LibKey Link Technical FAQ

About LibKey Link
LibKey Link is designed as a Link Resolver Accelerator.  Your library's unique LibKey Link URL can be used in database systems where you would normally put in your Link Resolver Base URL.  Rather than bringing users through a multi-step resolution process to get to full text, LibKey Link takes over and provides a fast and efficient mode of access to content using to two unique modes: PDF Express and the Format Chooser!  Use one or the other for all databases for the desired experience or mix and match depending on the database and use case to best serve your researchers.

As shown in the above diagram (using PubMed as a sample database with a link resolver), with LibKey Link installed the user is presented the Format Chooser which replaces an end-user's confusion in choosing an appropriate source and navigating hundreds of different publisher pages to get to the document with an easy to understand set of choices outlining available formats (PDF or Article Link in many cases) for a particular article.

Alternatively with the PDF Express option, the user can be instantly routed to a PDF when available with no additional clicks, with a fallback to the link resolver when an instant PDF is not available.

In order for LibKey Link to assist, the article being requested must:
  1. Be requested via an OpenURL that contains either a valid DOI or PMID (or simply a PMID in the case of PubMed Linking) AND
  2. Be available from a subscribed source held by the library or be an open access article/journal AND
  3. Be from a journal from a LibKey supported publisher
If any of these three criteria are not met, meaning that LibKey cannot provide an accelerated access experience, it simply does not appear and immediately re-routes the user back to the link resolver as if LibKey was not involved in the first place.  Thus, the "fallback" experience for LibKey Link is your current link-resolver workflow.

The Format Chooser
The format chooser provides a number of different features to simplify and enhance a researcher's workflow in getting to full text.

With the format chooser enabled (see "Configuration Options" below for more information on this) the user is provided with various linking options if LibKey can accelerate the user's experience to content.

The left panel features prominent library branding (with the logo and organization name shared by all LibKey/BrowZine products) and in the right panel there is metadata confirming the article in question and available Full Text options.

For the right panel, moving top to bottom then in terms of linking options, the full text format options are presented first.

Depending on the sources available to the library for this particular article these may include a PDF direct option or just an article link.  The sources selected by LibKey occur automatically and are based on analyzing a library's available full text sources and prioritizing the most current sources first providing special preference to publisher-direct sources due to linking stability.  Open Access Journals also are automatically routed to the publisher regardless of the library's holdings data (whether these are included or not, LibKey will provide linking options for thousands of Open Access titles).

If a user encounters a journal that provides both a PDF and Article Link option they will be offered to prefer a particular format.  While most users may prefer a PDF, some user may not — in particular if they are looking for additional supplements, data sets, cited references and other materials readily available on the publisher site but not part of the PDF document.

To allow the most fluid individualized user experience then, a user who would prefer to see a PDF whenever possible can check this box and as stated LibKey will remember this preference for 24 hours.  Thus, if they check the box and then click on the PDF link and then, in 24 hours, in the same browser, encounter another LibKey Link and a PDF is also available, no format chooser will be shown and they will be instantly forwarded, with appropriate authentication, to the PDF document.  The net result of this will mean can mean one-click access to PDFs from Library Links in Google Scholar or the link resolver links in Scopus!

If their format preference is NOT available, they will stop at the format chooser again.  Additionally, if the content is provided with Unpaywall Data they will also always stop at the format chooser (since this data may not be as reliable as LibKey data, this extra pause is created so that user's don't get "stuck" in a 1-click experience that actually leads to a broken link without being able to see link resolver options including document delivery/ILL options, etc.  More on Unpaywall data below.)

Below the format options, depending on the article the user may be offered an opportunity to "Discover More" by linking to the article in context within BrowZine.  This feature is identical to the one seen in LibKey Discovery and LibKey Nomad and provides a serendipitous discovery springboard to see the article in its originally published context.

Finally, there is a troubleshooting link at the very bottom which when clicked will link to the same article within the library's link resolver.

Unpaywall Data

LibKey connects to the Unpaywall service automatically if no LibKey links can be found.  Unpaywall may know of the availability of the material as being open access at the publisher site for one particular article (a hybrid open access journal) or it may know about submitted manuscript versions held in an institutional repository.

This check is done after exhausting Library holdings and Gold OA journal knowledge but before resorting to forwarding the request back to the library's link resolver.  Any automatic preference options selected in the last 24 hours will not apply to Unpaywall data and the format chooser will always be shown along with a message explaining Unpaywall data as well as indicating if something is an "Accepted Manuscript" rather than the final version.  The intention is to ensure users understand why they are being linked to perhaps an unformatted Word Document and not something that looks like a final paper.  Links back to the library's link resolver thus are always available should a final version be desired via ILL/Document Delivery.

Use Cases

The LibKey Link can be used in any database your link resolver is used in today to provide access to full text (It is not recommended for use in EndNote).

Suggested placement includes but is not limited to:
Google Scholar
Web of Science
EBSCOhost Databases
ProQuest Databases

There is a separate support article that provides some guidance on these particular resources and how to update your link resolver URL to LibKey Link.

Configuration Options

There are two configuration options for LibKey Link which may be applicable in different situations:
  • Format Chooser (Default)
As described above, this option presents the users with multiple format choices when available as well as additional features like viewing the article in context in BrowZine, help options as well as the ability to specify a preferred format.
  • PDF Express (Optional, as alternative to the Format Chooser)
Some libraries, particularly those who believe that users ALWAYS want the PDF whenever possible, may prefer to direct their users automatically to the PDF with no additional clicks.  In this variation the user never sees any LibKey interface and if a PDF is available the routing instantly takes them there.  If no PDF is available, the request is forwarded to the link resolver.  Unpaywall is never consulted (though LibKey is knowledgable on its own about millions of open access articles, but it does not cover submitted manuscripts).

Can't Decide?  Or would prefer to utilize certain routings for certain databases?
No problem!  While the default configuration is for the Format Chooser and we can globally setup your account to do either the Format Chooser or PDF Express, the library is in complete control to "override" these global defaults with an advanced linking mechanism!

To do so, add the additional appropriate parameter to your LibKey Link when adding it to the configuration within your favorite databases:

Regular LibKey Link Example (substitute your Library ID for "222"):

Override for Format Chooser:

Override for PDF Express:
  • Branded Resolution (On/Off) (Default is "On")
When you click through a LibKey Link in any LibKey Service (Discovery, Link, Nomad, .io) there is a brief interstitial screen while LibKey forwards the request to the publisher/platform to retrieve the content.  During this time the default operation is to show library and LibKey branding as well as metadata about the article being retrieved.

Some libraries may find this redundant and not necessary because there is already branding at the point of origin for all these services (i.e. Nomad has branded buttons, your Discovery system is branded, LibKey Link & are branded).

This will also result in slightly faster load times to the full text but in most cases nearly indistinguishable for the user.

To modify your account settings to anything beyond the default, please contact our support desk at

Mobile and Accessibility Information

LibKey Link is both mobile optimized to make full text easy on your smart phone/tablet and works great with assistive technologies like screen readers and is easy to navigate with the keyboard.  Particularly for these users, LibKey Link is a huge improvement in user experience and library accessibility.

Getting Started with LibKey Link 2.0!

There is a short form needed to fully configure LibKey Link 2.0 and to receive and activate your LibKey Link.

You can access that form here and our team will be back in touch soon!

Contact and we will be happy to assist!

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