Gatekeeping – usertypes and permissions

Adapted from a poster presentation given at an internal event at the University of Sunderland

How old do you have to be to…? [jurisdiction: England & Wales]

Apply to adopt a child / Become a blood donor / Buy fireworks / Choose your own doctor / Claim benefits, and obtain a National Insurance number / Get married (with parental consent) / Get married without parental permission / Go into a bar and order soft drinks / Have a tattoo / If you were adopted, you can see your original birth certificate / Join the armed forces (with consent of parent/s or carer) / Make a will / No longer entitled to free full time education at school / Open your own bank account / Order your own passport / Pawn things in a pawn shop / Play the National Lottery (though not place a bet in a casino or betting shop) / Supervise a learner driver (if held driving licence for same type of vehicle for 3 years) / Vote in local and general elections / Wearing a seatbelt is considered your own personal responsibility

How old do you have to be to…?

Here are the answers – did you get them all correct?

21 Apply to adopt a child / 17 Become a blood donor / 18 Buy fireworks / 16 Choose your own doctor / 16 Claim benefits, and obtain a National Insurance number / 16 Get married (with parental consent) / 18 Get married without parental permission / 14 Go into a bar and order soft drinks / 18 Have a tattoo / 18 If you were adopted, you can see your original birth certificate / 16 Join the armed forces (with consent of parent/s or carer) / 18 Make a will / 19 No longer entitled to free full time education at school / 18 Open your own bank account / 16 Order your own passport / 18 Pawn things in a pawn shop / 16 Play the National Lottery (though not place a bet in a casino or betting shop) / 21 Supervise a learner driver (if held driving licence for same type of vehicle for 3 years) / 18 Vote in local and general elections / 14 Wearing a seatbelt is considered your own personal responsibility

How old do you have to be to… – answers

Are these laws are consistent?  How is this related to the way in which they have developed?

Licences for electronic resources have evolved over time, and inconsistencies can appear because of historical precedent.  Consider the following table, showing a range of resources, and which types of people may access them:

Who do you need to be in order to access

This table is created by consulting the “authorised users” section of the licence for each resource.

Of those who are not current staff or students, it is walk-in users who receive the most generous entitlements.  This is because walk-in users have long been permitted to access print periodicals in academic libraries, and nowadays this is extended to include electronic journals (still within the library only).

The access entitlements of retired staff and “retired students” (i.e. alumni) are different, probably because it is assumed that retired staff will use this access to pursue academic research, whereas many alumni will be working in commercial settings.  If alumni were allowed access to their alma mater‘s academic subscriptions, this could damage the publishers’ income from commercial licences for their information products, so publishers do not permit alumni access for their products.  NB: some publishers allow alumni access for an additional fee, and usually for information resources for which there is no significant revenue from the commercial sector.

I’ve been working on a project to increase the granularity of our Single Sign-On authentication system, so that it can accommodate different types of users, and allow each group to access only the resources within its permission set.  I used this presentation to make the concept of usertypes and permitted resources more tangible, especially for people who don’t work in the e-resources (or indeed library) environment.

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: So long, Sunderland – and some data-related unfinished business | Laura's Dark Archive

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