Information Standards Quarterly, Spring 2009

Letter from the Editor

NOTE TO READER: Download the PDF of this issue.

Standards work is often a mix of pushing and pulling. There are pain points and inefficiencies in the industry that we all recognize, but we are at a loss to find solutions or we can’t solve the problem without support from others. In some areas, there are problems that require research and thought in order to understand the variety of issues that encompass a problem. In this issue, we take a look at two of those problems.

The first is book metadata and its exchange and flow through our community from publisher to distributors and wholesalers, and eventually through booksellers and libraries to end users. Accurate metadata is the grease that smooths the wheels of exchange of information and without it discovery, delivery, and management of information begin to fail. One recommendation of the Mellon Foundationfunded Thought Leader meeting on Digital Libraries and Collections held last year was that NISO should undertake efforts to improve publisher-supplied metadata. OCLC was also looking into this issue and hosted a symposium on metadata for publishers and libraries in March of this year, which is reported in ISQ (p. 40). Before we undertook serious development efforts in this space, it made sense to first scope the problems, the investments, and the inefficiencies in the supply chain and quantify the systemic costs to poor metadata. With the support and engagement of OCLC, we’ve taken the first step by commissioning a white paper by Judy Luther to examine these challenges, which has been extracted for ISQ (p. 33). The final version of the full white paper should be available shortly on the NISO website. Working in tandem with OCLC, and with others in the community, there is great potential for several new initiatives that could improve the flow of metadata. In a way, we’re pushing the community to address big challenges that are known to exist, and encouraging creative approaches to solutions.

The second is the vexing issue of serials titles and their changes over time, particularly online, which is described in the article on the search for best practices for online representation of titles (p. 18). Here we have a pull as members of the community ask NISO to help with a solution. A number of new publishers have signed up to the UKSG TRANSFER Code of Practice (p. 45) and NFAIS has released a best practice on article-by-article publishing (p. 44), both of which touch on related journal issues. In many ways, the journal title problem and the issues surrounding metadata exchange are similar. Both require us to find ways to improve the structure and format of information, using consistent and common processes that have feedback loops to correct information as it changes over time.

Overall, we have been extremely pleased with the reaction to the new look and design of ISQ this year. A number of people have commented to us that the expanded content coverage, increased size, and improved design have greatly impressed them. It has been a team project, led by Cynthia Hodgson and Jay Datema along with input from the entire ISQ Editorial Board, and has resulted in a valuable resource for the information distribution and management community. I’d like to congratulate them on a job well done and I look forward to many more enlightening and engaging issues. We continue to welcome feedback and encourage you to drop us a note describing what you like about the magazine or would like to see in future issues of ISQ.