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Headshot of NISO Managing Director, Todd Carpenter

August 2008

Increasingly summers are no longer the slower paced months they had once been (if ever they really were!). For NISO, this is particularly true—the organization has been as active as ever with ongoing work and events for the summer months as well as preparations for fall. A few of the activities that kept us busy were the updates and discussions held at the annual meeting of the American Library Association at the end of June; establishing the roster for and kicking off the first conference calls for the new I2 (Institutional Identifiers) and CORE (Cost of Resource Exchange) working groups; hosting two Thought Leader meetings; preparing the office for NISO's 5-year ANSI audit and re-certification review; planning for the first in NISO's ongoing webinar series, OpenURL Implementation: Link Resolution That Users Will Love, to be held August 21st; and preparing for the in-person meeting of the Content and Collection Management Topic Committee at the NISO offices on August 25th. The busy summer is, for NISO, just the start of what will prove to be an even busier fall!

This month, Newsline highlights a few of the activities we have been involved with this summer. The first of these features The Changing Standards Landscape forum that NISO, in partnership with the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), held at ALA. This is the second forum NISO has organized with BISG at ALA's Annual Conference, highlighting some of the shared and unique standards work with which the two organizations are engaged. The forum was a great success and I strongly encourage you to take a look at the interesting presentations, now available in the Events section of the NISO website.

As I mentioned above, this summer NISO also hosted two Thought Leader Meetings, funded by part of the Mellon Foundation grant that NISO received last year. These meetings are the second and third of four that will be held this year, bringing together experts on a particular topic to identify potential areas where NISO can lead a standards-based or recommended practice solution to recognized barriers. In mid-June, NISO brought together librarians, publishers, and systems specialists to focus on Digital Libraries and Digital Collections. The group brainstormed a number of potential projects—including, for example, an emphasis on improving metadata streams produced and distributed by publishers to the community—summarized in a report that is now under consideration by NISO's Content and Collection Management Topic Committee. A summary of the report can be found below. The third Thought Leader meeting focused on the interaction between e-learning and course management systems. That group brought together content providers, librarians, and leaders in the community of learning environment producers. The group's wide-ranging discussions settled on interoperability, authentication, and copyright issues as the more critical areas where NISO might play a role. The e-learning report, which will be available shortly, will be considered by NISO's Architecture committee for follow-up. Along with the Institutional Repositories meeting this past spring and the fall meeting on Research Data, this series of Thought Leader meetings will provide a range of new standards initiatives on which to focus our attention in the coming months.

I hope you enjoy reading a bit about all that we have been doing this summer. But, as the summer begins to fade, I also want to remind you to mark your calendar to join us this October for the first of our fall in-person educational events, Collaborative Library Resource Sharing: Standards, Developments, and New Models for Cooperating. This two-day meeting will be held in Atlanta, GA on October 6-7 at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. The agenda will cover topics from the physical delivery of shared resources, to collaborative content management structures, to ILL systems and developments in resource sharing standards.

Enjoy the last days of summer, and I look forward to sharing more with you this autumn!

With kindest regards,

Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Managing Director

NISO Reports

NISO/BISG Forum Reviews Standards for Publishers and Libraries

NISO again partnered with the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) to organize the second annual NISO/BISG Forum, Changing Standards Landscape: Creative Solutions to Your Information Problems, prior to the American Library Association conference in Anaheim, CA. The one-day event brought together nearly 100 librarians, publishers, and systems suppliers in the information community.

The meeting was opened by remarks from Michael Healy, Executive Director of BISG and Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of NISO. In addition to highlighting the growing and strengthening ties between the book trade and the NISO community, both directors highlighted the impact of technological changes in our community and the increasing need for partnerships to address the many interoperability questions among suppliers of information.

The program was divided into three sections addressing critical areas of standardization, Identify and Describe, Discover and Retrieve, and Comply and Use. These areas encapsulate the activities from publication through distribution and form the basis for much of the important standards work that takes place in the information supply chain.

