One of the challenges of buying complex digital products or services is that it is often difficult to know in advance everything that is included with the product. To be fair, this was often the case in complex analog products as well. However, it seems more so with electronic products, perhaps because there is no "under the hood"—so to speak—that most of us can access easily.
Because of the rapid explosion in digitization efforts and the reduction of costs of digital storage, it is now possible to store the entire text of collections as large as the Library of Congress in something that could easily fit on your desktop. The problem from a user's perspective is that when you deal with content at that scale it is difficult to know exactly what is included. This is most certainly the case with the next generation of indexed library search services that have come to the market over the past few years. Each vendor has to work out a relationship with each publisher that covers what and how much of that provider's content is included in the index and crawled regularly for updates. For a variety of competitive reasons, few organizations are willing or able to discuss what is included in such an index. This problem is not limited to subscribed index services; it also exists for large search engines, such as Google, Google Scholar, Bing, and Yahoo. The "secret sauce" of the index, namely what is included, is considered a trade secret.
This had not always been the case in libraries. Not that long ago, no librarian would have purchased a product where they didn't know what was indexed or abstracted. How could a librarian know or trust what was included and whether that content met the library's acquisition criteria or the patrons' needs and expectations? "Blue Sheets" that included regular updates of content additions or deletions were routine distributions from A&I providers—in fact, Dialog still calls them Bluesheets, even though they are digital now. Unfortunately, these seem to be getting added to the rubbish pile of former library workflow tools, just like card catalogs, punch cards, and CD-ROMs.
However, that is not to say that this issue has passed out of the interest of the library community. And this is by no means the only challenge for our community related to indexed search services. Among other concerns are: How to simplify the process of getting those sharing agreements negotiated? What protocols are available to routinely provide full levels of content to generate the index? How does one assess usage metrics on index search services? How are rights and access to be governed for these services?
During the ALA Annual conference in New Orleans a group of roughly 20 interested people led by Marshall Breeding (Vanderbilt University) and Oren Bet-Arie and Jenny Walker (Ex Libris) gathered to discuss issues related to indexed search services. Those discussions highlighted the problems mentioned above, and more. As a direct result of that meeting, the group brought a new work proposal to the NISO Discovery to Delivery Topic Committee. That proposal has just been approved by the NISO membership to launch work to try to improve the understanding of and quality of next generation discovery services: the Open Discovery Initiative.
Also launched this month, is a formal group to develop a syntax for locating reference-able points within a digital text and then sharing those annotations between service providers. (View the proposal.) I had discussed this previously in Newsline in connection to funding that NISO has received from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to host two meetings in October on Open Annotation and Social Reading. Those meetings will be held in conjunction with the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Books in Browsers meeting in San Francisco. More information about what we are doing and how to participate is available here.
Also of note, is the progress that the E-book Special Interest Group is making in identifying work and sharing ideas on new initiatives that NISO could or should be working toward. The group has identified four key areas: accessibility issues, discovery tools and linking, distribution, and metadata.
Watch for an announcement later this month about NISO's schedule of 2012 Educational programs, as well as some enticing package deals to take advantage of before year's end. A great program is lining up and you won't want to miss a single event.
As I noted previously, this will be a busy fall and there is much more to discuss. Keep an ear out; news from NISO will be appearing rapidly throughout the fall.
New Specs & Standards
Two-Part October Webinar: Managing Data for Scholarly Communications
There has been a significant rise in the inclusion of supplemental digital data and materials in the scholarly publication process over the last several years along with many data curation projects to allow research data to be more accessible in an increasingly global and interdisciplinary environment. But the explosion of accessible, digital data has created challenges for publishers, libraries, repository managers, and researchers to create new solutions for its management, discovery, and use.
In the scholarly publication arena, the value and benefits of including supplemental data must be balanced with the resources required for its management and use. Even separately from scholarly publications, the ever-growing repositories of datasets require organization, identification, description, citation standards, discovery tools, and preservation and curation methodologies.
NISO's two-part webinar on Managing Data for Scholarly Communications, to be held on October 12 and 19, will look at these challenges from both the publication environment (Part 1) and the data repository curation environment (Part 2).
Part 1 will focus on data as a supplement to scholarly publication. It will address the definition of supplemental data, discuss how it may affect the peer review and publication process, and show examples of how information services are handling their accessibility.
The second part of the webinar will look at the more technical issues for managing data, independent of whether it is linked to publications.
You can register for either part independently or for both parts. Registrants for both parts receive a 25% discount. NISO and NASIG members receive a member discount and there is also a student discount available.
