16 June 2013


It must be a standards sort of weekend. Yesterday was NCIP, today ANSI/NISO Z39.88-2004 (R2010) The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services.

An openURL contains information about a resource and information about the context of the request for the resource. In this way, different sources of an electronic article can be made available to the library user depending on their institution’s subscription resources.

They consist of a base URL which is library/institution specific and points to a link server or openURL resolver along with metadata of the resource such as:

  • title
  • issn
  • digital object identifier etc.

Metadata in a library catalogue record, or citation record in a database is passed into an openURL hyperlink displayed on the record page. Because the user is authenticated from a specific institution the appropriate base URL is included in the hyperlink. The user clicks the link and the link server resolves all the pieces to provide a list of possible sources to the full text that the institution provides. The user then selects their preferred source.

I was looking for a short video that explains openURLs simply, but instead found a video I made and had forgotten about, that shows how an openURL resolver can be used with Mendeley.

Read more on Wikipedia.