Thursday, July 05, 2007

Draft standard for International Standard Collection Identifiers (ISCI)

The SAA Metadata discussion list carried this announcement on July 3:
A draft standard for International Standard Collection Identifiers (ISCI) is under review by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It will establish a unique identifier for each archival collection and fond. The ISCI will provide a means for duplicate control with metasearch applications, and can be used with the standard collection description metadata element set (NISO Z39.91). You can access the draft at
The introduction to the draft states:
ISO TC46 has developed standard identifiers for a wide variety of entities. However, a standard identifier for collections and fonds has not been built. In the past there has not been a need for such an identifier, either, but the situation has changed. There is now a large number of collections and fonds and a broad range of organisations hosting them. These collections and fonds can be physical or electronic, partly physical and partly electronic, or virtual; they can be available either on-line in the Internet or off-line.

The need for identifying collections and fonds has emerged with introduction of metasearch engines, which do – or will – include collection descriptions as a means of helping the patrons to locate relevant information. An identifier is generally seen as one of the key metadata elements of collection description; while it is possible to use local identifiers, in an environment where global exchange of this kind of metadata is anticipated, usage of local identifiers is not a good option. Local collection or fond identifiers do not enable either efficient searching or duplicate detection.

The aim of this standard is to enable a system which requires neither a large – and expensive – international centre nor large national/ regional centres, even if tens or hundreds of thousands of collections and fonds are identified.
The working draft is 8 pages with the entire document being 16 pages in length. It already includes comments from some who have reviewed it. Additional comments are due by July 27, 2007 (and I assume due to the project leader named in the document).

Even if you are not interested in the details, you may want to take a look at this in order to see how a standard is proposed. Of course, if the standard is adopted, we may be learning more about it in the future!

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