Headshot of NISO Eexecutive Director, Todd Carpenter

March 2016

There are many clichés in standards development, such as that there are too many standards, that standards aren't reactive enough, or that the processes involved are too complicated. Some of these accusations are valid. One recurring criticism of the standards process is that it takes a long time. History is riddled with stories of the standards project that goes on for years, seemingly without progress or end in sight. Occasionally, this has to do with maturity of technology, while other times the cause is more overt competitive actions by players. Some projects are just so complex and intertwined that simply doing the work and addressing community issues takes a long time.

An increasingly apparent reason for lengthy development periods is the reduction in time that companies allow their employees to voluntarily engage in community efforts, such as standards. As resources get squeezed, efforts that are not obviously tied to the company's bottom line are squeezed, too. Without volunteer contributions, nothing will get done within NISO or within most standards organizations. Still, the pace of NISO standards development has been moving forward at a decent clip for the past decade. For most projects, our efforts have taken less than two years from start to finish.

Take, for example, the NISO project on Alternative Assessment, which issued a call for working group members in December 2014, just 14 months ago. NISO began work on new forms of assessment in July of 2013, with the backing of the community, our members, and generous support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. However, it's important to reflect on the status of the community back in 2013. There was hardly consensus that standards or best-practice work was necessary or valuable with regard to alternative assessment. A few participants voiced concern that consensus development would hinder innovation and stifle competition. We began the project with no preconceived notions of what the outputs would eventually be. The project opened with brainstorming and discussions about what might be necessary. The fact that definitions, use cases, and data collection practices surfaced to the top is an indication of how vaguely we grasped what exactly the term altmetrics encompassed. Participants and audiences have associated altmetrics with social media, which is one component, but assessment is moving in a variety of directions and taking various approaches, both in terms of the granularity and the breadth of data sources.

The first part of the draft recommended practices were released last week. Another component due later this week and a third forthcoming later in March are the next steps in the advancement of the conversation. After contributions from dozens of volunteer experts, it is time for the broader community to contribute their thoughts. This entire process has been driven by community input and participation. At every step from the webinars to the in-person brainstorming sessions and the feedback on the summary white paper of project ideas, the involvement of the community has been critical.

The entire project has been more than simply a recommended practice initiative, it has been a thought leadership exercise on the part of NISO and the many participants in this community. We have all learned and applied things as we moved forward. Engagement and interest have grown throughout the effort. The number of people participating has increased significantly since the second altmetrics meeting at Northwestern University in 2012, which was attended by around 40 people. The latest altmetrics meeting, meanwhile, was sold out and hosted more than 150 participants, which was only a sliver of the larger assessment community. People are starting to look at altmetrics with a more knowledgeable eye and the number of vendors providing altmetric types of services in their offerings continues to expand.

The process might take time, but if one reflects on where we stood just five years ago, it's clear that we have come a long way, and done so rapidly. We might not be all the way there yet, but we have made tremendous progress. We can use your help to keep the work moving forward. The drafts we are releasing are for public comment, and you can feed your thoughts and reactions back into the process and help us keep pushing forward.


Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Executive Director

NISO Reports

NISO Releases Draft Recommended Practice on Altmetrics Data Quality for Public Comment

NISO seeks comments on the draft Altmetrics Data Quality Code of Conduct, NISO RP-25-201X-3, one output of a multi-pronged, multi-phase project that aims to build trust in and adoption of new methods of assessing impact. Further draft outputs from two other working groups, addressing altmetrics definitions, use cases, specific output types, and use of persistent identifiers, are expected to be released for public comment in the coming weeks. The draft Code of Conduct Recommended Practice is open for public comments through March 31, 2016. To download the draft or submit online comments, visit the NISO Altmetrics Initiative webpage.

