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Library LinkOut Transition FAQs

What does the Library LinkOut Consolidation mean for my library?

The LinkOut for Libraries program is composed of three services; LinkOut via Submission Utility, LinkOut Local, and Outside Tool. NLM will consolidate the LinkOut for Libraries programs to become more efficient into a single service: Library LinkOut using Outside Tool. Going forward, the program will be called “Library LinkOut.” NLM will no longer process requests for the LinkOut via Submission Utility or LinkOut Local services. Libraries will need to switch to the Outside Tool service to continue seeing their icon in the new PubMed. 


When will this change happen?

Holdings in the LinkOut services, via Submission Utility and LinkOut Local, will no longer be updated beginning February 28, 2020. At this time users will not be able to make changes to their LinkOut journal holdings but the library’s icon will still be available in legacy PubMed until it is replaced by the new PubMed


How do I activate my library icon in the new PubMed?

Libraries that participate in Library LinkOut using Outside Tool in the new PubMed using the URL where nameabbr is the name abbreviation for your library. Use a comma separated list to activate up to five library icons, for example:,nameabbr2,nameabbr3.


How does the Outside Tool service benefit my users?

The Outside Tool service has important advantages for libraries and their patrons. Libraries can place their icon on every PubMed citation. Link resolver software directs users to the full text of an article available in the library or to the library’s ILL service. Libraries no longer generate and maintain their extensive holdings records in the Submission Utility, and NLM staff can process new account registrations quickly.

PubMed Mobile will be replaced by the new, responsive PubMed site that will display Library LinkOut icons using the Outside Tool service in summer 2019. Currently, over 40% of PubMed users access the site using a mobile device such as a phone or tablet, which does not support library icons. This update will improve visibility and connections between the user and library.


How do I know what service is available in my library?

We recommend you check the Outside Tool service list of libraries to determine if your library is currently registered for Outside Tool. This list is updated daily. If your library is listed, your library currently has an Outside Tool service set up. If you do not see your library listed, you will need to set up an Outside Tool service by following the instructions here.

You can also contact us directly to confirm your library’s service. To do this, please write to NLM Customer Support.


Why is NLM consolidating the Library LinkOut services?

To continue providing excellent service, it became evident that upgrading the system would be both necessary and beneficial. Each library’s holdings files include tens of thousands of PubMed queries for each journal subscription. Using new technology provides a streamlined approach for more efficient, effective and reliable daily PubMed indexing. 


How does my library transition to Outside Tool?

The following information is required to set up an Outside Tool account:

1. Base URL of your local service (this is composed of your link resolver and the tail ?sid=Entrez:PubMed&id=pmid:)
2. Test URLs to demonstrate your link resolver directs to the full text and a pre-filled ILL form.
3. Temporary Username and Password for password-protected access
4. Institution name, postal address and phone number
5. Contact person name and email address. (Group email address is optional)
6. URL of the Outside Tool icon to be displayed in PubMed
7. URL of your institution help page (optional)
8. Short label that identifies your library (optional)
9. If your institution has a LinkOut account, please provide the NameAbbr (username)

The full registration information for the Outside Tool service is available here.


What does my library need to set up Outside Tool?

Libraries will need to set up a working link resolver and ILL form. The link resolver must be unique to the library and should direct users to either the full text or to a pre-filled ILL form. If your ILL form is not able to pre-populate with the PubMed citation information, you will not be able to set up an Outside Tool service. If your library link resolver does not resolve correctly, we will ask you to resubmit your registration information after you have corrected the issue. 


Will NLM help set up my library link resolver or ILL form?

NLM is not able to help library staff obtain a link resolver, or with connecting it to a pre-filled ILL form. We recommend that you work with your preferred library software vendor to obtain and test your link resolver. After you have tested your link resolver and ILL forms, NLM will set up your Outside Tool service in PubMed.


Will this affect libraries who use a vendor to manage their files?

If your library currently has a vendor send your holdings to NLM, you are likely already using a link resolver. We recommend you work with your vendor to confirm you can direct your users to a pre-filled ILL form when you do not have access to the full text of the article. Once you have verified this, you can submit the Outside Tool service registration information found here.


Will the library filter work in the new PubMed?

The library LinkOut filters in My NCBI will not be available in the new PubMed. The library specific filters are created based on the journal holdings that are provided by the library, or by a vendor on behalf of a library. As Outside Tool places an icon on every citation in PubMed, NLM does not retain holdings information for this service. Once the consolidation has occurred and all libraries are using Outside Tool only, the filter will no longer work. Instead users will always see their library's icon on citations, making it easier to identify how to access the full text of the article.


Last Reviewed: December 18, 2019