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Lauren Stewart: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Tech Forum online. My name is Lauren
Stewart, and I'm the Director of Operations and Customer Relations at BookNet. In this
presentation, I will be covering the big standards updates from April 2023 to March 2024.
Since there's so much to cover, particularly a 2023 BISAC update that will be of major
importance to many publishers of Indigenous content, I'm going to spend most of my time
focusing on that.
Before we begin, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that BookNet's operations are
remote and that our colleagues contribute their work from the traditional territories of the
Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, the Wyandot, the Mi'kmaq,
the Ojibwa of Fort William First Nation, the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which
includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi, and the Métis, the original peoples of
the lands we now call Beeton, Brampton, Guelph, Halifax, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan,
and Windsor. BookNet endorses the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission of Canada and supports an ongoing shift from gatekeeping to space-making in
the book industry. I encourage you to visit the native-land.ca website to learn more about the
peoples whose land you are joining from today.
First up, I wanted to remind everyone that there is a dedicated page in BookNet's user
documentation where we track updates to bibliographic standards of note to Canadian data
centres and receivers. There is a pink QR code on the slide now. Bookmark this page as your
destination for tracking bibliographic standards. We update it throughout the year, and you
don't have to wait for this presentation each year to stay on top of things.
The next place to keep an eye on is the BookNet Canada blog, where we regularly post not
only updates but practical applications and think pieces on various issues as they relate to
standards, metadata, and more. There's a blue QR code on this slide for you to head over to
the blog and take a look at what we have there.
So, what was new for bibliographic standards in 2023 and 2024? First of note is that ONIX
3.1 has been released. Release 3.1 takes all the key features of 3.0.8 and adds new data
elements to provide the most frequently requested new functionality, but crucially it drops
support for a handful of deprecated data elements and the outmoded <Gender> data element.
For most data centres, upgrading to release 3.1 should be very straightforward. Any 3.0
message that does not use any of the deprecated elements, including <Gender>, is already 3.1
ready. It needs only a trivial change to make it valid, ONIX 3.1. So, for data recipients, the
difficulty of accepting 3.1, probably alongside 3.0 for some time, will depend on the data
ingestion architecture, but it should not be greater than any other past revision of 3.0 i.e.
upgrading from 3.02 to 3.03.
Along with the update to 3.1, five new ONIX code lists, lists 61 to 65, have been released
over the past 12 months. Details of all of these can be found on the blog, and there are some
major changes to several lists, including the list for language, which now includes several
Indigenous languages not previously represented. Another update that we encourage you to
take back to your marketing department is BookNet and the Canadian National Bibliographic
Committee's endorsement of BISG's Statement on Misuse of the title and subtitle fields.
Coupled with editors' formal support of promotional headlines, endorsements, and cover
lines in the ONIX code list, there is definitively no reason to include these elements in the
title or subtitle fields of your ONIX records. The last update, the one that we're going to
spend the rest of this presentation looking at, is the 2023 BISAC Subject Code release. 2023
was one of the largest releases in recent years, and we're going to walk you through it,
especially because it's of immediate interest to publishers of Indigenous content.
Before we get into it, a quick roundup. BISAC is a North American-administered standard
run by BookNet's sister organisation, the Book Industry Study Group, the BISG, in the U.S.
Important to note is that this is also used in parts of Central and South America. There are
actually three types of BISAC. The first and most well-known are the BISAC Subject
Headings or Codes. These describe the content of a book and were developed for publishers
to communicate with retailers and the general book trade, the store section in which a title
best fits and will sell best. There are also BISAC Merchandising Themes and BISAC
Regional Themes. BISAC Merchandising Themes identify marketing opportunities for like-
minded books insofar as content is concerned, and BISAC Regional Themes provide
additional help in identifying books of specific geographical interest.
Sometimes people compare the Merchandising Themes with Thema's qualifier five list for
interests as they can be used to further describe fictional works that have been subject-coded
by genre. In addition, they are super helpful for planning sales and marketing plans for both
publishers and retailers. BISAC Regional Themes are my personal favourite flavour of
BISAC, as they are used to highlight location-specific opportunities for sales reps,
bookstores, libraries, and media, and offer an opportunity to reinforce a book's location in
metadata.
