NISO Receives Mellon Foundation Grant to Support Standards Development Pre-work with the Internet Archive for E-Book Annotation Sharing

Workshops will be held in Frankfurt and San Francisco to define requirements

Baltimore, MD, July 6, 2011 −The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has been awarded a $48,500 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund two standards incubation workshops, which it will lead with the Internet Archive, on the topic of E-Book Annotation Sharing and Social Reading. These meetings will be held in conjunction with the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, on October 10, 2011, and the Books In Browsers Meeting in San Francisco, on October 26, 2011. The Mellon Foundation grant will pay for the planning, organization, and direct meeting expenses for the two workshops, for which NISO will conduct the majority of the planning, organization and logistical support.
The two workshops will advance the discussions around system requirements for annotation sharing-including technical challenges of citation location and systems interoperability-and around the development and implementation of a consensus solution for these issues. The objectives of the meetings are to provide input to a NISO-sponsored working group on scope, goals and any initial work the group undertakes; and the advancement of a syntax specification that will be further vetted by a standards working group for how bookmarks and annotations are located and shared in digital books.

"We are very pleased that the Mellon Foundation has chosen to support this work to ensure effective communication in a digital environment," said Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of NISO. "One key goal of the meeting will be to bring the key parties together to identify the requirements for social reading and annotation. However, more critical than common understanding of the technical issues will be agreement on the development and implementation of a consensus solution, which points to the need for community-based standards in this area."

"The ability to accurately refer to a specific location within a digital text is fundamental for bookmarking and annotations," explained Peter Brantley, Director, BookServer Project at the Internet Archive. "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 that range from personal memory aids, to citations and critical analysis, as well as deep inter-linking. The golden combination of portability and translatability will enable sharing of commentary, whether in reading circles, classrooms, or critical societies."

Mr. Brantley continued, "Despite efforts in various communities to address these issues, for a number of reasons no single solution has been able to take hold. In an environment of interchange, such as social reading and annotation sharing, having the community adhere to an interoperable standard will go a long way to fostering the widespread adoption and use of annotation systems. Several key community organizations and leading applications have expressed a willingness to support a consensus structure if one were to be created relatively quickly. We are very hopeful that the meetings to be held in October will advance such a structure and are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its recognition and support."

An invitational planning meeting to discuss issues surrounding bookmarking and annotation and possible areas for standards creation in this space took place on May 26, 2011 at the Kimmel Center, New York University, during the week of the Book Expo America conference. Approximately 20 participants representing scholars, scholarly and technical publishing, e-book software and hardware vendors, online book services, and foundations met for more than five hours to discuss existing projects, the general annotation landscape, and further requirements and desirable features for workable standards that could be quickly, easily adopted by a broad range of industry participants. The group also discussed work to be done before any further meetings could take place and further parties who should be engaged.

More information about the October meetings, which will be open to the public, is available on the NISO web site ( Each meeting will include both invited speakers and breakout discussions, and participants will include technologists involved in the development of systems as well as librarians and scholars who would be the direct beneficiaries of annotation and social reading functionality. One goal of holding two meetings that are geographically diverse is to ensure that a world-wide community has opportunity for input and engagement on this issue, since the application of such a technology would be applied across the globe.

About the National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
NISO 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 on its website:

About the Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.