Citation Linkers for Effective Information Search in Academic Libraries

The citation linker is a robust searching environment which allows users to search for articles, journals, books and eBooks with the use of minimal metadata, that is, the known citation of an item which generates a list of links to direct the users to the desired resources.

SFX Citation Linker

There are various OpenURL link resolvers available from library automation providers such as the LinkFinderPlus (Endeavor Information Systems), LinkSolver (Ovid Technologies), LinkSource (EBSCO), 0L2 (Fretwell-Downing Informatics), Serials Solutions 360 Link, SFX (Ex Libris), Sirsi Resolver, TOUR (TDNet), VLink (Infor), WebBridge (Innovative Interfaces, Inc.), and WorldCat Link Manager. However, active in about 1,500 libraries around the world, the SFX is the most widely used link resolver due to the number of facilities that it offers.

The SFX has the largest number of OpenURL products installed and it is mainly used as a URL link resolver and a linking solution between libraries. It helps to retrieve full-text effortlessly from the library collection while enabling users to find subscribed resources in licensed databases by providing the citation information without having to know which database should be searched for. Moreover, the SFX directs users to the OPAC for items available in print and if the items are not found in the library collection, the interlibrary loan service shows up. It also provides two ways for accessing a library’s resources:

a) The A-Z list which is a searchable and browsable list of journals that are subscribed by the library. It allows browsing and searching by journal title, category, ISSN, and vendor.

b) The citation linker that helps to quickly find a specific article, book, or issue of a journal.

The citation linker prevents users from performing the usual steps to search for a specific article such as searching the journal in which the article is published, accessing the journal’s webpage through links, locating the specific volume and issue and, finally, looking for the specific article in a particular issue of the journal. The citation linker facilitates searches with minimal effort and citation metadata as follows:

The Article Citation Linker

To locate a particular article, the minimal and sufficient citation metadata are “journal title” or “ISSN”, “volume”, “issue”, “start page”, and “published date”, without the usage of any author metadata such as “last name”, “first name”, and “initials” which are considered unnecessary. Usually, “published year” is also judged as enough to be used as metadata for “published date”.

The Journal Citation Linker

Similar to the article citation linker, the journal citation linker helps to locate a specific issue of a journal quickly with a minimum of metadata. Often, it requires only the exact journal title for searches while the month and day metadata are considered as optional metadata.

The Book Citation Linker

An alternative to the library catalogue and OPAC, the book citation linker is more effective for finding, discovering, and selecting the growing resources. The book citation linker is an essential aid for users to search for books and mostly ebooks because most libraries which are subscribed to ebooks do not include the latter in the catalogue. Therefore, the book citation linker help users locate ebooks while using citation metadata such as “author”, “book title”, “published date” or even the ISBN.

Adding a complementary dimension to the traditional online catalogue, the citation linker furthermore provides many search options such as title, ISSN, ISBN, DOI (Digital Object Identifier), PMID (PubMed Identifier) and so on for users to locate research materials within a much lesser time frame. In short, the citation linker promptly determines if items are available electronically in full-text, if items are available in print in the library, or if items need to be recalled from other libraries through the inter library loan service. Consequently, the citation linker simplifies the search process, routes the information searches to appropriate locations while saving ample time of the users.


Xu, F. The SFX citation linker and its enhancements.