Starting Out with Portals and OpenURL An Introduction
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Early in its deliberations, the LCPAIG discovered that there was no single, universal
understanding of the term "portal". Charged with examining portal products which supported the
reference and research needs of Library of Congress staff and users, the LCPAIG therefore
focused its explorations and testing on portals as tools for organized knowledge discovery rather
than as enterprise interfaces. As defined by the LCPAIG, portals may be characterized by their
Assist users in identifying and selecting appropriate target resources
Help users determine the target resources most useful to their research by providing
effective search interfaces and an architecture that supports groupings and rich
descriptions of resources
Provide federated searching and information retrieval of descriptive metadata
from multiple, diverse target resources, including but not limited to commercial or
licensed electronic resources, databases, Web pages, and library catalogs.
in setting up and controlling searches, and ensure that search results can be reliably
Integrate and manage search results by presentingretrieved information in an
understandable format and allowing users to interpret and manipulate their search
Save and export search results by offering users appropriate options for saving and
exporting search results (such as printing, email, and file downloads)
Link search results to full-text or other content delivery options
Manage access to target resources and portal functionalities for authenticated
user communities based on various user classes and roles.
"... a discovery tool that enables a user to search across certain limited but diverse and distributed websites, library catalogs, and databases of information resources to retrieve and integrate the results in a single presentation."
and at the European Library Automation Group (ELAG) 26th Library Systems Seminar --"Semantic Web and Libraries" -- held in
Rome, Italy, in April 2002:
"A LIBRARY portal is an application which allows one-stop-shop access/searching and discovery via a unified single-point interface to organized heterogeneous resources and enabling services to a pre-defined community (users)."
Articles Defining Portals and Their Features
Two good articles which describe various definitions and types of portals are:
The Concept of the Portal by Paul Miller in Ariadne, issue 30 (Dec. 20, 2001), which describes different definitions of a portal, and the various purposes which characterize commercial, institutional, subject and educational portals.
Proliferating Portals in David Dorman's column, "Technically Speaking" in American Libraries Online (Dec. 2001).
A definitive article that constructs an ideal model of portals in an academic environment and summarizes several desirable features in a portal system is:
OpenURL is an enabling technology that uses a web-based request to link metadata for a resource to services for that resource. An OpenURL transports metadata and/or unique identifiers for a resource, along with specified contextual information, from an "OpenURL-aware" source to a link server that acts on the information to deliver requested services. OpenURL (currently version 0.1) is in the process of becoming a NISO standard (version 1.0).
An OpenURL resolver is an Internet-based application that interprets metadata received in OpenURLs from heterogenous sources and resolves this metadata into appropriate web services. Requests for web services to target content providers apply rules set up by the institution to ensure that users have permission to access the services returned. Service requests may link users directly to accessible full digital content or provide them with a menu containing links to other appropriate services.
Articles about OpenURL and OpenURL Resolvers
A general article which explains OpenURL in simple terms with descriptions of actual OpenURL products is:
A straight-forward article on the development of OpenURL and link resolvers, which reviews experiences at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Library System in testing and implementing a link resolver. It also contains a basic explanation of OpenURL and link resolvers in "Link Resolver 101" and a list of questions a library needs to ask when evaluating link resolver products in "Considering a Link Resolver?":
Another article with in-depth background on the creation and development of the "open linking framework" by Herbert Van de Sompel at Ghent University, Belgium and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory which led to the SFX server technology is: