Headshot of NISO Managing Director, Todd Carpenter

January 2012

This time of the year brings out the pundits who like to look back on the past year and also predict the future. Fortunately, that isn't how I make a living, since my crystal ball is frequently misted and cloudy. Just keeping up with all the e-readers and tablets is a challenge. A few weeks ago, I was among the first to receive the latest glitzy gadget to add to my collection: an Amazon Kindle Fire. I had ordered one the morning they went on sale, so when it arrived, I was of course excited to kick its tires, so to speak. There have been many reviews and critiques of its features, which I won't add to. However I believe the implications of the device and the trends it represents will reverberate through the coming years.

One of the more interesting of these trends is an increasingly rapid shift to the "cloud" for networked storage and server-side processing. The Fire is a full-throated call to move to the cloud. In part to keep its price down, the Fire is available with only 8 GB of storage (6 GB available for user content), which only allows for a limited amount of movies, music, applications, and books to be stored on the device. Relying on streaming movies and applications is almost a necessity with such relatively modest capacity. Of course, this positions Amazon well for the on-demand rental market for content—the method that will be, in all likelihood, how content will be consumed in the years going forward.

I've written about the issues with renting versus owning on several occasions. While I am a fan of Netflix, Spotify, online streaming, etc., I move forward with renting with trepidation. Content owners should likewise move cautiously, although they may not have that luxury as Amazon, Apple, and other technology companies squeeze them on all sides. While there are potential benefits from this model, there are added responsibilities that content providers should be aware of. Many of the potential responses to these challenges are standards related.

One considerably innovative feature of the Fire is its browser, Silk, that uses pre-cached websites stored on Amazon's Web Services. While I haven't identified any problems that Silk is aiming to solve or noticed that speeds are increased appreciably, I can see the logic in Amazon's approach. Silk seems more of an opportunity to filter and analyze web traffic pushed through Amazon's portal, and thereby control web traffic presentation options. We should all be very leery of services that purport to provide a better web experience by piping content through a consolidated web interface rather than via open, standards-based communication.

On an entirely different note, it is appropriate that each year we take a moment to recognize and reflect on those who passed in the prior year. While there were several notable luminaries in the tech and information world who we lost in 2011, there was one who was quite close to NISO, who passed away unexpectedly in December. Larry Dixson worked at the Library of Congress as a Systems Analyst in the Network Development and MARC Standards Office for more than 30 years. He was deeply knowledgeable about and engaged in standards development, having served on a variety of working groups and contributing to standards initiatives from MARC and Z39.50 to metasearch and OpenURL. Most recently he had served as a member of NISO's Discovery to Delivery Topic Committee since its founding. His passing is a great loss to our community. On behalf of all in our community who knew Larry and worked with him, our deepest condolences and sympathies go to his family and close friends. He will certainly be missed.

Finally, I hope that we will see many of you during the NISO annual members meeting during the ALA Midwinter conference in Dallas on Sunday, January 22nd. All are welcome. More information is below.

I wish you all the very best of luck and prosperity throughout 2012.

Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Managing Director

NISO Reports

January Webinar: Identify This! Identify That! New Identifiers and New Uses

Just about everyone is familiar with the ISBN for books and the ISSN for serials. But new identifiers and new identifier standards have been developed for resources and for people and organizations. NISO's January 11 webinar, Identify This! Identify That! New Identifiers and New Uses, to be held from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST, will provide updates on three of the newest identifiers.

Speakers and topics:

  • ISTC (International Standard Text Code): The Identifier for Textual Works – Roy Crego, Product Manager, Title Linking/ISTC/ISNI, Bowker

  • ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier): Scope, Participation, and Operation – Janifer Gatenby, Research Integration and Standards, OCLC

  • ORCID: Open Researcher and Contributor ID – Chris Shillum, Vice President Product Management, Platform and Content at Elsevier

Visit the event webpage to register and for more information.

NISO @ ALA Midwinter

NISO will be holding several sessions open to the public at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Dallas, TX, in January. Please join us for any or all of the following and drop by our booth (#1259).

  • NISO AVIAC (Automation Vendors Interest Advisory Committee) Meeting, Friday, January 20, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., Fairmont Hotel, Terrace Room

  • NISO Bibliographic Future Meeting, Friday, January 20, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Fairmont Hotel, Royal Room

  • NISO Annual Meeting, Sunday, January 22, 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Bryan-Beeman Ballroom. Todd Carpenter will provide an update of the overall status of the organization, report on NISO's finances, and discuss NISO's strategic priorities.

