I experienced many firsts attending this year’s NISO Plus conference; it was my first time attending the NISO Plus conference, it was my first virtual conference, it was my first global conference, and it was the first time I attended a conference as part of a cohort. NISO (the National Information Standards Organization) develops information industry standards by bringing together publishers, libraries, and anyone else involved in the information profession. The organization focuses on developing technical standards so it is probably more familiar to information professionals working in technical services and systems. This year’s conference theme was “Global Conversations: Global Connections” and NISO did its best to provide that. Almost 30 different countries from at least 5 continents were represented and sessions were scheduled from 9 am (EST) till 10:15 pm (EST). Breaks were scheduled between 3 pm to 7 pm and though the days were long, it was worth it to have colleagues from around the world attend. As a winner of one of the NISO Plus Scholarships, I was able to participate in sessions and meetings designated for past and other current scholarship winners. It was refreshing to see how many different people made up the scholarship cohort. Scholarship winners included international information professionals working at publishers, consortiums, archives, and libraries (public and academic).
Knowing that many conferences are trying to diversify their sessions, I expected to see a few sessions touching on EDI and the information profession. However, I was shocked to see the large number of EDI sessions offered. Nearly every block of sessions included at least one session about an overlooked or underrepresented group. Topics included international socioeconomic barriers to content, indigenous knowledge and contributions, and the lack of bibliodiversity. I found many of the presentations impactful but will highlight two. The presentation, Accessibility in the Scholarly Information Space, included Anna Lawson, a self-described blind person. I found her inclusion significant because many of the accessibility trainings and presentations I’ve attended typically don’t include a person who actually has the disability being discussed. Lawson gave first-hand knowledge of her difficulties with her PDFs not working with her screen reader. She also spoke of the practice of journals not numbering every page and how much havoc that created for her. The second session was about a topic that has frustrated many Electronic Resources Librarians for years. NISO has approved a working group to investigate unique package IDs. When enabling large journal packages in a knowledgebase like Alma, you are presented with multiple packages with a variety of names that loosely resemble what your library has purchased. None of them will likely match the package name on your invoice or your license. While it might seem easy to address, multiple parties will have to work together to agree to standards. The working group is at the beginning stages of tackling this issue but all involved parties are attempting to find a solution.
I enjoyed my first NISO Plus conference and look forward to continuing my work with NISO.