LibKey Nomad for the NHS in England: discover your content through the open web

Published on 12 May 2022, by Becky Williams

LibKey Nomad, Resource Discovery

Focusing on LibKey Nomad, we hear from Library Managers who’ve done it.

The search and discovery infrastructure for the NHS in England has been transformed over the past year.  As part of the project to launch the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub, HEE has made a suite of products from Third Iron available across the NHS in England.

This post recaps on those products and takes a closer look at one: LibKey Nomad. Setting up Nomad takes effort but is well worth it. We hear below from Library Managers who’ve done it.  

The LibKey products

All these take the holdings data in the EBSCO link resolver, HLM, and make it work really hard:

  • LibKey Discovery: enhances the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub with one-click access to PDF articles, plus links back to the full journals issues – for over 28,000 journals.
  • BrowZine Web: allows users to easily browse all the journals available to them, whether nationally or locally purchased.
  • LibKey Link: works with core content databases and Google Scholar, providing one-click access PDF articles or an article request form where full-text is not available.  We also recommend that set it up to work with PubMed if you haven’t yet done so.
  • LibKey Nomad: goes a step further, providing one-click link to full-text articles (or a request form) when users are searching the open web, e.g. via Google, Wikipedia or publisher websites. 
  • provides a local landing page for DOI and PubMed ID searching of subscribed and open access resources – great for quickly accessing full text or making an ILL request with just a DOI or PubMed ID.

The beauty of LibKey Nomad

However much effort we put into the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub and local library websites, many users will start a search for articles with Google or similar. They may arrive on a publisher website, but quite likely miss links to NHS-funded articles or even formally published open access articles.

LibKey Nomad effectively makes your journal holdings – and open access articles included in the Unpaywall data set – available to users through the open web. 

Nomad is a browser plug-in which works with Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Brave and Vivaldi.  Basically, when a user lands on a publisher website, for instance when following a link from Google, LibKey Nomad quickly scans the page for a DOI of the article and matches it against your holdings.  This happens very quickly - usually within a fraction of a second.

If you have full-text access to the article, the LibKey button appears at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, offering either “download PDF” or “article link” (see fig 1).

Fig 1. An article form The Lancet with the LibKey Nomad Download PDF logo and link in the bottom left of the screen.

If you don’t have full-text access, the LibKey button will say “access options.” This in turn offers the link to the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub request form (see fig. 2)

Fig 2. An article from Nature not available as full-text. The LibKey Nomad access options shows in the bottom left of the screen.

Installing LibKey Nomad

Users can install LibKey Nomad on their own devices. On first use they’ll need to select the appropriate NHS organisation to link to, but after that Nomad should remember.

Depending on local IT policy, users may also be able to install LibKey Nomad on NHS devices.

For maximum potential benefit and to avoid users having to do anything, the ideal is Trust-wide deployment by your IT Department.

This obviously requires engagement with the IT Team. HEE’s briefing to IT departments may help, and Third Iron offer lots of additional information aimed at IT professionals on their website, including assurances on privacy. 

Group policy deployment instructions are also available:

Here, Library Services Managers in four trusts which have successfully rolled out Nomad share tips and experience: 

Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust

Helen Swales, Library Service Manager, has worked with her IT department to get Trust-wide deployment of LibKey Nomad on both Edge and Chrome.  Her IT contact has passed on these instructions which he thought might be of interest to other IT departments.

Helen had introduced her Trust to BrowZine prior to the national subscription.  Read her blog post about it: “Easy access to journal articles - our most popular training course ever!”

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust

Library Manager, Federica Bianchini, and Knowledge Manager, Melanie Dawson-Jones, were able to get LibKey Nomad rolled out across the Trust early last year. They had gained support from senior colleagues and successfully submitted a business case to the IT Committee. Read more in their blog posts: “LibKey Nomad - roll-out process at Bradford District Care NHS Trust” and “LibKey Nomad - closing the gap with document supply requests.

Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust

Claire Bradley, Library Manager, started conversations to get LibKey Nomad rolled-out soon after the national access became available. Read her reflections.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Lisa Riddington and Claire O’Connor from the Library Team started their successful Trust-wide rollout by persuading the Medical Director and Head of IT about the money and time saving potential of Nomad, and the way it could contributing to the Trust’s strategic goals of increasing research activity.  Read Lisa’s persuasive email.

We hope the stories above may inspire you to try to get Nomad rolled out in your organisation. Do let me know how you get on!


Becky Williams

[email protected]