Information Standards Quarterly, Summer 2009

Letter from the Editor

NOTE TO READER: Download the PDF of this issue.

One of the comments that NISO receives regularly is: “What happens with standards once they are published?” The work of standards organizations and working groups does not end when consensus is reached and the documents are published. The difficult work of implementation goes on throughout the life of a standard. Encouraging adoption of voluntary consensus standards in the community often requires significant education, hand-holding, and some cajoling to get all the key players to buy into the process. In the information supply community, it is ultimately the end users that provide the coercive force to drive adoption by the suppliers.

This issue highlights several projects that are in the implementation stage of their lifecycle, where the development has been completed and the standard or recommendation is in the earliest phases of adoption. After many years of work, the International Standard Text Code (ISTC) has been published by ISO. The International ISTC Agency, responsible for registration and maintenance activities, is in full implementation and promotion mode. Andy Weissberg of Bowker, one of the organizational partners of the ISTC Agency, explains the standard and what is being done to support its use and adoption in the community. Although the NISO Journal Article Versions recommendations were published last year, it is not the only standard addressing this issue. Jones & Plutchak point out that there is more in common than in conflict in the two “versions.” This work also dovetails with another set of recommendations produced by NFAIS on Journal Article publication, which is described by O’Neill & Lawlor. These two articles are just one effort to encourage adoption of the respective recommendations. Finally, Weinberg’s report on the IFLA Guidelines for Multilingual Thesauri, rounds out the coverage of published work needing consideration and adoption.

Of course, there is need for continued development work beyond the attention that needs to be paid to adoption. NISO’s Discovery to Delivery Topic Committee is managing several NISO projects still in the development stage as O’Brien and Shearer describe. And our conference reports section highlights needs in the areas of measurement, e-books, and resource sharing that need standardization as well as efforts that are already underway in those arenas.

Finally, we continue our year-long series on the history of NISO as part of celebrating our organization’s 70th anniversary. In this issue, we complete our NISO timeline, bringing it up to date with NISO’s recent changes and accomplishments. The final installment in our next issue will wrap up the series with a view of NISO’s future. Part of the future work will be a continued focus on adoption and compliance. Mindful of the effort that has brought us to this point and the implementations still before us, we will also need to explore where the changes in the information landscape are pushing the community and how this will also require new best practices, and standards.

In the meantime, enjoy this issue and consider how best to apply the standards described here in your own environment.