info for libraries

CrossRef, the official DOI registration agency for scholarly and professional publications, harnesses collaboration among publishers to provide the scholarly community with easier access to online research content. CrossRef was established in 2000 as an independent, non-profit membership association, with a mandate to make cross-publisher linking throughout online scholarly literature efficient and reliable using the DOI system.

"DOI" stands for Digital Object Identifier and is an open standard. A CrossRef DOI is an alphanumeric name that identifies digital content, such as a book or journal article. The DOI is paired with the object's electronic address, or URL, in an updateable central directory, and is published in place of the URL in order to avoid broken links while allowing the content to move as needed. DOIs are distributed by publishers and by CrossRef, and there is no end-user charge associated with their use. The CrossRef DOI can be assigned at any level of granularity and incorporated into many different systems and databases.

What do CrossRef DOIs link to? CrossRef DOIs link to publisher response pages, which include the full bibliographic citation and abstract, as well as full-text access (for authenticated users or at no charge, as determined by the publisher). The publisher response page often includes other linking options, such as pay-per-view access, journal table of contents and homepage, and associated resources. Libraries with local link servers can have CrossRef DOIs automatically redirected to appropriate resources.

For further information on the CrossRef DOI please see the short DOI descriptions document.

The key benefits of the CrossRef DOI for libraries are:

  • Truly persistent links
  • Increases usage of acquired resources
  • Expanded access to content not owned
  • Enhanced localized linking
  • DOI and metadata retrieval privileges at no cost to most libraries

Please take a tour of the CrossRef system or visit our gallery of linked publisher websites. Our "fast facts for libraries" area provides answers to many common questions about CrossRef.

There is no charge for most libraries to get a CrossRef account to retrieve DOIs or metadata. Through CrossRef, libraries can create links to CrossRef member publishers without signing bi-lateral linking agreements with each publisher and without having to track publishers' individual linking schemes. The CrossRef system also supports DOI re-direction for the purposes of localized linking within library holdings. More information about how the DOI integrates with local link servers is available at our "OpenURL and CrossRef" page.

In most cases, information providers (publisher, database producers, etc.) will use CrossRef to add DOIs to their content and databases, so libraries will not need to use CrossRef for DOI retrieval alone. If libraries host local content, the content providers should add DOIs before delivering the content. Users browsing online content will see DOI links and click on them -- there is no charge for clicking and following DOIs links.

To become a Library Affiliate, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. If you are working with a library software vendor, please determine whether you need access to the CrossRef system in order to optimize the vendor's product.
  2. Upon request, CrossRef will send you a Library Agreement for consideration. Request membership forms.
  3. To understand more about CrossRef DOsI, please visit the "How CrossRef Works" page.
  4. Technical details on DOI retrieval are available at the "How to Query" page.
  5. If you have a local link server - read information on how DOIs, CrossRef and OpenURL work together on the "How Libraries Use CrossRef" page.

You and your patrons can always look up CrossRef DOIs at no charge at our free query interface.

If you encounter a DOI, you can resolve (link) it automatically at our DOI resolver.

For a print-friendly summary please see our DOIs, the Library and the Researcher handout (PDF).

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Updated May 31, 2012
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