But let's get to why you are all here, the BISAC Subject Headings. From this point on, if I
mention BISAC, then you can assume that I am referring to the Subject Codes and not the
Merchandising or Regional Codes. There are currently over 5,500 terms in the list spread
across 52 major categories, each with detailed subtopics. There is a new list released each
year, steered by the BISG Subject Code Committee. The Subject Code Committee consists
of BISG members only and all are volunteers. No one on the committee is paid for their
participation.
BookNet Canada is a BISG member and the designated Canadian Market Representative.
We sit on the committee and are joined by one other Canadian representing a different BISG
member. Personally, I have been formally representing BookNet since Spring of 2022. The
committee is tasked with reviewing sections or categories on a cyclical basis, adding or
deleting codes as needed, and updating descriptions when warranted as well as soliciting and
reviewing requests for updates from the publishing community and committee members.
There is a process for the annual list of changes. The committee meets once per month, every
month, from September to the summer. A final list of committee-selected proposals is
submitted to and approved by BISG's Board of Directors in the fall of each year. The list is
then released in November or December. Once released, it is up to the industry, i.e.
publishers, distributors, retailers and more, to implement the new list into their systems. This
should happen as soon as possible following the release.
If this sounds clunky and slow, please recall that this volunteer-run process has steered
significant changes, such as the major change to the Juvenile categories in 2015, when
Young Adult was carved out and two new branches were born: Young Adult fiction and
Young Adult non-fiction. Now, about the branches, since I have brought them up. It is worth
confirming how BISAC is arranged. BISAC is arranged akin to the file systems you're
familiar with from computers or akin to a phylogenetic tree you may know from evolutionary
diagrams, where there are ancestors and descendants. This system is suggestive of
hierarchies, which poses some challenges, but I'll get back to that in a bit.
And this brings us to the topic of the moment, looking at the BISAC Subject Codes for
Indigeneity. I wanted to share the work that BookNet has done for the 2023 release of the
BISAC Subject Headings, and this continues work that has been done since 2018 to address
terminology and representation in the BISAC list. Since 2018, BookNet has collected
feedback and requests from mostly publishers and some retailers as well as other supply
chain participants. Across the board, supply chain participants identified gaps in
representation and missing Indigenous worldviews. While some subjects did have
Indigenous-specific codes, such as in fiction and, in later years, the Juvenile and Young
Adult categories, most of the 47 major headings had limited codes reflecting Indigeneity.
Where Indigenous subjects did exist, publishers confirmed they wanted increased granularity
represented in those subjects, i.e. Fiction Indigenous was not going to cut it. Moreover, even
a cursory glance at the list exposed the conscious and unconscious bias in the headings and
structure. Think about the hierarchical design that I talked about in the previous slide. All of
this results in a persistent catch-22 for publishers of Indigenous content. You have to either
select a subject code that does not represent Indigeneity authentically to respond to market
opportunities or choose to honour Indigenous worldviews and have limited engagement with
BISAC, which would therefore impact your access to entire markets, channels, and sales
opportunities.
We also had strong feedback from BISAC users following the release of a handful of new
codes and changes that were made to the 2022 list. Particularly, Indigenous-owned and -
operated presses and the authors working with them passed along feedback and
encouragement to continue. There was a clear call to see changes and new codes extended
beyond the Juvenile and Young Adult subject areas that were addressed in 2022.
Here is a short history of terminology changes in BISAC. It is worth noting that BookNet
and the BISG have tried to lead and respond to changes in terminology over the years. That
change has indeed been slow, maybe even glacial, but you can see some progress has been
made.
