Guide to Linking to Library Resources

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, e-mails 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. E-mail asklib@mcw.edu 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.

 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 our library proxy server.  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 such as Road Runner need to use the library's proxy server 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 contain a proxy script.  This is a prefix on the URL that will prompt the user to log in to the library's proxy server if he/she is off-campus.  If the user is on-campus, the user will not have to log into the proxy server.  The proxy script would go before the persistent URL and would look like this:

https://login.proxy.lib.mcw.edu/login?url=

A proxied link looks something like this link to an article:

https://login.proxy.lib.mcw.edu/login?url=http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=GatewayURL&_method=citationSearch&_uoikey=B6WSN-50GM1DG-8&_origin=SDEMFRHTML&_version=1&md5=21a9a0b058d51f6bf2bb6e8c33634bfe

https://login.proxy.lib.mcw.edu/login?url= is the proxy script and http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=GatewayURL&_method=citationSearch&_uoikey=B6WSN-50GM1DG-8&_origin=SDEMFRHTML&_version=1&md5=21a9a0b058d51f6bf2bb6e8c33634bfe is the persistent URL.

 Are there any exceptions?

Yes.  While most library resources are available via the library's proxy server, there is one notable exception.  UpToDate can only be accessed from on-campus.  So, you would not want to add the proxy script to a link to UpToDate.

Also, links to ebrary books should not include the proxy script. A link to an ebrary book should look like this:

http://site.ebrary.com/lib/mcwlibraries/docDetail.action?docID=10313669

Also, some resources will include the proxy script automatically.  For instance, we have customized the Ovid interface to create persistent links which include the proxy script, 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 "E-mail jumpstart."  This will generate a persistent link that could be copied and used.
  • Look for a link to "E-mail article."  This will create a persistent link.
  • 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.
  • Library catalog (MCWCAT) records include persistent proxied links for individual e-books.
 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 proxy script.  Double-check that the proxy script should have been applied (it should not be applied for UpToDate and ebrary) and that it was applied properly.

 Is there anything else I should know?

Yes.  Internet Explorer 8 does not allow displaying content from one Web site inside another site's window for security reasons.  This is how cross-site scripting attacks work.  Therefore, when you create the link in D2L or in your web page, be sure to make it so that the link opens in a new tab or window.  This way, users of your course or web page who are using IE8 won't have trouble using your link.

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