Headshot of NISO Managing Director, Todd Carpenter

May 2010

Last month, I was one of the millions of people impacted around the globe by the explosion of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland. This eruption spread fine volcanic ash throughout Europe and grounded tens of thousands of flights. My own flight from Edinburgh, following an extremely successful UKSG conference, was one of the first flights cancelled. I eventually had to wind my way by train to London, again a few days later down to Paris, then by car through Western France, through the Pyrenees to Madrid for a flight home. My own five-day delay paled in comparison with some colleagues who were stuck in Europe for nearly a week. I certainly was among the more fortunate.

The relationship between my travel woes and our information community may not be obvious. However when the technological infrastructure which we rely on breaks down for one reason or another, the ramifications can range from minor inconveniences to major calamity. As we increasingly move away from physical items in our collections to digital content distribution and storage that relies on virtual connections, the chances of an unexpected service disruption of monumental proportions grows substantially. It is difficult to know or predict just how tenuous those connections are until they are severed.

This is not to imply that work and planning has not been done to address the reliability issues with digital content access and distribution. Digital preservation strategies have been developed over the last decade to ensure content in the face of both current and future disruptions, including hardware and software obsolescence. However, we never know how good those plans are until they are tested by the hard reality of events. We can only continue to be vigilant in the planning and preparation. The next issue of Information Standards Quarterly, due out in June, is focused on digital preservation. It is guest edited by an expert in the preservation arena: Priscilla Caplan, Assistant Director, Digital Library Services at the Florida Center for Library Automation. I encourage you to watch for this upcoming issue.

On a somewhat related note, NISO and NFAIS have approved a joint working project to develop a recommended practice related to supplemental journal materials. A working group is being formed and interested parties are encouraged to contact the NISO office to participate. More information is included in the story below.

Now that the air has cleared, hopefully we can go about our business without disruption!

Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Managing Director

NISO Reports

May Webinar: It's in the Mail: Improving the Physical Delivery of Library Resources

NISO's May webinar—May 12 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)—will feature It's in the Mail: Improving the Physical Delivery of Library Resources. Many users assume that most information today is digital. As digital content increases, so does the information resources that are produced, consumed, and distributed in physical formats. Resource sharing of physical formats—whether books, DVDs, CDs, or audiocassettes—continues to play an important role in library services. Moving library materials between libraries has been a hidden component of resource sharing activities. Numerous activities have focused on improving resource sharing workflow, but little attention has been paid to how materials are moved from one library to another, and from a library directly to a patron (e.g., to a home or office). The issues around how to deliver library materials quickly, securely, and cost-effectively are equally immense. What are the best ways to provide physical delivery of library materials?

Speakers and topics for the webinar are:

  • Keynote Presentation: An Overview of Library Delivery Services Today – Lori Bowen Ayre, Library Technology Consultant and Project Manager, The Galecia Group

  • NISO's Physical Delivery of Library Resources Working Group – Diana Sachs-Silveira, Virtual Reference Manager, Tampa Bay Library Consortium

  • Direct to Patron Delivery: Case Study – Scherelene Schatz, New Jersey State Library

Registration is per site (defined as access for one computer). NISO and NASIG members may register at a discounted rate. A student discount is also available. Can't make it on the scheduled date or time? Registrants receive access to the recorded version for one year, which can be viewed at your convenience. For more information or to register, visit the event webpage.

June Webinar: Control Your Vocabulary: Real-World Applications of Semantic Technology

Semantic technologies are slowly opening up new frontiers in discovery and interaction with content. By tying together related terms, concepts, and data in meaningful ways, we can move beyond keyword searching as the primary means of content discovery in our community. Suppliers of information—both publishers and libraries—need to be aware of this changing landscape and the work that is propelling it forward. This webinar will begin with an overview of the semantic landscape and will then highlight real-world applications and uses of semantic technology, first from the perspective of a researcher trying to address specific scientific problems by using semantic technologies, followed by a publisher that has implemented semantic discovery and interaction tools for their content.

Registration is per site (defined as access for one computer). NISO and NASIG members may register at a discounted rate. A student discount is also available. Can't make it on the scheduled date or time? Registrants receive access to the recorded version for one year, which can be viewed at your convenience. For more information or to register, visit the event webpage.