Finally, the market for books classified as Indigenous using the existing BISAC Subject
Codes continues to grow. So, we assembled a working group with a public and often directed
call for participants and involvement going out in late summer and fall of 2022. We started
meeting in December 2022 with 13 meetings spanning until June 2023. We engaged cross-
functionally and job title agnostically with firms. We worked with people making Indigenous
books and not just the data people. We had 17 participants and you can see their company
names here. Important to our efforts was to work in collaboration with a U.S.-based
representative to be able to present a united front to the BISG Subject Code Committee when
making our requests. We knew it would lend strength to our request to present a whole
market request for North America, and we think it strengthened the ask.
As our group met, several themes emerged from our initial discussions when evaluating the
then-current 2022 BISAC list. So, let's get into those themes. The first theme we identified
was a need for more codes, full stop. Before the 2023 list was released, only 30 codes existed
across all 5,200 plus subject headings, leaving major gaps. Take for example this "Chickasaw
Prayer Book" from Chickasaw Press, a member of our working group. This book
encapsulates some of the problems with the currently available subject headings. This is a
dual-language prayer book for the Chickasaw, a federally recognised tribe in Oklahoma. The
publisher selected two BISAC Subject Headings from those available: FOREIGN
LANGUAGE STUDY/Indigenous Languages of the Americas and RELIGION/Prayer.
Notable was what he chose not to select, the available RELIGION/Indigenous Folk and
Tribal Code, which exposes the white supremacy inherent in the list. This need for more
codes that reflect an Indigenous worldview becomes increasingly apparent as you spend lots
of time working with the list, as many of you as well as those in our working group have.
That feeling in our working group was that it shouldn't cut it to just add an Indigenous
subheading under every major subject heading. Rather, the list needed to use appropriate
terminology to reflect an authentically Indigenous approach to those topics.
This brings us to our next reference text, "Mother Earth Plants for Health and Beauty:
Indigenous Plants, Traditions, and Recipes" by Carrie Armstrong. The publisher, Eschia, and
their distributor, Lone Pine, has the following codes assigned to this book: BODY, MIND &
SPIRIT/Healing/General, CRAFTS & HOBBIES/Candle Making, SOCIAL
SCIENCE/Indigenous Studies. The codes selected from the available codes at the time, then
from the 2022 BISAC Subject Heading list, fail to robustly express the intimate connection
between plant life, health and healing through an Indigenous lens that is so clearly articulated
in the text.
Another major theme we identified was the need to distinguish between market participants,
i.e. those in Canada, the U.S., and international. Working with a U.S.-based publisher helped
our group identify the nuances required to reflect the needs of the so-called U.S. market
while also recognising that Indigenous content may enter the so-called North American
market from other parts of the world. And we know how important the Canadian market
differentiation is for sales north of the border.
Our working group did flag that this need for market differentiation does fly in the face of
Indigenous worldviews. Where differentiating different Indigenous groups and therefore
content according to a Canadian-U.S. statehood division is not straightforward nor respectful
of Indigenous worldviews. Our working group agreed that an overarching challenge was that
codes needed to be more visible i.e. discoverable by data providers and data recipients. They
observed that some existing codes are third-level and not easily located by subject coders in-
house nor located by buyers. And a known challenge is the tree-type structure of BISAC, the
hierarchical model I mentioned before, and the supremacies and associations that are
suggested because of this hierarchical system.
Our working group also expanded its scope as time progressed and began examining the use
of the word "ethnic" where it appeared in existing codes and suggesting alternative language
as well as examining where some groups of people were subclassified in subheadings and
others were not.
One of the greatest challenges of the work that was done was to build a coding
recommendation that would synthesise into the existing BISAC structure as it was far too
outside of the scope to restructure BISAC entirely, at least not at this time. We landed on an
approach that I call the "three branch" methodology. This follows the existing approach in
the Young Adult categories where there are Indigenous, Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island,
and Native American subheadings. We also felt that this approach addressed the
transnational issue that has been brought to BookNet in the past regarding the division of
Indigenous headings across so-called Canadian and U.S. state lines. Our intent is that where
further child subheadings are required, only the Indigenous branch would collect
subheadings.