Speakers in the Identify and Describe session discussed the ISBN, the actionable ISBN, issues related to the variety of possible electronic versions of a book, two ISO initiatives—the International Standard Text Code (ISTC) and the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), NISO's new Institutional Identifier (I2) project, and the broader issues surrounding name and party identification.

During the Discovery section of the program, participants heard presentations on standards for discovering online book content, the work of the AAP Digital Issues Working Group defining a set of HTTP transitions between a publisher's digital archive and those of syndication partners, and the NISO/UKSG Knowledge Bases and Related Tools (KBART) initiative addressing the chain of metadata that underpins OpenURL link resolver systems.

The program ended with discussions of the complexity and confusion surrounding what users may or may not do with subscribed content, progress made by NISO and its partners in improving the dissemination about license terms through work on the ONIX-PL messages and the ERMI data dictionary, and the Shared E-Resources Understanding (SERU), a potential option for simplifying the licensing process.

The slide presentations from the NISO/BISG forum are available on the NISO website. A more detailed report of the forum will be included in Information Standards Quarterly.

BISG and NISO have committed to a continuing series of programs in the coming year, providing a discussion forum where the publishing and library communities can review standards work that crosses over both communities, and they expect to host another free seminar before the ALA 2009 Annual Conference.

Thought Leaders Meet to Discuss Digital Libraries and Collections

Twelve participants representing the diverse communities of libraries, commercial publishers, educators, content providers, policy agencies, standards organizations, book vendors, preservation agencies, and software developers convened in Baltimore on June 17 for NISO's Thought Leader meeting on Digital Libraries and Collections. The purpose of the Thought Leader meetings is to discuss barriers in the subject area and identify potential areas where NISO can lead in the development of a standards-based or recommended practice solution. The eight high-level recommendations that resulted from the meeting were:

  • Evaluate publisher metadata for accuracy
  • Establish guidelines for aggregating content
  • Review and recommend authentication methods
  • Monitor and assess identifier initiatives
  • Incorporate packaging in eJournal standards
  • Identify format properties of PDF
  • Establish a protocol to communicate system downtime
  • Address issues of title changes in journals

The recommendations will be reviewed by NISO's Content and Collection Management Topic Committee, which will turn the recommendations into prioritized actionable activities for NISO to pursue.

The full reports from this and the previous Thought Leaders meeting are available online:

NISO Webinar on OpenURL Implementation: Link Resolution That Users Will Love

NISO will be offering the webinar, OpenURL Implementation: Link Resolution That Users Will Love, on August 21, 2008 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (eastern time). This follow-up to the introductory webinar on Demystifying Standards will take a look at implementing the NISO standard for link resolvers, The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services (ANSI/NISO Z39.88), from an end user perspective. You do not need to have attended the previous webinar to participate, however the slides and Q&A from that webinar are available online for those who wish to review them.

OpenURL link resolving addresses a core issue: how we can help our users find and get the content that they want and have access to. But without successfully implementing OpenURL knowledgebase servers, we are at risk of having content that can't be found or used, and patrons who do not know about the information available to them. In this webinar, you will learn about some of the real ways that you can make certain that your link resolvers work effectively, the practical steps that you can take to implement OpenURL resolvers, and learn some of the projects underway focused on improving OpenURL services so that your users can benefit.

The two speakers for the webinar are:

  • Phil Norman, Director Reference & Resource Sharing, Enterprise Development and Engineering, OCLC, and member of the OCLC Maintenance Advisory Group for the OpenURL standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.88-2004), will provide a practical view of OpenURL resolver implementation, including the process of registering OpenURL servers with OCLC's WorldCat Registry and OpenURL Gateway, and will discuss some of the ways that the OpenURL framework can be applied to best take advantage of this tool.
  • Peter McCracken, co-founder and Director of Research, Serials Solutions, and Co-Chair of the NISO/UKSG KBART Working Group, will provide an update of the work of the KBART (Knowledge Bases and Related Tools) Working Group, sharing with the audience how the work of this group will be applied to improve the transfer of information found in knowledge bases, as well as speak to how their work will affect publishers, content providers, and libraries, and, more importantly, how the best practices will provide benefits to your end users.

