editorial of the New York Times. (You can check this for yourselves by looking at the source code – it must contains a tag <h6 class="metaFootnote">A version of this article appeared in.... As future extension, we could implement looking up articles in other papers with whom the Times has a partnership or owns, such as IHT.)

Readers are invited to relay their experiences with searching for the New York Times in Lexis-Nexis (what works, what doesn’t), as well as with other sources that index NY Times articles and how to use them. Note that this LibApp doesn’t rely on any edition maintainer information, it simply displays a link to Lexis-Nexis. We could add other providers to which a portion of LibX users is likely to have access.

Here are some URLs I’ve tested this application on:

How The Deficit Got This Big, July 24, 2011.

Wooing the First Dresser, February 12, 2012.

PS: the name “Paywall Buster” is of course misleading since this LibApp, unlike some rogue user scripts, doesn’t actually restore the page content for users without subscriptions.