12 May 2021 Blogs

Shaping the Future of Metadata

A closer look at the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)

By Pat Payton, ProQuest Senior Manager for Provider Relations and a Member of the BISG Metadata Committee

This week's Syndetics Unbound story takes a deep dive into Bowker’s activities within the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), an independent not-for-profit group, with members from all over the book industry, including ProQuest/Bowker. Their work has a far-reaching impact on the library industry, including on Syndetics Unbound.

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) works to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry. Their broad membership brings together trade, education, professional, and scholarly publishers, as well as distributors, wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers, libraries, and service providers including ProQuest/Bowker.

One part of the BISG work involves industry committees and working groups where data senders and data recipients discuss issues facing the book business and how to solve them collaboratively. You may be familiar with one of their major ongoing projects with BISAC (Book Industry Standards And Communications), the BISAC Subject Headings List or with their publication Best Practices for Product Metadata. BISAC is a globally accepted system for categorizing books by subject. Both are projects that ProQuest/Bowker staff have actively shaped. In addition, BISG requests clarification and provides input to the ONIX for Books metadata scheme.

ProQuest/Bowker is represented on BISG committees by several members of its Content Operations team whose goal is to engage with publishers and other data recipients to encourage the use of detailed subject classification and the supply of robust metadata. We also see this as a forum to ask questions and develop ways to express metadata that is of current interest to our customers, product managers, and sales team. Some recent initiatives that we are working on internally include DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) references for books, and the identification of textbooks separate from general trade books. One of our team members chairs the Thema Working Group, whose main task is to maintain the BISAC mapping to the Thema global subject category scheme.

ProQuest/Bowker processes around 10K data feeds per month so receiving robust and accurate metadata reduces the time it takes for customers to see data in Syndetics Unbound. We regularly reach out to publishers and data providers and ask them to follow the BISG best practices. In addition, we provide publishers feedback on BISAC subject classifications that are general or lack details. These efforts reinforce the industry standards and provide our customers with improved navigation and discovery within our products.

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