The OpenURL is now on the way to becoming an accredited standard. Herbert Van de Sompel, Visiting Assistant Professor at Cornell University, and Oren Beit-Arie, VP Research and Development at Ex Libris (USA) Inc. submitted the OpenURL proposal to NISO, where it was approved as a fast-track Work Item during a December 2000 meeting. The OpenURL is an interoperability specification that will initially have a major impact as an enabling technology for open or context-sensitive reference linking.
A growing number of Information Providers have already developed or announced the ability to generate and output OpenURLs in their information services, as such allowing libraries to overlay contextualized services for their users. A full list of these Information Providers is available at www.sfxit.com/sources.html.The specification of the OpenURL as is currently being implemented by these Information Providers, and other relevant material relating to the OpenURL can be found at: www.sfxit.com/OpenURL.html.
The next step in the process of achieving status as an accredited standard for the OpenURL is the formation of a Standards Committee to work rapidly towards a Draft Standard for Trial Use. The Standards Committee will include experts from all parties that have a stake in reference linking: publishers, information service providers, providers of naming systems and associated linking services, libraries and technology vendors; many of whom have already contributed to the OpenURL specification. One of the issues that will be addressed in the process is the generalization of the OpenURL specification to enable its application to a broader range of materials than scholarly information, which is the focus of the current OpenURL specification.
The OpenURL framework provides a standardized approach for describing and transporting bibliographic metadata about information objects, between systems. It focuses on transportation of metadata upon request of a user, who -- by initiating the transportation i.e. clicking the OpenURL -- requests services related to the information object from a system of their choice. The OpenURL can be used to identify and describe the object, the system where the user initiated the request for services (i.e. where they clicked), and the type of service that is being requested. The OpenURL originates in research regarding open or context-sensitive reference linking undertaken by Herbert Van de Sompel while at Ghent University in Belgium.
The OpenURL framework provides a mechanism to allow the delivery of context-sensitive services for:
- Objects represented by unique identifiers originating from a variety of namespaces (for example: DOI, OAI, PubMed, BibCode, etc.);
- Objects for which no identifiers exist, and which, therefore, are represented by metadata only;
In this sense, the OpenURL can be regarded a general format to describe objects, by using identifiers and metadata that have been associated with the objects in different communities. It provides the means to integrate these ongoing efforts regarding the identification of objects in a single format.
SFX, the context sensitive reference linking system from Ex Libris, is a service component that operates effectively within the OpenURL framework. SFX is under the control of the librarian who determines which services are relevant for their users. When a user clicks an OpenURL in an information resource, they will be presented with a list of appropriate services.
About Ex Libris
Ex Libris is a leading worldwide developer of high-performance applications for libraries and information centers. ALEPH, the Ex Libris integrated library solution, has been installed at over 540 sites in 42 countries. The recently formed Information Services Division is currently addressing the broader aspects of collection management, with an initial focus on the further development and deployment of the SFX context-sensitive reference linking solution acquired by Ex Libris from Ghent University in Belgium. Ex Libris is a multinational company with offices located around the world. For more information on SFX, link to www.sfxit.com.