Access URL

Requirement Level: Required if Applicable

Core Element: Yes

Describes: Digital Surrogate


A URL which resolves to the primary online access point for a digital object. This should be a stable, persistent url which displays the content in its best context -- ideally with accompanying metadata and contextual navigation, playback controls, or other content-specific interaction options. Note: while many digital objects will have a public-facing URL, not all of Emory’s digital objects can be browsed online. Some URLs may not be suitable to be exposed to the public due to copyright/access restrictions, and some files may be too large for web-based distribution. See also Identifier – Local, and Identifier - Standard.


Scholarly Article

Digital Map Image

Digital Video

Data Set

Mappings and Encoding

Dublin Core:


See recommended mappings for additional standards.

How Do I Fill This In?



While a metadata record may contain multiple URLs (needed for identifiers, or related resources), you should only provide one URL for the primary online access location.

Recommended Data Entry Type:


URLs must be correctly formatted in order to be actionable by a web browser. URLs must always begin with the appropriate network protocol. URLs for web resources, for example, always begin with either http:// or https://.  Learn more about URL conventions here.

When feasible, use a persistent URL: persistent URL services allow you to manage URLs that change over time through a central service. When a link changes, you can update the URL in one place vs. tracking down all instances of a broken link.

Punctuation/style notes:  

When recording URLs, you must record the URL exactly as it is provided (either from another metadata record, or from the browser itself). Do not change the original case conventions (capitalization) or punctuation in the URL: changing capitalization on file and folder names can result in broken, non-functional links. 

Additional detail:

In some situations, you may need to use the same URL as the value for Location – URL and Identifier – Local. If your record contains multiple URLs (as needed for Identifiers, etc.), it is important that one entry be designated as the primary access URL. If supported by your system or schema, use additional attributes or distinct data elements to differentiate the URL for access from other URLs (URLs used as Identifiers, URLs for links to related resources, etc).

Some schemas store the URL for an object as an attribute or property of a parent Location element. The same Location element may also store a physical location as a separate property. 

System Tips:

Some digital asset management systems will generate a URL for your resource, so this element does not always need to be manually populated.

For Simple Dublin Core used in OAI, it is recommended to provide only one identifier entry containing a URL. Other Dublin Core identifier entries can be added, but additional entries’ values should not be formatted as URLs. 


Guideline last revised: 2015-02-16