What this looks like functionally is three branches where the main Indigenous branch has
subheadings and then there are two additional subheadings to indicate a market content or
further specify the Canadian-ness or American-ness of the book. Therefore, when one of the
MAIN SUBJECT CODE HEADING/Indigenous codes are used to describe the book's
content. The publisher could also select either that heading and then Indigenous Peoples of
Turtle Island or the same heading for Native American, effectively double-coding with
regional information. This conservative proposal, akin to double-coding approaches used
elsewhere in the list, does have its benefits. It enriches meaning and understanding of the
selected Indigenous heading. It offers opportunities for market differentiation. It opens up
opportunities in the future to add additional, more precise groups such as First Nations, Inuit,
and Métis. And both non-branched headings could be used independently if there was not an
appropriate Indigenous code to select, i.e. Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island or Native
American.
Finally, a publisher may choose to use BISAC merchandising themes to add additional
granularity. The following codes are now all added from the 2023 list: CULTURAL
HERITAGE/First Nations, CULTURAL HERITAGE/Métis, CULTURAL
HERITAGE/Inuit, CULTURAL HERITAGE/Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island,
EVENT/Powwow, EVENT/National Indigenous History Month, HOLIDAY/Indigenous
Peoples' Day, HOLIDAY/National Day for Truth and Reconciliation or Orange Shirt Day.
Hit up the QR code on this slide if you want to review the complete list.
So, let's look at all of the changes that were made for the 2023 edition. This is a high-level
overview, but I'm trying to provide granularity where I expect the audience will need it. Our
first task was to tackle the People & Places trees in Juvenile and Young Adult fiction and
non-fiction categories. Again, remember that we were looking at the then-current 2022
BISAC Subject Headings.
When you look at the 2022 BISAC Subject Heading, the distinction and segregation of
specific peoples into a separate heading implies an "othering" where their identities are not
presumed to be of the "norm" or the "dominant" or "majority" identity group. This mindset is
harmful and marginalising to creators, publishers, and retailers.
An additional issue with the People & Places branches was that they contained both regions
and countries as well as people. Here were the People & Places categories in Juvenile fiction
from the 2022 BISAC list. As you can see, regions, countries, and people. And here are the
People & Places categories as they were in Young Adult fiction. Very similar to the Juvenile
fiction list with slight variances, and you get the idea. I'm not going to repeat this for the
Juvenile non-fiction or Young Adult non-fiction lists.
Now I'm not going to be able to go over any of these in major detail, but I'm happy to
confirm our request was successful. People & Places is no more and has been reworked to
Places in all Juvenile and Young Adult fiction and non-fiction categories. The people that
were previously grouped under people and places are now top-level subheadings, i.e.
JUVENILE fiction/Indigenous, JUVENILE fiction/Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island,
JUVENILE fiction/Native American, and more. This recommendation impacted 71 codes in
total. This is considered a massive change and we are thrilled it was successful.
We took the successes of our pitch to the Subject Codes Committee concerning People &
Places and applied it to the so-called Adult non-fiction category of BIOGRAPHY &
AUTOBIOGRAPHY where we advocated to pulling out the groups of people clustered
under the Cultural, Ethnic & Regional subheading and making them top-level BIOGRAPHY
& AUTOBIOGRAPHY categories, as you can see here. We're quite happy to see these
changes in effect now that the lists have gone live.
Our second task was to tackle the much-loathed Legends, Myths & Fables code in Juvenile
and Young Adult fiction. Now, Legends, Myths & Fables, which appears as a branch in both
Juvenile and Young Adult Fiction. Reports to BookNet Canada asserted that Indigenous-
owned and operated firms avoided this code as they felt it was disrespectful to their peoples.
For many Indigenous cultures, their stories, teachings, and values make up their worldview,
that of a living culture, and the connotation of being grouped with legacy, historical, or
fictional cultures was offensive and harmful. Moreover, grouping into an omnibus code that
includes all three components, legends, myths, and fables, suggests that these stories,
including sacred stories, are untrue. This perpetuates colonial and Eurocentric ways of
thinking that Indigenous worldviews do not deserve to be upheld in the same way as others.
