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NISO Launches New Open Discovery Initiative to Develop Standards and Recommended Practices for Library Discovery Services Based on Indexed Search

October 25, 2011, Baltimore, MD -- The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) voting members have approved a new Open Discovery Initiative work item to develop standards and recommended practices for next generation library discovery services. Using an aggregated index search of a wide range of resources, licensed and free, from multiple providers, these discovery services have the ability to deliver more sophisticated services with instant performance, compared to the federated search techniques previously used.
"Marshall Breeding (Director for Innovative Technologies and Research, Vanderbilt University), Jenny Walker (Consultant for Ex Libris), and I hosted an Open Discovery Initiative invitational meeting at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans in June 2011," stated Oren Beit-Arie Chief Strategy Officer at Ex Libris. "We wanted to gauge interest in exploring the issues encountered with these new discovery services and in pursuing more formal standards or best practices for information providers to provide content to discovery services. We received an overwhelmingly positive response from stakeholders, which led the group to bring the project forward to NISO."

"Libraries increasingly rely on index-based discovery services as their strategic interfaces through which patrons gain access to the rapid growing breadth of information that may be available to them," states Walker. "They expect their uniquely licensed and purchased electronic content to be made available within the discovery service of their choice. But it is often not clear which resources are available, which are indexed in full text or by citations only, or both, and whether the metadata derives from aggregated databases or directly through the full-text."

"The scope of discovery interfaces is broader than what is managed in the integrated library system," explains Breeding. "These services can include other local repositories and digital collections and the electronic resources in subscription information content products. We'd like to see a consistent vocabulary regarding all the elements involved, that there be clarity in the business rules that apply to the content once indexed, and that there be clear descriptors regarding the extent of indexing performed for each item or collection of content and the level of availability of the content."

"NISO is very pleased to bring together the stakeholders in open discovery-libraries, information providers and discovery providers-to develop consensus standards or recommended practices on how to make these services more effective for all involved, and ultimately, for the end user," states Todd Carpenter, NISO Managing Director. "Other areas of interest for the new Open Discovery Initiative may include a standard exchange of data describing what rights to the content apply within the discovery service and a standard approach to exchanging data in support of usage reports."

Individuals interested in participating in this working group should contact Nettie Lagace ( An interest group list for this project ( will be available for those who would like to receive updates on the Working Group's progress and provide feedback to the group on its work. Information on how to subscribe is available at

About 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: For more information please contact NISO at (301) 654-2512 or via e-mail at