Headshot of NISO Eexecutive Director, Todd Carpenter

July 2016

Trust is an inherent part of almost all human interactions. From driving down the street trusting that the other drivers will stay on their side of the road to trusting that no one will break in and take our stuff while we're are away and that our children will be safe when we pick them up from school, we require trust even when we're not conscious of it. We tend to trust what we see and what we read to understand the world around us; it's the currency of a civilized society.

Trust is embedded in the Internet as well; when you click on a link, you rely on it to take you where you expect. When the network consisted of only a few hundred computer scientists at a relatively small number of academic and corporate institutions, this foundation of trust made a lot of sense, and led to a variety of assumptions and social constructs that lowered the system's requirements early on. However, it also created longer-term problems, such as issues surrounding preservation, authentication, identity management, and activity monitoring, some of which are more difficult to solve than others. One way of rebuilding trust while tackling these issues is by using standards, which signal integrity to the community and create confidence in how processes and systems function.

Standards for assessment are also critical in building and maintaining trust, because we require standards to count and measure things. When we fill up a car at the gas station we trust that when the pump reads 16 gallons, that's what it dispensed. NISO has been involved in establishing assessment methodologies since ANSI Z39.7 - Information Services and Use: Metrics & statistics for libraries and information Providers - Data Dictionary was first published in 1968. Over the years since then, the organization has been involved in a variety of assessment and usage-tracking-related activities.

Assessment and usage tracking were behind NISO's launch of the Alternative Assessment Initiative back in 2013. As the community began using and applying new forms of metrics to the assessment of scholarship, it made sense that there should be related standards and best practices to help. Working with the community, we considered a variety of potential standards directions, identified the key needs, and then worked toward agreement on those components that would build trust in altmetrics. Earlier this year, we released public drafts of a code of conduct, definitions and use cases, lists of identifier components, and a report on metrics for nontraditional content forms. The working groups that developed the NISO recommendations on alternative assessment will finalize and publish their documents in the coming weeks, and NISO will announce publication of the material to you.

As we head into the summer, I'd like to extend NISO's thanks to all those who contributed to this effort, whether by participating in brainstorming sessions, commenting on drafts, or serving on working groups. It has been a great effort, which NISO will continue to build upon as new forms of assessment grow and develop. You have earned a bit of summer relaxation!

I hope you all enjoy your summer.


Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Executive Director

NISO Reports

NISO Members Elect New Leadership for the 2016-2017 Term

Members of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) have selected their board's leadership for the 2016-2017 term, which will begin on July 1, 2016. B. Tommie Usdin, President of Mulberry Technologies, Inc., becomes Chair; and Chris Shillum, Vice President Product Management, Platform and Data Integration at Reed Elsevier, has been voted Vice Chair. Three other board members have also been confirmed: Gerry Grenier (IEEE); Marian Hollingsworth (Thomson Reuters); and Evan Owens (Cenveo Publisher Services).

NISO/BISG Annual Forum: The Changing Standards Landscape: The User Experience

The American Library Association's Annual Conference, held June 23-27 in Orlando, FL, kept NISO's staff busy with presentations and other events. The following are details of some of NISO's programs at the show. ALA is just one of many events we attend, so keep an eye on future issues of Newsline and on our Twitter account, @NISOInfo, to find out about our plans for upcoming presentations, webinars, and more.

The annual forum hosted jointly by NISO and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) took place on Friday, June 24, and featured several speakers from various arms of the publishing industry, and a lively question-and-answer session (see related slides). The speakers were introduced by NISO Executive Director Todd Carpenter, who, noting that this was the tenth anniversary of the event, looked back at the state of the industry ten years ago. In June 2006, he said, Kindle was a few days old, and iPhones had just been released. It was nine months since Tim Berners-Lee had coined the term semantic web and five years before ORCID was introduced. Carpenter introduced several speakers who addressed various aspects of how users experience books and publishing today.

BISG Executive Director Mark Kuyper noted that BISG is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. Years ago, he noted, the organization was heavily involved in the physical supply chain that brought books to stores and libraries. Now the focus, Kuyper said, is on bringing key members of the industry together. An important movement that involves all of these players is the trend toward materials being "born accessible" to people with disabilities, and Kuyper introduced a related resource: the BISG Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing. The document is itself accessible, he noted, and is available in PDF and EPUB versions.

