OpenURL resolver available for testing

BHL has released a beta version of its OpenURL Resolver API for testing. A full description of the service is available at

Any repository containing citations to biodiversity literature can use this API to determine whether a given book, volume, article, and/or page is available online through BHL. The service supports both OpenURL 0.1 and OpenURL 1.0 query formats, and can return its response in JSON, XML, or HTML format, providing flexibility for data exchange.

One issue still under consideration is whether to assign an API key to each user of the service, similar to Google Maps and many other data providers. Some advantages to assigning a key include having a method by which to contact users to notify them of updates & service availability, and yes, to track usage. Some disadvantages include a perceived restriction on access to the service and concerns about privacy & data tracking, among others. In truth we are less concerned about restricting users and are more interested in finding a way to monitor use of the service and to communicate with its users.

We started a discussion of the pros and cons of the API key approach on Twitter but the text size restriction made responses laughable. We’re interested in your views as either potential consumers of the BHL OpenURL API or from your experience in managing similar services for your project. We’re also especially interested in viewpoints from those with experience deploying OpenURL, which we’ve come to learn is a fairly niche group. Please leave your comments below so that we can continue the dialogue using more than 140 characters!

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Chris Freeland served as the BHL Technical Director from 2006-2012. He is currently the Director of the Open Libraries program at Internet Archive. In this capacity he works with libraries & publishers to digitize their collections, working towards the Archive’s mission of providing “universal access to all knowledge.”