The ALTO editorial board: collaboration and cooperation across borders

ZARNDT, Frederick, BAUER, Joachim, ENDERS, Markus, GEIGER, Brian, HOCK, Kia Siang, KERVINEN, Jukka, KET, Evelien, MOREUX, Jean-Philippe and TRAIL, Nate (2013) The ALTO editorial board: collaboration and cooperation across borders. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2013 - Singapore - Future Libraries: Infinite Possibilities in Session 177 - Committee on Standards.

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Language: English (Original)
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The ALTO editorial board: collaboration and cooperation across borders

Many library digital text collections created from pre-digital era materials (books, journals, magazines, etc) and nearly all library digital historical newspaper collections use digital mages (TIFF, JPEG, JPEG2000, etc), OCR software (ABBYY FineReader, Nuance Omnipage), METS XML, ALTO XML, and various metadata standards (MODS, Dublin Core, PRISM, MIX, etc). Both METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard) and ALTO (Analyzed Layout and Text Object) are XML standards developed by the international library community and administered (hosted) by the Library of Congress at and respectively. The current editorial board has members from the National Library of Finland, the British Library, Singapore National Library Board, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Netherlands Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the Library of Congress, the University of Kentucky, the University of California Riverside, and a software company, Content Conversion Specialists. All but two are IFLA members, and several serve on other standards boards in addition to the ALTO board. (You can see the list of current editorial board members at With members in cities that span 16 time zones, you can imagine collaboration, cooperation, and good communication are essential to achieving anything. Of course a willingness of the members in the outlying time zones to get up early or stay up late is indispensable too. Good telecommunications infrastructure is imperative, and, as we will see, free and easy (Skype) sometimes is not reliable. This paper gives an account of the history of the ALTO XML standard, of the ALTO editorial board, and of the ways that the board organizes itself and conducts its business. The paper describes the collaborative process used by the board to receive, review, and adopt changes to the standard, and it gives especial attention to step-by-step process collaboratively developed to track and implement changes to ALTO. And last, but far from least, it informally examines members’ motivations for participation in the board.

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