Thursday, September 13, 2012

Linking New Scholarship to Its Ancient Roots

Classical Works Knowledge Base Creates Direct Connections to Original Texts

ITHACA, N.Y. (Sept. 12, 2012) – As more translations and classical resources appear online, faculty and librarians see an opportunity to smooth the paths of scholars through the maze of digital texts and complex citations.

That opportunity became the Classical Works Knowledge Base (CWKB), a relational database and specialized link resolver software that seamlessly links abstracts to the works they cite. Cornell University Library and Cornell’s Classics Department developed this tool, which allows scholars to access online, full-text versions of the primary sources that their institutions own or license.

CWKB works with ancient Greek and Latin texts, and will be used first in the online database “L'Année philologique.” Other online resources could make use of it as well; for example, if a database on American history used CWKB, a researcher could look at citations in a pamphlet by Thomas Jefferson and arrive in one click at passages he cites from Plato’s dialogues, Cicero’s letters and other sources in multiple languages and translations.

 “The Library is committed to open-access tools, and we deliberately developed a service that could be extended easily,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. “We are committed to creating tools where none exist and there is a clear case that scholarship would benefit greatly. We also focus on development that can be broadly applicable for other researchers, facilitating work in a range of disciplines.”

CWKB relies on OpenURL links, which are parsed when a user clicks on them. A link resolver then uses the metadata to pull up multiple links to several versions of the texts. The CWKB website features a demonstration of OpenURL, using the Canonical Metadata Citation Format, and the software will be available under an Educational Community License. That software has far-reaching implications for scholarship in other disciplines, because any field that relies heavily on primary-source texts could adapt it. 

The project was supported by a grant made to the American Philological Association (APA) in 2010 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Eric Rebillard, professor of Classics and History and editor of “L'Année philologique on the Internet,” conceived of this service and worked with the Library’s Director of Scholarly Communications Services, David Ruddy, and Electronic Resources User Experience Librarian, Adam Chandler.

The APA is pleased that this project has produced a resource that the wider academic community will find useful. “Users of ‘L'Année philologique,’ the premier bibliographical database in classical studies, will applaud this eagerly awaited enhancement,” said Jeffrey Henderson, APA President. “It is exciting to know that the CWKB may similarly benefit the many other fields informed by classical texts.”

To learn more
Visit and for more information, and check out a 2010 Cornell Chronicle story for details about the origins of the project.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Final disposition of Canonical citation submittal, "accepted as is"

The trial use and public review period for the canonical citation submittal ended on August 5th, 2011. As there were no comments requesting changes to the submittal received during the trial use and review period, this message is to confirm that the disposition for the canonical citation submittal after the final public review is "accepted as is".

The following entries were accepted as final in the NISO OpenURL registry and the document pages on August 19, 2011.

The canonical citation community profile:

The canonical citation KEV metadata format:

A complete description of the canonical citation by the submitter, David Ruddy of the Cornell University Library:

The links above resolve to public NISO document pages. The pages include descriptive information and a link to the associated OpenURL registry entry. You can get to the registry entries directly at the NISO OpenURL registry at

The process for submittals is outlined at:

Congratulations to David Ruddy and the Cornell University Library on getting this submittal approved in the OpenURL registry, and by way of extension, part of the OpenURL Z39.88 NISO standard!


Phil Norman
OpenURL Maintenance Agency
6565 Kilgour Place
Dublin OH 43017 USA

Monday, June 7, 2010

Got Ovid? Classical knowledge base will assist in citing ancient Greek and Latin texts

Eric  Rebillard and librarians David Ruddy and Adam Chandler
Jason Koski/University Photography
From left, Eric Rebillard and librarians Adam Chandler and David Ruddy in Goldwin Smith Hall.

Scholars looking for multiple sources and translations from among 1,000 years of Greek and Latin texts will have a powerful new tool in their research arsenal with a database being developed at Cornell.

The Classical Works Knowledge Base (CWKB) -- a relational database and specialized link resolver software -- will facilitate linking from citations of ancient texts to the online versions of those texts. The database will ultimately cover all Latin and Greek authors from Homer to Bede, from approximately the eighth century B.C. to the mid-eighth century A.D.

Read full text of article in Cornell Chronicle

Friday, April 16, 2010

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Powerpoint: "OpenURL and Canonical Citation Linking in Classics: A Collaborative Project at Cornell between Classics and the University Library"

Presentation by Eric Rebillard and David Ruddy at the Metadata Working Group Forum, Cornell University Library (16 October 2009).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Powerpoint: "Linking Resources in the Humanities: Using OpenURL to Cite Canonical Works"

David Ruddy's presentation at the DLF Spring Forum is now available.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Powerpoint: "Text Linking in the Humanities: Citing Canonical Works Using OpenURL."

Our CNI powerpoint is now available:
Presentation at Spring 2009 CNI Task Force Meeting. 6 mb (ppt)