Andrew Albanese, Senior Writer and Features Editor at Publishers Weekly (PW), spoke largely about the issues that still surround the availability of e-books in libraries. He introduced a survey conducted by BISG and ALA, and a PW poll; these show that while libraries are the first source that comes to mind when readers look to acquire a book, only 23 percent of respondents had borrowed an e-book from a public library. One cause of related fatigue, Albanese said, is that everything except e-books is becoming cheaper on phones and other digital devices. Long hold times and pricing are also issues, he said, noting that these days patrons are used to services such as Netflix that provide material instantly.

NISO Patron Privacy Initiative
NISO's recent patron privacy work then took center stage, with presentations by the organization's Associate Director for Programs, Nettie Lagace; Daniel Ayala, Director of Information Security, ProQuest; and Michael Robinson, Head of Library Systems, University of Alaska at Anchorage.

Lagace introduced the concept of NISO as a Switzerland: a neutral forum for parties that may not wish to speak to each other directly. In that capacity, and using the American Library Association's code of ethics as a backdrop, NISO worked over most of 2015 to clarify actions libraries can take to protect patron privacy, given that libraries now routinely facilitate patron interaction with third-party vendors. The impetus for the work, said Lagace, was the Adobe DRM case in which user information was being passed unencrypted over the Internet. NISO decided to become involved and received a related grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the product of which was the NISO Consensus Principles on Users' Digital Privacy in Library, Publisher, and Software Provider Systems. NISO's next task, said Lagace, is to figure out how to build guidelines that grow from this consensus and tie into the user experience.

Daniel Ayala, who described himself as "a privacy person first," explained that key in privacy work is the balance between privacy, security, and easy use. There are competing mandates on these issues from different constituencies. It's also important to note, he said, that privacy and confidentiality are not necessarily the same thing; data may legitimately be collected, meaning that some privacy has been sacrificed, but use of that data can still keep patrons' personal data confidential.

Michael Robinson was a member of the core working group that produced NISO's privacy principles, and he noted that the many meetings that produced the document were surprising: he expected a vendor/librarian dichotomy, but the most heated discussions were among camps of librarians. We have a legal obligation to protect reader privacy, Robinson noted, but librarians need to embrace the web as well as create a quality user experience and gather and use metrics. He presented related false dichotomies, including: privacy is dead vs. privacy at all costs and abandoning our ethics vs. fettering competitiveness. Robinson espouses a third way: putting the user in the center of the equation, by letting them know what the choices are and how they can choose among them.

Engaging the user
Moderated by NISO Executive Director Todd Carpenter, this portion of the program was a discussion of various issues by Therese Hunt, Vice President of Marketing, Elsevier; Lettie Conrad, Executive Program Manager, Discovery & Access at SAGE Publications; and Becky Brasington Clark, head of the Library of Congress's Publishing Office, with the speakers therefore bringing vendor and not-for-profit publisher viewpoints to the table.

Several topics were discussed, among them how to introduce serendipity into search functionalities that have been too focused on known-item queries. Conrad, who mentioned a recent SAGE white paper on serendipity, reminded the audience that users have e-commerce driven expectations, and at issue is how much we need to either mirror those or explore the idea that context changes when on an academic site. Elsevier includes serendipity in its work, said Hunt, by "introducing you to your tribe." Searching is now moving "away from the fire-hose," she said, and toward facilitating researchers' use of their personal network. Clark, meanwhile, claimed that, "You make your own serendipity as a publisher...Put all the pieces in place for it to happen and the user will experience apparent serendipity."

NISO Altmetrics Initiative: Supporting Altmetrics in the Community

On Saturday, June 25, Todd Carpenter and Nettie Lagace introduced NISO's ongoing Altmetrics Initiative to ALA attendees. Carpenter explained some of the reasons why standards are important: in a dramatic example, he noted that the 1999 crash of the Mars Climate Orbiter was caused by, NASA's report admits, "failed translation of English units into metric units in...software." Coming back to scholarship, Carpenter observed that even impact-factor calculation is not certain to everyone, but that measurement are used for crucial business and tenure decisions, so "more certainty is crucial."

