Helping patrons find the information they need is an important part of the library profession, and in the past decade the profession has seen the rise of dedicated “discovery systems” to address that need. The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is active at the intersection of libraries, content suppliers, and service providers in smoothing out the wrinkles between these parties:
In early October, NISO will be hosting a two-day forum on the future of resource discovery in libraries. This is an in-person meeting to extend the work of Marshall Breeding’s paper on the same topic that was published earlier this year:
One of the things discussed in the NISO patron privacy conference calls has been the need for transparency with patrons about what information is being gathered about them and what is done with it. The recent announcement by Google of a "My Account" page and a privacy question/answer site got me thinking about what such a system might look like for libraries. Google and libraries are different in many ways, but one similarity we share is that people use both to find information. (This is not the only use of Google and libraries, but it is a primary use.) Might we be able to learn something about how Google puts users in control of their activity data? Even though our motivations and ethics are different, I think we can.
Yesterday Bobbi Newman posted Thinking Out Loud About Patron Privacy and Libraries on her blog. Both of us are on the NISO committee to develop a Consensus Framework to Support Patron Privacy in Digital Library and Information Systems, and her article sounded a note of discouragement that I hope to dispel while also outlining what I’m hoping to see come out of the process. I think we share a common belief: the privacy of our patron’s activity data is paramount to the essence of being a library. I want to pull out a couple of sentences from her post:
As you are planning your trip to the 2013 LITA Forum in Louisville in mid-November, plan to stay a few hours longer to attend the ResourceSync Tutorial happening after the close of the main conference on Sunday. Herbert van de Sompel will lead this 3-hour session where attendees can learn about how the emerging ResourceSync standard can be used to synchronize web resources between servers. There is no cost to attend the post-conference tutorial, but we would appreciate knowing how many people are coming. Please select the post conference checkbox on the registration form to let us know.
At the American Library Association meeting in Chicago last month I gave a 20 minute presentation that was a combination of an overview of interoperability and standards plus a brief overview of the ResourceSync activity for the NISO Update session. Included below are my slides with a synchronized audio track.
My employer (LYRASIS) is a member of NISO (the accredited standards organization for information and documentation in the U.S.), and as the primary contact I see and consider ballots for standards issues that impact LYRASIS member libraries. The Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Application Protocol Specification (a.k.a. ISO 10160/10161) is up for its periodic review, and there is a bit of interesting movement on this standard. ISO 10160/10161 became a standard in 1993 so it predates the modern era of the web. The group shepherding the standard realized that progress had overtaken the specification and they started work on a reformulation of inter-machine ILL standards. This ballot and its supplemental documentation gives a view of the plans.
ResourceSync — a joint effort of NISO and the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) team with work funded by the Sloan Foundation — has published a draft specification that I urge members of the library technology community to look at. Building on the OAI-PMH strategies for synchronizing metadata, this project is modern web architecture technologies to enable the synchronization of the objects themselves, not just their metadata. From the abstract of the draft specification:
This ResourceSync specification describes a synchronization framework for the web consisting of various capabilities that allow third-party systems to remain synchronized with a server’s evolving resources. The capabilities can be combined in a modular manner to meet local or community requirements. The specification also describes how a server can advertise the synchronization capabilities it supports and how third party systems can discover this information. The specification repurposes the document formats defined by the Sitemap protocol and introduces extensions for them.
In September, Carl Grant wrote a blog post on the ownership of library data (“We have a problem… another vendor appearing to need education about exactly WHO owns library data“) that has been rolling around my own thoughts for, well, months. The spark of Carl’s post was a Twitter conversation where a major library system vendor appeared to be taking steps to limit what library/customers can do with their own data.
My employer recently became a member of NISO and I was made the primary representative. This is my first formal interaction with the standards organization heirarchy (NISO → ANSI → ISO) and as one of the side effects I’m being asked to provide advice to NISO on how its vote should be cast on relevant ISO ballots. Much of it has been pretty routine so far, but today one jumped out at me — the systematic review for the standard ISO 2709:2008, otherwise blandly known as Information and documentation — Format for information exchange. You might know it as the underlying structure of MARC. (Though, to describe it accurately, MARC is a subset or profile of ISO 2709.) And the voting options are: Confirm (as is), Revise/Amend, Withdraw (the standard), or Abstain (from the vote).