The June webinar is generously sponsored by CrossRef.

NISO/BISG Forum: The Changing Standards Landscape

NISO and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) will co-host the fourth annual Changing Standards Landscape on June 25, 2010 from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m., directly prior to the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

This year's free, half-day program will focus on how the information supply chain is reacting—and needs to react—to the demands of content consumers from the changing forms of digital distribution and communication. Users increasingly expect to be able to interact and engage with content and serving those needs creates many challenges for publishers, distributors, and libraries. This program will provide both publishers and librarians a view of ongoing work and potential new directions in electronic distribution of content.

Scott Lubeck (Executive Director, BISG) and Mark Bide (Executive Director, EDItEUR) will explore the standards issues related to identification and description. Discovery and retrieval tools will be discussed by Jane Burke (Senior Vice President, ProQuest and Serials Solutions) and Jabin White (Director of Strategic Content, Wolters Kluwer Health – Professional & Education). Closing out the forum, Jeremy York (Assistant Librarian, University of Michigan Library, and Project Librarian, HathiTrust) and Johan Bollen (Associate Professor, School of Informatics and Computing, Center for Complex Networks and System Research, Indiana University) will review the latest developments related to purchase and use.

Visit the event webpage for more information and to view the full agenda. No registration is necessary but we ask that you RSVP to assist us in our preparations.

NISO@ALA Annual 2010

Join us for the NISO Update: Simplifying Digital Content: Standards from Creation to Distribution and Access at the ALA Annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, June 27, 2010 from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Topics and speakers for the update are:

  • Journal Article Versions – Lettie Y Conrad, Online Product Manager, SAGE Publications, Inc.

  • Creation of File Formats – B. Tommie Usdin, President, Mulberry Technologies, Inc., & Co-chair, NISO Standardized Markup for Journal Articles Working Group

  • Supplementary Journal Article Materials – Linda Beebe, Senior Director of PsycINFO, American Psychological Association

  • E-journal Presentation – Regina Reynolds, ISSN Coordinator, Library of Congress

There are several other sessions where NISO projects will be presented at ALA, including the LITA Standards Interest Group meeting. Visit the NISO@ALA webpage for a complete list of sessions, dates, and times.

Call for Participation: Joint NISO/NFAIS Initiative on Supplemental Journal Article Materials

NISO and NFAIS have approved a joint initiative on Supplemental Journal Article Materials, with the goal of developing a Recommended Practice for publisher inclusion, handling, display, and preservation of supplemental journal article materials.

This initiative is based on the proposal submitted by Linda Beebe of the American Psychological Association that provides details on the statement of work, participant roles, and timeline. The proposal was a follow-up from a roundtable meeting on Best Practices for Supplemental Journal Article Materials that was held in Washington, D.C. on January 22, 2010.

Two small (12-15 people) working groups will be formed—one to focus on business issues and the other to focus on technical issues. A third group, a Stakeholders Group, will also be formed to serve as a source of feedback on document drafts, and to provide community vetting of a final document.

If you are interested in actively participating in this initiative, please click here to learn more and to sign up for one of the working groups. Follow the instructions on the webpage.

New Specs & Standards

International Digital Publishing Forum, EPUB 2.1 Working Group Draft Charter

The mission of the EPUB 2.1 Working Group is to update EPUB 2.0.1 to expand its applicability as a delivery format, and as a cross-Reading System interchange and production format. Fourteen main problems are described that the Working Group is tasked to address in EPUB 2.1.

Library of Congress, MODS Guidelines Version 3 – Updated

This updated version of the guidelines for the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) combines the previous Library of Congress guidelines with the DLF/Aquifer Implementation Guidelines for Shareable MODS Records. Since the DLF/Aquifer guidelines took special note of the use of records by aggregators and references the DLF/NSDL Best Practices for Sharable Metadata, this information was also included.

DAISY Consortium, The First Release Candidate of Tobi, the Open Source Full Text/Full Audio Authoring Tool

The first Release Candidate (RC) of Tobi, the DAISY Consortium's open source full text/full audio authoring tool is now available for download. Tobi can be used to create original DAISY content or import an existing DAISY book for further production.