This webinar is for librarians, publishers, and content providers who are interested in how to best take advantage of OpenURL to provide users with simple, accurate access to the content they have rights to. It is expected that attendees will have an understanding of what OpenURLs are and what they do, but would like to learn more about best practices to improve the implementation and use of link resolvers so that patrons can find the information that they want. Visit the event website for more information, including online registration, background resources, and webinar FAQs and technical requirements. ALCTS members may register at the NISO member rate.

And save the date for the next two webinars in the series:

  • ONIX-PL (September 10:) – ONIX for Publishing Licenses is a family of standard XML messaging protocols for exchanging licensing information that builds on the work of the Digital Libraries Federation ERMI initiative and NISO's License Expression Working Group. Alicia Wise, Chief Executive, Publishers Licensing Society (PLS), will be one of the speakers.
  • SUSHI (October 2) – The Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative Protocol standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.93) defines an automated request and response model for the harvesting of electronic resource usage data utilizing a web services framework. This webinar will provide the latest updates on SUSHI implementation including retrieving the forthcoming COUNTER Release 3 reports.

Registration for both the ONIX-PL and SUSHI webinars will be open shortly. Check the NISO Webinar event webpage for status.

Collaborative Library Resource Sharing Forum Will Address Standards, Developments, and New Models for Cooperating

NISO will host a two-day forum on Collaborative Library Resource Sharing: Standards, Developments, and New Models for Cooperating on October 6-7, 2008, in the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center in Atlanta. Participants will explore areas where collaborative effort and standards can help improve library efficiency through resource sharing. This includes the area of interlibrary loan, physical resource management, collaborative storage and preservation, and related open source developments. New developments in each of these areas will help to improve efficiency in library resource sharing and hopefully improve user outcomes and satisfaction.

Topics that will be covered include:

  • Union lists in support of resource sharing
  • Physical delivery of shared resources
  • NCIP and ISO ILL standards
  • Vendor solutions and barriers to interoperability
  • Fulfilling loan requests with digitized materials
  • Copyright and resource sharing
  • Challenges of sharing electronic resources
  • Open source resource sharing developments
  • Improving library efficiency through collaboration

If you are looking for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency through collaborative resource sharing, you won't want to miss this seminar. Visit the event webpage for more information and to register. Early bird registration ends on September 17.

In Brief: NISO @ ALA, Z39.7 Library Statistics, Institutional Identifiers, CORE, KBART, LEWG, and Digital Talking Book (DAISY) standard

  • NISO Update @ ALA: The presentations from the NISO Update session at the ALA Conference in Anaheim are now available on the NISO website. Get an overview of NISO's activities, learn about the new Institutional Identifiers working group, receive an update on SUSHI, and find out what the Content and Collection Development Topic Committee is doing.

  • Library Statistics Data Dictionary (Z39.7): At the recent ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA, the Z39.7 Standing Committee for the standard, Information Services and Use: Metrics & statistics for libraries and information providers-Data Dictionary (ANSI/NISO Z39.7-2004) met to review comments received on the Data Dictionary and to determine how and if changes would be made to this standard, as part of its regular continuous maintenance. Agreed-upon changes will be incorporated by August 29, 2008, and a listing of these will be posted at the Data Dictionary website.

    Some of the expected changes include clarification regarding the use of the standard, updating links, adding definitions for law/legal libraries, reorganizing the entries for e-books and e-journals in Section 4.5, and adding mention of cafes and gift shops into the Sections 5.2 and 5.3 on Net Usable Area. Additionally, the Standing Committee will be working on a general review of the standard, particularly around digital content, online instruction, virtual reference, and public library networked services. Comments on the Data Dictionary are welcomed; comment forms are available throughout the dictionary website. Comments will be reviewed biannually, as noted in the continuous maintenance procedures on the Z39.7 website.