  • NISO Update, Sunday, January 22, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Bryan-Beeman Ballroom. NISO working group members will discuss their projects and provide updates on the status. Several recently completed projects will also be discussed.

More information about these and some additional standards-related sessions is on the NISO @ ALA Midwinter 2012 event webpage.

February Webinar: Embracing the Cloud: Real Life Examples of Library Cloud Implementation

Cloud computing, a concept that has leapt onto the scene in the last few years, is available to libraries in the form of hosted systems for an ILS or for e-resource access. These systems take advantage of cheaper computing power, increased availability of services such as Amazon Web services, and new development strategies from library vendors. What does moving library information to a networked environment do to improve the overall management of the system? How can libraries leverage cloud-hosted and managed collections? Are there tradeoffs in terms of local control?

Learn the answers to these and related issues at NISO's February 8 webinar, Embracing the Cloud: Real Life Examples of Library Cloud Implementation. Speakers will be announced shortly.

For more information or to register, visit the event webpage.

NISO/DCMI Webinar: Taking Library Data from Here to There

NISO and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) kick off their joint webinar series on February 22 with Taking Library Data from Here to There, to be held from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST.

Libraries have been creating metadata for resources for well over a century. The good news is that library metadata is rules-based and that the library cataloging community has built up a wealth of knowledge about publications, their qualities, and the users who seek them. The bad news is that library practices were fixed long before computers would be used to store and retrieve the data. Library cataloging practice continues to have elements of the era of printed catalogs and alphabetized cards, and needs to modernize to take advantage of new information technologies. This metadata, however, exists today in tens of thousands of databases and there is a large sigh heard around the world whenever a librarian considers the need to make this massive change to the world of linked data.

This webinar will give an introduction to the types of changes that are needed as well as the value that can be realized in library services. Attendees will learn of some preparatory steps have already been taken, which should confirm that libraries have indeed begun the journey "From Here to There."


  • Karen Coyle, a consulting librarian specializing in metadata development, will present her Five Stars of Library Data—an analysis of the changes needed and some steps that libraries can begin to take immediately. She will also discuss the "open world" view of the linked data movement and how this view can increase the visibility of libraries in the global information space.

  • Thomas Baker, Chief Information Officer of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, was recently co-chair of the W3C Semantic Web Deployment Working Group, and currently co-chairs a W3C Incubator Group on Library Linked Data. He will discuss the recently issued final report of the Library Linked Data group and their recommendations for moving forward.

Visit the event webpage to register and for more information.

Updated Draft for SERU: A Shared Electronic Resource Understanding Issued for Public Comment

When A Shared Electronic Resource Understanding (SERU) (NISO RP-7-2008) was adopted as a NISO Recommended Practice (RP) 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 the SERU RP 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.

The draft document will be available for public review and comment from the SERU webpage from January 5 - February 19. An open teleconference will be held on January 9 from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. (EST) where co-chair Selden Lamoureux and other members of the SERU Standing Committee will review the changes to the RP and answer questions. The call is free and anyone is welcome to participate in the conversation. Just dial in at 3:00 p.m. to 877-375-2160 and supply the code 17800743# when prompted.

New Specs & Standards

ISO/IEC 19788-3:2011, Information technology – Learning, education and training – Metadata for learning resources – Part 3: Basic application profile

The primary purpose of ISO/IEC 19788 is to specify metadata elements and their attributes for the description of learning resources. This includes the rules governing the identification of data elements and the specification of their attributes. ISO/IEC 19788 provides data elements for the description of learning resources and resources directly related to learning resources and is designed to help implementers with a starting point for adopting the standard by defining an application profile for how the element set, defined in Part 2 of the standard, can be used.

ISO/IEC 24760-1:2011, Information technology – Security techniques – A framework for identity management – Part 1: Terminology and concepts

ISO/IEC 29100:2011 provides a privacy framework that specifies a common privacy terminology; defines the actors and their roles in processing personally identifiable information (PII); describes privacy safeguarding considerations; and provides references to known privacy principles for information technology.