Given these issues, NISO launched a program on new forms of assessment three years ago. After lengthy efforts by three working groups, the organization recently published draft versions of use cases and definitions, a code of conduct, nontraditional output types, and persistent identifiers, each of which was described by Carpenter and Lagace during the program. Final versions of these documents will be published later this month.

NISO Standards Update Meeting

Todd Carpenter updated attendees at a Sunday, June 26 meeting, on NISO's changes over the past year. Included in the news was the hiring of two new staff members, Jill O'Neill and Henrietta Verma. NISO has also gained new publisher, vendor, and library members, said Carpenter, providing welcome financial and volunteer support. The organization has begun five new projects over the past year, and, as always, is tending to ongoing projects and standards-maintenance work as well. Several presenters then gave overviews of the progress of some existing projects.

ODI, the Open Discovery Initiative
Elise Sassone, Manager, Discovery & Discovery Services at Springer Nature, discussed the Open Discovery Initiative, which was launched at ALA in 2011 in response to the then burgeoning number of library discovery service solutions. At the time, agreements between content and service providers, said Sassone, were opaque and ad hoc. The goal of the working group, therefore, was to promote transparency, by defining, for example, which usage statistics should be collected. The ODI group published a recommended practice that discussed fair linking and other usage matters. The work wasn't done once the document was published, though, and a standing committee now works to educate others on the recommended practice.

KBART (Knowledge Bases and Related Tools)
Marlene van Ballegooie, Metadata Librarian at the University of Toronto libraries, described the NISO project she is involved with, which aims to improve the supply of metadata from content providers to knowledge bases. KBART has already completed its first and second phases, which focused on serials (phase 1) and e-books, conference proceedings, and consortial holdings (phase 2). The work was transferred to a standing committee, which manages the endorsement process, in 2014. Current priorities are outreach to content providers, re-endorsement of providers for phase 2, the development of materials to make KBART easier to implement, and related education for content providers. An enhancement to the standard is currently being considered by NISO voting members; see "New Specs and Standards," above, for further details.

NISO Bibliographic Roadmap
Diane Hillmann, partner in Metadata Management Associates, explained that NISO began exploring issues around vocabularies in 2013, and that a new work-item proposal for three interconnected vocabulary-development projects was proposed in 2014. The NISO Bibliographic Roadmap project examines vocabulary policies and practices on use and reuse, vocabulary documentation at all levels, and vocabulary preservation requirements. The group is looking at both policy and social considerations, and there is now talk, said Hillmann, of vocabulary extension, which is exciting to the field. An early of the working group's recommendations should be available as a draft for review by fall 2016, with a final document published by the end of the year.

NISO Link Origin Tracking
Nettie Lagace outlined NISO's Link Origin Tracking project, explaining that the first quarter of 2016 saw the approval of a work item: how to determine where incoming links originate when they pass through a link resolver. The working group that was formed around this task will investigate options to allow content providers and libraries to determine the original source of a link that is clicked on by a patron. A recommended practice is expected to be available by the end of 2017.

Upcoming NISO Events

It's July! That means sun, fireworks, and reading a good book in a hammock. NISO's Educational Programming takes a brief respite during the month of July, but that doesn't mean we aren't working on some outstanding events for August and September. Mark your calendars for these programs and check back in a few weeks to see who and what's on the horizon.

Forthcoming ISO ballots

NISO Voting members participate in the development, revision, and evaluation of standards. Voting members are able to influence the standards process and mold the future of the industry. The following NISO ballots are open and will close before the next newsletter is distributed. If you are a NISO Voting Member, log into your NISO page and you'll see the ballots linked there.

  • ISO/CD 20247, Information and documentation -- International library item identifier (ILII)
    The purpose of this ballot is to get a consensus of the circulation of the draft as a DIS. This international standard specifies the International Library Item Identifier, which is used for the unique identification of items held by a library and related organization. "Library and related organization" here refers to an organization under the scope of ISO 15511, Information and Documentation -- International standard identifier for libraries and related organizations.

    This ballot closes on Friday, July 8, 2016.

  • New Work Item Proposal: ISO 21047 (ISTC)
    This International Standard specifies the International Standard Text Code (ISTC) which is applicable to any textual work, whenever there is an intention to produce such a textual work in the form of one or more manifestations. It provides and identification data element for applications that record and exchange information about textual works and related manifestations. For example, the ISTC can be used for the purposes of collocating subsequent manifestations of the same textual work or derivations of the same textual work in applications involving electronic rights administration or information retrieval.

