The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Folger Tooltips: Hamnet URLs, part one

The modest purpose of today’s tooltip is to introduce one major piece of scaffolding available to you in staging your online research at the Folger: the humble URL.

Today we’ll talk about Hamnet bibliographic records and Basic Searches; future URL tooltips will cover more advanced Hamnet hotlink wrangling, as well as how to make URLs more useful to you in some of our other online resources.

Much of what’s covered here may be self-evident to the digital natives among you. But follow along with us, digerati! You may find a helpful tip or two in what follows.


Many of us are busy behind the scenes cataloging, digitizing, creating finding guides. The tools we use to make these available at the moment require use of disparate databases familiar to us all: Hamnet, our Finding aids database, and our Digital image database. Unfortunately, running a separate query in all three is at the moment the only way to ensure a comprehensive search. But our goal is to more seamlessly link these databases, so that Readers more easily can locate related research material regardless of where the descriptions happen to “live.”  To that end we are making active use of static URLs, e.g. in providing the kinds of links from Hamnet to the Digital image database covered in a previous tooltip.

Still, at the moment many of the urls you’ll encounter in navigating through Folger online resources are dynamic. That is, they have a “shelf life” that corresponds to your current browser session, and may last an hour or a day or so, after which the URL will no longer work. Rats! Thankfully, static URLs are available in addition to the dynamic.

Static URLs in Hamnet

It is possible to launch just about any kind of Hamnet search from an “outside” web page.

Perhaps you’d like to connect to a particular Hamnet search page, link directly to a specific bibliographic description, or build dynamically updated search results into your course syllabi? OK, here’s how.

Connecting to your favorite search screen

Annoyed by the paltry 5:00 timeout on Hamnet? Yeah, us too. We’re looking into increasing the limit, but for now you might want to bookmark one of the following links to get right back into the thick of things:

  • Our Basic Search page lives at this static URL:

  • Our Advanced Search page lives here:

Linking to a specific Hamnet bibliographic record

Hamnet URLs as they appear in the “address bar” (a.k.a. nav bar) of your browser include session (read: expiring) IDs. So what you really don’t want to do is grab the URL from your nav bar; you know, the one that might look a bit like this:

Hamnet Bib Record Nav Bar URL

If you squint (or click the image to embiggen!) you might be able to see that this was a call no. search (“…Search_Arg=v.a.92…”). But the clock is ticking on this hyperlink — “PID” and “SEQ” elements will render this dynamic URL useless after a bit. It will in fact last a bit longer than the 5:00 timeout currently set on Hamnet sessions, but can’t be used for reliably sharing the link with others, or for parking that link in your own notes, syllabi, etc.

So rather than relying on copying and pasting from the nav bar, instead you should rely on the eye-readable, copy-and-paste-able field which we call the “URL for this record.” E.g., here’s a screenshot illustrating the “URL for this record” you’d use to link directly to the full bibliographic description for Folger MS V.a.92: Esther Inglis’ calligraphic manuscript Octonaires upon the vanitie and inconstancie of the world, by Antoine de Chandieu:

Hamnet Bib Record Static URL
Hamnet Bib Record Static URLs

Note that this record also provides an eye-readable, copy-and-paste-able “URL for Linked Resources,” in this case a link to a sorted cover-to-cover set of page images from V.a.92, in the Digital image database. These static URLs can be relied on to bring you and yours back to this Hamnet (or Luna) location.

Linking to a Hamnet Basic Search

As in working with nav bar URLs on specific bibliographic records, so with nav bar URLs that appear in your searches: they stop working too soon! However, you can actually use that URL up there to begin structuring a Hamnet search hotlink.

Here’s how, using a “Name Browse” search for Inglis, Esther as my example:

First, you’ll want to scrub “PID” and “SEQ” and “HIST” elements. That leaves us with:

Next, you’ll want to add “DB=local&SL=none” after that question mark, just to make it clear which database we’re searching and that we’re not setting search limits. This will produce the following usable link:

Here’s a handy alphabetical list of search codes you can drop in to construct other links based on most of our Basic Search choices:

  • Author/Creator, Sorted by Title: Search_Code=AUTH_
  • Call Number Browse: Search_Code=CALL_
  • Call Number (Left-Anchored): Search_Code=CALL
  • Form/Genre (Keyword Phrase): Search_Code=655A
  • Journal Title (Keyword Phrase): Search_Code=JKEY
  • Keyword Any Bib Field: Search_Code=FT*
  • Name Browse: Search_Code=NAME_
  • Publication/Creation Date: Search_Code=008D
  • Series/Uniform Title Browse: Search_Code=TITL_
  • Subject & Form/Genre Browse: Search_Code=SUBJ_
  • Title (Keyword Phrase): Search_Code=TKEY
  • Title (Left-Anchored): Search_Code=TALL

Try them out! Share with your friends!

And stay tuned for later tooltips on how to construct Advanced Search hotlinks, and how to make best use of index codes in what we call on the Basic Search page an “Expert Search.” (Close readers will notice this latter search as conspicuously absent from the above list.)

Summing up and final thoughts

How many changes in Windows or Macintosh graphical user interface have we all lived through? Countless, it seems. And how many times have libraries switched from one ILS (integrated library system) to another? Here at the Folger we are still on our first, but many academic and special collections institutions have been through multiple ILS conversions.  It is inevitable that big changes to Hamnet will happen in the coming years.

So: tips and techniques like the above may not in fact live on in perpetuity as fixed methods for accessing Folger resources. In order to better participate in Linked Data initiatives aimed at open cross-institutional sharing of digital resources, we’d dearly love today to provide permanent URLs (a.k.a. PURLs) … and / or fixed digital object identifiers (a.k.a. DOI®‘s) … and / or provide each of our library catalogs and databases as fully-registered content providers in the Open Archives Initiative. And / or provide an API (application programming interface) that specifies machine-readable interpretations for each of our data exchange protocols? Nice! But alas, not quite yet. Perhaps someday soon.

In the meantime let me end with an assurance that although technical details like these shared today undoubtedly will change, our commitment will not:  to make Folger bibliographic data, digital images, and other research tools available to the noncommercial scholarly and cultural heritage communities in as open and sharable a method as we can.

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