IFLA Cataloguing Section's ISBD Review Group, New Project to Develop ISBD/XML Schema

The main goals of this new project are: (1) to build a consensus on the raison d'être of moving the International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) into the web environment, and define possible uses of such a product; (2) to develop an ISBD-XML schema; (3) to ensure the interoperability of the product with similar ones such as MARC/DCXML schemas, at least at the conceptual level, within the current Semantic Web technologies and services; (4) to liaise with relevant constituencies in the field; and (5) to propose further development of software tools and services.

Library of Congress, Geospatial Digital Formats

Thirty five descriptions of digital geospatial formats and two brief accompanying essays have been added to the Library of Congress website for Sustainability of Digital Formats. Geospatial digital formats are ones that can be used by geographic information systems (GIS) or other software applications to access, visualize, manipulate, and analyze geospatial data. Persons with specialized knowledge are encouraged to review and comment on the descriptions using this contact form.

W3C RDF Web Applications Working Group, First Public Working Draft for RDFa Lite 1.1

RDFa Lite is a minimalist version of RDFa that helps authors easily jump into the structured data world. It outlines a small subset of RDFa that will work for 80% of the Web authors doing simple data markup. While it is not a complete solution for advanced markup tasks, it does provide a good entry point for beginners.

W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group, Updated Techniques for WCAG 2.0 and Understanding WCAG 2.0

Techniques for WCAG 2.0 provides information to Web content developers that may be used in support of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 success criteria. It describes basic practices that are applicable to any technology as well as technology-specific techniques. Understanding WCAG 2.0 provides detailed information about each WCAG Success Criterion, including its intent, the key terms that are used in the success criterion, and how the success criteria in WCAG 2.0 will help people with different types of disabilities.

Media Stories

Libraries at Webscale
The OCLC Cooperative Blog, December 20, 2011; by George Needham

A recent Fast Company article described how the four leading internet companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google) are expected to compete in the marketplace over the next few years. A question was posed at the OCLC Global Council meeting in November about what libraries could offer that these four cannot. Bill Maes (Dalhousie University) summarized the answer: Values. Members at the Council meeting focused on a few dominant issues: funding, competition in education, and the concept of library values, specifically, "a need to make sure that the beliefs and goals of librarians are what we place at the center of our activities as we plan for the future in an increasingly crowded and complex information ecosystem." In reviewing the Libraries at Webscale report, which "examines some of the ways in which the Web has impacted information seeking," the Council honed in on two particular areas for leveraging library sharing, a core value. They were: 1) shared data, and 2) shared infrastructure. It is through such sharing and collaboration that libraries can compete in the webscale environment.
(Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: OCLC is a NISO voting member.

Ebooks on Fire: Controversies Surrounding Ebooks in Libraries
Searcher, 19(10), December 2011; by Charles Hamaker

The flexibility of the content of e-books presents many challenges, especially for long-term access and preservation. Access is impeded by the business model of leasing e-books so that the customer or even the seller/aggregator has no rights to keep and preserve the book. Content providers, such as Google Books, have disclaimers that state a user may lose access to a title at any time, or that any granted rights are revocable. Publishers, e.g. Random House, are also stating that they can change or edit a text, often without any notification or versioning—and then the original text may disappear. Even authors shouldn't have the right to change a published text and totally remove the original from posterity. "We have organizations dedicated to preserving the uncomfortable content of the published word. They are called libraries, and libraries are lagging in creating mechanisms to protect the very words that are one of their reasons for existence." All versions of an e-book need to be preserved as part of our culture. CrossRef has launched CrossMark, a clickable logo to draw attention to readers that journal article content has been changed and provide links to the most current information. The same approach is needed for e-books. Licensing with its ephemeral ownership is a major issue for libraries who have to rethink their whole approach to acquisitions and spend tremendous time in analyzing packages and licenses. Many e-books come with DRM software that further prevents users—and libraries— from various functions, such as printing the whole book. Some libraries are now refusing e-book licenses that do not contain rights for archiving and more libraries need to do the same. DRM software can also collect personally identifiable information about the user, a contradiction to libraries' traditional policy of privacy. E-book licenses often limit access to one user per book at a time and the distributor is required to maintain auditable records for the publishers to show enforcement. OverDrive has told its customers that some publishers plan to limit access based on geographic locations and the user's relationship to the library's service area. Amazon now allows loans of Kindle books, but even after a book is returned, information about the user, e.g. any annotations, are maintained—another privacy concern. California has passed the Reader Privacy Act to ensure that their laws governing reader privacy are extended to e-books. Long-term preservation of e-books cannot be ensured if only the publisher has archival rights. This responsibility needs to go to organizations, like libraries or CLOCKSS or Portico, with preservation of intellectual content as a main mission. UPCC has announced they will give perpetual access and archiving rights to their content. Library ILL and electronic reserves are also often limited by licenses or DRM. Pricing can be an issue when based on usage and the usage is higher than a library expected. Additional features such as group access and shared annotations need to be addressed. All the e-book stakeholders need to work towards agreement on e-book features, distribution, and preservation. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: NISO members mentioned in this article: 3M, CrossRef, Portico, and Project Muse (Johns Hopkins University Press). NISO has just initiated a new working group to develop standards for e-book annotation sharing and social reading.

