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The goal of the OpenURL is to connect users with resources that they are licensed to access. However, some basic problems can prevent the technology from working effectively:

  • Lack of uptake of OpenURL technology by some providers
  • Poor metadata held in knowledge bases
  • Inaccurate implementation of OpenURL syntax by OpenURL sources
  • Poor inbound URL syntax management by OpenURL targets

It is within the scope of KBART's charge to assess those problems that result from or relate to the data provided to knowledge bases, encompassing items 1 and 2 above. This Recommended Practice does not consider problems that result from or relate to maintenance of the OpenURL standard documentation, since these are within the responsibility of the OpenURL standard’s Maintenance Agency, currently OCLC. OCLC facilitates the OpenURL community through an e-mail list ( that facilitates discussion and serves as a forum in which the community can resolve issues. Details of the registry for the OpenURL framework can be accessed here.

However, alongside recommendations provided here relating to metadata transfer, content providers should also supply details of their linking syntax at all levels to knowledge base developers. This will ensure accurate linking to content at title, issue, and article level, which, along with accurate metadata, will ensure that end users can successfully access appropriate content.

The Working Group considered the following areas relating to poor metadata about OpenURL targets to be within scope for KBART. In this section we provide examples of how users are impacted by poor data management within the knowledge base supply chain. We provide indicative solutions; full recommendations for best practice are given in Section 5, Guidelines for effective exchange of metadata with knowledge bases.