For more information and to register, visit the event webpages:
Standards Development for E-Book Annotation Sharing and Social Reading
The National Information Standards Organization and the Internet Archive are hosting two meetings on the topic of Standards Development for E-Book Annotation Sharing and Social Reading with the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The first meeting was held on Monday in conjunction with the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany. The second will be at the Books In Browsers Meeting in San Francisco on October 26 and there is still an opportunity to participate.
The meetings will focus on advancing two specific goals: 1) providing input to a NISO sponsored working group on its scope, goals, and any initial work the group undertakes; and 2) the advancement of a syntax specification that will be further vetted by a standards working group for how bookmarks and annotations are located in digital books.
While there will be some short presentations to set the stage, these are mainly working meetings with group activities and discussions. Attendees will be expected to be active participants in the discussions. Visit the event webpage for a complete agenda of the day's activities.
The events are free of charge. To register as a participant for the San Francisco Books in Browsers meeting, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NISO Forum: The E-Book Renaissance - October 12 is Last Day for Early Bird Registration
Time's running out today to get the early bird discount for NISO's two-day forum on The E-Book Renaissance: Exploring the Possibilities Exposed by Digital Books, to be held on October 24-25 in Baltimore, Maryland. The speakers and panels, representing commercial and university publishers, public and academic libraries, vendors, service providers, and technologists will probe the key issues surrounding e-books from a variety of industry, library, scholarly, and consumer viewpoints. NISO educational forums are routinely praised for their excellent selection of speakers representing a diversity of viewpoints across the scholarly information community and the small size which provides opportunities to network with speakers and other attendees.
A complete agenda, registration, and hotel information are available on the event webpage.
November Webinar: New Discovery Tools: Moving Beyond Traditional Online Catalogs
The migration of traditional online academic and public library catalogs to the notion of "discovery platforms" promises new ways to expose library collections and other resources tailored to individual patron needs. NISO's November webinar, New Discovery Tools: Moving Beyond Traditional Online Catalogs—to be held on November 9, 2011 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.—will explore three key areas: the discovery platform marketplace, selection and implementation strategies, and usability.
Topics and speakers are:
For more information and to register, visit the event webpage.
NISO Launches New Initiatives on Digital Bookmarking and Annotation Sharing and on Open Discovery
NISO voting members have approved two new work items:
Working groups for both projects are in the process of being formed. Interested participants should contact Nettie Lagace. Interest group lists will be established for interested parties to follow the activities of each group. Visit the public list webpage for instructions on how to sign up.
New on the NISO Website
New Specs & Standards
ARMA International, BSR/ARMA 19-20XX, Policy Design for Managing Electronic Messages, Public Review
This draft standard sets the requirements for managing electronic messages as records and extends to any type of text-based electronic message or communication including email, instant messaging (IM), and text messaging (SMS). ARMA International is announcing a second public review period for this proposed American National Standard as changes have been made to the manuscript since the close of the first public review period, earlier this year. This second public review period runs from 10/07/11 through 11/21/11. Comments can be submitted to: email@example.com
ARMA International, ARMA TR 01-2011, Records Center Operations
3rd edition of the technical report designed to assist organizations with designing, equipping, staffing, operating, and managing a records center. It also covers vaults, security, records center software, and commercial records storage facilities.
Unicode Consortium, Unicode 6.1 Beta Review
The next version of the Unicode Standard will be Version 6.1.0. This version is planned for release in February 2012. All Unicode Standard Annexes are being modified in Unicode 6.1.0, often in coordination with changes to character properties. See the Notable Issues page for a listing of additional changes and items to focus on when reviewing. A beta version of Unicode 6.1.0 and the Unicode Character Database files are available for public comment. The deadline for submission of substantive comments is October 24, 2011.
Visual Resources Association, VRA Core 4.0 Implementation Registry
The VRA Core is a data standard for the description of works of visual culture as well as the images that document them. The new Implementation Registry provides an opportunity for current and potential users to view publicly available implementations of the standard. If you would like to add your collection to the registry please contact Trish Rose-Sandler.
Do They "Get It"? Student Usage of SFX Citation Linking Software
About NISO Newsline
NISO's free monthly e-newsletter reports on the latest NISO news, highlights new specifications and standards of interest including calls for public review and comment, abstracts significant media stories on topics of interest to the NISO community, and links to news releases of NISO member organizations
Newsline is distributed via e-mail to subscribers on the first Wednesday of the month and is posted to the NISO website.
NISO Two-Part Webinar: Managing Data for Scholarly Communications
NISO Two-Day Forum
San Francisco, CA
Other Events of Interest
October 31 -November 3
ISO TC46/SC11 26th Plenary Meeting
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