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BISG Updates Its BISAC to Thema Map

Sunday, August 30, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Brian O'Leary

A working group of BISG's Subject Codes committee has finished mapping the 2019 BISAC code list, published last December, to Thema 1.4, released in April. The new map has been sent to every company that downloaded the BISAC code list following its publication in 2019. All new downloads of the BISAC code list will contain the map to Thema 1.4.

The BISAC standard is maintained by BISG's Subject Codes committee, chaired by Connie Harbison (Baker & Taylor). The committee meets monthly throughout the year to review suggestions from the industry, update categories that merit scrutiny, and publish a revised BISAC code list, typically in November.

The Thema working group, chaired by Michael Olenick (Bowker), typically begins mapping the BISAC code list to Thema after the BISAC update is published. This year, a substantial update to Thema was planned for ratification in March, and the working group elected to wait until after Thema 1.4 was published, rather than map to the prior version that would be replaced around the time a BISAC to Thema map could be created.

Within the BISG working group, Michael Olenick coordinated contributions from Connie Harbison, Caroline Hayes (W.W. Norton), and Mike McDonnell (consultant). Each reviewed the new Thema standard and mapped codes in various BISAC categories to the best Thema option. The working group met throughout the summer to share their work, discuss alternatives, and come to consensus on the new map.

After the updated map was distributed, BookNet Canada and EDItEUR incorporated it into tools that they offer. The BookNet tool gives users the ability to look up BISAC codes and see the corresponding Thema codes. This is an online lookup function, and the results are not downloadable.

EDItEUR provides the map as an Excel file (paralleling what BISG publishers), but the "literal" - the description of the BISAC code - is omitted, making it useful only for those who have downloaded the most recent BISAC code list. A license to download the full subject code list is provided to BISG members as part of their membership; non-members can purchase a license through the BISG web site. BISG does not create or maintain a map from Thema to BISAC.

BISG works closely with EDItEUR on several of the standards that EDItEUR maintains, including ONIX for Books and Thema. Staff members attend steering committee sessions that are typically held during the London and Frankfurt book fairs, with virtual participation in 2020 during the ongoing pandemic. At the 2019 meeting in Frankfurt, the international steering committee agreed in principle to ratify future updates to Thema at the fall meeting, so that new BISAC and Thema code lists would be published around the same time, facilitating timely mapping.

On a personal note, I'd like to thank Michael Olenick and the members of his committee for their work on this year's map. There were significant changes in Thema, and the group created the new map with both humor and an extraordinary attention to detail. I had a chance to join several working group discussions, and I left each one with a renewed sense of respect and appreciation for the work that our members - our subject matter experts, bar none - do to help the book industry operate in an efficient and effective way.


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