NISO Launches New Project to Develop Recommended Practice for Tracking Link Origins

NISO voting members have approved a new project: the development of a Recommended Practice for Tracking Link Origins in a Networked Information Environment. As libraries strive to improve the ways in which users access their collections, gaining a definitive understanding of where a user began his or her library search before ultimately arriving at library-licensed content is an important factor for library staff in determining the value of a platform and how to allocate resources. Anyone interested in participating on this working group should contact NISO at nisohq@niso.org

March Two-Part Webinar: Privacy

Part 1: What Data is Being Collected and By Whom?
Wednesday, March 16
1:00 - 2:30 PM, EST

In our current information ecosystem, respect for user privacy is a key distinguishing characteristic of libraries. Few have been as vehement and long-standing in their support of people's right to intellectual freedom and privacy protections as librarians. There are core elements of library services that are now provided by third parties, providing user services on behalf of the library. These vendors might not have the same respect for patron privacy as librarians do and in order to ensure consistency in library services, librarians providing access to digital services and content to patrons need a thorough understanding of privacy in a library context.

This two-part webinar series will provide the community with a deeper understanding of the privacy implications of the services they are contracting. Part one of this series will cover the types of data that are being collected about user behavior. Understanding what can be and is being collected, for what purpose, and with whom these data are shared are critical to exerting privacy controls on behalf of patrons. This session will discuss the technical side of how providers collect personal data. Some of this activity is acknowledged by the user, such as for the purpose of personal information management, while at other times it takes place without the awareness of users, or potentially even the library. The webinar will feature three presentations:

  • How Advertisers Use Tracking Cookies to Profile Library Users
    Eric Hellman, President, GlueJar
  • Understanding and Blocking Invisible Web Trackers
    Alison Macrina, Founder and Director, Library Freedom Project
  • The Metadata Mosaic
    Chris Conley, Policy Attorney, ACLU, Northern California

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

Part 2: Understanding Privacy Policies
Wednesday, March 23
1:00 - 2:30 PM, EST

The second part of this series will cover the privacy policies that govern engagement with user services. Some of these policies are dense and full of legal terminology, which few have the time or expertise to comprehend fully. During this session, presenters will break down key components of privacy policies and describe the ramifications of agreeing to these policy terms. This session will provide an overview of privacy policy terminology and a grounding in some of the relevant legal underpinnings of these policies.

Confirmed Speakers include Dan Ayala, Proquest; Lisa Hinchliffe, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and I.J. Aalbersberg, Elsevier.

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

There's still time to check out the 2016 webinar subscription packages, where you can buy 5 and get 4 free or buy 9 and get all of the 14 NISO 2016 webinars.

Webinar: Supporting Women and Minorities in Technology

Wednesday, April 13
1:00 - 2:30 PM, EST

While the publishing, library, and information management industries are majority female, the representation of women and minorities in the technology segments of these communities is significantly lower. This is true in the wider technology sphere as well, where representation of women and minorities is woefully low. This lack of diversity can have negative impacts on the solutions advanced, products developed, and services provided by libraries and publishers.

This session will highlight potential approaches to improving diversity within the technical-management ranks of libraries and publishers. Speakers will also cover efforts that are already underway to expand skills and advancement opportunities for under-represented groups in our community, especially at the management level.
Confirmed Speakers include Bess Sadler, Stanford University; and Elisabeth Caley, META.

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

Virtual Conference: Justifying the Library: Using Assessment to Justify Library Investment

Wednesday, April 20
1:00 - 2:30 PM, EST

When resources are tight, it is important that everyone is able to justify the role we serve in accomplishing an institutional mission. One approach is to use data in support of that narrative. This virtual conference will examine the many ways in which an institution can show its value and the variables that can be used in support of that argument, such as circulation statistics, data on other patron activity, and ethnographic study.

NEW! All registrants to this virtual conference will receive a login to the associated Training Thursday on Making Assessment Work: Using ORCIDs To Improve Your Institutional Assessments, to be held on April 28. (Separate registration to the training event only is also available.) If you are unable to attend the Training Thursday in person, you can view the recording of the session.