  • Institutional Identifiers (I2): The working group for this project has been confirmed, and the first group conference call took place July 30th. The working group is in the process of identifying scenarios for development in order to identify current standards, practices, and stakeholders as they pertain to various institutional identification case studies. Leaders for each scenario will be selected from the working group to then reach out to the community in this first stage of development. Follow the group's progress at their public workroom.

  • CORE (Cost of Resource Exchange): The CORE Working Group has been confirmed, with the first call planned for August 6th. Information on CORE, as well as a link to the public interest group list, can be found at their public workroom.

  • KBART (Knowledge Bases and Related Tools): Peter McCracken, co-chair for this project, will be giving an update on the KBART work and answer questions regarding the implementation and use of the group's planned efforts at the upcoming NISO webinar, OpenURL Implementation: Link Resolution That Users Will Love, to be held 1:00-2:30 p.m. (eastern), August 21, 2008. There is a public KBART interest group email list and additional information on both the NISO and UKSG websites.

  • License Expression: In order to ensure focused attention on what now clearly are two defined areas, NISO's Business Information Topic Committee has agreed to disband the original LEWG and task a new working group and subcommittee to assume this work. First, a new Working Group will focus specifically on development of the ONIX license messaging specification, and be renamed as the ONIX-PL Working Group with an approved charge and defined membership. A second short-term sub-committee of the Business Information Topic Committee will be tasked with conducting a survey of the current and emerging place of "ERMI", thus defined within the broader ERM landscape, to better determine how vendors are implementing the ERMI data dictionary and related documents and how libraries are making use of these systems and services.

  • Digital Talking Book standard (DAISY): NISO membership has approved the creation of a new working group to revise Specifications for the Digital Talking Book (ANSI/NISO Z39.86) commonly known as the DAISY standard due to the maintenance agency role played by the DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) Consortium. An approval by ten percent of the NISO membership was needed to approve the creation of the working group.

    The revision proposal was prepared and submitted by George Kerscher, Secretary General of the consortium, and the DAISY maintenance advisory committee. Prior to the proposal, the committee had conducted a call for requirements to better gauge the need for and issues surrounding a revision. The revision will modularize the standard and update it to take advantage of improved technologies that enable a significantly better user experience by improving the existing model for authoring and consumption of accessible multimedia documents, and also by facilitating the creation and distribution of rich interactive presentations.

    A working group roster is now being formed. If you are interested in joining this working group or if you would like to be part of the affiliated interest group, please contact Karen Wetzel, NISO's Standards Program Manager. If your organization would like to be a part of the Voting Pool that will review and vote on the final revision, you can still cast your ballot on this revision or contact the NISO Office at nisohq@niso.org.

New Specs & Standards

Adobe's PDF Format Becomes ISO Standard

ISO has approved Adobe's PDF publishing specification (version 1.7) as ISO 32000-1, Document management – Portable document format – Part 1: PDF 1.7. Adobe's Kevin Lynch explains, "As governments and organizations increasingly request open formats, maintenance of the PDF specification by an external and participatory organization will help continue to drive innovation and expand the rich PDF ecosystem that has evolved over the past 15 years."

IMS Global Learning Consortium, Common Cartridge Specification, v1 Public Draft

The Common Cartridge (CC) standard distils state-of-the-art practice in online education and training into an easy-to-implement format for creating and sharing digital content by defining an integrated approach. Available for comment through September 16, 2008.

ISO 2709:2008, Information and documentation – Format for information exchange

Fourth edition of the standard that provides the format structure widely used in the information community where it has enabled global interchange of metadata. The changes introduced to this edition clarify the use of Unicode with UTF-8 encoding for records employing this standard. In appropriate places the term "octet" has been used in place of "character". The encoding of basic structural parts of the record are specified to be from the character repertoire of ISO 646, thus assuring that they remain one octet per character and are compatible with the previous edition.

