Serials Industry Systems Advisory Committee Reports

Annual Reports

  • 2002


    BASIC stands for Book and Serial Industry Communications, a standards forum of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), which is supported by publishers, librarians, booksellers, wholesalers, book manufacturers and book suppliers. For over 25 years, these industry parties have worked to develop standards which would facilitate computer-to-computer ordering and fulfillment. Four years ago, BISAC and SISAC (the Book and the Serial Industry Systems Advisory Committees) merged to form BASIC. AALL had sent a liaison to SISAC and continues to send one to BASIC. As the current BASIC liaison, I plan to share developments with you and to represent the needs of the law community to BASIC.

    BASIC is involved with formats for electronic data interchange (EDI), used in electronic ordering and claiming. Is your library using electronic ordering or claiming? Do you need to send additional data that you can’t send now?

    SISAC helped develop the NISO standard Z39.56-1996, the Serial Item and Contribution Identifier (SICI). It is a character string — based on the ISSN — which can identify a particular issue and article of a serial. It can also be expressed as a barcode, to facilitate automated checkin. The SISAC bar code standard is due for its five-year review; SISAC will review it and provide input to NISO. Unfortunately, SISAC bar codes have not generally appeared on law serials. The obvious barrier is the lack of ISSNs. How can we improve this, to facilitate automated serials checkin?

    In association with other international groups, BISG maintains the Online Information Exchange standard (ONIX) in the United States. In other words, BISG is involved with developing changes to the standard with input from appropriate parties. ONIX refers to an XML format in which publishers distribute electronic information about their publications to wholesale, retail and e-tail booksellers. ONIX contains not only bibliographic information long familiar to libraries (metadata), but also tables of contents, pictures of book jackets, reviews, information about authors, and purchasing information. The format was originally developed to provide data to electronic retailers such as Library patrons seemed to respond to Amazon’s catalog, so some library system vendors are now offering similar enrichment for opacs. If your law library is using an opac that provides this kind of information, does it work for the law titles? Is there any ONIX data out there, for us? Can the ONIX data be matched effectively to our bibliographic records?

    Currently, ONIX formats are being developed for serials, which could perform alerting functions, such as when an issue has been mailed or when an e-journal issue has been posted. This should allow us to claim missed issues promptly, and lessen premature claims. Like ONIX for books, ONIX for serials could carry tables of contents.

    One of the most visible changes that BASIC is involved with is the proposed expansion of the ISBN. The need to accommodate vast numbers and kinds of electronic publications is driving this expansion. All our library systems will eventually have to accommodate this longer number.

    Since many of us live with automated library systems, we know that we are affected by bibliographic standards. Here is another group of standards that, less visibly, affect the way we operate. Let’s get involved with their development, so they can accommodate the needs of law libraries.

    Submitted by

    Ellen C. Rappaport
    AALL Representative to BASIC

  • 2000


    As the newly appointed AALL representative to SISAC, I attended the annual meeting at ALA in Chicago on July 9, 2000. SISAC is now a committee of BASIC, Book and Serial Industry Communications and this was the first meeting of the newly combined committee. It consisted of three presentations on the topic of “Intellectual Property and E-Standards” intended to demonstrate that the adoption of standards in the “e” world has been slow although the technology is in place.

    The first speaker was John Cox, of John Cox Associates, speaking about the standard licenses for electronic resources that are now available for downloading at Their development was sponsored by a group of subscription agents. Licenses are necessary, according to Mr. Cox, because the rules of intellectual property law are incomplete and uncertain. Licenses need to be clear and specific, identifying types of use, categories of users, periods of time, archiving, and inter-library loan. In the case of corporate libraries, performance is most important. Warranties and indemnities need to be specified. The standard license models include language that librarians can adopt for their own use, such as the following indemnification clause:

    Licensee indemnifies the publisher against loss by the Licensee’s breach. This does not apply to misuse by users, unless the licensee has been made aware, and has done nothing about it.

