May 28, 2022

NISO Publishes Recommended Practice on Promoting Transparency in Library Discovery Services

A new day means the publication of another recommended practice from the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). Yesterday, NISO organization published: Recommended Practice on Demand Driven Acquisition of Monographs Published by NISO.

Today, NISO released Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery (NISO RP-19-2014).

From Release Announcement:

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announces the publication of a new recommended practice, Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery (NISO RP-19-2014), which provides specific guidelines on participation in the new generation of library discovery services. The NISO Open Discovery Initiative (ODI) began work in 2011 to develop recommendations that would increase transparency across all aspects of indexed discovery services. The group’s final publication includes guidelines to content providers on disclosure of level of participation, the minimum set of metadata elements provided for indexing, linking practices, and technical formats. Recommendations for discovery service providers address content listings, linking practices, file formats and methods of transfer to be supported, and usage statistics. The document also provides background information on the evolution of discovery and delivery technology and a standard set of terminology and definitions for this technology area.

“An increasing number of libraries, especially those that serve academic or research institutions, have invested in the new generation of discovery services that use an aggregated central index to enable searching across a wide range of library related resources,” explains Marshall Breeding, an independent library consultant and Co-chair of the ODI Working Group. “These libraries expect their entire collection, including licensed and purchased electronic content, to be made available within their discovery service of choice. But it is often not clear which resources are available and which are indexed in full text, by citations only, or both. Libraries deserve a clear explanation of the degree of availability of the content they license in their discovery service—and they need usage statistics to help assess the effectiveness of their discovery tool.”

“Index-based discovery services involve a complex ecosystem of interrelating issues and interests among content providers, libraries, and discovery service creators,” states Jenny Walker, an independent publishing consultant and Co-chair of the ODI Working Group. “The ODI Working Group included participation and input from all three stakeholders in the development of these recommendations. These recommendations are intended to encourage participation by the content providers in providing their content for indexing, transparency for libraries with regard to the level of indexing for different collections in the discovery services, and implementation of best practice by the discovery services regarding unbiased linking to source material, the neutrality of algorithms for generating result sets, relevance rankings, and link order.”

“NISO and the ODI Working Group intend to support the Recommended Practice with follow-up efforts,” states Todd Carpenter, NISO Executive Director. “Areas of further investigation potentially include collaborative discussion mechanisms, discovery of content via application programming interfaces, handling of restricted content, on-demand lookup, and interaction with COUNTER about usage statistics related to discovery services.”

Direct to Full Text: Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery (NISO RP-19-2014).

Direct to ODI Working Group Roster

Direct to Additional Materials and Background From ODI Working Group

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.