Media Stories

Mapping ONIX to MARC
OCLC Report, April 2010; by Carol Jean Godby

ONIX for Books is one of a family of standards developed by EDItEUR to aid in the exchange of electronic book metadata through the supply chain. When comparing an ONIX for Book record to a MARC catalog record, three types of results were identified: 1) unique data values that can be transferred directly to MARC, with only small formatting changes, if any; 2) structural differences such as field names vs. codes; and 3) coded data that cannot be copied but may be able to be mapped. The sections of each type of record devoted to bibliographic description are the most shareable but there are a number of complex issues including version differences, formatting conventions, syntax, semantics, etc. Ideally the relevant data from an ONIX record should be able to be automatically imported into the appropriate MARC fields. Opportunities also exist for enhancing publisher data with authoritative information from MARC records. An OCLC project is working to translate ONIX records to MARC 21, enhance them with data from OCLC's WorldCat database, make the resulting MARC record available to libraries, and translate the record back to ONIX for publishers. "The fundamental concept in the translation model is a map, which roughly corresponds to a row in a crosswalk defined by a metadata standards expert. A set of related maps is referred to informally as a mapping." Although the resulting crosswalk is considered "commercially viable," there are concerns about whether the amount of intellectual effort involved will make the crosswalk unsustainable. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: OCLC is a NISO voting member. For more on how ONIX and MARC are used in the supply chain, see the NISO/OCLC white paper: Streamlining Book Metadata Workflow.

Gutenberg 2.0: Harvard's libraries deal with disruptive change
Harvard Magazine, May-June 2010; by Jonathan Shaw

In the wake of the move to digital collections and initiatives like Google Books, the Harvard University Library appears museum-like to many. In some research disciplines, such as Chinese history or botany, historical information is critical. But in disciplines like physics and chemistry, where change is rapid, older knowledge often has little import. The Google Book Search project already has a collection of scanned books that is three-quarters the size of Harvard Library's. Harvard has provided nearly a million public domain books for the project. The librarian's future role could be that of information broker rather than curator, i.e. sifting through the voluminous information. In many disciplines, such as medicine, the specialist's skill in search and retrieval can be critical to his or her success. Worse than the lack of skill in retrieving this information, is the lack of knowledge that the databases even exist. Libraries could embrace a mission of becoming the center of information-processing intense research enterprises. Harvard did this by embedding a biomedical informatics center within the Countway Library at Harvard Medical School. Librarians there not only conduct courses in database content and searching, but they also research the data to identify contradictions and data that can't possibly be correct, essentially curating the data. Harvard's Law School Library completely reorganized its staff and their roles and changed their collection development policy to one more concerned with access than collecting. Harvard Business School's knowledge and library services staff includes teams dedicated to student and faculty research and course support. Harvard's Digital Repository Service is a growing electronic collection of files representing all types of information (books, maps, images, music, etc.). Its analog counterpart is the Harvard Depository, a climate-controlled warehouse of over 7.5 million books stored off-campus and delivered "just-in-time"—one business day after a request is made. Titles are barcoded and stored by size, not subject, to make the most efficient use of space. Originally intended for low-use titles, the depository is now used for most new books, avoiding the time-intensive sorting and pulling of older books from the libraries' shelves. The physical library space is being rethought as a place for collaborative learning / research. Both print and digital resources will continue to have their place in the foreseeable future. "The library is a vast, far-flung, varied institution, as varied and diverse as the intellectual community of the University itself, working for a range of constituents almost impossible to conceive of, and it's not just a service organization." (Link to Web Source)

STM Association Spring Conference: Are Publishers Listening?
The Scholarly Kitchen, Apr 29, 2010; by Ann Michael

Some common themes emerged from the first full day of the 2010 STM Conference. Librarians expressed a need to acquire content in a variety of forms and want the electronic versions available simultaneously with print. They also want e-books to be available for handheld and mobile devices. Publishing of research is becoming more important than ever as government funding is decreasing and other sources of funding are required. The published research is important in attracting private funding, grants, contracts, etc. Conflicting with the need for more published research is the observation that peer reviewers are becoming more difficult to obtain. Andrea Kravetz at Elsevier, explained that direct observations of how users access information can be very valuable in designing information products, especially electronic ones. Deborah Lenares of Wellesley College described a successful patron-driven acquisition pilot, where " the college paid nothing for the first five minutes a book was reviewed, 10-15% of the list price the first and second times the material was viewed for more than five minutes, and the book was purchased at list price on its third use." Philip Bourne, Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Science, asked STM publishers for more help in managing scientists' workflow and emphasized that "traditional PDF is an inferior way to convey science." (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: Reed Elsevier is a NISO voting member.

