New standard for holdings statements in development Ellen Rappaport 28 Dec 1995 17:21 UTC

To SERIALST Readers:
      A new NISO standard for holdings statements is being written by NISO's
Standards Committee AL.  This paper presents the history of the earlier
holdings standards, and reports on the committee's current work.  If you have
thoughts on this paper, or on holdings statements, please message me.  Thank

Ellen Rappaport
Co-Chair, NISO Standards Committee AL
Albany Law School Library
Albany NY




        We in the United States have had a formalized history of holdings
statements for fifteen  years.   There have been three NISO standards and
one draft standard dealing with holdings statements for bibliographic items
since 1980.  To date, two NISO holdings standards exist:  one for serial
holdings statements at the summary and detailed levels (Z39.44), and one
for non-serial holdings statements (Z39.57).  For a number of years, there
has been interest in combining these  two standards into one.  To that end,
draft standard, Z39.71 was created in 1991.  This draft standard was not
approved, however, because some specific concerns expressed by the library
community could not be resolved satisfactorily.

        A new NISO standards committee, Standards Committee AL, was formed
in the Spring of 1995 because of continued interest in combining the two
existing standards.  Furthermore, NISO policy stipulated the need to review
Z39.44 at this time and either reaffirm it, withdraw it, or offer another
standard in its stead.  The first meeting of Standards Committee AL was
held on 11 May 1995. Standards Committee AL members agreed that before they
could make any recommendations, they needed to review a number of key,
underlying issues. They identified the following as the major issues for

        (1)  Whether to create one standard which would include holdings
for both serial and non-serial items, or to continue to maintain separate
standards for each.
        (2)  How to standardize and reconcile the punctuation used in the
two existing standards and, if necessary, to identify additional
        (3)  Whether or not display conventions should be included in the
standards.  "Display conventions" cover such things as:
                (a)  Coded information (for example, the Completeness,
Acquisition, and Non-Retention Codes which may be displayed either as their
appropriate single character codes or described in a phrase);
                (b)  The order of enumeration and chronology data (for
example, strings of enumeration followed by their corresponding chronology:
e-e c-c; or, enumeration followed immediately by its corresponding
chronology:  e(c)-e(c));
                (c)   The use and display of prescribed punctuation within
a holdings statement.
        (4)  Whether or not to include captions (either optionally or as
mandatory) and if they are included whether they should be transcribed or
        (5)  Whether the identification of areas in previous standards
would be considered out-of-scope for a new standard.
        (6)  How  much emphasis to give to the recently adopted
International Standards Organization's (ISO) "Standard for Holdings
Statements at the Summary Level", ISO 10324.

        While there are a number of other issues that must be addressed and
resolved, NISO Committee AL believes these topics are of primary concern.
This paper will trace the history of the United States standards for
holdings, and will describe some of Standards Committee AL members'
deliberations thus far.  Regardless of the outcome of its work, Standards
Committee AL wishes to reassure those who have formatted holdings
statements according to earlier standards by informing them there is no
expectation for them to go back and reformat holdings according to a
different standard.  Previously created holdings will be "grandfathered"
into the process.

        With the establishment of the CONSER Project (now the CONSER
Program), it became essential to create a mechanism for the standardization
and display of serial holdings statements (to parallel those of
bibliographic data).  Not only did CONSER participants need to represent
holdings uniformly for ease of use, so did many other libraries that were
in the process of creating union lists of serials as a result of access to
machine-readable bibliographic serials information.  To fill these needs,
the first American standard for holdings statements was created in 1980:
American National Standard for Serial Holdings Statements at the Summary
Level, ANSI Z39.42-1980.  Although Z39.42-1980 defined display patterns
only for serials holdings at the summary level (i.e., that highest level of
enumeration and chronology), the Standards Committee fully acknowledged the
need for a standard for holdings at the issue-specific level and
ultimately, the need for a standard for holdings of non-serial items.

        The second standard dealing with serial holdings statements,
American National Standard for Information Sciences -- Serial Holdings
Statements, Z39.44-1986,  described the display of serial holdings at the
detailed (issue-specific) as well as summary levels.  While this standard
built on many of the principles developed in Z39.42-1980, there were a
number of points on which the two standards diverged. (Two important areas
where the standards differed was the inclusion of captions and the
representation of the order of enumeration and its related chronology in
two different ways in Z39.44-1986.)  There was considerable discussion
about these potential differences by members of both standards committees
plus representatives from OCLC and IFLA during a meeting at Airlie House in
1983 expressly for this purpose.  Participants acknowledged the millions of
holdings statements already created based on the earlier standard residing
in the OCLC database, and understood the need to accommodate these holdings
statements if any new standard were created. A good explanation of the
issues examined by the Standards Committee that created Z39.44-1986 can be
found in Appendix D of that standard, "Principles and Guidelines
Represented in the Standard", p. 40.  Upon approval of Z39.44-1986 by the
NISO community, the earlier standard, Z39.42-1980, was withdrawn.

        The third standard concerning itself with holdings statements is
ANSI/NISO Z39.57-1989, Holdings Statements for Non-Serial Items.  One of
the committee's charges was to "prepare a standard that was compatible with
the corresponding serial standard ..." p. vii,  while addressing issues not
covered in Z39.44-1986, namely how to represent holdings for non-serials.
Unquestionably, members of Standards Committee W were very much aware of
the existing standard and brought it and the one they were working on into
conformity wherever possible.  Even so, there was some divergence between
the two (e.g., making optional certain punctuation marks found in
Z39.44-1986 while including others).  The "Foreword" to Z39.57.1989
provides a good description of many of the premises upon which this
standard is based.  Once Z39.57-1989 was accepted, Standards Committee W
made some recommendations to NISO for future revisions to the serial
standard based upon a number of issues arising from the development of the
non-serial standard.  One important recommendation was the merger of the
two standards.  It should be noted that Z39.57 was reaffirmed in June 1995.

