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OpenAthens: How to Create Links to Library Resources

Learn how to create persistent and proxied links to our resources to ensure that library users have access to our books, chapters and articles from anywhere.

Persistent links

A link to an article in one of the library's databases could be unique to the one session in which you searched for that article. Since databases create their links at the moment you access the link, the next time you try to use that link it may be invalid. In order for you to create a link to an article, chapter or other resource for use in HTML pages, emails or D2L, you need to create a persistent link. Persistent links or durable links are URLs that remain consistent and do not change.

Where can I get help?

MCW Libraries will create persistent links to library resources for MCW users. Email to request this service. If you wish, you can create links on your own. Please read on for instructions and information about linking to library resources.

Athenize Your Links

Use the Athenizer to create links to library content. Copy and paste a persistent link to an article, ebook, or journal here to generate a link that will authenticate you when off-campus.

Be sure to test the links before you share them. If you run into problems, or have questions, send us an email!

Note: Ebsco and ProQuest do not need to be Athenized.



Why should I create a link to a resource rather than just copying the text?

There may be many reasons why you might want to link to an electronic resource rather than downloading the content and copying it. The primary reasons are copyright guidelines and licenses.

Some library resources are licensed from the resource provider. The license usually spells out what kinds of uses are and aren't permitted when downloading/copying content from the resource. Since it's sometimes difficult to find and interpret this license information, it may be safer and easier not to copy material, but rather to link to it.

When a resource is not covered by a license, then copyright law governs the use of copyrighted material. Copyright guidelines require that when using materials that are protected by copyright without permission from the copyright holder, that the user must apply fair use principles. The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. However, whether or not you are within the boundaries of fair use depends on the facts of your particular situation. Because it requires some time and interpretation to determine whether your use is a fair use, it may be safer and easier not to copy material, but rather to link to it.

Linking to electronic resources rather than copying from them also provides MCW Libraries with more accurate usage statistics. The Library collects data on how much resources are used. If you download an article and then provide copies of it, the uses beyond the initial download will not be counted. The library decides whether to continue to subscribe to resources based on several factors, not the least of which is usage. So, if all uses are not able to be counted, the usage statistics will be lower than actual use and continuing a subscription to the resource may seem unjustified.

Will these links work from on-campus as well as off-campus?

If you create them correctly, yes. When off-campus, users may access library resources via OpenAthens. Many MCW Libraries resources (e-journals, e-books, and databases) are restricted to the MCW network address (IP address). Users connecting to library resources with outside Internet service providers need to use OpenAthens in order to be authenticated as belonging to the MCW community. Otherwise, the resource providers won't be able to determine that the user is validated to use the resource.

Therefore, the persistent links that you create must be Athenized. Athenized links have a prefix on the URL that will prompt the user to log in to OpenAthens if they are off-campus. If the user is on-campus, the user go directly into the resource. Use the OpenAthens Link Generator to create Athenized links, or the Athenizer generator above.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, links to Ebook Central books should not be Athenized. A link to an Ebook Central book should look like this:

Also, some resources will include the OpenAthens information automatically. For instance, we have customized the Ovid interface and STAT!Ref (choose OpenAthens for link authentication) to create persistent links which include the OpenAthens information, so you don't have to add that in.

How do I create a persistent link?

How you determine what a persistent link should be will depend upon the resource provider and how their platform is built. Here are some tips and features to look for:

  • In Ovid resources, when you are viewing the resource, look for a link that says "Email jumpstart." This will generate a persistent link that could be copied and used.
  • Look for a link to "Email article." This will usually create a persistent link. MCW uses Proofpoint, a spam filtering service, to scan links in emails from external senders. It is possible that the link in the email will begin with followed by a long string of characters. This is not a persistent link. Please contact MCW Libraries for further assistance if this occurs.
  • Some databases have a URL listed next to the heading "Persistent link to this record."
  • Some databases have a link that says "Get a Link."
  • Some resources have a link that says "DOI Bookmark." A DOI is a Digital Object Identifier and that will uniquely identify an electronic document permanently.
  • Contact MCW Libraries for help with creating persistent proxied links to individual ebooks licensed by MCW Libraries.

How do I test the link?

You should check the link from both on and off campus. Create your course or html page and then click on the link from both an on-campus computer as well as one from off-campus. If the link works on campus, but not from off-campus, you may have a problem with the OpenAthens URL prefix. Doublecheck the URL in the OpenAthens Link Generator, and contact the library if you continue to have problems.

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