    This ballot closes Friday, July 8, 2016.

  • Systematic Review of ISO 3297:2007 Information and documentation -- International standard serial number (ISSN)
    This International Standard defines and promotes the use of a standard code (ISSN) for the unique identification of serials and other continuing resources. Each International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is a unique identifier for a specific serial or other continuing resource in a defined medium. This International Standard also describes a mechanism, the "linking ISSN (ISSN-L)," that provides for collocation or linking among the different media versions of the same continuing resource.

    This ballot closes on Friday, September 9, 2016.

New on the NISO Website

Presentation slides from the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando:

Presentation slides from recent NISO educational events:

New Specs & Standards

NISO Voting Members Consider Work Items on KBART Enhancement and E-book Metadata

NISO voting members have been asked to consider two new work items: Recommended Practice for Enhancing KBART for Automated Exchange of Title Lists and Library Holdings and Recommended Practice on E-Book Bibliographic Metadata Requirements in the Sale, Publication, Discovery, Delivery, and Preservation Supply Chain. Ballots for both proposals close on Friday, July 15, 2016.

KBART (Knowledge Bases and Related Tools) was initially developed to improve OpenURL linking by providing a consistent message format for exchanging title lists/package contents between publishers and content providers and knowledge base vendors. If the ballot is approved, the working group will update and extend the KBART Phase II recommended practice to support individual library holdings of electronic products and to automate the request and retrieval of KBART reports for title lists and library holdings.

The second ballot proposes that a working group outline the minimal metadata requirements necessary to describe e-books in order to support sales, discovery, delivery, deaccessioning, and preservation. Approval of this work will result in identification of the most effective and efficient way for metadata to be moved through the entire supply chain, and address several practical issues in metadata sharing across stakeholders.

European Standardization System to be Modernized

The European Commission announced on June 1 that it intends to modernize its standardization policy. The planned changes will effect the European Standardization System (ESS) and reinforce European cooperation with the global standardization community.

The Commission's press release states that the steps envisioned will:

  • Provide greater clarity on service standards and how they can be used;
  • Help the Commission and standard setters identify problems and gaps where European service standards could be most useful;
  • Encourage more effective and targeted development of European service standards in the areas where they can be most beneficial to businesses and consumers;
  • Help remove and reduce national barriers faced by service providers; and
  • Promote greater awareness of standards.

Roadmap Industry 4.0: An Important Milestone

DIN, the German National Standardization body, reports that on June 21, Rüdiger Marquardt, DIN Executive Board Member, and Dr. Bernhard Thies, Chairman of the Board of Directors of DKE (the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE) presented the "Standardization Roadmap on Industry 4.0" to the European Commission. The Roadmap surveys the current state of European standardization in terms of facilitating the digitization of the continent's industry, and describes the standards work necessary to achieve widespread digitization.

Media Stories

Live, From New York, It's SimplyE
ReadersFirst, June 21, 2016; by Michael Blackwell

ReadersFirst reports that New York Public Library has moved the SimplyE app from Beta to public use. Created with "maximum use of open source software, open specifications and standards based technologies" by ten public library systems across the country with support from the IMLS (the Institute of Museum and Library Services), the app aims to democratize ebook discovery and use. It's not only good news for NYPL patrons, notes ReadersFirst: Minitex and other library consortia are also moving toward adoption of the app for e-reading patrons.

NISO NOTE: New York Public Library is a NISO LSA Member and Minitex is a NISO Voting Member.

14 Projects Win 2016 Knight News Challenge on Libraries
KnightBlog, June 23, 1016; by Chris Barr and Nina Zenni

The projects that collectively will receive $1.6 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation each successfully answered the question: "How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?" Their solutions heavily feature technology as a way to improve patron's lives, with plans ranging from Brooklyn Public Library's video visitation and storytime for children of incarcerated parents to the Foundation Center's data visualization of philanthropic funding for libraries.

Flipping Journals to Open Access
Library Journal, June 22, 2016; by John Parsons

Publishers face increasing pressure to "flip" their print journals to online open access. Parsons describes a study from the Max Planck Institute on the many ways in which this transformation can be achieved.

