Monday, December 27, 2010

Permanent links (PURLs) to articles in databases

It's not uncommon to want to save the URL (aka web address or link) for an article you find in one of the library's databases. You may want to keep it in an e-mail to yourself or saved in a file so you can go back to it later. You may want to send it to someone else so they can look at the same thing you were reading. You may have to share it in a class discussion or include it in your paper's bibliography.

For web sites, all you have to do is go to the address bar of your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or another) and copy and paste the URL that you find there. But most library databases are different. When you search in a database, it generates a dynamic URL that is based on the current contents of the database, plus the search you did. But database content is updated continually, and your search information is only true for you at the moment you did your search. If you use the URL from the address bar, you will not be able to get back to the article once you have logged out or closed your browser.

So how do you get a URL that will work? You may see it called a static link, a permanent URL, a stable URL, or a PURL. The process for obtaining it varies from database to database. The instructions to get a PURL for every one of the library's databases are available here. Bookmark the page and refer to it when you need it.

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