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Linking to Library Resources: Linking FAQs

FAQs about creating links

What is a permalink, and why is one used?

  • "Permalinks" refer to a web address that will reliably link directly to a resource such as a book, database or a journal article.
  • Permalinks are known by various names such as stable links, durable links or persistent links. Permalinks are used within web pages and within systems such as Blackboard to link users directly to a given resource.
  • Permalinks are a convenient way to link to a resource.and save the user the time of searching for it, and the time of the instructor in writing up directions on how to get to a specific item.
  • Permalinks can be made to items in the library catalog, journal titles, and databases that are available through the Hoover Library. Examples of how to do this are in the tabs at the left.

Why can't I just copy the link (URL) from my browser?

URLs that show in the address bar of your browser are not permanent links. Most vendors use dynamically-generated links via scripts that run within a search session, so that the links you see will change each time you run a search.

Why can't I just upload a PDF of the article or book chapter?

You may be in violation of copyright law or the usage license from a supplier if you email or post a PDF or other content directly. (More information can be found on the library's copyright page: Using permalinks also insures that only users that are authorized to view the content will be able to do so, since they will use the library's proxy to log in before they can view the linked item (see below)

What is the library proxy?

The library uses a proxy server to allow users to access materials off-campus. Each campus-based workstation (or your mobile device if it is connected to the campus wireless network) has a network address (IP) that is within a range provided to vendors and suppliers, thus the content website recognizes that a user is at McDaniel and can access content. If you are off-campus, however, your devices' IP address is not recognized. The proxy server "translates" your IP address to one within the McDaniel range, authenticates you as a valid user and thus allows access. When you make permalinks, always use the proxy server information to allow for both on- and off-campus access to a linked resource. Not everything needs to be proxied, however. Open-access databases such as DOAJ ( provide content to anyone, so no authentication is required.

For example, the proxied link to the ebook Encyclopedia of creativity looks like this:, where  is the "proxy prefix" that must be in front of the URL that is to be proxied. In most cases, however, you can't simply add this to the beginning of a URL that is copied from your browser.

How do I find permalinks to use?

Most platforms provide some sort of permalink capability, although it is not always easy to find. Major vendors are listed in this guide, along with information on how to obtain and construct a permalink.

The most common standard for permalinks is "DOI" (more information on this is also in the "Links to E-Resources" tab) Even if a vendor does not provide a utility for creating a permalink, if they have a DOI number on a citation, that can be used to create the permalink.

How can I tell if a permalink will work from off campus?

If your URL begins with the following text (this is our proxy prefix), it will be accessible from off-campus:

URLs which do not begin with this text must have it added to be accessible from off-campus.

You can use our Library Link Proxifier tool to ensure that your link contains the proxy prefix and will work from off-campus.

TEST your link from off-campus to make sure it works! If you receive a proxy error, you will be sent to a form to report the error to us - we will investigate why the link is failing and respond to you if you include your email address in the form.

Why is my permalink not working?

There can be a number of reasons that a link does not work. The most common one is that the search is not "encoded" - this means that spaces or diacritical marks such as apostrophes cannot be interpreted by the web browser when the URL is clicked. More information on this encoding can be found here: This is most likely to occur in title and subject searches with multiple terms separated by spaces.

Most of the work in constructing permalinks is done in Excel, and there are two utilities that can automate tasks associated with this:

  • ASAP Utilities - a collection of over 300 function shortcuts for Excel
  • URL Tools Add-In for Excel - this addon for Excel provides functions for encoding and decoding text for construction of URLs.

I can't figure this out! How can I get help?

There are some tutorials available online - these are somewhat specific to the universities for which they were created, but the process is clearly illustrated:

If you still have problems with a particular site or journal (some society journals are problematic), contact the library and we will check that supplier to see if there is a way to construct a permalink. Not all suppliers make this possible, and some even prohibit permalinks to their content. As we find methods of permalinking to problem suppliers, they will be posted to this guide.

In cases where a direct permalink to an article is not possible, alternatives include a making a permalink to a citation reference such as PubMed or Academic Search Complete  or a link to a  journal website with the citation given as a reference point to the user. As mentioned above, posting a PDF may be a violation of copyright or licensing agreements.

Please contact 

if you need further assistance. 

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