Headshot of NISO Managing Director, Todd Carpenter

June 2008

The international world of standardization of structured information for publishers and libraries is a complicated one. If you have experienced the difficulties of obtaining consensus in NISO's standards development process, then you will understand how the issues are compounded at the international level. NISO has long participated in international standardization—since the launch of ISO's Technical Committee (TC46) on Information and Documentation in the 1950s.

Last month, Karen Wetzel, NISO's Standards Program Manager, and I attended a week of TC46 international standards meetings in Stockholm. Among the important projects that are taking place and were discussed during the meeting are the DOI system, the current systemic review of the ISBN standard, collection identification, performance measures in libraries, archival issues and formats, and many, many more topics directly related to NISO's work. A brief report of the meeting is in this issue of Newsline and a longer report will be in the Summer issue of ISQ.

Participation at this international level is not easy or inexpensive, but it is critically important to be engaged in these initiatives. One need look no further than the changes that have taken place with the ISBN over the past few years to understand the ramifications of standards in use globally. By participating as a working group expert and by voting and commenting on standard drafts, the NISO community can contribute to the scope, direction, and outcome of these critical initiatives. We strongly encourage each of you to pay attention to the TC46 work and to contribute to these efforts through NISO.

We have now entered the busiest season of meetings for our community. NISO held a successful program on multi-media formats and standards in San Francisco, reported in D-Lib. Looking forward, NISO is holding a series of webinars in partnership with ALCTS on expanding participation in the standards process; the first will be held on June 14. Again this year, NISO is partnering with the Book Industry Study Group to host a pre-conference meeting—on Friday prior to the start of the American Library Association conference in Anaheim, CA—on the importance of standards and interoperability in information exchange.

We look forward to seeing you at one of the many upcoming meetings.

With kindest regards,

Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Managing Director

NISO Reports

Demystifying Library Standards: A NISO/ALCTS Webinar

NISO and the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) are holding the first in a series of webinars on standards in the library environment. Demystifying Library Standards, which takes place from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 18, will focus on placing standards in context. It will be presented by Trisha Davis (Ohio State University), Julia Gammon (University of Akron), Karen Wetzel (NISO), and Pamela Bluh, (University of Maryland Law School), the current ALCTS President.

The speakers will address why standards are important to libraries and not just in the traditional technical services areas. As libraries are changing and evolving in an increasingly digital world, so are standards. This webinar will explain how standards are critical to the developments in such areas as e resources, user access, description and metadata, and licensing and preservation. Some specific standards, both published and forthcoming, will be touched on as examples. Future webinars in the series will discuss those and other standards in more depth. Participants will learn how they can become actively involved in standards development.

If you want to learn how standards can provide benefits to organizations, their users, and yourself and are involved with library technical services; the acquisition and management of e-resources; library systems implementation including ILS, ERMS, link resolvers, and Web interfaces; cooperative electronic arrangements with other libraries, consortia, or content providers; or long-term preservation activities, then this webinar is for you.

The cost is just $20 for NISO and ALCTS members and $25 for non-members. Register online or visit the event website for more information.

NISO @ ALA Annual

NISO will be hosting four sessions at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim:

  • NISO/BISG pre-conference forum: The Changing Standards Landscape
    Friday, June 27, 12:00-4:00 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center, Room 304 A/B
    This free, half-day forum will feature a roster of industry experts who will deliver a big-picture look at the development and impact of common solutions-based standards for librarians and publishers alike.

  • NISO AVIAC (Automation Vendors Information Advisory Committee) Meeting
    Friday, June 27, 4:00-5:00 p.m. at the Hilton in the Manhattan Room
    This group has for some time provided a forum for library vendors to discuss issues of common interest and provide advice to NISO. Recently a challenge was extended to vendors to create a task force for the revision of MARC to enable a better use of technology and data. A group of vendors have formed the Cooperative Vendor Task Force for MARC Revision within AVIAC to undertake this effort. Come to the meeting to hear more on this topic.

  • NISO Update
    Sunday, June 29, 1:30-3:00 p.m. at the Hilton Anaheim in the Capistrano Room
    Todd Carpenter and Karen Wetzel will provide an update on NISO activities.

  • Z39.7 Advisory Committee Meeting (members only)
    Monday, June 30, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at the Hilton Anaheim in the Exec Board Room.
    This members-only meeting is the face-to-face kickoff of the new standing committee for the Z39.7 standard. (See separate Newsline story.)

