As part of the NISO Plus scholarship application process, we included this optional question:

If you were an information standard, which one would you be and why? 

(Hint, visit the standards page on the NISO website for inspiration!)

To our delight, many of the applicants chose to respond, with a wonderful variety of answers. Amazingly, each of our scholarship winners chose a different standard to represent them — a nice reflection of the group’s diversity! We’re happy to share their answers here (anonymously) in hopes that you’ll enjoy them as much as we and our Scholarship Committee members did.

1)The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (ANSI/NISO Z39.85-2012)

This course during my Master’s study was one of the most intriguing although it took me some time to warm up to its use and purpose. The course asked us to create metadata for a personal collection. I used my James Bond VHS collection. I was able to mesh Dublin Core with PBS’s element set. It was quite fun once I figured out just how vitally important such information is in larger collections to locate items of interest and help users locate what they seek expeditiously. I also find it simultaneously complex and comforting that letters and words can have so much power and bring about much controversy. The creative writer and English scholar in me finds that reassuring.

2) Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative (SUSHI) Protocol (ANSI/NISO Z39.93-2014)

I chose this standard because it relates to my work; my library’s resources and services are 100% digital. Thus, all e-resource usage needs to be monitored and assessed to determine if the resources are serving the research needs of our students and the teaching/research needs of our faculty. This standard represents the work I do because I am always creating and requesting e-resource usage reports from vendors to manage and analyze our collections. The standard is appropriate for me because of its COUNTER reports that are useful in creating a standardized statistics protocol for libraries that rely heavily on digital collections and usage data. The COUNTER usage reports have made my work and that of other e-resources/collections librarians easier by making the process for vendors to generate reports in a much less time-consuming process. At a time when budgets are shrinking, and assessments and decisions are made frequently, the standard has been an effective way to gauge our collection’s impact on research/teaching.

3) Permanence of Paper for Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives (ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R2009))

Even in our digital age, I like that we as a community care about paper and the information that will be preserved on it. I’m also interested in the technical knowledge that is required to know that particular types of paper will last.

4) Placement Guidelines for Information on Spines (ANSI/NISO Z39.41-1997)

I love this question! It was very difficult for me to decide because I love rules and standards, and consistency. When I try to stray from a consistent habit I always go back and fix it. Having a standardized format for book spines is so important. I could not imagine browsing a shelf at the library, in a bookstore, or in my home and not having the information in a consistent location. The stated purpose of ANSI/NISO Z39.41-1997 is to ensure a standard location for data, and that is right up my alley.

5) Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Controlled Vocabularies (ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2005 (R2010))

I love working with controlled vocabularies and work toward developing them in my daily life. I am frequently normalizing vocabulary we use in translation. For example, if I am converting metadata in German for an electronic resource and it has a link to a Klappentexte, I make sure all catalogers use “Publisher’s Description” as the translation. A literal translation of Klappentexte would be “text that appears on the flap of the book,” but it often appears on the back of the book itself. I guess you could say I’m excited to normalize vocabularies and use controlled vocabularies, so that is the standard I would be.

6) Authoring and Interchange Framework for Adaptive XML Publishing Specification (ANSI/NISO Z39.98-2012)

If I had to identify myself as a singular NISO standard, I would say that I am probably ANSI/NISO Z39.98-2012 — not because I work with XML documents and transferring of information but because this standard is rooted in a desire to make information of all types universally accessible.

7) OpenURL Framework for Content-Sensitive Services (ANSI/NISO Z39. 88-2004 (R2010))

The information standard that would suit me would be the OpenURL Framework for Content-Sensitive Services. This framework establishes essential metadata components that will ultimately communicate with links to get users to the desired content and access information. As an Electronic Resources Librarian, I “link” people to the information they need every day.

8) Guidelines for Abstracts (ANSI/NISO Z39.14-1997 (R2015))

I chose Guidelines for Abstracts because clear communication and the succinct transfer of information is essential to my role as a publisher. The majority of my professional relationships are conducted through email with individuals from various backgrounds, with different knowledge sets, and whom I have not met in person and do not have a personal relationship with. Therefore, in my professional dealings, information must be transferred in a way that is comprehensible and actionable by individuals from various nationalities and professional profiles. As with abstracts, in all of my communications “[b]asic content must be quickly identifiable, both by readers of the primary literature and by users of access services.”

9) STS: Standards Tag Suite (ANSI/NISO Z39.102-2017)

If I were a standard I would be STS: Standards Tag Suite because it enables interoperability, which is one of the focuses of my work. I believe more exchange and data sharing across systems, organizations, and countries can improve scholarly communication, and add transparency and trust in research information. Also 2017 is the year I started working in this field, so this standard relates to me 🙂

10) The U.S. National Z39.50 Profile for Library Applications (ANSI/NISO Z39.89-2003 (S2014))  

My choice would be based on current IT infrastructure, applications, ability to integrate and interoperate, nature of users or access, and level of usage by other institutions.

11) Specifications for the Digital Talking Book (ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005)

I’m dyslexic, I have to go with this one. As a child I had nothing like this, I had a ruler I’d run down the page so I wouldn’t lose my place amid the moving words. Thankfully my dyslexia was mild enough that this didn’t stop me developing a passion for reading. Audio books are the fastest growing publishing format, and image DTBs are similarly growing in reach and scope. I think this illustrates a long overdue understanding of the commercial power of people with disabilities. However, I think this change is more than just an attempt at making print material more accessible, but a larger shift within the publishing industry to have a wider audience. The inclusion of text with corresponding audio can be particularly helpful for users with print disabilities, as being able to read and listen simultaneously often results in greater comprehension. The move towards this is obviously incredibly constructive for disabled readers. However, having looked at the RNIB website, I can request a catalog in Braille or call their helpline, but need to go to the website and read how to do this. The RNIB offers just over 30,000 books, which is a huge step in making these titles more accessible, but there is obviously a long way to go for users of DTBs to have a comprehensive library available to them. Having literature available for everyone is something I’m incredibly passionate about. I think the industry shift towards both audio and e-books represents an important step towards inclusion both for disabled and non-disabled users, but it’s far from an even playing field.

12) CRediT

Yes, it’s not a standard quite yet, but neither am I all that I hope to be just yet. Apart from that (admittedly cheesy) technicality, not only is CRediT directly involved in my work with submission systems, but it also allows for more transparency by disclosing who’s done what in a paper, and I’ve come to understand transparency as ethics, given that if you’ve done everything according to good practices, then you’ve got nothing to hide. I also value making sure everyone’s gotten proper recognition for their work, because not doing so is both unfair and demoralizing. Not only that, but recognizing there are different types of labor involved in writing a paper helps our understanding of the levels of complexity in doing research (and, really, everything else) entails, hopefully meaning some roles that people might not think of as “important enough” are also given proper value, which I’m all for; the person bringing one’s mail is no less important than the person editing what they’ve written or curating the data.

Many thanks to the NISO Plus 2020 scholarship winners for giving us permission to use their responses: Kimberly Arleth (American Psychological Association), Melissa Close (Emerald Group Publishing), Kelly Denzer (Davidson College), Elizabeth Fedden (Leo Baeck Institute), Qiana Johnson (Northwestern University Libraries), Marisela Madrigal (Bates College), Gabriela Mejias (ORCID), Lega Martin Yoyo Mogga (World Health Organization), Raymond Pun (Alder Graduate School of Education), Gabrielle Rundle (Emerald Publishing), Carolina Tanigushi (SciELO), and Clarissa West-White (Bethune Cookman University).


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