Linking Electronic Resources to Course Sites

Altered photograph with fisheye top view of bookshelves full of books in concentric circles.

The first and most important point in this article is that instructors should include electronic library resources as a part of their courses! The library collection is meant to support student learning; and electronic resources are ideal for use in learning management systems. Links directing students to electronic books, articles, journals, and databases can all be included in a course shell in a learning management system. Electronic resources can save students time and money and insure that everyone has access to the course materials when they’re needed. Read on for more information about the best ways to link library resources in your course shell.

Why not post PDFs?

First, a note about PDFs versus links. Instructors should never upload PDFs of subscription resources obtained through the libraries onto course sites for two important reasons:

  1. Loading PDFs into course sites thwarts the libraries’ ability to collect usage statistics. If an instructor provides an article PDF in the course site instead of posting a link, there will be no click-through for that article. When an instructor posts a link in the course site, each student’s click to the full text is captured as usage data. Library employees analyze usage statistics when making collection decisions. Boosting the usage data for journals in your discipline is a benefit of posting links in a course site. When journals or databases do not have sufficient usage data, they may be considered for cancellation.
  2. Staying in compliance with copyright law is the second reason not to include PDFs in a course site. Copyright is owned by the author or publisher of the materials to which the library provides access, typically through “licenses” that allow them to be used for scholarly or educational purposes, but not publicly distributed through electronic means, including websites or course management sites. When faculty or students follow a link through the library catalog or electronic databases, they are usually asked to log in (unless they’re on campus or already logged in), which identifies them as licensed users of these resources. Copyright violations can lead to fines or other legal penalties, including loss of access to important resources.

Finding or creating permanent links

Finding appropriate links for resources is not always easy. Permanent links are stable resource links that, for UNT subscription resources, usually prompt the user to log in with his/her UNT credentials. For most electronic resources, simply copying and pasting the URL from the address bar in your browser will not result in a permanent or stable link. A URL copied from the address bar during a database browsing session will likely not allow students or others who click the link to access the intended item.

E-Books and streaming films

For electronic books and streaming films from the library collection, instructors can copy the “connect to online resource” link address directly from the library catalog record and paste that permanent link into the course site. You can do this by right-clicking on the area outlined in red below and then selecting “copy hyperlink” from the drop-down menu.

 Alt tag: Screenshot of e-book access from UNT Libraries catalogue.



Some article databases, such as those provided by Ebsco Host and Proquest, contain a special field within each article record that contains the permanent link for the article. These permanent links, also sometimes known as permalinks, can be copied and pasted directly from the database into the course site.

 Alt tag: Screenshot of permalink from UNT Libraries catalogue.

Some library databases do not contain permanent links. In cases where permanent links are not readily available, instructors have the following options:

  1. Use the “Online Articles” or Summon search feature to search for the article and copy/paste the permanent link from Summon into the course site.

 Alt tag: Screenshot of Summon search from UNT Libraries catalogue.

  1. Contact your subject librarian. Your subject librarian can find or create a permanent link for you. Your subject librarian can also provide detailed instructions on how you can create permanent links, if you are interested.
  1. Create a permanent link by copying a stable link and appending it to the UNT proxy URL:

For example, if you start with the URL,, and you append it to the UNT proxy URL, you will end up with a permanent link:

  1. Create a permanent link yourself using the DOI. Append the DOI to the following url:

For example, if you start with the DOI, 10.1080/08949468.2016.1154414, your permanent link will be:

When all else fails, contact your subject librarian for assistance!