Be sure to stop by the NISO booth #1497. We look forward to seeing you in Anaheim!

New Interactive Library Statistics Data Dictionary

NISO has posted a new web version of the library metrics standard, Information Services and Use: Metrics & statistics for libraries and information providers – Data Dictionary (ANSI/NISO Z39.7-2004), and invites comments from the information community. NISO committees have updated and upgraded the standard several times since it was first published in 1968.

The purpose of the current Z39.7 Data Dictionary remains the same as for the previous version: to assist the information community in the identification, definition, collection, and interpretation of statistical data used to describe the current status and condition of libraries in the United States. However, it also differs significantly from its predecessors in its approach. This revision absorbs the de facto definitions established through the national program for collecting data about libraries (i.e., the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) survey program), and absorbs relevant U.S. association definitions, methods and practices of data collection.

In addition, the Data Dictionary has been approved by ANSI to go on continuous maintenance. This will allow revisions to be made to the standard on an ongoing basis, rather than the typical five-year schedule, to allow for the most current and useful metrics to be included. A Standing Committee, chaired by Dianne L. Carty (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners), has been established to manage the maintenance process. The new website includes the procedures for the new continuous maintenance process as well as forms for submitting suggested changes.

Carty further explained, "This new launch of the Z39.7 Data Dictionary takes the standard from a flat document to an interactive web-based utility that allows users to contribute to the usefulness of the dictionary by helping to identify standard definitions, methods, and practices that are relevant to library statistics activities." Carty is Head of State Aid & Data Coordination, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

"The value of the approach taken by the Standing Committee is that it recognizes the guidelines and best practices in the area of library statistics across the community, not only at the national survey level," said Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of NISO.

Members of the Standing Committee represent the American Library Association (ALA), Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), Association for Research Libraries (ARL), Association of College and Research Libraries, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), Committee on Research and Statistics (CORS), Government Agency Library, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), Project Counter, and Special Libraries Association (SLA).

International Information and Documentation Technical Committee – Stockholm Meeting Report

Todd Carpenter and Karen Wetzel from NISO were joined by nearly a dozen other technical experts who traveled to Stockholm in May for the annual meetings of ISO's Technical Committee 46 (Information and Documentation) and its four sub committees: SC 4, Technical Interoperability; SC 8, Quality - Statistics and Performance Evaluation; SC 9, Identification and Description; and SC 11, Archives and Records Management. In addition to the plenary meetings for these committees, there were numerous working group meetings for most of the projects underway. The meeting was hosted by the Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) and was attended by representatives from some 30 countries.

Among the important initiatives that advanced during the meeting were:

  • the international RFID standard, with specifications for frequency, data models, and other functional requirements for RFID in libraries;

  • a revision and combination of the two standards for monolingual and multi-lingual structured vocabularies and thesauri, which will have broad application in the development of ontologies and in semantic web technology;

  • the International Standard Text Code (ISTC), which had been held up for logistical reasons relating to the appointment of a registration authority, but is now pushing toward publication;

  • the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system, which has raised questions surrounding how the DOI would interrelate and/or incorporate other standard identifiers;

  • the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) that will address such entities as parties in the content creation process (beyond author), the identification of fictional characters or pseudonyms, and the relationships of multi-party entities;

  • joint work with TC171 (Document management applications) on a metadata crosswalk and part 2 of the PDF/A standard, based on PDF 1.7; and

  • approval of the revised Library performance indicators standard (ISO 11620) for final publication.

SC 8 has prepared a revised scope statement for approval that adds content providers and publishers to its organization coverage. This could be a very significant change, as libraries have come to rely on usage statistics generated by publishers. The publishing community has not engaged in the work of SC8 to this point and their increased participation will be critical to the success of any publishing-related performance metrics work.

Despite NISO's name beginning with "National," the organization plays a very active and leading role in the international community and within ISO. There is active participation in ISO work by NISO members, and-nearly 15% of NISO's membership are organizations based outside of America. To further serve the community internationally, NISO has assumed the Secretariat responsibilities for the SC 9 subcommittee of TC46 that addresses identification issues. Our goal in assuming these responsibilities is to ensure that the work underway progresses promptly, fairly, and in accordance with ISO procedures.