After all, BISAC codes do not consider Christian worldviews to be legends, myths, or fables.
That would be disrespectful to beliefs of that community. As an aside, just for those of you
tracking some stats, there were only 151 Legends, Myths & Fables Indigenous peoples in the
Americas' ISBNs that had sales tracked in our SalesData tracking service since 2004. And
fewer than 27% of those were from Indigenous-owned and/or operated firms. Indigenous-
owned and or operated firms defer to and prefer to use alternative codes, especially
considering the options available from the codes we added in 2022.
So, here were the Legends, Myths & Fables in the Juvenile and Young Adult fiction sections.
Looking at the subheadings under Legends, Myths & Fables, we found there are three types,
Legacy, Living, and fictional. Seeing these grouped together reveals the offence. Living
cultures' histories are being grouped together with the made-up stories and ancient tales of
cultures no longer with us. Recall that these are all grouped currently under fiction categories
as well.
So, while you will have to recode your books that currently use this code, BookNet can and
will assist. I have a list ready that I can send with ISBNs using this code that I am happy to
share. Just email me at lauren@booknetcanada.ca and I'll send it over.
Next, let's look at the changes that you can see now in the Adult fiction list for the 2023
edition. The 2022 code list only had one code for Indigenous fiction, fiction/Indigenous. So,
first up, let's look at the changes to existing codes. The aforementioned solo code is being
converted into General, which, yes, confirms that our "three branch" methodology is in effect
and there are exciting new subheadings to share.
Next up are all of the new codes you can look forward to to reflect the many genres of
Indigenous storytelling. While this is not all-encompassing, the ones I am most excited about
that are newly added are Elders, Indigenous Futurism, and Life Stories. There are a total of
19 new fiction codes relating to Indigeneity, so you never have to use fiction/General again.
Notable on this slide are the new Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and Native American
codes according to our "three branch" methodology. These can be added as a secondary or
tertiary code to suggest Canadian or U.S. content, so your Indigenous Futurism book could
also have an Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island code too to suggest so-called Canadian-
ness. Also notable on this list is the inclusion of Two-Spirited & Indigiqueer under the
Erotica, LGBTQ+, and Romance branches.
Similarly, we have a stack of new codes for Juvenile fiction. The 2022 code list only had the
following Juvenile fiction codes reflecting Indigeneity. Many of these have already changed
as discussed. Now, thanks to our Working Group's efforts and the subjects approved by the
BISAC Subject Committee, we have so many more new codes for Juvenile fiction, 17 to be
precise. Here you can see the ones we've branched under Indigenous, including Cautionary
Tales, which has a nuanced difference from Horror, as well as Oral Stories and Retellings,
which were necessary subcategories that our working group felt addressed a number of titles
on the market.
Three codes that we didn't expect to have added were First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. I
believe I mentioned before that we felt we assembled a conservative ask for new codes, and
we did not include these three as we didn't expect the Subject Codes Committee would be
open to such a large request for new codes as they traditionally tried to limit the overall size
of the list. However, this was suggested by a Subject Code Committee member and approved
for addition. You will see these elsewhere in the list in the YA fiction and non-fiction lists, as
well as Juvenile non-fiction and the merchandising themes. We're thrilled to see them.
Another code we're proud of is the one for Trickster Tales, something that extends beyond
Indigenous storytelling and was appealing to the Subject Code Committee as well.
And in keeping our eyes on the use of the word ethnic, a change to an existing Juvenile
fiction category was approved. Fairy Tales & Folklore, Country & Ethnic is now Country &
Cultural. This change was also made in the Young Adult fiction section.
Similarly, the 2022 code list only had the following Young Adult fiction codes relating to
Indigeneity. You can see those here. These were the available codes reflecting Indigeneity in
the Young Adult fiction list from 2022. Many of the 21 codes that we advocated for in this
section are familiar from what we discussed in Adult fiction and Juvenile fiction, so I'm not
going to spend much time here. Young Adult is a genre-heavy category, and we paid
attention to the detailed categorisation that was possible here. Of note here is that Comics &
Graphic Novels has three new categories. Plus, we advocated for the branching of LGBTQ+,
which allowed us to add the aforementioned Two-Spirited & Indigiqueer category that you
saw in Adult fiction.
