Magazine article Computers in Libraries


Magazine article Computers in Libraries


Article excerpt

primer: OpenURL



What it stands for:

Open Uniform Resource Locator

What is its purpose?

An OpenURL is a URL that links a citation to extended services that are independent of the information provider where the citation originates.These extended services may include an article's full text, biographical information about the author of an article, a search in a library catalog for a journal or book represented by the citation, a Web search, etc.

By far, the most popular use of OpenURLs is to link article citations in an abstracting-and-indexing database to the full text of the articles at a publisher or full-text aggregator Web site.

The structure of an OpenURL is composed of two parts: First, the base URL is the service component or"resolver."This is typically the hostname of a library-controlled server (or resolver) that processes the data in the rest of the OpenURL. OpenURL resolvers depend on a knowledgebase of sources that is used to find appropriate links for citations sent to the resolver. In most cases, the knowledgebase contains electronic journals that a library subscribes to and the URL syntaxes needed to directly link to articles within them.

Several library software vendors, including Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, Endeavor Information Systems, and Serials Solutions, sell OpenURL resolvers. Some libraries have designed and built OpenURL resolvers in-house.

The rest of the OpenURL is called the "descriptor," and consists of a defined set of variables tacked on to the URL in HTTP GET method fashion.The descriptor can contain the source of the OpenURL (e.g.,the database that created the OpenURL-OCLC FirstSearch, EBSCO/iost, etc.), and metadata about the article (or other information object) that the OpenURL describes. In the case of a journal article, this would include the journal name, its ISSN, the volume and issue numbers, the author's name, the title of the article, etc.

Group behind it:

NISO Committee AX (

Does it replace or update a previous standard?

No, it is a new standard.

What stage of development is it at?

It is currently a draft NISO standard and is in use by many information providers and library software vendors. NISO Committee AX is currently pursuing its adoption as a NISO standard. …

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