The Summer 2008 issue of Information Standards Quarterly will have a more detailed report on the Stockholm meeting.

NISO Elects New Chair, Vice Chair and Directors

NISO membership has elected new leadership for the 2008-2009 terms beginning on July 1, 2008. Oliver Pesch has been elected to serve as Chair of the NISO Board of Directors. Currently the Chief Strategist for EBSCO Information Services in Birmingham, Alabama, Pesch helps set direction for EBSCO's E-Resource Access and Management Services initiatives. Chuck Koscher has been elected to serve as Vice-Chair, and will become chair in 2009, when Pesch's term expires. As Director of Technology at CrossRef, Koscher has been actively involved in improving the linking infrastructure for scholarly publications. Both will serve on NISO's Board and Executive Committees.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to serve the community in leading NISO," said Pesch. "The Organization has made enormous strides over the past three years, transforming itself internally and externally and is poised to effect great change in the community."

The following industry leaders were also elected to seats on the NISO Board of Directors. They will join other currently serving Directors in managing and setting strategic direction for the organization.

  • Nancy Davenport, President, Nancy Davenport & Associates
  • Janice Fleming, Director of Business and Planning, PsycINFO, American Psychological Association
  • Bruce Heterick, Director, Library Relations, JSTOR
  • Barbara Preece, Executive Director, Boston Library Consortium
  • Bruce Rosenblum, CEO, INERA, Inc.
  • Mike Teets, Vice President, Global Engineering, OCLC

Other members of the NISO Board who will continue their terms through 2008-09 are:

  • James Neal, Vice President for IS & University Librarian, Columbia University
  • Winston Tabb, Dean of University Libraries, Johns Hopkins University
  • John Erickson, Principal Scientist, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories
  • John Harwood, Professor, Pennsylvania State University
  • Michael Jensen, Director of Publishing Technologies, National Academies Press

"We are very pleased to have such a diverse and esteemed group of Directors joining the Board this year," said Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of NISO. "These industry leaders represent the diversity of our membership from libraries, publishers, and systems providers and we trust that they will deftly guide NISO in the coming year."

New Specs & Standards

BSR/IEEE 1484.12.4-200x, Recommended Practice for Expressing IEEE Learning Object Metadata Instances Using the Dublin Core Abstract Model

New standard project to describe how to construct IEEE Standard for Learning Object Metadata (LOM) (IEEE Std 1484-12.1-2002) instances using the Dublin Core Abstract Model (DCAM). For more information, e-mail Lisa Yacone at IEEE.

DAISY Consortium, Sample Content with MathML

Sample DAISY books with MathML content are posted in the MathML-in-DAISY Project area, thanks to collaborative efforts of members of the MathML working group.

ISO 639-5:2008, Codes for the representation of names of languages – Part 5: Alpha-3 code for language families and groups

Revision to the standard providing a code consisting of language code elements comprising three-letter language identifiers for the representation of names of living and extinct language families and groups.

ISO/TR 26122:2008, Information and documentation – Work process analysis for records

Provides guidance on work process analysis from the perspective of the creation, capture, and control of records. It identifies two types of analyses: functional analysis (decomposition of functions into processes), and sequential analysis (investigation of the flow of transactions).

NIST, XML Schema Quality of Design (QOD) Tool, Updated Release

Assists in consistently using XML Schema for the specification of information. The purpose of QOD is to provide a prototypical environment for checking the XML schema design quality in a collaborative environment.

Open Archives Initiative, Object Reuse and Exchange Specifications Public Beta Release

Describes a data model to introduce aggregations as resources with URIs on the web. Also details machine-readable descriptions of aggregations expressed in Atom syndication format, RFD/XML, and RDFa.

