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OpenURL and SFX@Emory. Selden Deemer Emory University Libraries. Imagine a library where everything is shelved by accession number …. URLs and the Web. The World Wide Web is woven from URLs Most URLs act like shelf addresses or accession numbers. Finding Things with URLs.

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openurl and sfx@emory

OpenURL and SFX@Emory

Selden Deemer

Emory University Libraries

urls and the web

Imagine a library where everything is shelved by accession number…

URLs and the Web
  • The World Wide Web is woven from URLs
  • Most URLs act like shelf addresses or accession numbers


finding things with urls
Finding Things with URLs
  • Most URLs are not particularly useful finding aids, because they contain no inherent information (metadata) about the target
  • What if the specific item you want isn’t available?


openurl call number analogy
OpenURL Call Number Analogy
  • A call number is more than a way to find a book; it contains implicit metadata
  • QL 696 .C9 can be decomposed to:
  • A call number can be used as a starting point for other copies, similar works, and services

QL Zoology

696 Birds, systematic list (subdivisions, A-Z)

.C9 Cypseli (Swifts)


origins of openurl
Origins of OpenURL
  • Some URLS have structure implying content:

  • The same work from a different source:
  • What if everybody agreed to create “fat”URLs following standardized rules?


the openurl 0 1 framework
The OpenURL 0.1 Framework
  • OpenURL 0.1 defines a standardized way to “fatten” a URL with metadata describing the work that is being sought:


openurl 0 1 and 1 0
OpenURL 0.1 and 1.0
  • OpenURL 0.1 is a de facto standard that is built around scholarly bibliographic data
  • OpenURL 1.0 is a proposed NISO standard that generalizes the OpenURL concept to support open linking in various communities
  • An OpenURL registry allows communities to register different metadata formats
  • OCLC is hosting the (read-only) OpenURL registry during the trial period


openurl link resolution
OpenURL Link Resolution
  • Key concepts developed at University of Ghent and Los Alamos National Laboratories (1998-2000), and licensed to Ex Libris for their SFX product
  • An OpenURL does not point directly to the actual item (e.g. a link from a record in an A&I database to the corresponding full-text)
  • OpenURL provides a link that transports metadata about the referenced item to a Link Resolver
  • The Link Resolver determines what versions of the work are available, and may offer other services


gets galileo sfx project
  • After almost two years of evaluation, GALILEO recommended SFX early 2003
  • Emory, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, and UGA, with GALILEO are engaged in a pilot project to implement SFX in a consortial setting
  • The SFX server is managed by GALILEO staff
  • Each participant manages a local instance of SFX, including a localized SFX KnowledgeBase and configuration files


the sfx knowledgebase
The SFX KnowledgeBase
  • The KnowledgeBase includes information about approximately 400,000 SFX sources, targets, and services
  • It also includes rules that determine the relevance of specific services in a specific context
  • Updates to the KnowledgeBase are made available monthly, and are applied by GALILEO staff
  • Local changes to records in the KnowledgeBase are protected from updates


sfx instances
SFX Instances
  • GALILEO staff manage a central instance of the SFX KnowledgeBase for centrally purchased targets and sources
  • The Emory SFX instance is used to manage all other resources
  • The appearance and content of the Emory SFX services menu is entirely under our control
  • The Emory SFX services menu presented to users may contain a seamless mix of targets from the GALILEO and Emory instances


key sfx concepts and terms
Key SFX Concepts and Terms
  • Source: An OpenURL-enabled information resource in which users begin their search (e.g., Historical Abstracts, MEDLINE)
  • Services: Facilities offered to the end user, based on information the end user is examining
  • Menu: A list of services relevant at a specific context, and displayed by the SFX server
  • Target: An information source or service where a user lands as a result of following an SFX Service link


sfx services
SFX Services
  • A link resolver can offer a range of services based on metadata in the OpenURL:
    • Full text
    • Abstract or Table of Contents
    • Document Delivery
    • Interlibrary Loan
    • Union Catalog Search
    • Web Search
    • More…


sfx services menu
SFX Services Menu

Alexander, Elizabeth. The Venus Hottentot (1825)Callaloo - Volume 24, Number 3, Summer 2001


gets sfx project links
GETS SFX Project Links

Citation Linker:

OpenURL Generator:

Georgia Tech eJournals Web Page:

More Information: google for sfx faq



Cummings, J. and R. Johnson (2003). “The Use and Usability of SFX: Context-Sensitive Reference Linking.”Library Hi-Tech21(1): 70-84.

Van de Sompel, H. and O. Beit-Arie (2001). "Open Linking in the Scholarly Information Environment Using the OpenURL Framework." D-Lib Magazine7(3).

Van de Sompel, H. and O. Beit-Arie (2001). "Generalizing the OpenURL Framework beyond References to Scholarly Works : The Bison-Futé Model." D-Lib Magazine7(7/8).

Walker, J. (2001). "Open linking for libraries: the OpenURL framework." New Library World102(1163/1164): 127-133.