Metadata expert insights: Jane Rowland
Jane Rowland is the Operations Director of Troubador Publishing. Jane has worked in a variety of roles within the company, including Director of Academic Publishing, Editor of The Self Publishing Magazine and Marketing Manager, before becoming the Operations Director in 2013. Here she shares what she has learned about managing metadata.
1) What is your biggest lesson learned about managing your metadata at Troubador?
Metadata is a vital tool for publishers who are serious about selling and marketing their books. Metadata is not incidental to the book publishing process; it’s at the centre of it. The biggest data lesson I learned was at the point when we moved to supplying our metadata via Onix (an electronic standard for transmitting bibliographic data to organisations such as Nielsen). During this time we had to re-examine and audit all of our data records – an eye-opening process – which flipped our entire view of this topic on its head. Metadata is something that we now start the book publishing process with – using our Onix based system for all record creation for our titles and building upwards from there. Metadata at Troubador is handled by the marketing department. Group Marketing Manager, Sarah Taylor, and myself have overall control over the metadata and regularly audit it, but our entire company departments know how important metadata is, and issues are therefore picked up early.
2) What levels/qualities do you think metadata needs to achieve, in order to be effective?
We add in the fullest details possible to all of our metadata – the more information available about a book and the earlier, the better informed our customers are. We try to get our data disseminated as early as possible once we have the key data fixed. We’ve also moved to a weekly dissemination schedule, meaning our data is kept timely.
3) What tools and services have you tried to help with organising and enriching your metadata? Which was the best?
We never looked back after starting to provide our metadata via Onix several years ago. We use the Booksonix system to deliver our Onix and, as a bonus, the system lets us store, edit, audit, search, produce reports in multiple formats to inspect any aspect of our data. Since moving to Onix, we have been able to access markets we were not previously selling to, as our Onix feed can be taken up directly by any company who wants a direct relationship with us.
4) If you could offer one piece of advice to anyone tasked with managing their company’s metadata, what would that be?
If you’re in charge of your company metadata then realise how crucial it is. Ask yourself if your company’s data is up to date? Timely? Accurate? If you know it’s not, then what can you do to turn this around? Do you know how you are feeding your data out to the wider supply chain? Are you using spreadsheets to manage all your metadata? Are they fit for purpose? Metadata is complex and requires breaking key terms into multiple fields to meet data standards – and for complex data, spreadsheets may no longer be the best fit.
5) How do you think the management of metadata will evolve in the future?
There are new standards for data coming in all the time and it’s important to stay aware of changes and adapt. Recently we’ve started to add THEMA categories to our data as this new(er) classification system becomes established.
6) How important is good metadata to your company?
Good metadata is essential for Troubador. We’re often complimented on the quality of our data and we’re proud of that. We’ve worked hard to make data work as it should – and understanding what metadata represents is high across the company.
7) How has your company benefited from good metadata?
With the enhanced Onix data we supply, we see better sales and fewer metadata problems for our titles across the trade.