ISO 15706-1/Amd1:2008, Information and documentation – International Standard Audiovisual Number (ISAN) – Part 1: Audiovisual work identifier – Amendment 1: Alternate encodings and editorial changes

This amendment clarifies the encoding of ISAN as a 64 bit number for the unique identification of audiovisual works and provides binary and XML encoding specifications for ISAN. It also clarifies that the terms registrant and registration agency as used in this part of ISO 15706 apply solely to the registration of audiovisual works.

Updated Guide to the ANSI / NISO / LBI Library Binding Standard

Updated version of the companion user's guide to the Library Binding standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.78-2000 (R2006)). Provides enhanced technical knowledge that will enable librarians to use the standard to its fullest advantage. A hardcopy version will be available in the near future from ALA.

PREMIS Schema Version 2.0

The XML schema that supports implementation of version 2.0 of the PREMIS Data Dictionary, which defines the core preservation metadata needed to support the long-term preservation of digital materials. This is an extensive revision of the earlier PREMIS version 1.1 schemas.

Publishing Requirements for Industry Standard Metadata, PRISM™ Cookbook

A set of practical implementation steps for Profile 1 (XML) implementers of the PRISM 2.0 Specification. Provides a set of use cases and insights into more sophisticated PRISM capabilities.

Media Stories

Why Continue Print?
Society for Scholarly Publishing (06/08/08) ; Winchester, Nancy; Jones, Marjorie Rawle

Publishing journals in print and shipping them around the world can be a financial strain for associations, but not everyone is ready to eliminate print and shift to an online-only environment, writes Nancy Winchester, director of publications of the American Society of Plant Biologists, and Marjorie Rawle Jones of the American Chemical Society. Both Winchester and Jones attended the Society for Scholarly Publishing's 30th Annual Meeting session entitled "Dropping Print Without Getting Hurt." Among the publishers who spoke at the session was the Rockefeller University Press' Greg Malar, who said the question to ask is not "Why stop print?" but rather "Why continue print?" in view of the many benefits of online journals, enhancements in archiving mechanisms, and printing and shipping costs. Journal AAHA editor Constance Hardesty testified at the session that the American Animal Hospital Association's decision to drop print proved disastrous, with 20 percent of its members abandoning the journal as a result. Winchester concludes that testimonials such as these offer the lesson that financial factors are not the only considerations that should be weighed when debating the elimination of print and the move to an online-only format, with other variables including the audience's preferred mode of information dissemination, readers' level of access to equipment needed for full usage of online content, whether content is sufficiently archived to reassure librarians that it will be perpetually available, and awareness of your members' preferences if they rather than institutional libraries are the primary audience. However, Jones says she supports the dropping of print based on librarians' articulation at the session of their preference for electronic content retrieval. "What I heard from the panel confirmed some of my suppositions: Continuing to offer a print product depends upon many factors that publishers must take into consideration, and there was not a single solution for all to follow," she says. (Link to Web Source)

Visually Impaired Gain Greater Access to Digital Information With the DAISY Talking Book
EContent (08/08) Vol. 31, No. 6, P. 16 ; Gargano, Cara

The NISO/DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) Digital Talking Book is the primary tool in a free, downloadable plug-in to provide feature-rich, structured information for blind or print-disabled individuals. DAISY supplies direct access to specific points, letting readers move from heading to heading, page to page, and word to word. The DAISY standard is the only information-related standard that manages accessibility directly. NISO has taken a vanguard role in working with the standard to integrate publishers, system providers, and libraries in order to promote accessibility solutions, and the plug-in is the product of a collaborative effort between Microsoft and the DAISY Consortium, the maintenance agency for the standard. The "Save As DAISY" project that the merger has thus far yielded converts Open XML-based word processing documents into DAISY XML, or DTBook, while a pair of open source, free-for-download validators for DAISY 2.02 and DAISY/NISO has been devised by the DAISY Consortium. A DAISY Digital Talking Book synchronizes the audio with the textual content and images, offering an accessible and enriched multimedia reading and learning experience while also supporting multiple outputs, such as Braille and large print. "We hope that the Save as DAISY project will significantly reduce the costs of creating audio versions of digital content and allow for greater distribution and access to texts for the visually impaired," says NISO managing director Todd Carpenter. "In addition, Save as DAISY work will allow home users to create fully functional audio files without having to rely on commercially produced texts."
(Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: The NISO/DAISY Digital Talking Book standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.86) is available for free download. The "Save as DAISY" plug-in and source code are available from SourceForge.net.

