Skip to Main Content

Integrating the Library into Canvas Courses

Creating Persistent and Proxied Links to Library Content

To comply with copyright law and licensing agreements it is better to link to library content in your Canvas courses instead of uploading PDFs downloaded from the databases.

To ensure that links to library resources will work for any UM-Flint affiliate whether they are on campus or not, they need to be persistent and sometimes proxied. 

Persistent - The URLs that appear in the address bar of library resources are often session-specific, meaning they will expire. Persistent, or stable, links should be used instead. 

Proxied - Links that include the library’s proxy server prefix ( or infix allow off-campus users to login, be recognized as affiliated with UM-Flint, and entitled to access the content.

Use persistent and proxied link for rich text links in Canvas to ensure access in new windows.

Finding a Persistent Link

Many resources provide an option to copy and paste a persistent link but they are sometimes tricky to find since the term used and the location for doing so can vary depending on which resource you are using. Some common terms to look for include:

  • Permalink
  • Bookmark
  • Jumpstart
  • Document URL
  • Stable URL
  • DOI link.

Proxied Links

If you are linking to the article in rich text, make sure it includes either the proxy server prefix or that the infix is included in the middle of the URL. If the link opens in a new browser window, it will ensure access by logging in.

Some resources automatically include the proxy server prefix or infix but, if they don’t, it can be added manually to the beginning of the persistent URL. For example:

This information was updated on May 2, 2023.

If you need help locating or constructing links, please contact a librarian or attend our ODE-partnered workshops "Course Readings, Copyright, and Online Classrooms" and "Integrating the Library into Your Canvas Course."

Linking to Library Content

After you have copied your link, you will need to add the link to your Canvas module through either a rich text link on a page or as an external URL. We are suggesting that most content be included as rich text so that it is more seamlessly integrated into your weekly module and it avoids issues with pop ups across different browsers.

This rich text link (should be proxied to ensure access across browser setups) will open up a new window or tab where the student will have login to access the content:

Canvas page with rich text links

Adding library content (unproxied) as an External URL should embed the content into your course module:

screen shot of journal article embed in Canvas using External URL

However, we have seen several issues of it creating a popup that the students may not see based on their popup blocks. Additionally, it might appear as an almost blank page with a warning message above the external URL.

Library content embedded in Canvas with external U.R.L. tool with warning "You are trying to launch insecure content from within a secure site (canvas). Some web browsers may prevent this content from loading."

Embedding Readings as PDFs

While uploading PDFs is often seen as less of a fair use than having students access readings through a link, linking may not be the most feasible option because of issues with a database interface being less-than user friendly or other accessibility concerns. Canvas does allow uploading documents and by using the display option to "Preview inline," the article is fully visible within a Canvas page, so students don't necessarily need to download it to read it (though that option is still available).

Follow these steps to embed readings in a Canvas page.

  1. Create a page in a Canvas module.
  2. Type the citation or other text in the rich text that will serve as the link to the reading.
  3. Highlight the text, then click the Documents tool in the rich text toolbar.
    • screenshot of Canvas rich text toolbar with document tool circled
  4. Select the type of document you are linking.
    • Upload Document: adding completely new document that isn't already linked in your course or account.
    • Course Document: adding a document that is already included in your course files.
    • User Documents: adding a document that is associated with your overall account (not common).
  5. Click Submit.
  6. To change the linked document's display, select the linked text then click the Link tool in the rich text toolbar. 
    • screenshot of Canvas rich text toolbar with linking tool circled
  7. The Link Options menu will open on the right-side of the screen.
  8. Under Display Options, select Preview inline and Expand preview by Default.
    • screenshot of Link Options menu open with display options highlighted
  9. Click Done.
  10. Save your Page and the reading will appear as a hyperlink with the document embedded underneath.

screenshot of document embedded in Canvas page

Fair Use and Library Materials

Fair use is a limitation on the rights of the copyright holder that allows others to use portions of a copyrighted work or the whole work without permission from the holder (Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act). It is determined by a balanced application of the four factors set forth in the statute:

  1. Purpose of the use
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The library also consults the Association of Research Libraries Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (2012).

Instructors who want to use copyrighted material as additional reading or viewing material, should determine whether their use is fair before posting uploading items to their online courses or submitting additional readings for course reserve. Not all educational use is fair use.

The library has created a Fair Use Checklist to help faculty work through their use of copyrighted works. All materials uploaded or linked to in online course should be assessed for Fair Use. Linking to library licensed material is typically judged more fair then uploading a PDF for students to download.

Additional information can be found through the UM-AA Copyright Office. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Liz Svoboda at

Copyright Resources