Chat Reference Tip: Sharing Permanent URLs for Searches

We get over 25% of our reference questions through chat and the number grows every year. I spend a lot of time guiding students to the right library databases and brainstorming keywords with them. Besides the library’s general chat box, instructors often refer students to our respective My Librarian chat boxes. Unless it’s a quick question, I generally operate under the “teach them to fish” approach. So I do a lot of the “Click on this…click on that. Why don’t you try this…” method.

I know some libraries use screen sharing apps to hone in and make sure students are getting the info they need. However, these apps often lead to end-user issues. Some people find it helpful. Others find it creepy. Students just want an answer–or a starting point.

Instead, I’ve come to rely on the ability to share permanent URLs of search results from our library databases. After the student has had a chance to search with me, I share the permanent URL for the search results on my computer screen to make sure the student is in the right spot. At my current workplace, our two largest database providers are EBSCO and Proquest.

Sharing permanent URLs of EBSCO searches is easy. On the search results page, just click on: Share >>> Use Permalink. Copy and paste the URL into your library’s chat box. The URL should be going through your library’s proxy server.


In Proquest, the option to share search results is a bit hidden, but still useful. In fact, at first glance I thought it wasn’t possible. However, the good folks at Proquest pointed me in the right direction. At the top of the page, click on: Recent Searches.


Select: Actions >>> Get link. Copy and paste the URL into your library’s chat box. The URL should be going through your library’s proxy server.


Providing the permanent URL gives students a good starting point and a well-formulated search strategy to build upon.

6 thoughts on “Chat Reference Tip: Sharing Permanent URLs for Searches

  1. I use the permanent links/persistent links regularly with students in face to face (and virtual) instruction, too. I wish that vendors would use common vocabulary for this term because it confuses our teens; for example, in Gale, it is called a “bookmark”, but in EBSCO, it’s called a “persistent link.” Then some databases do not provide a permanent link. I’ve also been using the permanent links for saved searches to scaffold our students in providing them a gentle entry point to database use while giving them choice in article selection (example: ). I share your appreciation for permanent links! Best, Buffy

  2. Hi Joe

    My name is Shai Har-Gil and I Liked your blog !
    I am an Israeli-American currently living in Israel. Could I ask for your assistance? I am currently employed as the head librarian in a middle school, and as a senior librarian in a municipal children’s library where I also do a story time to all the first graders.
    I hold a BA from California State University, Northridge in Communications and a MA in Information Science from Bar Ilan University, Israel. My wife and I are moving to Southern California or to Atlanta, GA, as my wife’s employer has asked her to relocate.

    Could you please help me with answers to the following:

    ?What are my work options as a non-ALA accredited librarian
    What types of positions would be open to me,

    And what is their average income Is there a difference in regulations,
    position type, and income between Southern California and Georgia

    I greatly appreciate your time.

    Regards, Shai Har-Gil

    • Sorry the delay in answering your question…was away on vacation. While most US librarian jobs require an ALA-accredited master’s degree, some will accept foreign equivalents. With your track record and experience, I would encourage you to apply for positions that fit your interests/career goals. Requirements for school librarian positions vary from state to state. Some require a teaching certificate. Income level may be higher in Southern California than in Georgia, but that is because the cost of living is higher.

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