Battle of the Buzzwords: Flexibility vs. Interoperability When Implementing PREMIS in METS
D-Lib Magazine (08/08) Vol. 14, No. 8 ; Guenther, Rebecca S.

The information that a repository must maintain for the long-term preservation of digital objects is specified by the PREMIS Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata, and the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) is used by numerous institutions to deploy metadata in digital library applications. The exchange of objects with their associated metadata between repositories is a key objective, and many PREMIS deployers are regarding METS as a container to include PREMIS metadata along with other information about and links to the digital objects; accomplishing this requires clarification of uncertainties in using PREMIS with METS via a set of guidelines. PREMIS metadata is categorized according to object, event, agent, and rights metadata, while metadata sections in a METS file include file inventory, descriptive metadata, administrative metadata--which covers technical metadata, digital provenance metadata, source metadata, and rights metadata--behavior metadata, and structural metadata. The Metadata for Images in XML Schema (MIX), based on the Data Dictionary – Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images standard is an example of a technical metadata standard commonly used with PREMIS. Digital provenance metadata, technical metadata, and rights metadata are the most relevant METS metadata subsections for the use of PREMIS, and if implementers decide to keep all PREMIS metadata together in the METS document instead of splitting it up under different subsections of METS administrative metadata, they must choose which METS administrative metadata subsection they will employ to store the bundled PREMIS information. A working group of METS and PREMIS implementers has been established by the PREMIS Maintenance Activity to develop a set of guidelines to address ambiguities, and the development process has been characterized by an ongoing strain between permitting for flexibility and being prescriptive to effect interoperability. The group laid down a precept that dissemination information packages necessitate more prescriptive rules than submission information packages.
(Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: The NISO Data Dictionary – Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.87-2006) is available for free download. Library of Congress is a NISO voting member.

The New Digital Awareness
Library Journal (07/15/08) ; Bohle, Shannon

Libraries' move toward digital object management requires new management systems for the organization, storage, and retrieval of those objects, and Archivopedia owner Shannon Bohle writes that three models are competing through the metadata and digital asset management domain: The competitive isolationists, the exclusionary collaborateurs, and the free mashups and crossovers. The first model involves the fierce and successful protection of assets irrespective of copyright status through the employment of costly software packages, and the shortcomings of such systems include the inability to fully use human capital, an absence of built-in collaborative tools for user input, and the incapacity to be crawled by search engines such as Google through deep linking. Exclusionary collaborateurs are institutions that share copyrighted materials and/or metadata by forming "collaborative" groups via the use of same-software or standards, and that are linguistically or geographically oriented with cooperative partnerships that are either nationalistic or regionalized. The model's drawbacks include rule-oriented membership requirements that are generally "exclusionary" at either the geographic or monetary level. The free mashup and crossover segment seeks interesting new ways to reuse and remix content and metadata, one example being groups that have renounced their noncopyrighted and/or copyrighted assets through their crossover to the Creative Commons for all noncommercial use. "Whether viewed positively or negatively, digital content sharing has resulted in greater commercialization while the open source movement strives for completely unrestricted usage of materials, including that which generates profit," Bohle writes. "When placing collections online, librarians need to move beyond their basic knowledge of copyright and learn an entirely new set of licensing rules and regulations." (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: NISO's Shared E-Resource Understanding (SERU) Recommended Practice offers an alternative to licensing of electronic content. OCLC and Library of Congress are NISO voting members.