So, let's look at Juvenile fiction next. Similarly, the 2022 code list only had the following
Juvenile non-fiction codes reflecting Indigeneity, which have all been discussed and
reworked. We are adding 18 new Juvenile non-fiction categories with the 2023 BISAC
Subject Code release. Of these, I'd like to flag the Land-based Knowledge and Reconciliation
codes, which will be of interest to many of the publishers watching. We spent a large amount
of time considering the Religion section, of which you can see the results here. A tactical
decision was made to use the known BISAC term of religion with the expectation this would
increase discoverability and sales opportunities. It was one compromise we felt was
necessary to confirm the respect that these topics deserve to differentiate the books, to be
able to get further granular and reflect Indigenous beliefs while balancing the Subject Code
Committee's desire to constrain titles about belief and spirituality into either BODY, MIND
& SPIRIT or RELIGION categories, neither of which Indigenous spirituality feels
particularly aligned with. I'll touch back on this later.
We also constructed a tree in Young Adult non-fiction that mirrors this. We restructured the
2022 code for teachings and traditions to fit into our religion reorganisation and addressed
the use of the word "ethnic" in Biography & Autobiography, which we also did in the Young
Adult non-fiction section. And we successfully advocated for the rename of FOREIGN
LANGUAGE STUDY to just LANGUAGE STUDY, arguing that the use of the word
foreign does nothing to better identify the section and is offensive. We made these changes,
as you can see here, in the Juvenile non-fiction section as well as in Young Adult. And this
work will not stop with the 2023 list, as we have already started work to advocate for
additional changes to this and other sections in the BISAC list concerning languages.
Similarly, we have a stack of new codes for Young Adult fiction. These were the available
codes in the 2022 list reflecting Indigeneity in Young Adult non-fiction. With some of the
changes here. And we successfully added 17 codes to this category and you will see shared
terms from earlier slides where I discussed the Juvenile non-fiction codes.
So, let's move into so-called Adult non-fiction, which we consider all codes that are not
fiction or in the Juvenile or Young Adult categories. Note that neither the term Adult nor
Non-fiction appear anywhere in the BISAC list, but I'll use them because I feel it helps keep
us on the same page. These were the only available codes reflecting Indigeneity in Adult
non-fiction, 14 codes across 47 major headings. First, let's look at RELIGION. As I recently
covered some of our working groups' discussions when we looked at the Juvenile non-fiction
codes a few slides ago. Our first step was looking at the current Indigenous, Folk & Tribal
code, which we successfully advocated to remove the Indigenous element to aid us in
building out a robust religion tree. You can see that tree here and our "three branch"
approach in effect.
I'd like to discuss ART next, which I think shows the dedication and skill of the working
group and the recommendations made to the Subject Code Committee. You can see here in
the first three lines our proposed "three branch" approach was successful and we have three
branches. We also successfully advocated for codes for Basketry, Beadwork, Leatherwork &
Hidework, Quillwork, Textiles & Weaving. We very tactically proposed these techniques for
the ART category and not Crafts & Hobbies to confirm the respect they command. And the
use notes for the Crafts & Hobbies category, the BISG directs users to use subjects in Crafts
& Hobbies for works discussing technique from a craft as opposed to a fineart viewpoint. We
wanted to be sure that Indigenous artistic accomplishments were elevated above the craft
assignation that they're so commonly given.
We also advocated for a restructuring of the History subcategory to remove the
Eurocentricity of its structure. You can see that some of the major European timeperiods are
now grouped under European and a new Indigenous ART/History code is now introduced.
