May 17, 2022

Standards: NISO Publishes Updated Recommended Practice on SERU: A Shared Electronic Resource Understanding

From NISO’s Announcement:

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announces the publication of a new edition of the recommended practice SERU: A Shared Electronic Resource Understanding (NISO RP-7-2012). The SERU Recommended Practice offers a mechanism that can be used as an alternative to a license agreement by expressing commonly shared understandings between content providers and libraries. These understandings include such things as the definition of authorized users, expectations for privacy and confidentiality, and online performance and service provisions. The 2012 updated version of SERU recognizes both the importance of making SERU more flexible for those who want to expand its use beyond e-journals, while acknowledging the fact that consensus for other types of e-resource transactions are not as well-established as they are for e-journals.

“The 2008 version of SERU was eagerly adopted by a number of libraries and publishers to streamline the acquisition of e-journals,” states Selden Lamoureux, E-Resources Librarian with SDLinforms and Co-chair of the NISO SERU Standing Committee. “Since then, with the many emerging models for acquiring e-books, both libraries and e-book providers have requested that other types of electronic resources be incorporated into the SERU framework. This new version uses language that can be applied to a wide variety of e-resources while retaining the same shared understandings that made the previous version so useful.”

“SERU offers publishers and libraries the opportunity to save both the time and the costs associated with a negotiated and signed license agreement by agreeing to operate within a framework of shared understanding and good faith,” explains Judy Luther, President of Informed Strategies and Co-chair of the NISO SERU Standing Committee. “SERU reflects some well-established and widely accepted common expectations concerning e-resources acquisitions. In those instances where there is as yet no standard expectation, a shared understanding may still be achieved if expectations are clearly articulated in the purchase order that accompanies SERU.”

“Widespread adoption of the SERU model for electronic resource transactions offers substantial benefits to both publishers and libraries by removing the overhead of license negotiation,” asserts Todd Carpenter, NISO Executive Director. “The SERU Registry of those interested in using the SERU approach already contains over 70 publishers and content providers and185 libraries and consortia. The expansion of the recommendations to address additional types of e-resources should interest more organizations in joining the SERU registry.”

Direct to SERU Recommended Practice (11 pages; PDF)

Direct to SERU Registry

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.