        In 1991, Draft Standard ANSI/NISO Z39.71, Holdings Statements for
Bibliographic Items brought both standards together.  The Draft Standard
was balloted from August 1 - November 1, 1991.  The negative votes were not
resolved sufficiently for the standard to pass.  Consequently, the United
States continues to maintain two holdings standards:  one for serials, and
one for non-serials.

International Standards Activities
        At the same time as NISO committees in the United States were
working on standards for holdings statements at the detailed and summary
levels for non-serials and serials, two international groups were also
focusing their attention on holdings.  The International Federation of
Library Associations and Institutions' (IFLA) Standing Committee on Serial
Publications  initiated a research document on serial holdings statements
at the summary level which was submitted to the International Standards
Organization (ISO).  The intent was for this document to form the basis of
an international standard for serial holdings statements at the summary
level.  The result, ISO 10324, was approved in 1993.  Interestingly, this
standard specifies display requirements for holdings statements at the
summary level for serial and non serial items but not for holdings
statements at the detailed level.  In keeping with general practice, the
United States adopts international standards whenever possible.  Therefore,
NISO Standards Committee AL believes it is extremely important to examine
ISO 10324 carefully in its deliberations.

The Current Situation
        The latest standards committee to work on a holdings standard, NISO
Standards Committee AL, was formed first to review Z39.44, (the standard
for serial holdings statements at the detailed and summary levels) because
this standard is up for review by NISO policy and second,  because of views
still expressed by the library community to merge both holdings standards
if possible.  In addition to the issues surrounding the standards
themselves, Standards Committee AL believed  other related works should be
taken into consideration.  These include the relationship of any holdings
standard to the "MARC Format for Holdings" which came into existence while
work was progressing on the ANSI/NISO standards, and the existence of the
international holdings standard in 1993. Although conformity in all cases
is highly unlikely, a review of these sources by Standards Committee AL
underscores the fact that the representation of holdings does not exist in
isolation. The Standards Committee believes that all relevant sources must
be examined so that they work in concert with each other.

Issues Supporting the Creation of a Single Standard for Holdings
        While there was support among those who commented on Draft Standard
Z39.71 for a single holdings standard combining serials and non-serials,
other comments identified a need for the standard to identify more clearly
those rules that applied to serials and those that applied to non-serials.
Standards Committee AL believes it is possible to achieve this goal through
the organization of the document itself and by making those examples
pertaining to serials and those pertaining to non-serials more apparent.

        Recently the library community has observed the trend to combine
formats as can be seen by format integration occurring in the previously
separate MARC formats.  In this way, we can clearly see where data
elements, punctuation, and display conventions for serials and non-serials
are identical and where they diverge.  Because the relationships between
and the principles relating to bibliographic and holdings data are so
inter-related, Standards Committee AL believes that the same concept of a
single document should be applied to holdings as is applied to
bibliographic data.  Hence, the support for an integrated holdings standard
rather than two separate ones.

        There are some publications that could be treated either as a
serial or a non-serial, depending on local practice (e.g., loose-leaf
materials, conference proceedings).  Furthermore, the digitization of
information and the storage of data in electronic format are also calling
into question long-standing definitions of "serial" and "non-serial".
Standards Committee AL believes each library should make this determination
for itself rather than have it either stated or implied in a holdings
standard.  As distinctions between serial and non-serial continue to blur,
having one standard that encompasses all bibliographic items (regardless of
whether they are serial or non-serial) becomes even more appealing.

        Standards Committee AL further believes that a single standard is
easier to use as it requires looking up information in only one place
rather than two. The concept of one standard rather than two also supports
the point made above, namely,  of an impression that the standard was
imposing a distinction between serials and monographs rather than leaving
this up to the individual library.

        For the reasons outlined above, Standards Committee AL is unanimous
in its support for the creation of a single standard that would include
both serial and non-serial items.

How to Proceed
        To date, NISO Standards Committee AL has met three times.
Committee members have spent considerable time comparing and evaluating the
NISO Holdings Standards, the draft that combined holdings statements at the
summary and detailed levels for serials and non-serials, and the ISO
Standard on Holdings Statements.  For the reasons described above,
Committee members concluded that one standard dealing with holdings for
bibliographic units regardless of their being serial or non-serial is the
appropriate approach.  How best to achieve this goal is now what confronts
us.  During its meeting in September, Committee members spent considerable
time comparing draft standard Z39.71 with its ISO counterpart.  Committee
members were most impressed with the clear writing style and succinctness
of the ISO Standard 10324.  Furthermore, Committee members believed their
task would be easier if they appropriately inserted display requirements
for holdings at the detailed level in the ISO Standard rather than
attempting to rewrite and reorganize Z39.71.  As a result, NISO Standards
Committee AL intends to base its work on ISO 10324, and to include in it
rules for creating holding statements at the detailed level.  This, then,
is the strategy NISO Standards Committee AL is adopting to reconcile
differences in the existing NISO standards for holdings, and to create a
single standard for holdings statements at the summary and detailed levels
for both serials and non-serials.

18 December 1995