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When the system doesn't work!: Error messages when accessing electronic resources

This is for both public and back end use. What do we do when the system (e-resources, log ins, general computer frustrations, etc.) doesn't work as expected or as it should.

Basic computer maintenance that should be a habit

  • Clear your browser cache. Librarians - do this weekly. Others - do this monthly at least.
  • Try a different browser if a site / database won't open or you are getting errors. Try Firefox if Chrome is misbehaving. Try Chrome if Firefox is misbehaving. Some people have good experiences with Opera. Safari doesn't generally cause a problem if used on a Mac. 
  • Re-start your computer. Completely shut down and restart. 
  • Depending on your operating system, there may be tools that you can run to clean up your system. 

Browser requirements

It's good practice to use the most recent version of your preferred browser. Usually you can find this information by selecting the "hamburger" menu on the upper right corner, then selecting Help, then "About [browser name]." 

  • Chrome - Latest version plus one previous version.
  • Microsoft Edge: Latest version plus one previous version.
  • Firefox - Latest version plus one previous version.
  • Safari - Latest version plus one previous version.
  • Opera latest version. (This is rarely noted as a recognized browser, but it is a good one overall and so far, we haven't noted too many issues.)
  • Internet Explorer - Not recommended. Microsoft is ending support, though it will be available for quite awhile. However, database vendors do not recommend it for their products. 


Common error messages

E-resources can present a number of problems, some of which originate within the library and many that do not. Here are some common problems and possible solutions. In all instances, if you can't get something to work, contact the E-resources Librarian or Library Technology Specialist.

Problem Why it occurs What to try
502 Bad gateway error A server is receiving an invalid response from another server. Refresh your browser.
Clear your cache!
Try again later if possible..
400 Bad Request   The server is unable to recognize what you want to do based upon the link. 
Clear your cache, including cookies!
404 Error This is probably a broken link at the publisher level. 

Notify the E-Resources Librarian. If at night or on a weekend, you may need to hunt down the appropriate link by going to the publisher website. 

"we've encountered a problem" This is a vague response from a database site; ProQuest is famous for this one. 

Clear your cache, try a different browser -- all of the usual solutions.

Make sure your browser is the latest version.

Notify the E-resources Librarian if all of the above fails!

Full text is available, but when the link is clicked, the full text cannot be found.            
  • The title did have full text available, but for some reason, the database vendor no longer has access to it. 
  • The title is available to us full text, but for unknown reasons, the publisher is denying access.
  • The title was accidentally enabled as full text when in fact, we do not have full text access. 
  • There is not enough or correct metadata provided to resolve the URL.
  • We have access to some full text, but not all and the coverage needs to be customized. 

Look at the "publications" page of the database and see if the title is there and what the coverage is, embargo periods, etc.
If it is a publisher website (e.g., Taylor & Francis, Elsevier), it may have some sort of icon or message as to whether we have access or not.

Contact the E-resources Librarian with the problem when you are able to do so. 

Publication Finder provides the same title, same ISSN twice.    
  • This might be an error by EBSCO. 
  • This title may have changed publishers.

EBSCO can often fix this. If not, it is usually due to their agreement with the publisher(s). In any case, notify the E-Resources Librarian.

An off campus user tries to get a full text article, but a page opens that says "you do not have permission to view this page" or something to that effect (not a log in page).  The article can be accessed from within the library.  Most likely a proxy problem. 

The E-Resources Librarian or Library Technology Specialist can probably fix this. 

Can there be fewer links for a title in Publication Finder? If a title is in four of the Gale databases, do all of them need to display?    This happens during the set up period for holdings. All possible providers are selected to display.   

If this is a real problem, it can be discussed at a special meeting in the future. It's possible to hide entire packages/providers and titles, but we want to be sure we aren't hiding titles that are unique to a package. In addition, this creates quite a bit of extra work for tech services, especially in maintenance.