JPEG 2000 a Viable Alternative to TIFF
Government Computer News (07/17/08) ; Jackson, Joab

The more compact JPEG 2000 image format can work just as well as Adobe's Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) for preserving images in digital formats, concludes a new study. The study was conducted by Paolo Buonora of Italy's archives and Franco Liberati from the Universita degli Studi di Roma. "Based on the results of our studies, we conclude that JPEG 2000 compression is a good current solution for our digital repositories," the researchers write. "Implementing wavelet compression and saving crucial information in extra file headers offers everyone a flexible and inexpensive strategy for maintaining image data into the future." The digital preservation community has a history of using TIFF to encode images, and archivists have been slow to adopt JPEG 2000 due to fears that the process of encoding images will cause information to be lost. However, the use of TIFF requires considerable disk space. The researchers note that even under intense visual scrutiny, JPEG 2000 images had no visual defects when compared to the original uncompressed images, and, unlike JPEG, JPEG 2000 can save images in 48-bit color, like TIFF. Furthermore, JPEG 2000 is more flexible than TIFF because it is a multi-resolution format. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: The D-Lib article referenced in this article is available online.

Microformats and the Search for Meaning
Online (08/08) Vol. 32, No. 4, P. 55 ; Fichter, Darlene; Wisniewski, Jeff

Microformats are defined by the microformats Web site as a set of simple open data formats that are human- and computer-readable, and specified as "small bits of HTML that represent things like people, events, tags, etc. in Web pages," writes Darlene Fichter with University of Saskatchewan Libraries and Jeff Wisniewski with the University of Pittsburgh's University Library System. Microformats are touted as making understandable to computers when a name is a name, and a location is really an event location. A Web page containing microformats in the code has the appearance of any other HTML page, but hidden within it is information in a structured format that can be extracted by search engines and digested by tools people use with a single click rather than through the arduous "cut and paste" approach. Microformats are an important fundamental element of the semantic Web, now included in Yahoo search results. A familiarity with HTML can help a person get started with microformats, note Fichter and Wisniewski. Microformat creation can be automated through several available tools, including the hCard and hCalendar online forms, and the free Dreamweaver Microformats Extension. The author cites Tails Export and Operator—both available as extensions to Firefox—as two of the best microformat handlers, tools that detect microformatted information on webpage and allow the user to take action such as adding an event to a calendar program. "Much of the early work on microformats was pioneered on Technorati's Developer Wiki and championed by Tantek Celik, chief technologist at Technorati," the authors write. "Technorati has passed the microformats development and control to a collaborative and open community at microformats.org."
(Link to Web Source)

Study: Reform Copyright Law to Save Digital Works
Government Computer News (07/14/08) ; Jackson, William

The preservation of digital works must be promoted and facilitated through reforms to national and international copyright laws, concludes a study conducted by the Library of Congress' National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, the Netherlands' SURFfoundation, Britain's Joint Information Systems Committee, and the Open Access to Knowledge Law Project at Australia's Queensland University of Technology. "Countless born-digital works are created every day, but countless born-digital works are also lost every day as they are removed, replaced, superseded or left, forgotten, in obsolete formats and media," the report notes. "Digitized and born-digital materials are an important part of the world's cultural heritage, but unless active steps are taken to preserve them, they will be lost." It is the study's recommendation that laws allow institutions to preserve works following international best practices, which include generating duplicates for administrative and technical reasons, converting works to different formats to keep pace with technological changes, and maintaining backup copies at multiple institutions as a preventive measure against catastrophic loss. The recommended reforms to U.S. copyright law follow those made in an independent study group report circulated in March and include phasing out the three-copy limit for replacement and preservation copies in favor of a more flexible standard such as "a limited number as reasonably necessary;" permitting qualified libraries and archives to make replacement copies of fragile works, even if those works have yet to suffer from damage and deterioration; sanctioning the proactive preservation of at-risk works by libraries and archives, as long as access to the preservation copies is limited; and allowing archives and libraries to carry out authorized preservation and replacement activities with the help of outside contractors, provided the contractor is not supplying copies to anyone besides the institution. (Link to Web Source)