Standards Watch

Another Standards Opportunity

Betty Landesman, ALA Representative to NISO, sent a recent email around with some information about ISO/NP 27730, the International Standard Collection Identifier (ISCI). This is a new project proposal to develop an international standard identifier for collections in libraries and related organizations such as archives, museums, and publishers, and is directly related to NISO’s draft standard Z39.91, Collection Description Specification.

Unfortunately, the proposal is behind ISO’s pay-to-view firewall, which is a real impediment for those of us who’d like to look before jumping in. She sent a copy of it around with her email, so it would be available from her, or from me, if you’d like to take a look. (Betty is at:, and I can be found at:
The proposal is at

From the Introduction, the need for this standard is succinctly stated:

“ISO TC46 has developed standard identifiers for a wide variety of entities. However, a standard identifier for collections and fonds has not been built. In the past there has not been a need for such an identifier, either, but the situation has changed. There is now a large number of collections and fonds and a broad range of organisations hosting them. These collections and fonds can be physical or electronic, partly physical and partly electronic, or virtual; they can be available either on-line in the Internet or off-line.

The need for identifying collections and fonds has emerged with introduction of metasearch engines, which do – or will – include collection descriptions as a means of helping the patrons to locate relevant information. An identifier is generally seen as one of the key metadata elements of collection description; while it is possible to use local identifiers, in an environment where global exchange of this kind of metadata is anticipated, usage of local identifiers is not a good option. Local collection or fond identifiers do not enable either efficient searching or duplicate detection.

The aim of this standard is to enable a system which requires neither a large – and expensive – international centre nor large national/ regional centres, even if tens or hundreds of thousands of collections and fonds are identified.”

Betty points out that, as this is an ISO and not a NISO proposal, ALA is providing feedback to NISO, which they will consider prior to submitting the U.S. recommendation. Betty says, “If our recommendation is “yes”, NISO has asked us to indicate if we have an expert to nominate to work on the committee.”

Recommendations and comments are due to NISO by July 13, 2007. However, since Betty will no longer be the ALA NISO representative after June 30, she would really like to get this wrapped up before or right after ALA if at all possible. To that end, she asks that those with opinions send your recommendations to her by Friday, June 29. I would be happy to provide an avenue for those recommendations (and will likely make some suggestions myself). Betty mentions that in the absence of other recommendations, ALA will recommend that NISO vote to approve the proposal.

One comment

  1. Todd Carpenter

    As with any NISO or ISO proposal or initiative, you can always feel free to contact NISO directly. The best person to send your questions to is Karen Wetzel (kwetzel AT niso org). She can provide additional information of any of the work underway for discussion or comment.


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