History proved to be one of the longest discussions we had as a working group and you can
see our results here. We considered a number of methodologies but decided on a
classification system for HISTORY that de-emphasised dates and state-based geographies
and focused on widely represented experiences of groups from across the continent. This
work resulted from consultations with archaeologists and historians associated with our
working group's members' firms. We're interested to have BISAC's user feedback on these
new codes particularly to see if we hit the mark. And we have the aforementioned Indigenous
Peoples of Turtle Island and Native American codes that a subject coder can use to double-
code a book to flag its Canadian-ness or American-ness.
Similarly, for POLITICAL SCIENCE, we discussed this over several meetings and landed
on the following codes. And we're not entirely sure that we've encapsulated all of the
possible subheadings for this category, so we look forward to your feedback to see what
changes could be made to the list in 2024 and beyond. Our "three branch" approach is seen in
the DRAMA, LITERARY COLLECTIONS, and the LITERARY CRITICISM, and
POETRY sections. You're only seeing one POETRY code here, as there are existing codes
for Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and Native American poetry. Our work in the fiction
categories, as discussed before, informed the recommendations that we made for the so-
called Adult COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS section.
And, again, keeping our attention to the misuse of the word "ethnic" across the list, we
advocated for the 45 codes under the Regional and Ethnic subheading in COOKING to be
reclassified as Regional & Cultural. We advocated for changes in line for the Ethnic Studies
section under SOCIAL SCIENCE, but we were not successful in that regard as Ethnic
Studies does continue to be a term used widely in academia. However, we were able to
reposition them as Cultural & Ethnic Studies.
And here you can see the "three branch" approach in effect for the COOKING category and
the SOCIAL SCIENCE category. You're not seeing the Indigenous Studies code here, as it's
already on the SOCIAL SCIENCES list. I've collected many of the other changes here that
you can see when you browse the live list. I think there will be some interesting and
provocative categories that will be of interest to publishers and data receivers, including two
codes in FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, Indigenous Health & Healing codes in the HEALTH
& FITNESS, MEDICAL, and SELF-HELP categories, and LANGUAGE ARTS &
DISCIPLINE/Orality. And here's the last batch of note. The ones I'd like to flag are the two
NATURE codes, Cultural Botany and Indigenous Stewardship, as well as Indigenous
Knowledge & Perspective codes in the SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING
categories.
And that's my wrap-up for the 2023 BISAC Subject list. Our work is not yet done. We have
an aggressive list of work to do over the coming months and years, not only for BISAC, but
for all standards considerations. Some of the things that our standards team will be working
on includes how to reflect Indigenous geographies, looking at the BISAC regional themes,
Thema, and then other places in product metadata. We also have to continue our work on
examining Indigenous worldview in the BISAC list, particularly considering the settler
approach to pan-Indigeneity, navigating the fiction and non-fiction divide, as well as
evolving terminology, as well as ongoing ethical considerations of all of this work.
All of this culminates here with a thank you to the dozens of people who volunteered and
informed the work of our working group, as well as those who volunteered and considered
our proposal working on the BISG Subject Code Committee. Hundreds of codes added and
changed would have not been possible without the efforts of all of these people. And this is
meant to be a soft reminder that BookNet is a non-profit organisation and we work for you.
We want you to participate. We need active stakeholder groups discussing these problems.
That is how change happens, and we need your feedback on these BISAC changes regarding
Indigeneity, as well as other issues that you identify in the supply chain.
I leave you with a quote from our colleague, BookNet's venerable bibliographic manager,
Tom Richardson, that lives rent-free in my head, as the kids say, "All forms of categorisation
are colonisation against identity." We are always thinking about this work and ensuring that
we are balancing requests for sales tools with a keen eye to preventing further acts of
systemic racism and harm to Indigenous peoples as well as other equity-seeking
communities. And we need to work with you.
Thank you. If you'd like to be in touch about anything we've discussed here or if you have
suggestions or feedback on anything you've seen today, our email is
standards@booknetcanada.ca. And if you'd like to stay abreast of updates regarding
standards as well as anything else that BookNet is working on in terms of our products and
services, you can sign up to our newsletters at booknetcanada.ca/newsletter-sign-up. Thanks
a lot and have a great day.

