[Update: click on the picture for an example where a link to a resolver is showing.]
On March 12, 2006 OCLC added COinS to its Open WorldCat web pages. COinS is an acronym that stands for Context Objects in Spans, which represent a standardized way to embed citation metadata into a web page. COinS are actually included in the HTML code on the web page using OpenURLs. This allows other processors--such as your web browser--to find the citation metadata and generate links to other resources that are accessible via OpenURLs. [COinS [OCLC]]Follow the link to ProductWorks page which gives a good overview of Coins and some of the tools available to assist in their use. Kudos to my production colleagues for moving this along.
I think that this is significant in several ways. One important one is that is one route by which you can connect a discovery experience in one environment back to the ability to find an instance of the discovered item, or a service which will provide it, in another environment. Again, this is early days but making these kinds of links smoothly will be increasingly important as we try to put library services closer to the point of need, in user workflows.
One of the tools that will act on Coins is OCLC Openly Informatics' OpenURL Referrer:
These days, there are many web sites that include citations to scholarly works. It would be useful to producers of such sites to have their citations be "clickable", taking the reader directly to the fulltext of the source being cited. Of course, these sources may be copyright-protected, and only available on the web via a subscription-based services However, you may be able to access these resources through your local library's web site if it subscribes to such a service. OpenURL Referrer is a Firefox browser extension that can take certain kinds of citations on the web and convert them to direct links to the cited resource in one of your local library's databases. This can be accomplished thanks to OpenURL, a powerful technology that packages bibilographic information into a format that many internet services can understand. OpenURL Referrer can produce links for two different kinds of citations: [Google Scholar Results and Coins]. [Openly's OpenURL Referrer]Openly's Referrer is now also integrated with OCLC's OpenURL Resolver Registry:
The "Link Server Base URL" is the address of your local library's link server, which will take the link provided by the extension and query the library's database. If you do not know the Base URL of your library's resolver, try clicking on the "Find Resolvers" button. This will check the OCLC OpenURL Resolver Registry for link servers accessible from your computer's location. If no resolvers can be found, contact your library to find out its Link Server Base URL, as well as the OpenURL version it supports. [Openly's OpenURL Referrer]The OpenURL Resolver Registry is an example of the 'intelligence in the network' that will be required to allow users and applications traverse information environments in more 'well-seamed' ways.
I have included several quotes above as I am aware that the Coins concept is not immediately obvious to everybody. There are now some good materials on this, and on OpenURL generally, and I think my colleagues have done a nice job of pulling some together on the ProductWorks page.