NISO Metasearch Initiative

NISO Metasearch Standards Team Speeds Toward Results: Best Practices Paper, Draft Standards Being Readied for June

At sessions concluding March 25, the National Information Standards Organization’s (NISO) Metasearch Initiative prepared to roll out documents on technical solutions to the challenge of providing metasearch services. Participants in the initiative focus their work in the areas of access management, collection description, and search and retrieval.

“A key driver in the Metasearch Initiative’s scope of work and timeline is the strong case for library-based metasearch services,” noted Pat Harris, NISO’s Executive Director. “Research and scholarship require search services that cover licensed material, provide complete bibliographic citations, and exclude extraneous sources. These services are not available through popular search engines, even in the enhanced versions that have recently emerged.” A consolidated Best Practices for Metasearch document, scheduled for release as a free download by June 15, will include guidance on authentication and authorization, among other key issues. In developing draft standards for trial use—also slated for a June release—the initiative plans to move forward in at least the following areas:

  • NISO Metasearch Initiative XML Gateway. This is an approach to allowing a search to be submitted as a URL via HTTP and the response returned in XML format.
  • Collection Description. This includes two sets of data elements, one for describing collections, and the other for describing technical services accessed by metasearch tools. Collection descriptions aid users in selecting the most relevant resources among those accessible via the metasearch application they use. Service descriptions will be used by applications in order to determine how to access remote services.
Accompanying the draft standards will be implementation guidelines describing, for example, the minimum content providers and database providers can do to make their content more visible as it is channeled into the library community.

A third important result of the meeting was the scheduling of an interoperability event in fall 2005 to demonstrate the applicability of the new standards and recommendations, and to promote the best practices and standards to content providers.

About NISO

NISO, a nonprofit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), identifies, develops, maintains, and publishes technical standards to manage information in our changing and ever-more digital environment. NISO standards apply both traditional and new technologies to the full range of information-related needs, including retrieval, repurposing, storage, metadata, and preservation. NISO Standards, information about NISO’s activities and membership are featured on the NISO Web site: