[ This article is one of a number of articles that explains concepts basic to federated search. You can find other such articles by clicking on the “basics” category or by clicking here. ]

OCLC acquired EZproxy a few weeks ago. For those of you unfamiliar with proxy servers, especially in a federated search environment, I thought it’d be (almost) timely to demystify them.

A proxy server, in the broadest sense, is an application that performs an action on behalf of a user. Consider the role of proxies in the business world. Shareholders in corporations will sometimes designate a proxy to vote on their behalf at a shareholders meeting. The proxy represents the interest of the shareholder who is not physically present at the shareholders meeting to vote. In the Internet, proxies may not be casting votes but they perform a myriad of tasks for users.
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