Commerce Secretary Appoints Avi Bender as NTIS Head, Unveils New Joint Venture Opportunities in Data Sharing/Services
National Technical Information Service, June 20, 2016; by Gail Porter

In 2015, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker stated that the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) had a new focus: to expand access to the federal government's data resources. Change continues as the Secretary has named a new Director, Avi Bender, and the NTIS seeks proposals from potential venture partners "to improve access, data interoperability, search, or use of federal data and data services to drive innovation and business outcome."

Simple Online Privacy for Australia
First Monday, Volume 21, Number 7, July 4, 2016; by Margaret Jackson, Jonathan O'Donnell, and Joann Cattlin

"Simple Privacy provides a system for Australian organisations to create privacy policies for the personal information they collect online," say the academics who wrote these Creative Commons-inspired guidelines. They continue, "The privacy policies it creates are legally compliant and easy to understand. We developed this system because small Australian organisations seemed to find privacy policies too complicated to manage with the resources they have available."

HathiTrust at U-M, NFB to Make 14M+ Books Accessible to Blind and Print-Disabled Users
HathiTrust Digital Library, June 28, 2016

In this press release, HathiTrust, a digital preservation repository housed at the University of Michigan, quotes the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) as estimating that less than less than five percent of all published works are available toreaders who are blind, and most of these are popular titles. That is set to change as HathiTrust and the NFB have partnered to make more than 14 million digital titles available to blind and other print-disabled users. With user eligibility "determined by criteria used by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and similar services authorized under U.S. law," the materials digitized in this venture will be open to people with disabilities who are not affiliated with a HathiTrust member school.

My Unpublished Research Was Scooped? Misconduct Reveals One Way Copyright Preserves Academic Values
College & Research Libraries News, Vol. 77, No. 6, June 2016; by Nancy Sims

In many fields, unaffiliated groups of researchers are working on similar areas of investigation at the same time. As Sims notes, it can be "bitterly disappointing" if a competing group publishes "your" findings first, especially if your work was finished before theirs. In most cases, she notes, there is no misconduct at play, it's just the way of modern science. But what if you suspect academic dishonesty? Sims's look at the "implications of a lawsuit about 'stolen' engineering research" describes how it can go.

Shining a Light on Scientific Data: Building a Data Catalog to Foster Data Sharing and Reuse
Code4Lib, Issue 32; by Ian Lamb and Catherine Larson

The scientific community's eagerness to make research data available to the public provides libraries with an interesting new opportunity, say Lamb and Larson. The authors describe efforts at their institution, New York University, to use Symfony2 and Solr to create a data-catalog website offering faceted search and rich metadata.

U.S. Government Activities and Annoucments

  • On June 9, the U.S. government approved a proposal by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to assume responsibility for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). George H. Pike reports in Information Today's Newsbreaks that the approval follows almost 20 years of negotiations, but that there still may be issues; Congress may need to intervene, says Pike, if authoritarian regimes begin to restrict Internet access as a result of the new arrangement.
  • A recent statement from NISO Voting Member the American Geophysical Union explains that The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act - S. 3084 provides the National Science Foundation with a 0.62 percent increase for fiscal year 2017 and four percent increase for the following year. The Act also encourages agencies to engage with citizen scientists and promotes STEM education.
  • On June 13, 2016, Congress passed the Freedom of Information Improvement Act without amendment, and President Obama signed it into law on June 30. The American Library Association (ALA) explains that the Act:
    • Codifies the "presumption of openness" for government documents for future administrations;
    • Harnesses technology to improve the FOIA process;
    • Limits, to a period of 25 years, the period of time that agencies may keep records of their internal deliberations confidential; and
    • Increases the effectiveness of the FOIA by strengthening the Office of Government Information Services

    "The new law is a 'win-win' for the public and the library community," says ALA President Julie Todaro. "Not only will it improve government transparency by opening the window on the workings of our government wider, but the law also will advance librarians' efforts in making that vital information available to the public."

How Much is Privacy Worth to Today's Consumers? Reexamining the Economics of Privacy in the Information Age
American Economic Association, June 13, 2016; by Tim Hyde

"Shadowy data brokers are helping consolidate consumer information from disparate sources, allowing curious companies help fill out their psychological profiles of customers they hope to eventually target with personalized offers," explains Hyde. He introduces work by several economists who each examine whether their field can make a case for rules and regulations that will force consumers to keep their data private.