NISO Announces New Work on Single Sign-On Authentication

Chair's Initiative to Develop Recommended Practices Aimed at Providing a Seamless User Experience

Baltimore, MD - April 29, 2009 - NISO is pleased to announce the approval by the NISO Voting Members of a new work item to focus on perfecting single-sign-on (SSO) authentication to achieve seamless item-level linking in a networked information environment. A new working group will be formed under the auspices of NISO's Discovery to Delivery Topic Committee to create one or more recommended practices that will explore practical solutions for improving the success of SSO authentication technologies and to promote the adoption of one or more of these solutions to make the access improvements a reality.
This work item is the outcome of NISO's new Chair's Initiative, an annual project of the chair of NISO's Board of Directors. NISO's current Chair, Oliver Pesch (Chief Strategist, EBSCO Information Services), has identified single-sign-on authentication as an area that would benefit greatly from study and development within NISO, with a focus on a solution that will allow a content site to know which authentication method to use without special login URLs in order to provide a seamless experience for the user. Possible solutions include providing a generic mechanism for passing the authentication method from site to site; use of cookies to remember the authentication method that was used the last time the site was accessed by that computer; and/or providing a mechanism to discover if the user has an active session for one of the common SSO authentication methods. "By developing recommended practices that will help make the SSO environment work better (smarter)," said Pesch, "libraries and information providers will improve the ability for users to successfully and seamlessly access the content to which they are entitled."

This new work follows on NISO's February 11th webinar on this topic, where the issues and potential benefits of SSO authentication were looked at from library, authentication tool, and content provider perspectives. The webinar was the first step in addressing the issue of SSO authentication; the new working group will enable all these perspectives to come together to focus on the topic as a community. "I look forward to seeing the progress that can be made by bringing together the various stakeholders involved in single sign-on authentication in this new NISO working group," commented Todd Carpenter, NISO's Managing Director. "This is an important issue for today's information providers and I am pleased that we will be able to focus on ways to improve the user experience through SSO authentication." NISO encourages those who would like to be a part of this new working group or to join the affiliated interest group to contact the NISO office at

About NISO
NISO (the National Information Standards Organization) fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of an information standard. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). More information about NISO is available at