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When users have accounts from more than one organisation

OpenAthens keeps users signed in for up to 8 hours. This gives them a good single-sign-on experience and suits the vast majority of users.

Some users will belong to more than one organisation that uses OpenAthens though. If they have more than one OpenAthens account they may need to switch between them from time to time.

The easiest way is usually to use a different browser for each, but this is not always possible for everyone.

With that in mind, OpenAthens has been set up to spot when a user changes the organisation they say they are from. This could be at a WAYF, or via a wayfless URL such as a Redirector link.


Bob has accessed some resources via University A’s library catalogue. They’re redirector links, so are wayfless. Next is a resource provided by Hospital B, and when Bob arrives at the resource he has to make a selection from its WAYF. Bob chooses Hospital B.  

At this point, OpenAthens sees that the organisation has changed. Bob is sent to Hospital B’s login point where a new OpenAthens session can be started, after which Bob accesses the resource.

What the end user needs to know:

If both organisations have the same resource but different content, then the end user needs to know that they will need to either:

  • follow a link from the other organisation’s catalogue, or

  • go to the resource directly and choose their organisation from the resource’s log in

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