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OpenURL bookmarklet  Peter Suber
 Dec 26, 2002 11:07 PST 
[Forwarding from Andy Powell on the JISC-Development list. Very
cool. --Peter.]

The stuff at




is interesting. It describes a bookmarklet technique for linking from the
book pages in online bookstores to the record in your local OPAC for the
same book. The linkage can be made because services like Amazon embed the
book's ISBN in the URL for the page for that book. The bookmarklet
extracts the ISBN and then uses it to generate a URL that deep-links into
the OPAC Web interface (based on the ISBN). Clearly this only works where

1) the bookstore Web site uses ISBN-based URLs for its book pages
2) your OPAC supports deep linking based on ISBNs

I've modified this technique to create an OpenURL bookmarklet. Again, the
bookmarklet extracts the ISBN from the Amazon URL. It then uses it to
construct an OpenURL for the book (using your preferred OpenURL resolver

To try it, go to


Use the default (OpenResolver) name and BASEURL if you like, or enter your
preferred alternatives. (I've only tested this with UKOLN's
OpenResolver). Click on the Go button.

Drag the resulting link to your browser toolbar.

Visit Amazon and search for a book. For example, search for 'Chemistry'
and choose the first book in the 'All results' list... "Quantitative
Chemical Analysis" by Daniel C. Harris.

Now click on your new bookmarklet... you should get taken to your
preferred OpenURL resolver. Assuming that you used the default settings
for OpenResolver, you should see links to the University of Bath OPAC and
COPAC, and be able to do related searches of Google, etc. (Note that
OpenResolver gives incorrect results for some ISBNs because of the rather
simplistic method I use for 'guessing' a title based on the ISBN).

If it worked (and it may not have done - it is christmas and I've rushed
to put this together!) you've just made Amazon support OpenURLs, without
Amazon even knowing about it.

Distributed Systems, UKOLN, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK
http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/ukoln/staff/a.powell       +44 1225 383933
Resource Discovery Network http://www.rdn.ac.uk/
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