    The second speaker was Lynn Connaway, Vice-President of Research and Library Systems at netLibrary. She repeated a large portion of her ALA presentation on “E-Standards and E-Books.” She defined an e-book as a digital version of a published book. NetLibrary allows patron-driven acquisitions; when the patron “opens” a book the library is charged. Stressing the need for standards, she posed the question of how the books will be accessed when the technology changes.

    Last on the program was Julia Blixrud, of the Association of Research Libraries, giving an update on the SICI and BICI. SICI, the Serial Item and Contribution Identifier (ANSI/NISO Z39.56-1996 (version2)), is up for review in the fall of this year. Ms. Blixrud is chair of a subcommittee of NISO (National Information Standards Organization) that drafted the BICI, or Book Item and Component Identifier, for subunits of books. The draft standard is currently in use and will be voted on at the end of the trial period in early 2002. NISO would like to receive comments from users of both of these standards. More information can be found at

    More information on BASIC can be found on the Book Industry Study Group web site at

    Submitted by

    Marla J. Schwartz
    American University Law Library
    August 4, 2000

  • 1999


    As a strong voice for standardizing formats for the electronic transmission of serials information in the United States, Serials Industry Systems Advisory Committee (SISAC) continues its efforts to bridge the electronic communication of serials among all serials specialists, from publishers to librarians, and from subscription agents to integrated system vendors. This report abstracts the achievements and activities of SISAC in the past year, discussions that took place at the ALA Midwinter and the Annual Meeting, and some interesting topics that were addressed in the Book and Serial Industry Communications (BASIC), SISAC NEWS, and in the correspondences among SISAC members via Internet.

    In the fall of 1998, under the endorsement of both Book and Industry Study Group (BISG) and SISAC, BASIC, a new sub-entity of BISG, was formed. The purpose of this partial merge is to avoid the overlap in some of the standards worked by both groups. BASIC will focus on common electronic standards development previously worked by both BISG and SISAC, which consist of those emphasizing on digital transfer in all types of contents, such as EDI/EDIFACT message development. However, the unique SISAC activities remain under the SISAC name which include SISAC bar code maintenance, X12 message sets, binding standards development, its joint meeting with ALA, and its newsletter–SISAC NEWS.

    BASIC holds its committee meeting every two month in New York City. During the meeting, the members not only discuss its business but also have educational programs which intend to introduce new information notion and technology, such as Internet2, Digital Objective Identifier (DOI), and metadata, etc., and to seek standards for electronic information transaction.

    SISAC continues to work on making serials librarians’ life easier through the promotion of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards and keeps committing itself in the development of X12 and EDIFACT transactions by allying with BASIC in the elaboration of additional EDIFACT transaction sets that will be appropriate for both serials and monographs. By utilizing EDI messages, now library is able to process electronic ordering, invoicing, claiming and claiming response. However, subscription renewal still is a troublesome issue in implementing EDI standards. The discussion and testing are aiming at the resolution of this problem. Some new ideas were brought in SISAC meeting. For example, library can use Agent Subscription Identifier (ASID) to get an EDI quote before the process of renewals.

    In addition to being actively engaged in EDI standards experiment, SISAC also takes the responsibility of education. Through presentation and workshops in American Library Association (ALA) and North America Serials Interest Group (NASIG), and other national and international conferences, SISAC members have been advocates of adopting standards and working very hard to inform librarians for EDI and its benefits for the librarians on time, cost, and staff savings. SISAC’s webpage has listed ILS vendors who adopt part or all of BISAC, SISAC, or EDItEUR EDI Message sets ( Thanks to persistent efforts of SISAC, serials community has realized more and more common interests among the library, ILS vendor, subscription agencies, and publishers for implementing the EDIFACT standards.

    Serials Item and Contribution Identifier (SICI) and SICI Bar Code have been the SISAC’s major contributions to the serials world at the digital age. The new version of SISAC Bar Code Symbol Guidelines which was planned to be released last spring is postponed for some technical reasons. However, on the SISAC’s homepage, a list of publishers that include the SICI bar-code on their periodical issues is available (

    In order to define the transmission format for binding information, SISAC set up a new Binding Task Force in the fall of 1998. The 1996 version of NISO/ANSI Z39.76 (Data Elements for Binding Library Materials) defines only the data elements to be included in a binding process, but didn’t regulate the format. SISAC is planning to have binding data transmitted as an EDIFACT message. The purposes of the Task Force are to test and then settle suitable EDIFACT message and provide implementation instructions and guidelines, as it did for other serials process module, such as invoicing and claiming.

