Standards: NISO Launches Project to Create a Flexible API Framework for E-Content in Libraries
Voting Members of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) have approved a new project to modernize library-vendor technical interoperability to improve the access of digital library content and electronic books. Building upon a set of API (Application Programming Interface) Requirements developed by Queens Library, a new NISO Working Group will create a foundational API set that the library community can build on. This set will fulfill an array of user and library needs, including quicker response times, flexible item discovery and delivery options, improved resource availability, and more seamless integration of electronic and physical resources.
Library patrons should expect an excellent user experience and requisite level of convenience should be built into all customer-facing tools that service library patrons. This project is being undertaken to bring patrons’ library experiences in line with the modern tools and technologies-especially mobile technologies-they are accustomed to using in other areas of their lives. Currently, libraries use varied technologies, some of which rely on outdated and slow communication protocols, to provide services to users. By establishing standards on RESTful Web services APIs as well as standard mobile extensions, the library industry will leave many archaic, difficult-to-use tool sets behind, and allow libraries more flexibility in meeting local needs.
“11.2 million patrons visited the Queens Library in 2015,” says Kelvin Watson, Chief Operating Officer, Senior Vice President, Queens Library. “It’s imperative that we keep them coming back by providing fast, efficient service that rivals what they experience in the commercial world. Queens Library, which serves one of the five most diverse counties in the United States, has a vested interest in undertaking this work to customize library operations for specialized local needs. We are excited to have initiated this project at NISO and we look forward to working with other participants to actualize our draft framework.”
Volunteer working group members will deliver a foundational framework, in the form of a NISO Recommended Practice, that will communicate an understanding of how libraries should provide and receive data. These library-related communications and functions could include customized genre or category views for browse, search, and discovery of collections; user authentication; transmission of account information; management of barcodes; check out and return of items, streaming of online material, and other requirements as determined by stakeholders. Work will also include the creation of several proof-of-concept services that use the proposed approach to deliver services and a registry to enable supporting data providers and system vendors to communicate their support of the framework.
The full work item approved by NISO Voting Members is available on the NISO web site.
NISO’s Associate Director of Programs, Nettie Lagace, comments, “NISO is eager to begin this work to improve library-patron interactions. Advancing vendor-library communication processes through consensus discussions and agreement is a natural fit in our portfolio of work. NISO’s mission is to streamline the work of libraries and other information providers to get content into the hands of consumers.” Lagace continues, “We encourage working group participation from libraries, library system providers, providers and distributors of e-books, recorded books, and other forms of digital content and media. We are looking forward to hearing from interested volunteers who can dedicate their technical talents to this important effort.”
Those who are interested in participating in the E-Content API Framework working group should contact Lagace at email@example.com.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.