Headshot of NISO Managing Director, Todd Carpenter

October 2011

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.

Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Managing Director

NISO Reports

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 nisohq@niso.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.

This forum is sponsored by:
Bowker JSTOR CCC

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:

  • A Web Scale Discovery RefresherAthena Hoeppner (Electronic Resources Librarian, University of Central Florida Libraries) will put web-scale discovery systems in context by reviewing the core concepts and terminology and looking at the major systems side-by-side.
  • Usability Testing of Discovery InterfacesRice Majors (Faculty Director for Libraries IT/Librarian, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries) will share data about the methodology and results of his own research: a task-based usability test of vendor-provided next-gen catalog interfaces and discovery tools (Encore Synergy, Summon, WorldCat Local, Primo, and EBSCO Discovery Service).

For more information and to register, visit the event webpage.

This webinar is sponsored by CrossRef

NISO Launches New Initiatives on Digital Bookmarking and Annotation Sharing and on Open Discovery

NISO voting members have approved two new work items:

  • Digital Bookmarking and Annotation Sharing – This project is to develop a standard syntax for how bookmarks and notes should be located in a digital text and shared with others, especially in online environments that might be continually updated or mutable. For both casual readers as well as professional and academic researchers, such pointers must be recognized across reading systems to enable social uses of books, articles, and grey literature that range from personal memory aids to citations and critical analysis, as well as deep inter-linking. At present, no standards exist in this space. View the full proposal here.

  • Open Discovery Initiative – This project will define standards and/or best practices for the new generation of library discovery services that are based on indexed search. Libraries increasingly rely on index-based discovery services as the strategic interfaces through which their patrons gain access to licensed and purchased electronic content. When licensing content, libraries need a clear understanding of the degree of availability of that content in their discovery service of choice. A more standard set of practices for the ways that content is represented in discovery services and for the interactions between the creators of these services and the information providers whose resources they represent is the goal of this project. View the full proposal here.

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 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: standards@armaintl.org

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.

Media Stories

Do They "Get It"? Student Usage of SFX Citation Linking Software
College & Research Libraries, v. 72, no. 5, September 2011: 454-463; by Bonnie Imler and Michelle Eichelberger

Penn State University offers its library users the SFX citation linking software from Ex Libris through a "Get It!" icon on articles available in full-text. SFX is based on the OpenURL standard for context-sensitive linking. An analysis was done of the students' usage of SFX in the ProQuest Research Library. The StudioCode video software was used to take unobtrusive screenshots of the user's retrieval behavior for analysis (without individual identification). Only students who had received classroom training on SFX were included; participation in the study was voluntary. All participants were given the same written research assignment. The best search strategy was pre-entered and students were asked to select the five full-text items (out of 65 available) that would "most help" them to write a paper on the topic. Students consistently clicked on the article title link rather than the Abstract, HTML, Text, PDF, or Get It! links, although 67% used Get It! at least once. Title words appeared to be the main criteria for selecting an article. 23% who clicked on Get It! did not follow through with the Go link to finish the article retrieval. 33% had printed abstracts instead of full-text, seeming to believe they were getting full-text. 54% found the Get It! button early and easily; the others did not found it or had to use trial and error. Both the button design and location seem to work against its easy use. Neither the words "Get It" or "SFX" made the students think of it as meaning full-text availability. Even a link marked "Full Text" was ignored in favor of clicking on the title. Some students closed out windows too quickly after clicking on the Go button, not realizing there could be a delay in retrieving the full text from another database. A more extensive usability study would be worthwhile to improve the design of OpenURL citation linking software. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: Ex Libris and ProQuest are NISO voting members. The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services ANSI/NISO Z39.88-2004(R2010) is a NISO standard.

Give 'em What They Want: A One-year Study of Unmediated Patron-Driven Acquisition of E-Books
College & Research Libraries Preprint, accepted September 11, 2011; by Karen S. Fischer et al.

The University of Iowa Libraries began experimenting in 2009 with e-book patron driven acquisition (PDA). They worked with YBP as their monograph vendor and used the ebrary collection. The incentive for the program came from several conference presentations on the poor usage rates of librarian-selected books and the just-in-case collection methodology. The PDA project was an opportunity to test out a just-in-time methodology. The program was set up so that an e-book would be purchased after the tenth click on any page. Records for all potentially available e-books were added to the library catalog and the users were unaware that they were participating in PDA; they knew only that the e-book became available to them when requested. In two months it became clear that the popularity of the program was going to use up the available funds much quicker than anticipated. The library then worked with YBP to create a profile similar to the one used for print books and to block content already available through other licensed resources. An analysis of a year's worth of PDA data showed a diversity of subject interests, with particular interest in medicine, sociology, and economics. Once purchased, over 80% of the books showed between 2 and 10 additional uses, significantly higher than generally seen with the print collection. Test preparation books were especially popular and the e-book format eliminates the typical problems of acquiring these in print format (i.e., theft or mark-up). When a title was available in both print and electronic, there was a strong preference for the e-book format. High usage of social science and humanities books shows a readiness for more titles in those areas. Incomplete coverage of titles in electronic format requires that the PDA be only one tool in the acquisition arsenal. A critical issue is how the library can predict and manage the necessary funding for an acquisition model that is by its nature unpredictable. The major benefits seen were: immediate satisfaction of user needs, identifying unrecognized demand for interdisciplinary materials, early warning of new research interests, and delivery of materials not easily handled in print (e.g., test preparation). Many issues remain on how to effectively use PDA and integrate it with other collection development methodologies. Publishers are encouraged to make e-versions available at the same time, if not before, the print version. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: ebrary is part of ProQuest, a NISO voting member.

