BISG Launches a New Metadata Practices Study

Posted By: Brian F. O'Leary Announcements, Committees,

To better understand the current state of metadata practices employed by North American publishers, BISG's metadata committee has created a survey, now open, to collect information about those practices. The information will inform committee work going forward, with a focus on sharing both the results and proposed shifts in how metadata is managed.

Metadata is data used for a specific purpose, to describe publishing products to vendors, libraries, manufacturers, websites, and, most importantly, prospective readers. Metadata refers to the data fields and content pieces needed to communicate about a book to the marketplace. It includes bibliographic, commercial, and marketing information.

While the concept of metadata is fairly new, the idea has been in use throughout publishing’s history. A book jacket (first introduced in the 19th century) is really just a collection of metadata, as are catalogs, advertisements, sell sheets, and press releases. But in this age of online electronic communication, with so much book activity taking place online and on mobile devices, metadata has taken on new and expanded importance in our industry.

When the pandemic shut down bookstores, libraries, publicity and marketing events, and most human interaction, the only way the industry could reach the marketplace—consumers, distributors, book buyers, school curriculum developers, libraries, etc.--was through the use of electronic metadata transmissions. That is what kept the supply chain moving during those difficult times. We need to take the lessons learned during that time and build on them to make metadata communication in the industry even stronger, more efficient, and more effective.

To accomplish that, we need a better understanding of metadata practices. In an industry as large and varied as ours, we know that metadata creation and maintenance processes will be different for different sectors. The needs of large corporate publishers will not be the same as niche independents. Academic publishing practices will not be the same as general trade publishing. But to understand the various ways different publishers create and maintain their metadata will begin the process of bringing the right people to the table to establish recommendations and best practices to benefit all data senders and recipients.

The survey is open now. It's estimated to take six minutes to complete. We ask publishers across the industry to have the appropriate person(s) in your company answer this new survey.