Embedding Library Resources into Learning Management Systems
College & Research Library News, 71(4), April 2010, pp. 208-212; by Emily Daly

Duke University students want to be able to access library resources online and remotely. A 2007 survey confirmed, however, that students were not taking advantage of many of the library resources available to them. With more than 70% of Duke's undergraduate courses utilizing the university's Blackboard course site, the library decided it needed a presence on Blackboard. "Ask a Librarian" was added to all of the course sites in 2007, but received little traffic. To enhance the library's presence, four librarians were given coursebuilder access to a dozen course sites. They then embedded such information as links to relevant library resources, feeds from social bookmarking sites, links to subject-specific databases, and help for citing sources into the course page. Successful feedback led to 16 librarians embedding information on 56 course sites in 2008. Following a library task force recommendation, a switch was made to acquiring and using LibGuides to design more appealing content that was then linked into the Blackboard course sites. Although feedback was once again very positive and usage statistics were up, the current process was not deemed to be scalable to the 1,700 course sites created each semester. An automated process was created where clicking on Library Guides in Blackboard creates a subject coded on-the-fly URL, redirects to an open source middleware tool, and then matches to the LibGuide created for the specific subject code. Subject librarians were asked to create LibGuides for many of the 263 subject codes. Some codes are linked to a general library resource introductory LibGuide and some interdisciplinary codes link to multiple subject guides. Subsequent surveys and interviews showed that the manually-linked course guides—which often include direct contact with the listed librarian—were more heavily used than the automatically linked guides, although both types received positive feedback. While both types are being continued, librarians are encouraged to foster relationships with faculty and develop the course-specific guides, thus becoming "embedded librarians." (Link to Web Source)

ONIX for Publications Licenses: Getting an Electronic Grip on License Information
The Serials Librarian, 58(1-4), January 2010, pp. 79-86; by Todd A. Carpenter

As electronic journals have proliferated, so have the number and variety of licenses for using the information. Two initiatives in the 1990s led the way in having more standardized or model licenses. A NISO DOI Rights Metadata Working Group then developed a conceptual model illustrating the interaction between Object, User, Operation, Price, and Pre-existing Agreement. The DLF Electronic Resource Management Initiative (ERMI) begun in 2002 concluded that there were no rights expression languages at the time that were practical to use with an ERM system. The initiative did, however, include elements for describing license terms in their recommended data element dictionary. In 2004, EDItEUR began work on an ONIX messaging format for licensing terms with an initial focus on licenses for the electronic publications used in libraries. A NISO/EDItEUR/PLS project created a map between ERMI and ONIX-PL licensing elements. A follow-up ONIX-PL Working Group is continuing to work on getting broader adoption of the exchange format. ONIX-PL has over 89 license terms to address the range of potential rights that may appear in a license and six types of permissions. Since many licenses are deliberately vague, the encoding format provides for indicating that a permission has been "interpreted." For libraries, getting license information in ONIX-PL eliminates the need for manually entering information into and ERM and makes the provision of the license to the end user much easier. Use of the format can also aid in license negotiations, allowing both parties to better understand the proposed rights and exclusions and focus on areas of concern. Several publishers have already begun using ONIX-PL and the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium is exploring the use of ONIX-PL to populate its consortial ERM. EDItEUR has developed an open source visual editing tool, ONIX-PL Editor (OPLE), to aid publishers and libraries in encoding licenses in the required XML format. The editing tool can be used stand-alone or directly integrated into an ERM or other relevant system. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: For more on the ONIX-PL working group, visit their workroom webpage.