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Revised Statistics Standard Provides Important Measurement Tool for Library and Publishing Community

New York, Jul 30, 2002

The National Information Standards Organization(NISO), an ANSI member and ANSI-accredited standards developer, has announced the publication of a draft standard that will allow the information community to accurately measure how its resources are utilized, with specific emphasis placed on 'e-metrics.'

Recently issued as a draft standard for trial use, the 2002 Library Statistics Standard (Z39.7-2002) provides a common framework for data collection professionals from the library and publishing community to gauge the effectiveness of their services. The document assists in identifying, defining, collecting and interpreting statistical information and includes a special section on measuring electronic resources--a process known as 'e-metrics'--which NISO believes addresses a critical component of modern information dissemination.

"In the past, a library relied on tangible sources of measuring how its services were used, such as the number of books that were borrowed or the number of visitors," explained Pat Harris, NISO's executive director. "Today, users can 'enter' a library remotely via the Internet, making it difficult to gauge the institution's effectiveness in meeting the needs of its community." NISO Standards Committee AY was specifically tasked with including e-metrics definitions in the revised draft standard.

Committee chair, Denise Davis, director of Statistics and Surveys at the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, indicated that Z39.7:2002 represents a "major departure" from previous versions in a number of ways. "In addition to providing the first-ever e-metrics definitions, the draft is published as a web-accessible database that show the document's progression. Users will have access to the definition of a particular term as well as the context for any modifications as it evolves during the comment period." Also, the document's scope has been expanded to include "valuable best practices long recognized by the U.S. library community [as well as relevant] international definitions" based on the 2001 revision of the International Organization for Standardization 2789:1991, Information and documentation - International library statistics. Davis indicated these enhancements have broadened the standard's application to a wider community than was achieved in previous versions.

The draft is currently issued for trial use for the period of July 26, 2002 through July 31, 2003, during which time NISO is seeking comments from all professionals engaged in data collection activities at the local, state and national levels. Committee AY will review the comments quarterly and refresh the document accordingly. At the completion of the one-year comment period, the final document will be submitted to NISO Voting Members for approval. Davis has indicated that next year the standard will follow the NISO procedure for submission to ANSI for approval as an American National Standard.

To submit comments to Z39.7:2002, please visit the Statistics Standards comment site. Further discussion on the standard can be accessed via a NISO-sponsored listserv forum. To subscribe to the forum, please send an email message

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