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

Forthcoming ISO Ballots

NISO Voting members participate in the development, revision, and evaluation of standards. Voting members are able to influence the process and mold the future of the industry. The following NISO ballots are open and will close before the next newsletter is distributed.

  • Systematic Review of ISO 16175-2:2011 Information and documentation -- Principles and functional requirements for records in electronic office environments -- Part 2: Guidelines and functional requirements for digital records management systems
    This systematic review is in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. This is Part 2. The scope of this part is limited to products that are often termed "electronic records management systems" or "enterprise content management systems." This part will use the term "digital records management systems" for those software applications whose primary function is records management. It does not seek to set requirements for records still in use and held within business systems. Digital objects created by email, word processing, spreadsheet, and imaging applications (such as text documents, and still or moving images), where they are identified to be of business value, should be managed within digital records management systems that meet the functional requirements set out in this part.
    This ballot closes on March 4, 2016.
  • Systematic Review of ISO 16175-3:2010 Information and documentation -- Principles and functional requirements for records in electronic office environments -- Part 3: Guidelines and functional requirements for records in business systems
    This systematic review is in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. This is Part 3. This document will help organizations to ensure that evidence (records) of business activities transacted through business systems are appropriately identified and managed. Specifically, it will assist organizations to: * understand processes and requirements for identifying and managing records in business systems; * develop requirements for functionality for records to be included in a design specification when building, upgrading, or purchasing business system software; * evaluate the records-management capability of proposed custom or commercial off-the-shelf business system software; and * review the functionality for records or assess compliance of existing business systems
    This ballot closes on March 7, 2016.
  • Systematic Review of ISO 17933:2000 Information and documentation - GEDI - Generic Electronic Document Interchange
    This International Standard specifies a format for exchange of electronic document copies between computer systems. The format includes the definition of a GEDI Header containing information about the requester, supplier, and format of the document and relevant bibliographic information.
    This ballot closes on March 8, 2016.
  • ISO/CD 20614, Data Exchange Protocol for Interoperability and Preservation for approval for registration as a DIS in accordance with 2.5.6 of part 1 of the ISO/IEC Directives
    This document gives a standardized framework for the various information exchanges (data and its metadata) between the repositories and their partners. Interchanges between several repositories (repositories integrated in organizations, public repositories, and storage service suppliers) will also be considered. The aim of this standard is to promote interoperability between the information systems of these actors and thus facilitate a better harmonization of software developments.
    This ballot closes on March 11, 2016.

New Specs & Standards

ISO Publishes TC 46/SC 10, Effectiveness of Paper Deacidification Processes

Historical materials and manufacturing techniques have led to library and museum  collections that must be deacidified in order to slow down the deterioration of their paper. These cultural heritage institutions have developed treatments that work on a scale as small as a sheet of paper and as large as whole collections, but until now, there has been no reliable means of assessing the effectiveness of the work. ISO's specification TC 46/SC 10, released on February 1, 2016, "defines test methods and minimum requirements for paper deacidification processes regarding their effectiveness and consistency." An appendix offers general recommendations on how to deal with possible negative consequences of deacidification for treated objects.

Library of Congress Invites Comment on its Recommended Formats Statement

After beginning a review in 2011 of the best formats to use for various types of media, The Library of Congress released the first annual Recommended Format Specifications document in June 2014. A revised version, named the Recommended Formats Statement, was released in 2015. It is now time for another examination of the guidance that informs preservation decisions, and the Library invites comment by stakeholders in the library and creative communities. Contact information varies by format type and is available at the statement website.

ISO Releases Revised Terminology for Information Security Management

"The recently revised ISO/IEC 27000:2016, Information technology - Security techniques - Information security management systems - Overview and vocabulary, gives a comprehensive view of information security management systems covered by the ISMS family of standards, and defines related terms and definitions. 'Every common language requires a common set of terminology, and this is provided by ISO/IEC 27000,' says Prof. Edward Humphreys, Convenor of working group ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27/WG 1 that developed the standard."

