An OpenURL is similar to a web address, but instead of referring to a physical website, it refers to an article, book, patent, or other resource within a website. The Lens uses the OpenURL ANSI/NISO standard in combination with OCLC’s WorldCat registry of library resolvers to implement OpenURL.

How to Use

This can be accessed from from individual scholarly works in the Lens wherever you see this link:

This implementation of OpenURL passes the metadata for a scholarly work to the WorldCat registry, which uses the IP address of the user to redirect the request to the user’s institution OpenURL resolver. Linking to the scholarly work is mediated by the resolver, which parse the elements of an OpenURL and provide links to appropriate target works available through your institution’s library. Depending on your institution’s resolver implementation, subscriptions and access to services, the resolver will provide users access to the available version(s) of the scholarly work to which your institution has access.

The process may take the user through a number of different screens as the registry and resolver redirects the request. The resultant resolved URL may include a WorldCat frame as in the example below.

OCOL’s WorldCat registry was used to implement the OpenURL in The Lens as there are many different vendors for OpenURL resolvers and each institution’s implementation will be different. The WorldCat registry offers institutions the ability to add an entry for their OpenURL resolver, allowing for a generic implementation of the OpenURL standard. In future, we will explore options for hosting a registry of institutional OpenURL resolvers.

NB. If an OpenURL link does not work from your location, you will likely receive the below message. There are a number of possible reasons this may occur, including:

  • The user is not on their institution’s registered IP range or not authenticated through the institution’s domain;
  • The institution’s library is not registered with the WorldCat Registry;
  • The institution’s authentication system does not work correctly with the frames used by the WorldCat registry;
  • The institution’s library WorldCat Registry entry is not configured correctly; or
  • The Institution’s OpenURL resolver is not configured correctly.

If this occurs, a librarian in your institution may need to contact OCLC WorldCat to ensure your institution’s entry in the WorldCat Registry is configured correctly. You can search for your institution in the WorldCat registry here:

Updated on June 3, 2021

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