Reports on the ground‐breaking work by Herbert Van de Sompel while associated with Ghent University, Belgium, and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has led to the creation of an open linking framework for scholarly research. The open linking framework proposed by Van de Sompel puts libraries firmly in control, allowing them to determine the scope of their institution’s interlinked research environment both in terms of extent and range of link services offered to their users. It places librarians in the “trail‐blazers” profession, predicted by Vannevar Bush in 1945: they enthuse in the task of establishing useful links between resources. The creation of such an open linking environment requires the collaboration of all the stakeholders in the information industry; and underlying the success of this is an emerging standard, the OpenURL, now on a fast track path to acceptance by NISO. Van de Sompel’s research work led to the development of the SFX server technology, which was demonstrated in operation at both the Ghent University and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Ex Libris subsequently purchased the SFX server technology from Ghent University in early 2000.
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