Media Stories

Carla Hayden Nominated to Head Library of Congress
New York Times, February 24, 2016; by Nicholas Fandos

"Carla D. Hayden, the longtime head of Baltimore's library system and an advocate for the privacy rights of library users, was nominated by President Obama on Wednesday to lead the Library of Congress. If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Hayden, 63, would be the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position, overseeing one of the world's leading repositories of knowledge and culture and setting the agenda for the nation's libraries."

White House Announces Major Expansion of Cybersecurity Efforts
Mother Jones, February 9, 2016; by Max J. Rosenthal

On February 9, President Obama released "Executive Order -- Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity," which announced two steps that are part of the White House's "Cybersecurity National Action Plan." The Executive Order creates a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, which is tasked with bolstering cybersecurity in the public and private sectors. The administration also plans to request an additional $5 billion from Congress to upgrade hardware and make other cybersecurity-related changes.

The Cost of Publishing Monographs: Toward a Transparent Methodology
ITHAKA S+R; by Nancy L. Maron, Christine Mulhern, Daniel Rossman, and Kimberly Schmelzinger

"While there have been numerous efforts to understand the costs of publishing a scholarly monograph, this study is unique in that we worked with an advisory group of university press publishers to identify all of the cost components in scholarly monographic publishing and to work with a wide variety of university presses to calculate their costs of each of those components in a bottom-up fashion."

Fifty Years of FOIA
Nieman Lab, January 27, 2016; by John Dyer

Colorado Springs Gazette journalist Dave Phillips's Pulitzer Prize-winning series of reports exposed how many veterans have "quit the Army and lost their benefits in lieu of facing court-martial for fighting, alcohol abuse, insubordination, and other behaviors associated with PTSD and similar injuries." One result of the report is that mental-health professionals now sit on army discharge boards. While some of the facts Phillips used to write his damning report came from through filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, a step Americans have been able to take for 50 years now, Wiseman explains that weaknesses and arbitrary elements in the act mean that it is close to broken.

Eight Memorable Passages from Apple's Fiery Response to the FBI
The Intercept, February 26, 2016; by Jenna McLaughlin

As part of an investigation against terrorists who killed multiple people in San Bernardino, CA, on December 2, 2015, the federal government has tried to compel Apple to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the accused. McLaughlin here offers notable excerpts from Apple's motion to dismiss the court order. She highlights, for example, passages commenting upon the problematic need to document for potential future litigation the technical process by which Apple would help the FBI; the motion also responds sharply to the government's claim that it is only asking "Just this once" and "Just this phone."

The Library Freedom Project's Pledge Considered
BiblioBoard Library, February 18, 2016; by Mitchell Davis & Michael Atwood

Several libraries and related organizations have now signed the Library Freedom Project's Privacy Pledge, promising to help advance the privacy of users. In this blog post, Mitchell Davis, Founder and Chief Business Officer of ebook vendor BiblioBoard, and the company's Chief Technology Officer, Michael Atwood, discuss their reaction to the pledge and why it is needed.

Wikimedia Foundation Releases Transparency Report
InfoDocket, February 29, 2016; by Gary Price

InfoDocket's Gary Price here quotes the Wikimedia blog as saying that, "Every year, the Wikimedia Foundation receives hundreds of emails and phone calls requesting changes to Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and the other Wikimedia projects." The foundation releases details of the requests biannually, with the most recent Transparency Report coming out on February 29, 2016, and covering July-December 2015.

The Business Implications of the EU/U.S. "Privacy Shield"
Harvard Business Review, February 10, 2016; by Larry Downes

One of the many privacy issues brought to light by Edward Snowden was that, by sending information about European Union (EU) residents across EU lines as part of compliance with U.S. government surveillance operations, U.S. companies may have broken EU privacy directives. The European Union and the United States recently announced "a tentative agreement" to allow the provision of information to continue. Downes notes that Europe has been "scarred by catastrophic abuses of personal information that include the Inquisition," making its residents understandably wary, but that this "privacy shield" is problematic and unlikely to survive.