Answered By: Francine May
Last Updated: May 06, 2024     Views: 83

How do I create or update a persistent link to a library resource that will also work off campus?

What are permalinks and why use them?

Commonly known as persistent or stable links, permalinks allow reliable access to library materials such as articles, ebooks, ejournals, or databases. Some permalinks are also institutionally specific to facilitate authentication.  

Benefits of permalinks:  

  • More dependable: Permalinks are more stable than session-specific URLs, such as those from library database searches, that can change.
  • Institution specific: Institutions specific links, such as OpenAthens links, save users the step of having to choose their institution from a list in order to login when off campus or using a VPN or cellular network for access. 
  • Useful for sharing: These links are useful if you want to access the resource again, include it in syllabi, reading lists, or share it with others.


Creating Permalinks that use OpenAthens

There are a few approaches to creating OpenAthens permalinks that may work depending on the situation.

  1. Permalinks to LibrarySearch record (simplest approach)
  2. Permalinks from vendor/database platforms
  3. Building your own OpenAthens Permalinks


1. Permalink to LibrarySearch records (simplest approach):

Permalinks retrieved from LibrarySearch are the simplest way to link to content and ensure a consistent user experience - they route users through a library catalogue record where they will be able to locate an OpenAthens link. See more detailed instructions on locating permalinks in LibrarySearch.

LibrarySearch permalinking example


2. Retrieve permalinks from Databases/Vendor Platforms: 

  • Built-in Options: Most database and vendor platforms provide permalinks as stable points of access.
  • Unique Settings: Each platform has distinct settings. Explore options to link, share, or cite to generate a usable link.
  • Avoid Direct URL Copy: Merely copying the URL directly from your browser may not result in a permanent link or activate an MRU login.

Screenshots in the following sections provide examples for creating effective permalinks on different vendor platforms.


AVON (Academic Video Online) Example

AVON permalink example

AVON link and embed best practices


EBSCO Example

Ebsco permalink example


Gale Example

Gale Permalinking

(Note: Screen capture taken previous to OpenAthens migration).


Kanopy Example

Kanopy Permalink

(Note: Screen capture taken previous to OpenAthens migration).


ProQuest Example

Link construction may vary by database. Example link to a specific database:

Proquest permalink

(Note: Screen capture taken previous to OpenAthens migration).


Proquest Ebook Example

Example link to a specific ebook :

Proquest Ebook permalink

(Note: Screen capture taken previous to OpenAthens migration).

Manually build an OpenAthens link by adding a unique MRU prefix to your desired page's URL. 
Example link:

This link has two parts:

  • Link part 1 - MRU OpenAthens prefix:
  • Link part 2 - target URL:

Instructions: Retrieve the URL of the page you want to access, add the MRU prefix to the beginning of the link. This ensures that, when clicked, the link will go via the OpenAthens redirector, providing easier and reliable access to the resource.

  • DOIs can be used with the OpenAthens links prefixes, but ensure they use the format
Use the OpenAthens link tool to add the MRU prefix to a link.

The link generator tool can be used to add the prefix to the URL that you wish to format.

  • Error messages. If you receive an error, your link may not be compatible. Here are some tips:
    • Remove the old MRU libproxy prefix, or try another method to generate the link.
    • In two unsuccessful examples in the link generator below (link 1 and 3) removing the libproxy allowed the link to then work with the link generator (links 2 and 4).
  • Uncertain formatting: If you're unsure whether your link is already formatted for OpenAthens, adding the prefix won't cause issues.
    • The 5th link in the screenshot below, for example, was already formatted for OpenAthens, but continues to work even with the unnecessary prefix.

OpenAthens sample link errors

Note: Additional technical details about the function of the OpenAthens link generator available at OpenAthens101: A guide for our librarians