For subscription-based materials, the Code4Lib Journal formats metadata in COinS to help you find a library copy. We have tried to attach COinS citation information to all citations which do not have publicly accessible URLs. If your institution runs an OpenURL link resolver, and you had an appropriate browser plugin installed, instead of seeing the label “(COinS)” on our pages, you would see a link to find licensed text for the article from your own library.

What are COinS?

ContextObjects in Spans (COinS) are a way to embed bibliographic information into the HTML code of a web page by using a “span” element, based on the OpenURL standard for structured bibliographic citations.

COinS allow people to share the metadata from OpenURLs without being at the same institution.

How do I use COinS?

The easiest way to use COinS is to use a browser extension such as LibX or OpenURL Referrer. Both are available for both Firefox and Internet Explorer. These extensions will replace the “(COinS)” label on our pages with a link to your own institution’s link resolver. Andy Powell’s demonstration page gives some examples of what this might look like.

Depending on how your institutional link resolver is set up, it can provide you with an appropriate copy of licensed full text, information on your library’s print holdings, an inter-library loan request form, or other services.  One way to discover if your institution has a link resolver is with the Worldcat Registry.

If you don’t have access to an institutional link resolver, you can configure a generic link resolver such as to “decode” the COinS; this may be of limited utility as you won’t get sent to your own library’s holdings. COinS is also used by refbase and Zotero to save citations; Zotero can also push saved citations to your link resolver later.

How do I put COinS on my own pages?

The COinS Generator can be used to create COinS manually by entering the bibliographic metadata for a citation (Note as of October 2014 this generator appears defunct.)  You can use WordPress plugins (several are listed at ).   Alternatively , Zotero has an export in COinS format option, or you can read the specification at

ISSN 1940-5758