NISO Standards

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is a nonprofit association accredited as a standards developer by the American National Standards Institute, the national clearinghouse for voluntary standards development in the U.S. NISO's Voting Members and other supporters include a broad range of information producers and users including libraries, publishers, government agencies, and companies that provide information services. NISO is a leader in shaping international standards and is a source for information about library and information related standards approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The goal in using technical standards in information services, libraries, and publishing is to achieve compatibility and interoperability between equipment, data, practices, and procedures so information can be made easily and universally available.

NISO has developed a broad range of standards pertaining to publishing, libraries, and information services. Other standards are in development. Persons interested in more information about NISO or who wish to purchase or download free copies of NISO-approved standards and technical reports may access the organization's web site at or may contact the organization at: National Information Standards Organization, 4733 Bethesda Ave., Suite 300, Bethesda, MD 20814; (301) 654-2512; fax: (301) 654-1721;

NISO standards specifically pertaining to serials

Z39.9-1992: International Standard Serial Numbering (ISSN)

Known as the ISSN, this standard defines the structure and presentation of a code to uniquely identify serial publications in print and nonprint formats. This standard sets forth the format and characteristics of the ISSN and designates a central authority for code administration.

Z39.44-1986: Serials Holdings Statements

This standard establishes rules for preparing consistent, standardized holdings records for serial publications. The specific data areas, data elements, and punctuation to be used in serial holdings statements are identified. Also provides display formats for the data elements within data areas. ( Was superseded by Z39.71-1999.)

Z39.48-1992 (R1997): Permanence of Paper for Printed Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives

This standard sets the basic criteria for coated and uncoated papers that will last several hundred years under normal use. It covers pH value, tear resistance, alkaline reserve and lignin threshold. Recycled papers will meet the criteria specified.

Z39.56-1996: Serial Item and Contribution Identifier (SICI)

Defines the requirements for providing, in coded form, an identifier for each item of a serial and each contribution published in a serial. Version 2 of the standard introduces significant changes, such as the ability to identify whether the serial is electronic, paper, or microformat and the identification of derivative parts of a serial. Changes in the title code algorithm improve the uniqueness of the SICI code for contributions.

Z39.71-1999: Holdings Statements for Bibliographic Items

Defines data elements and sets forth display conventions for the recording, communication and exchange of records of holdings for serial and non-serial bibliographic items. Holdings for bibliographic items can be prepared at four levels of specificity depending on the institution's needs. All formats of material are covered, including provisions for both compressed and itemized holdings statements. The standard defines a basic structure for holdings statements consisting of six data areas. An appendix offering examples of statements created according to the standard is included. ( Supersedes Z39.44 and Z39.57.)

Other standards of possible interest to staff working with serial publications include:

Z39.2-1994: Information Interchange Format

The basis for the MARC (Machine-Readable Catalog) record, this standard specifies the requirements for generalized interchange format for data elements that can be used for the communication of records in any media.

Z39.18-1995: Scientific and Technical Reports -- Elements, Organization and Design

Provides guidance on the preparation of reports in the traditional print environment and includes de facto document type definitions (DTDs) to describe the structure of reports so the document can be electronically processed. Included are directions on the bibliographic data elements that should appear on the cover and title page of a report.

Z39.23-1997: Standard Technical Report Number (STRN) Format and Creation

This standard defines a unique numbering system that improves access to the wealth of scientific and technical reports issued by the government and private organizations. The STRN is an alphanumeric code with a maximum length of 32; for international application an optional country code can be added.

Z39.32-1996: Microfiche Headers

Defines eye-legible information that should appear on the limited space available on microfiche so the fiche can be correctly identified and properly filed.

Z39.41-1997: Printed Information on Spines

Describes how information is best presented on spines of books or containers for an information product, such as a CD-ROM, a microform, a disk, a videotape or an audiotape. Explains what information to include and how to arrange it for maximum clarity.

Z39.43-1993: Standard Address Number for the Publishing Industry

The Standard Address Number (SAN) is a seven-digit numeric identifier used to identify organizations and businesses interacting with the publishing industry (including book and serial manufacturers, libraries, publishers, etc.) The SAN has been designated as the organizational identifier for use in EDI transactions in the publishing industry.

Z39.50-1995: Information Retrieval : Application Service Definition and Protocol Specification

Now in version 3, Z39.50 defines a standard way for two computers to communicate and share information. Designed to support searching and information retrieval—full-text documents, bibliographic data, images and multimedia—this standard is based on client-server architecture and is fully operational over the Internet.

Z39.57-1989 (R1995): Holding Statements for Non-Serial Items

This standard sets the rules, defines the data elements and punctuation, and describes the display conventions for non-serial items, so a library's holdings of non-serials will be described in a consistent way. ( Was superseded by Z39.71-1999.)

Z39.74-1996: Guides to Accompany Microform Sets

This standard establishes guidelines to facilitate the identification, location and retrieval of information contained in a microform set, thereby helping microform producers add value to their microform publications. It identifies what elements should be included in guides that accompany microform sets and outlines the way in which these elements should be organized.

Other standards on topics as diverse as interlibrary loan records, library binding, and library shelving have been approved by NISO with the goal of promoting standardization.

NISO Press also offers guidelines, guides, and other documents to support standards activity. Among those specifically related to serials are:

Serial Item Identification: Bar Code Symbol Implementation Guidelines

These guidelines describe the machine readable bar code representation of the Serial Item and Contribution Identifier, the SICI, as defined in the NISO standard ANSI/NISO Z39.56-1996. Using the SICI barcode can dramatically improve serials check-in and is cost effective because scanning the SICI barcode makes serials check-in accurate and fast. Developed by a committee of the Serials Industry System Advisory Committee (SISAC), the Guidelines are a useful complement to Z39.56-1996.

Machine-Readable Coding Guidelines for the U.S. Book Industry

Included as an insert in Serial Item Identification, this booklet advises the publishing industry on rationale and implementation instructions for the use of bar codes.

Last updated: January 25, 2001