|The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has announced
that a new committee is now being organized to develop standards that will
enable interoperable, networked reference services. Digital reference services
are a rapidly growing extension of the traditional "behind the desk" reference
service offered by virtually all libraries. Digital reference, whether
delivered via real-time chat or asynchronous e-mail, allows library patrons
to submit questions and receive answers via electronic means.
A NISO-sponsored Workshop on Networked Digital Reference Services was
held April 2526, 2001 (http://www.niso.org/news/NISOinitiatives.html#digital)
to explore potential areas of standardization. The participants agreed
that there are two general areas in which standardization should be explored
to support networked digital reference and possibly collaborative networked
digital reference. Following on this workshop, the new standards committee
will explore standards development in these two areas. It will develop
a question-processing transaction protocol for interchange of messages
between digital reference domains. This will support processing and routing
of questions and responses and packaging of other information to be exchanged.
It will also build a metadata element set to identify and describe key
components of both question and answer data and institutional and personal
The Networked Reference Services Committee (Standards Committee AZ)
will be chaired by Sally H. McCallum from the Library of Congress. McCallum
intends to form the committee into two teams to deal with question-processing
transaction protocol and networked reference metadata element sets.
Source: NISO, Bethesda, MD, 301/654-2512; http://www.niso.org.