Standards Watch

SSO, Information retrieval, Terminology policies

Ever-vigilant Cindy Hepfer, ALA Voting Representative to NISO, has forwarded an additional three items to us from NISO. The first is a proposed new work Item on Single Sign-On (SSO) Authentication. From the explanation provided by NISO:

“This year NISO has launched a new Chair’s Initiative–a project of the chair of NISO’s Board of Directors, focusing on a specific issue that would benefit from study and the development of a recommended practice or standard. Oliver Pesch, NISO’s current Board of Directors Chair, has chosen the issue of perfecting a seamless, item-level linking through single sign-on authentication technologies in a networked information environment. This Work Item Proposal follows NISO’s February 11, 2009 webinar “SSO Authentication: Understanding the Pieces of the Puzzle.” The proposal was approved by the Discovery to Delivery Topic Committee on March 16, 2009, and is now being sent to the NISO voting membership for agreement to begin a new work project and to elicit expressions of interest in participating in the work. NISO Working Group participation is not limited to NISO members.

The goal of this work item is to explore practical solutions for improving the success of SSO authentication technologies for providing a seamless experience for the user and to promote the adoption of one or more of these solutions to make the access improvements a reality. To achieve this objective, this proposal is to convene a NISO working group to explore the problem and deliver one or more Recommended Practice documents describing possible solutions and to implement an education and adoption plan for encouraging implementation of the solution(s).”

A three page proposal is available at

Cindy explains that the voting options are “Yes” (approve the project), “No” (do not approve the project), “Abstain” (from voting). Comments are required for No votes. She adds, “If ALA would like to nominate someone to participate on the working group (if the project is approved), I can provide a name and contact information. So please let me know if there are individuals I should nominate, and please provide their contact information and perhaps a brief statement regarding their interest/expertise in this area. If you have any questions, please contact me. If I do not hear a darned good reason to vote otherwise, I intend to vote YES on behalf of ALA on the proposed SSO Authentication work item.” The deadline for comments to Cindy on this work item is Wednesday, April 15.

The second item in this group from Cindy involves a review ballot for ANSI/NISO Z39.50-2003, Information Retrieval: Application Service Definition & Protocol Specification. A copy of this standard can be found in the list of NISO standards at Z39.50-2003 is currently available — for free — by going to page 3, clicking on View Details area beside Z39.50 and then clicking on the PDF link from that page.

In accordance with NISO’s Operating Procedures, all review ballots distributed are accompanied with a recommended action from the leadership group managing the review. NISO’s Discovery to Delivery Topic Committee is managing this review, and recommends a vote of “Reaffirm” for ANSI/NISO Z39.50-2003, Information Retrieval: Application Service Definition & Protocol Specification.

As a member of the voting pool, ALA is required to vote on this ballot, with one of the following voting options:
–Reaffirm with no change
–Revise (If this action is approved, NISO will appoint a Working Group to develop the revised standard. The current version remains in effect until a revised version is approved)
–Withdraw (If this action is approved, the standard will be removed from the list of approved NISO standards. The standard will remain available as a withdrawn standard for five (5) years)

Recommendations to vote either Revise or Withdraw should be accompanied by comments.
Cindy adds: “Unless I hear otherwise from ALA members, I will vote on the organization’s behalf to reaffirm this important standard with no change. However, if anyone within ALA has revisions to suggest or believes that the standard should be withdrawn, please contact me ( and be prepared with very solid reasons. The deadline for you to respond to me is April 27. I will be leaving town on April 29 for several days and will be away from email. So if you have any negative feedback, reaching me even earlier than April 27 would be extremely helpful.”

The third item in this group of announcements is one from ISO, containing the ballot for ISO/DIS 29383, Terminology policies — Development and implementation. The text of this ballot is as follows:

“This is a liaison standard from ISO/TC 37, Terminology and other language and content resources, Subcommittee SC 1, Principles and methods. This standard was previously issued in two parts when it was a Committee Draft (CD). The Draft International Standard (DIS) version has now merged those parts into one standard. This International Standard provides campaigners, policy-makers and other decision makers in governments and administration, non-profit and commercial organizations with guidelines and a methodology for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic plan for stating a terminology policy, i.e. a conscious, systematic and managed approach to the creation, maintenance and use of terminology in, and for, defined user communities.”

Because this is ISO, not NISO, those interested in reviewing the proposed standard and providing feedback to NISO (via Cindy) as to whether to vote to approve or disapprove the standard must apply to Cindy ( for a copy of the text. Please include a statement of ALA membership when applying to Cindy for a copy, as she’s not authorized to supply copies to anyone other than ALA members. Cindy’s deadline for comments is a bit more generous for this one: July 22, 2009.

Diane I. Hillmann
LITA Standards Coordinator

One comment

  1. Jonathan Rochkind

    I’m confused why an announcement about investigating an SSO standard doesn’t mention the existing SSO standard that comes from the library community, Shibboleth? Does this announcement mean that some find Shibboleth wanting and desire a new different standard?

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