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NISO Releases Updated Draft of SERU: A Shared Electronic Resource Understanding for Public Comment

Revised version broadens use beyond e-journals

Baltimore, MD - January 5, 2012 -- The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announces the availability of a draft update of SERU: A Shared Electronic Resource Understanding for public comment (NISO RP-7-201X) through February 19, 2012. SERU offers publishers and libraries the opportunity to save both the time and the costs associated with a negotiated and signed license agreement for e-resources by both content provider and customer agreeing to operate within a framework of shared understanding and good faith. The SERU framework provides a set of common understandings for parties to reference as an alternative to a formal license when conducting business.
When SERU was adopted as a NISO Recommended Practice in 2008, its focus was on e-journal transactions, and the parties involved were primarily libraries and publishers. Since then, with the many emerging models for acquisition of e-books, both libraries and e-book providers have requested that other types of electronic resources be incorporated into the SERU framework. This updated version of SERU recognizes both the importance of making SERU more flexible for those who want to expand its use beyond e-journals and the fact that consensus for other types of e-resource transactions are not as well-established as they are for e-journals. In those instances where there is as yet no standard expectation, a shared understanding may still be achieved if expectations are clearly articulated in the purchase order that accompanies SERU.

"As e-resources have become increasingly central to library collections, the number of license agreements have multiplied accordingly," comments Selden Lamoureux, co-chair of the NISO SERU Standing Committee that updated the best practice. "It's important that there continues to be a viable alternative to formal licensing, and that SERU be suitable for the different types of e-resources patrons rely on. Demand for e-books is growing exponentially, and it's especially important that SERU be appropriate for e-book acquisition, whenever acquiring institutions and electronic providers agree on its use."

"This public draft takes into account the perspectives and input from a number of parties," states Nettie Lagace, Associate Director for Programs at NISO. "After the Standing Committee-consisting of libraries and providers with experience in licensing-discussed possible changes, previous versions of drafts were circulated to stakeholders for further comment. The SERU Standing Committee also held a lively discussion session at the Charleston Conference in November and has made further edits since then. The group is looking forward to reactions and comments from the broader community prior to finalizing the document for publication."

The draft updated SERU Recommended Practice and an online comment form are available on the NISO SERU website ( All parties involved in licensing electronic content are encouraged to review and comment on the document.

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