Europe's National Librarians Support Open Data Licensing
CENL Press Release, September 28, 2011

The Conference of European National Libraries (CENL), representing 46 national libraries in Europe, voted overwhelmingly at their September meeting in Denmark to support the open licensing of their data. This means that the datasets describing all the millions of books and texts ever published in Europe—the title, author, date, imprint, place of publication and so on, which exists in the vast library catalogs of Europe—will become increasingly accessible for anybody to re-use for whatever purpose they want. It will mean that Wikipedia can use the metadata, linking it to all sorts of articles; it will mean that apps developers can embed it in new mobile tools for tourism or teaching. Crucially, for information scientists, it will mean that vast quantities of trustworthy data are available for Linked Open Data developments, creating relationships between elements of information that's never been possible before. The first outcome of the open license agreement is that the metadata provided by national libraries to Europeana.eu, Europe's digital library, museum, and archive, via the CENL service The European Library, will have a Creative Commons Universal Public Domain Dedication, or CC0 license. This metadata relates to millions of digitized texts and images coming into Europeana from initiatives that include Google's mass digitizations of books in the national libraries of the Netherlands and Austria. As well as demonstrating strategic leadership in the heritage and information sectors, the pay-off for the libraries is twofold. Firstly, as their data becomes pervasive online, it will lead users back to its source, encouraging visits both online and onsite. Secondly, their data will be enriched by contact with complementary data sources, and be available for them to re-use to upgrade their own services to users. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: The National Library of Finland is an independent institute of the Helsinki University Library, which is a NISO voting member. The British Library is a NISO Library Standards Alliance member.

Triple Bypass – What Does the Death of the Semantic Web Mean for Publishers?
The Discover Blog, September 20, 2011; by Richard Padley

The announcement by Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft of schema.org ostensibly marks the end of the semantic web (Web 3.0). Schema.org focuses on "rich snippets" to add semantic meaning to web content and to have it structurally recognized by search engines. Rather than using the rich RDFa of the Semantic Web, schema.org bases rich snippets on HTML5. Although the use of RDF and triples has been touted for over a decade, it has yet to have any significant practical implementations (other than niche areas like taxonomy). Search has the most to gain from semantics and the search companies have clearly bypassed RDF. Publishers still need to understand that semantics are important as is well-designed XML content. But it also means you can step away from RDF, triples, OWL, and related semantic technology. XML workflows are where you need to focus your delivery to participate in the schema.org search world. (Link to Web Source)

The Fight Over the Future of Digital Books
The Atlantic, September 23, 2011; by Dan Cohen

In September the Authors Guild sued five universities and the HathiTrust over digitally scanned copies of copyrighted books. Google had previously been sued for this digitization but not their library partners—until now. HathiTrust had been focused on preserving "orphan works"—out-of-print books with copyright holders who could no longer be found. The Guild isn't asking HathiTrust for monetary damages, only that it "unplug" the collection. Not only are the authors that the Guild represents already well-protected, but they also speak for only a small portion of authors. And many authors are happy to have the libraries and HathiTrust preserve their work. Section 108 and 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law give the libraries rights to at least some of what they are doing—a point the Authors Guild chose to ignore. Instead of treating librarians as adversaries, the Authors Guild would do better to work with them to develop a solution that meets the preservation needs the libraries are trying to fulfill. (Link to Web Source)

Open Source, Open Mind
American Libraries, 09/27/2011; by Meredith Farkas

Open source software can be a particular advantage to libraries with tight budgets. When the author worked on a team to evaluate course creation and subject guide software, she particularly wanted to consider open source alternatives. However, at the end of the evaluation, she found herself recommending a commercial proprietary solution. Things to carefully evaluate when considering an open source solution are: How robust is the open source project? What is the support like? Do you have the expertise and time inhouse to make the software work? What are your time constraints? Make sure there is a sufficient community of supporters for the software, not just one library or person. Check that there is sufficient documentation and a helpful user community. Determine how much the software works out of the box and how much customization will be required. Open source software should be chosen for the right reasons—its applicability to the problem at hand—not for its "philosophy." (Link to Web Source)

Defining 'Library'
Publishers Weekly - Soapbox, Sep 16, 2011; by Peter Brantley

The creation of books is changing significantly before our eyes as we move to a digital environment. Such cultural disruptions due to technology have many impact and books are interwoven with many aspects of our society. This "social reconstruction" forces us to review the roles of both publishers and libraries. Because libraries have always been associated with their collections, a critical measure has always been how many books are owned. Digital books no longer need to be stored by the library, nor does every regional library need to own the same book. "From a purely technical perspective, there need only be one global digital library." Libraries need to redefine their role with respect to publishers, authors, and citizens and they need to do this collectively. "We must choose with care, brick by brick, the height of the walls that we place around the sharing of our knowledge and culture. In the choosing we will define our libraries, and ourselves, in a digital age." (Link to Web Source)