About the OpenURL router

OpenURL linking using the Router

The OpenURL Router enables institutions to register their resolver once only, at openurl.ac.uk. Service providers can use openurl.ac.uk as the "base URL" for OpenURL links for UK HE and FE customers. It will not be necessary for institutions to configure their resolvers at each separate service, or for service providers to maintain tables mapping users to resolvers.

The details registered at openurl.ac.uk can also include the preferred icon/button image, and the preferred "alt" text to use with it. This is not just a cosmetic detail; it provides users with consistent links to their resolver from whichever service they are using.

Service providers can use openurl.ac.uk as the "base URL" for all of their OpenURL links for UK HE and FE customers, and can construct the link using a button image provided by the Router. Service providers can also make a lookup request to openurl.ac.uk, and receive an XML response with details of a user's resolver, and button image and "alt" text. This can be done without maintaining any tables mapping IP addresses or UK federation scopes on to specific resolvers or button images.

If an OpenURL aware service provider does not choose to use openurl.ac.uk, their customers will of course still be obliged to configure links to their resolvers. In this case an institution can simply configure the links using openurl.ac.uk as the base URL. The OpenURL links in that service will direct users to their local resolver via the OpenURL Router. This will be transparent to users, but in the event of the resolver being changed the institution would then only need to make a single change to their configuration registered with openurl.ac.uk.

The linking options available to service providers also apply to services without authorisation, where no information is held that identifies users or institutions. The OpenURL Router provides the necessary functionality to these services to enable them to link users to their institutions' OpenURL resolvers. This will provide OpenURL links where this would not previously have been possible.


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

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