Private User Remote Access (Pura)

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Pura (Private User Remote Access) is a service offered by swissbib that allows private users from libraries to access online resources using a SWITCH edu-ID account. Every library can manage its own users and grant access to its online collections. The private users can then access online resources not only from within the library but also from anywhere else.

Basic Workflow

The basic workflow is the following :

  1. If he doesn't have a SWITCH edu-ID account, the private user must create a SWITCH edu-ID account.
  2. He can then register online for the Pura Service for his library :
  3. After the registration, the user gets a confirmation that he must show at the library desk along with his library card. The library staff activates the user if the user meets the library requirements. Every library can decide what are its rules (for example the user must have a library account, the user must live in a specific state, the user must sign some special terms of use, ...)
  4. The user can access the online resources directly using his SWITCH edu-ID credentials. This is a standard Shibboleth login, which often described as "Sign in via your institution" on the publisher's platforms. Example.

Workflow in Images

  • 1. Create SWITCH edu-ID account
  • 2. Register for the Pura service on website
  • 3. Go to the library desk with the barcode
  • 4. Library staff activate the account inside the library
  • 5. Access licensed content

Pura Information for Libraries

Any library in Switzerland can use the Pura Service. If you are interested, please contact us.

Here are some advantages :

  • No need to install any special software (proxy or other software) at the library
  • No IT skills needed at the library
  • The library can choose their own rules for their own user
  • The SWITCH edu-ID login is secure and will gain more and more usage in the future, as the swiss universities are migrating to the SWITCH edu-ID login. It is maintained by SWITCH which has been a trusted organization for years.
  • If the library offer other services where a login is needed (computers, printing, ...) and these services are compatible with the service provider requirements, your users can use the same login.

Here are some disadvantages :

  • The requirements for the publishers are quite strict. If the publisher you want to offer is unable to cope with Shibboleth authentication, you won't be able to offer it, unless you setup a proxy where you requires a SWITCH edu-ID authentication.

The following platforms are already Pura compatible

  • Munzinger
  • MGG Online
  • Proquest Databases
  • Swiss National Licences (De Gruyter, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Springer Nature)

Price for this service :

  • Set-up fee when the library starts to use the Pura service : 2400 CHF. This amount is mainly meant for the Pura setup done by swissbib and all the initial meetings and configurations.
  • Yearly fee to use the Pura service : 4900 CHF. This includes : adding new publishers to pura, swissbib support and infrastructure, SWITCH support and infrastructure and some "royalties" to the ZB for their initial investment in the project.

Note :

  • the library needs to check its contracts to make sure that they allow the library to offer content to their private users remotely

Pura Information for Publishers

Requirements for Publishers

Here are the technical requirements on the publisher side :

  • The service provider supports authentication via Shibboleth
  • Access to the service must be possible via the SAML2 protocol (not SAML1)
  • At least, the service provider must be able to check whether the SAML attribute eduPersonEntitlement has the value urn:mace:dir:entitlement:common-lib-terms to grant access. If the service provider is able to cope with various values for various libraries for this attribute, this is even better.
  • The service provider must be SWITCHaai Federation Partner (interfederation is not enough).

To have a better user experience :

Configuration at the Publisher side

The publisher needs to configure the SWITCH edu-ID Identity Provider.

The publisher needs to require the eduPersonEntitlement attribute. For this, the publisher might need to update his registration in the SWITCH Resource Registry.

  • Require eduPersonEntitlement from SWITCH

We can provide a test login if you need it.

Regarding the value of the eduPersonEntitlement, there are two options for the publisher.

Option 1 : ISIL code of the library

As an the eduPersonEntitlement value, we will deliver the ISIL code of the library in the following form (example for Zentralbibliothek Zürich) This way, the publisher can map the user to a specific licence.

Option 2 : common-lib-terms

If the publisher licences the same product for all Pura Libraries (for example databases or dictionaries) and the publisher software isn't able to cope with various eduPersonEntitlement values, we can send the standard value urn:mace:dir:entitlement:common-lib-terms. This way, the publisher cannot map the user to a specific library licence, but it can map all Pura users to one Pura Library licence (for example the first one that uses this product within the Pura service).

Technical Information

The software developed for this project is available open source on Github :

Internal documentation (access restricted for now)

General information

This service has been launched in June 2018. This is the result of a collaboration between the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, SWITCH and the swissbib team. The Zentralbibliothek is the first library to use this service. You can have a look at the Pura page on ZB website to learn more.

The service has also been presented at Swiss Library Congress 2018 in Montreux (see the Slides) and at the Annual Meeting of the Swiss Cantonal Libraries 2018 in Basel (see the Slides in German]). A further presentation was held in November 2018 at the Annual Meeting of the Libraries of the Universities of Applied Sciences (Slides in German and French).


For more information, feel free to contact us at swissbib-ub [at] unibas [dot] ch.