Media Stories

Microsoft Grows DAISY for Blind Computer Users While Adobe Wilts

Computerworld (05/09/08) ; Lai, Eric

Microsoft has announced the availability of a plug-in that allows Word 2007, 2003, and XP users to save documents in the Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY) XML format, which is the latest version of a standard developed by the nonprofit DAISY Consortium to be the most accessible format for visually impaired computer users. DAISY offers a less frustrating experience for users than screen readers and text-to-speech tools, which miss invisible structural metadata embedded in the document (paragraph marks, table structures, headings, etc.) that represent the most important parts of a Web page because they are key to navigation, browsing, and searching. "From DAISY, you can easily move to other accessible formats, such as Braille or large print, in addition to audio, with little to no extra work," says Sam Ogami with the California State University system's chancellor's office. The DAISY Consortium also aims to help make documents and books accessible to the illiterate, dyslexic, or developmentally disabled, for which the plug-in could also prove helpful. "We would like all publishers to make their content painlessly accessible," says George Kerscher, secretary general of the DAISY Consortium. "Microsoft is the first one to step forward to do this." Microsoft's Reed Shaffner says DAISY XML eventually may be ported to versions of OpenOffice.org that support Office Open XML OOXML. The DAISY plug-in is currently being hosted on SourceForge as an open-source project. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: The DAISY standard referenced in this article is ANSI/NISO Z39.86, Specifications for the Digital Talking Book. The DAISY Consortium is the maintenance agency for this NISO standard.

The Semantics of the Dublin Core—Metadata for Knowledge Management

Semantic Report (05/08) ; Cho, Allan

Computer scientists and software engineers have talked about the Semantic Web (SemWeb) extensively, but Allan Cho of the University of British Columbia's Irving K. Barber Learning Centre writes that the work of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) has often flown under the radar. The DCMI has for 13 years been promoting widespread acceptance of interoperable metadata standards, and develops specialized metadata vocabularies for representing resources that facilitate more intelligent information discovery systems. The Dublin Core has furnished a Metadata Element Set for describing things online so that they are easier to find, and the simplicity of this suite of elements has enabled the core to be used with other types of materials, and for applications demanding increased complexity. Cho writes that the role the Dublin Core has played in knowledge management activity representation will be a significant factor in the advent of the SemWeb. "Since SemWeb rules add a high level of automation to the processing of business documents across companies, the SemWeb will be significant in the future of [business-to-business], particularly since metadata plays a critical role in investments in data warehousing, data mining, business intelligence, customer relationship management, enterprise application integration, and knowledge management," he writes. The investigation of metadata issues that the business community is specifically interested in was the goal of a special interest group, and following that workshop the DCMI embarked on an effort to engage members of the corporate world in the development and application of the Dublin Core standard. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (ANSI/NISO Z39.85) is available for free download.

PREMIS With a Fresh Coat of Paint

D-Lib Magazine (06/08) Vol. 14, No. 6 ; Lavoie, Brian F.

The PREMIS Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata represents the first comprehensive specification for preservation metadata generated by an international, cross-domain consensus-building process. In April 2008 the first revision of the dictionary since its initial release, PREMIS Data Dictionary 2.0, was completed by the PREMIS Maintenance Activity. The semantic units defined in the dictionary are arranged within a simple data model featuring a quintet of entities--intellectual entities, objects, events, rights, and agents. In the revised dictionary the relationships within the data model have been generalized to display bi-directionality in all cases, including those involving agents. The end result of this change is to make the data model simpler by having all entity relationships possess a consistent general structure while bringing more flexibility into how these relationships can be recorded in practice. The rights entity has also been totally revised and expanded in PREMIS 2.0 so that it can allow a much richer description of rights statements than was previously possible using PREMIS metadata. In addition, the revision facilitates a richer, structured representation of the preservation level so that repositories are able to record contextual information about the assignment of the preservation level as well as the preservation level itself. Whereas the first version of the dictionary defined a single semantic unit to record significant properties, PREMIS 2.0 defines two--one to record the "facet" of the object's characteristics to which the significant property applies, and another to represent the property itself. The first version of the Data Dictionary had trouble extending PREMIS metadata with non-PREMIS metadata when deploying the dictionary with the accompanying PREMIS XML schemas due to the absence of a mechanism for accommodating metadata from non-PREMIS specifications, while the new version addresses this problem with the introduction of a formal extensibility mechanism applied to seven PREMIS semantic units. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: The NISO standard mentioned in this article, Data Dictionary – Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images (ANSI/NISO Z39.87) is available for free download. Library of Congress and OCLC are NISO voting members.

