Information for Librarians

Librarians: What the OpenURL Router can do for you

To provide the best value for money, your OpenURL resolver should be used by as many staff and students as possible. OpenURL resolvers are not designed to be the first port of call for end users; the user accesses the resolver via a referring service, such as a bibliographic service. You depend on providers of these services to enable your users to access your resolver.

The OpenURL Router simplifies provision of OpenURL links from referring services to resolvers. The goal is that each resolver in a UK HEI or FEI is registered at the Router, and thus information about that resolver is accessible to any referring service.

Example A: OpenURL links from a Jisc sponsored resource

Online information services sponsored by Jisc include OpenURLs. The link from those online services to the 'appropriate copy' (e.g. the one for which the institution has a subscription) should be seamless (i.e. invisible to users). This requires a connection between the service and the end user's institutional OpenURL Resolver – which, in turn, directs the end user to the 'appropriate copy'. Without the OpenURL Router, it would be necessary for each institution to configure this connection with each of the Jisc-sponsored online information services to which it subscribes. The OpenURL Router minimises the workload; an institution may register its resolver once at to make it available to many online information services. The Router then redirects user requests to the appropriate resolver.

Example B: OpenURL links from free access portals

It is more difficult for services available free on the Internet, such as subject portals, to provide OpenURL links than it is for services requiring authentication/authorisation (e.g. a UK federation login or IP check). When a user is authenticated, the user's institution is identified. When a service is free, there is no way to identify the user's institution and thus the institution's OpenURL Resolver – or to direct links to the relevant resolver. If the online service directs these OpenURL links through the OpenURL Router, the Router can redirect those to the relevant institutional resolver. Users' institutions are identified by their IP addresses if they are on campus. If the user is not on campus, the user must select the institution from a pull-down list. Manual selection is required only once during a user session – to provide seamless connection to all online services that are registered with the Router. Thus, the Router facilitates OpenURL linking in contexts where this would not, otherwise, be possible.

Example C: International commercial service provider

Large commercial service providers often allow customers to configure OpenURL links from within the commercial service to the customer's resolver. A commercial service configured to use the registry would save work for each of its UK HE or FE customers by routing OpenURL requests through the registry – thus obviating the need for each customer to configure links within the service. This opportunity has yet to be taken up by many service providers. Nevertheless, UK HEIs and FEIs can configure links within these services – using as the base URL. In this way, they avoid additional work if they make any changes to their service. They need inform only the Router of those changes to effect change at all of the service providers.


OpenURL is a Jisc-sponsored service, and is administered jointly by EDINA.

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