Metadata Committee Charter (2023)

Defining “metadata”

In the context of book publishing and marketing, metadata refers to the data fields and content pieces needed to communicate a book to the marketplace. It includes standard information, such as identifiers or subject classifications as worked on or determined by other committees, as well as data fields specific to a certain title, author or series.  This committee helps shape and communicate metadata standards such as ISBN, ONIX 3.0, and Thema. A separate committee maintains and updates the BISAC Subject Codes list. 

Current State

Industry feedback indicates that current priorities are: identifying and sharing ways to better manage metadata across the supply chain; helping the industry provide timely, high-quality metadata; and using metadata to better market and sell books, in part by ensuring that the end user is able to discover relevant and desired content. Many metadata providers now deliver metadata using the ONIX 3.0 standard, driven in part by industry requirements that the standard be used to describe physical products. Requirements to use ONIX 3.0 to describe digital products are also growing across the market.


  • To help the industry better manage metadata, the committee works to strengthen documentation of the metadata supply chain, identify weaknesses in the current approaches, and make recommendations for operational improvements to metadata or structural changes in the metadata supply chain that would address any shortcomings.
  • Build on BISG best-practices recommendations to help metadata providers and recipients provide timely, high-quality metadata for all book formats.

Stakeholder Impact/Benefits

This committee addresses metadata requirements across the supply chain, including publishers, retailers, libraries, distributors, and intermediaries, so that readers have access to the information they need to inform their decisions. Benefits of the committee’s work include:

  • Improved understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the current metadata supply chain, to promote the wider use of best practice, reducing rework and improving the quality of information available across the supply chain (e.g. accuracy of measurements, prices)
  • Recommendations for changes that would improve the way metadata is managed between trading partners, with direct application of prior best-practice work in areas that are of greatest need
  • Provide support to the important and growing use of metadata as a tool to promote discovery and purchase, particularly as ONIX 3.0 is fully implemented
  • Provide guidance on the implementation of the ONIX 3.0.x and audiobook standard(s)


  • Continue metadata education “coffee break” webinars 2023 topics to include: ISNI - why it's important, how it works, what is involved; Work Relations in ONIX; Thema for US Publishers; CIP and pre-assigned control programs at the LOC: and their impact on DEI availability; Update on best practices; and Describing business models in ONIX.
  • Publish Updated Metadata Best Practices Guide. Potential updates could address ONIX 3, additional information on accessibility, best practices for blocks 7 & 8, inclusion of ISNI in metadata, and metadata and (in concert with the workflow committee) asset packaging for audio products.
  • Find ways to encourage full use of ONIX 3 for all book-related products
  • Record and publicize publisher and downstream partners metadata processes (who is in charge of the work? How do companies create entire metadata teams? Highlight importance of good metadata for successful sales and marketing. etc.)
  • Work with the supply chain committee’s Digital Sales Reporting Working Group to communicate sales data that aligns with how the books were sold (business models).


  • Ability to recruit committee members from across the supply chain
  • Potentially, ability or willingness of supply-chain participants to implement recommendations to improve the metadata supply chain
  • Potentially, bandwidth of committee members to tackle multiple projects in a short time frame