Bibliographic Wilderness

ONIX For Serials Coverage


The ONIX For Serials Coverage standard is out.

While it was mainly designed to be used within the ONIX SOH and SPS formats, they wisely decided to publish it as a free-standing schema too: “The Coverage Statement may also be used to express holdings or coverage in XML structures other than those specified in ONIX for Serials.”

I think this is a great idea, along the lines of the ‘mix and match’ incipient semantic web we find ourselves in. If you look at the standard, it is really a very nice way way to describe serial holdings coverage, in ways very amenable to machine calculation. For instance, to answer the question: “Is this particular issue X within the holdings?” Or, to combine various holdings statements into a contiguous human-displayable statement. Etc. This is something our current systems have trouble doing, because we don’t store the neccesary data in machine-actionable ways.

While the standard says it’s “designed to convey information about online serial resources from suppliers – such as hosting services, publication access management services, agents or publishers – to end customers in subscribing libraries.”, there’s really nothing about it that’s limited to that context.

If anyone is writing software where they need to store or exchange serials coverage data, I’d encourage them to check out ONIX For Serials Coverage. It’s very elegant, seems to me to be just the right level of complexity and flexibility to do what it needs to do, without being overly abstract/complex/flexible. Should be quite easy to work with. Hats off to the standards writers here.