    Submitted by

    Joan Liu
    New York University Law Library

  • 1997


    Serials Industry Systems Advisory Committee (SISAC) has achieved a number of major accomplishments in the past year. This report summarizes the activities and discussions took place at the ALA Midwinter meeting and the Annual meeting; and some interesting topics discussed in the SISAC NEWS, a newsletter of SISAC, and in the correspondences among SISAC members via Internet.

    The final version of the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Language in Requests for Proposal: Considerations and Specifications is currently available for distribution. This document is a result of requests to SISAC from librarians seeking EDI guidance as they search for integrated library systems which can meet the needs of today’s technical services departments. The document covers many general considerations, such as how to express the needs of library community for EDI in terms of functions and transactions. It is important to distinguish between the general technical capability of a system to send and receive EDI transactions and the specific data elements necessary for an individual library to successfully transact business data with its trading partners. Technical specifications include ensuring that the integrated library system in question adheres to the latest ANSI Transaction Set standards and updates accordingly. As most of the major integrated library systems on the market today offer EDI capabilities, librarians who are involved in the specification writing aspect of shopping for a new library system or add EDI module to current system will find this document very helpful.

    Besides this important document, SISAC has made a significant development on technical integrity of the ANSI X12 EDI standard (a standard used only within the United States) to the UN/EDIFACT transaction sets which adopts the international standard. The committee set up the Technical Advisory Group which includes technical experts from various parts of the serials profession to work towards the target that all EDI transaction will be carried out in the UN/EDIFACT standard, rather than the ANSI X12 standard. As Sandy Hurd, the Chair of SISAC, expected that SISAC will continue to actively work on the EDIFACT-based transactions after completing the transition from X12 to EDIFACT process (see SISAC News, v. 12, no. 1 (Summer/Fall 1997)).

    In addition, SISAC has also completed work on the new version of the ANSI/NISO Z39.56 standard. SICI, which stands for the Serial Item and Contribution Identifier, is a very important SISAC standard and serves as the basis for the SISAC barcode. The SICI standard defines the requirements for providing an identifier for each item of a serial and each contribution contained in a serial in a coded form. This standard replaces the 1991 version of the SICI standard and includes numerous significant changes to the 1991 version. Without going into a lot of details the major changes include the following: 1) Introduced a method to indicate the medium used for distribution of serial items. The new standard allows users to tell whether the item or contribution being identified is in the format of paper, microform, or electronic, etc. 2) Established a means to specify a derivative part of a serial item or contribution. The standard provides the coding of tables of contents, indexes, or abstracts for either full serials or individual parts. This will be very helpful for legal publications. And 3) the revision of the standard establishes the SICI code as a sequence of defined segments: item, contribution, and control. The previous version of the standard did not explicitly address the segments, but rather implied their existence.

    Digital Objective Identifier (DOI), a standard identification system for objects of digital commerce, was extensively discussed by the committee in both the Midwinter and Annual meetings. It will continue to be a very hot topic in the Serials profession in the coming years. DOI is initiated by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and is intended to make Internet commerce more secure for publishers. The DOI system allows a user to establish an immediate online interaction with the current copyright holder or assignee. DOI can be the identifier of a full journal issue, an article, a table, or a data set, which can be purchased separately via Internet. The committee will actively keep working with AAP on the development of this identifier system, though SISAC is not directly involved in the creation of this exciting technology.

    Finally, SISAC announced the establishment of a new listserv, SISAC-L ( The purpose of SISAC-L is to conduct SISAC business, distribute SISAC announcements and publicity, and discuss initiatives underway by SISAC and its subcommittees.

    Submitted by

    Joan Liu
    New York University Law Library
    e-mail: liuj [at]

    Nonie Watt
    Indiana University Law Library
    e-mail: wattn [at]