Metadata for Learning Resources: An Update on Standards Activity for 2008

Ariadne (04/08) No. 55 ; Currier, Sarah

An expansion in the number of implementations requiring educational metadata has sparked a flurry of standards activity, and a number of efforts are on track to pan out this year and next year. The IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) is reverting to first principles to decide how the Learning Object Metadata standard (LOM) will proceed, with the establishment of the optimal strategy for a next-generation educational metadata standard being the object of open Web conferences and email discussions. The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI)/IEEE LTSC is investigating a harmonization between the LOM and the Dublin Core, and proposing recommendations for employing the LOM using the DC Abstract Model. A scoping study on a Learning Materials Application Profile conceded that educational materials can come in any format or resource type, and can emerge from any domain, and noted that there is still insufficient knowledge about community needs for educational metadata to offer any solid advice about application profiles, element sets, or vocabularies. Another group focused on the enhancement of the LOM under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization, with a concentration on addressing major issues such as providing support for multilingual capability and alternate resources. The standard will be composed of a framework and a series of core elements, and this has aroused dismay in the rest of the e-learning standards domain, as it appears that a third standard, which is not immediately compatible with the other two, may be forthcoming. Still, the ISO MLR group has made overtures to work with the DC-Education AP Task Force, expressing a willingness to develop cross-walks with DC and LOM metadata, participate in the group's email list, contribute its own use cases to the requirements-gathering process, and attend the first Web conference. (Link to Web Source)

Beyond the Current Generation of Next-Generation Library Interfaces: Deeper Search

Computers in Libraries (05/08) Vol. 28, No. 5, P. 39 ; Breeding, Marshall

Library automation consultant Marshall Breeding foresees the emergence in the near future of deeper searching capabilities by library interfaces, noting that the majority of library search environments execute searches based on metadata records that represent given items in their collections. "In this age of mass digitization, I worry that search based solely on metadata will ultimately fail to provide the optimal level of discovery," he writes, adding that the standardization of deep search for book content on the commercial Web stresses the critical need for libraries to offer similar services. Breeding reasons that soon mass book digitization will be a reality, which may lead to a point where traditional search based exclusively on metadata will be more seriously challenged by deep search of book content. The author is convinced that deep search based on the full text of digitized books is complementary to libraries' metadata-based searching of their book collections, and he believes that "even when we get to the point where all book content is available digitally ... creating high-quality metadata records will continue to be a valuable activity." Breeding notes that Google has set up versions of its Book Search service for some of its library partners that provide specific connections into local link resolvers and catalogs to enable access to books available in the libraries. When searching the Harvard version of Google Book Search, for example, results include a "Find at Harvard University" link consisting of an OpenURL resolved by Harvard's SFX server that directs the user to the record in Harvard's HOLLIS catalog so that the book can be borrowed locally. Harvard delivers links from its site into the Harvard Google Book Search so that Harvard users enter the version of the service that offers them the best likelihood of retrieving the books held within Harvard's own libraries.
(Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services is a NISO standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.88). This article mentions NISO members: Ex Libris, Harvard University, Innovative Interfaces, The Library Corp., OCLC, Serials Solutions, and SirsiDynix.

Microsoft Abandons Book Scan Plan

Library Journal (05/27/08)

Microsoft announced that it plans to shut down its book-scanning operation, which will include shutting down the Live Search Books and Live Search Academic Web sites and discontinuing library and copyright book-scanning efforts. The company's scanning equipment will be given to its library and digitization partners to encourage them to continue to scan books. "Based on our experience, we foresee that the best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries," says Microsoft's Satya Nadella. Microsoft has scanned 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles over the life of its project, Nadella says, and though material will still be available in Live search results it will not be available through separate indexes. Microsoft's partners included the Open Content Alliance (OCA), and OCA founder Brewster Kahle says new funding will be needed to replace Microsoft's support. "Let's work together, quickly, to build on the existing momentum," Kahle urged in a blog post. Other partners in Microsoft's book-scanning project included the University of California, the British Library, and the University of Toronto. (Link to Web Source)

Google: Unicode Conquers ASCII on the Web

CNet (05/05/08) ; Shankland, Stephen

Google senior international software architect Mark Davis claims that Unicode has overtaken ASCII as the most popular character encoding scheme on the Web. Davis says Unicode overtook ASCII, as well as Western European encoding, within 10 days in December. Google prefers Unicode-based Web sites, and when the company processes data from Web sites it converts the data into Unicode if it is not already in that standard. "The continued rise in use of Unicode makes it even easier to do the processing for the many languages that we cover," Davis says. One advantage that ASCII has over Unicode is that it takes at least twice as much memory to store a Roman alphabet character in Unicode because it uses more bytes to enumerate its larger range of alphabetic symbols.
(Link to Web Source)