What Does Creative Commons Mean for Science?
Wired.co.uk, December 15, 2011; by Olivia Solon

Science Commons was initiated to provide open solutions for access to research information by scientists. The goal is to get research findings and data that is currently hidden or protected into an environment where it can be easily shared and re-used, both preventing duplicate work and furthering new innovations. BioMed Central and PLoS are both using Science Commons licenses and open access to their publications. Nature Publishing Group is using Creative Commons (CC) licenses for selected journals. About 8-10% of 2009 journal articles were published in open access, with about a third using CC licenses. Science Commons is also encouraging the publication of "negative results" and wants to change the whole discussion about what "negative" means. Unfortunately, the current systems of tenure and grant awards use print journal article citations as a critical measure. Alicia Wise (Elsevier) notes some issues with a CC license, such as its interpretation in different legal jurisdictions. She feels the licenses are too generic and would also like to see them delivered through the ONIX-PL standard.
(Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: Elsevier is a NISO voting member.

A Dialogue on Patron-Driven Acquisitions
The Scholarly Kitchen [blog], January 3, 2012 by Joseph Esposito and Rick Anderson

Joe Esposito, looking at patron-driven acquisition (PDA) from the publisher's viewpoint, expresses surprise about some librarians' resistance to PDA as undermining the collection. Rick Anderson, providing the library viewpoint, agrees PDA might undermine collection comprehensiveness but feels it could also provide better patron access and save money. The usefulness of PDA depends on what goal the library is trying to accomplish, but the focus should be on patron-driven access—giving researchers access to what they need for their work when they need it, even if it is not a permanent acquisition. Esposito predicts there will be a continuum in PDA use with smaller libraries probably using it more. Anderson concurs and asserts that we need to understand that all research libraries are different. For some libraries, the collection is more than a vehicle for satisfying immediate research needs; these libraries will be less inclined to use PDA. Regardless of the library's place on the continuum of use, PDA is disruptive because it is shifting a role previously performed by a librarian to the user. Esposito points out it is also disruptive to publishers because books that libraries would have bought (that may never have circulated) are not purchased now. It's possible that PDA could even affect policies about what gets published in the future. Anderson agrees that publishers may have difficulty finding buyers of some high-quality but less relevant publications when they can't depend on library sales. But to what extent should libraries be expected to be the support for scholarly presses? Both Esposito and Anderson speculate on ways publishers could control PDA, e.g. not allowing it for e-books or charging higher prices for one-off PDA purchases than for approval plan or standing order purchases. Both are interested in seeing how the "long tail of low-readership books" is impacted by PDA, whether the "A" refers to acquisition or access. (Link to Web Source)

Electronic Resource Usage from Off-Campus Locations Soars According to Latest MINES for Libraries® Study
ARL Press Release, December 23, 2011

ARL and the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) used the OCUL's Scholars Portal to capture data on the usage of electronic resources for this second iteration of MINES (Measuring the Impact of Networked Electronic Services). During a 12-month period, 34,000 uses of electronic resources were randomly captured for analysis of user demographics, the purpose of use, and the location of the user when accessing the resources. "The results show the increasing value derived from the use of digital content, and document the emerging use of digital resources in the humanities, and the soaring use of electronic resources from off-campus locations. OCUL libraries and the Scholars Portal are using the data to better tailor services, justify funding, make collection decisions, and assess the impact of the electronic resources on teaching, learning, and research. The report also summarizes the major differences between the current 2010-2011 study and the earlier 2004-2005 effort. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: ARL is a NISO voting member. The full MINES report is available for free download.