The Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) division of the American Library Association has published a new book edited by Todd A. Carpenter, the Executive Director of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). The Critical Component: Standards in the Information Exchange Environment explores the process of developing information standards, the value of standards for libraries, publishing and the intermediaries that serve both communities. The book is published by ALCTS Publishing and is available in both print and electronic-book format. Carpenter, Nettie Lagace, NISO's Associate Director for Programs, and Cynthia Hodgson, recently retired NISO Editor, all contributed chapters to this publication.

"Although we rely on standards every day to access, retrieve, and display digital content, few understand how these critical components in that process are developed or deployed," said Carpenter describing the book's aims. "Many people have commented to me that the development of standards is a procedural 'black box' -something that is difficult to comprehend or navigate. By creating this work, we hope to illuminate that process as well as describe the necessary role that standards play in our digital content ecosystem."

"As the first ALCTS Monograph, this publication sets a high bar of content and form for the series, including a newly accessible epub format for our publication program," said Jeanne Drewes, ALCTS Monographs Editor. The idea for this book came from the NISO emails that I had received over the years from Cindy Hepfer, then the ALCTS representative to NISO. Her "standards" outreach to the library community was the seed for the need and she was instrumental in connecting ALCTS to the NISO team that brought this idea into reality."

The book includes chapters on: the overall need for standards in content distribution; the formality of standards; the process and players involved in standards development; the description of information objects, digital preservation, identifiers, marketing standards, getting involved in the process as well as the future needs for information standards. Following each chapter is a case study describing real-world implications of these themes.

In addition to Carpenter, Lagace, and Hodgson, many esteemed industry thought-leaders contributed to the book including:

and many others.

"In fact, everyone who inhabits any sector of the global information ecosystem should be interested in and at least minimally knowledgeable about standards. Twenty-first century libraries, information services and publications of all kinds simply wouldn't be usable without the support of standards," wrote Cindy Hepfer, recently retired librarian at State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, in her Introduction.

The Critical Component: Standards in the Information Exchange Environment is now available in print (ISBN13: 978-0-8389-8744-5) from the ALA Annual Conference Store in San Francisco and from the ALA Store online: Review copies are available by contacting the Christine McConnell in the ALCTS office at [log in to unmask]. A PDF ebook (ISBN: 978-0-8389-8745-2) and EPUB (ISBN: 978-0-8389-8746-9) bundle will be available in mid-July through the ALA Store online.

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