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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. Use for External URLs in Canvas.

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

If you are embedding library material as an External URL in Canvas, you can copy and past this link as long as it doesn't include the library proxy string.

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 August 25, 2022 to reflect changes to the configuration of the library proxy with the University's single-sign on service.

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."

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, Head of Circulation, at

Copyright Resources