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Transcript: #StandardsGoals for 2024: What’s new for BISAC - Tech Forum 2024

  • 1. Lauren Stewart: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Tech Forum online. My name is Lauren Stewart, and I'm the Director of Operations and Customer Relations at BookNet. In this presentation, I will be covering the big standards updates from April 2023 to March 2024. Since there's so much to cover, particularly a 2023 BISAC update that will be of major importance to many publishers of Indigenous content, I'm going to spend most of my time focusing on that. Before we begin, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that BookNet's operations are remote and that our colleagues contribute their work from the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, the Wyandot, the Mi'kmaq, the Ojibwa of Fort William First Nation, the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi, and the Métis, the original peoples of the lands we now call Beeton, Brampton, Guelph, Halifax, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan, and Windsor. BookNet endorses the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and supports an ongoing shift from gatekeeping to space-making in the book industry. I encourage you to visit the native-land.ca website to learn more about the peoples whose land you are joining from today. First up, I wanted to remind everyone that there is a dedicated page in BookNet's user documentation where we track updates to bibliographic standards of note to Canadian data centres and receivers. There is a pink QR code on the slide now. Bookmark this page as your destination for tracking bibliographic standards. We update it throughout the year, and you don't have to wait for this presentation each year to stay on top of things. The next place to keep an eye on is the BookNet Canada blog, where we regularly post not only updates but practical applications and think pieces on various issues as they relate to standards, metadata, and more. There's a blue QR code on this slide for you to head over to the blog and take a look at what we have there. So, what was new for bibliographic standards in 2023 and 2024? First of note is that ONIX 3.1 has been released. Release 3.1 takes all the key features of 3.0.8 and adds new data elements to provide the most frequently requested new functionality, but crucially it drops support for a handful of deprecated data elements and the outmoded <Gender> data element. For most data centres, upgrading to release 3.1 should be very straightforward. Any 3.0 message that does not use any of the deprecated elements, including <Gender>, is already 3.1 ready. It needs only a trivial change to make it valid, ONIX 3.1. So, for data recipients, the difficulty of accepting 3.1, probably alongside 3.0 for some time, will depend on the data ingestion architecture, but it should not be greater than any other past revision of 3.0 i.e. upgrading from 3.02 to 3.03. Along with the update to 3.1, five new ONIX code lists, lists 61 to 65, have been released over the past 12 months. Details of all of these can be found on the blog, and there are some major changes to several lists, including the list for language, which now includes several Indigenous languages not previously represented. Another update that we encourage you to take back to your marketing department is BookNet and the Canadian National Bibliographic Committee's endorsement of BISG's Statement on Misuse of the title and subtitle fields.
  • 2. Coupled with editors' formal support of promotional headlines, endorsements, and cover lines in the ONIX code list, there is definitively no reason to include these elements in the title or subtitle fields of your ONIX records. The last update, the one that we're going to spend the rest of this presentation looking at, is the 2023 BISAC Subject Code release. 2023 was one of the largest releases in recent years, and we're going to walk you through it, especially because it's of immediate interest to publishers of Indigenous content. Before we get into it, a quick roundup. BISAC is a North American-administered standard run by BookNet's sister organisation, the Book Industry Study Group, the BISG, in the U.S. Important to note is that this is also used in parts of Central and South America. There are actually three types of BISAC. The first and most well-known are the BISAC Subject Headings or Codes. These describe the content of a book and were developed for publishers to communicate with retailers and the general book trade, the store section in which a title best fits and will sell best. There are also BISAC Merchandising Themes and BISAC Regional Themes. BISAC Merchandising Themes identify marketing opportunities for like- minded books insofar as content is concerned, and BISAC Regional Themes provide additional help in identifying books of specific geographical interest. Sometimes people compare the Merchandising Themes with Thema's qualifier five list for interests as they can be used to further describe fictional works that have been subject-coded by genre. In addition, they are super helpful for planning sales and marketing plans for both publishers and retailers. BISAC Regional Themes are my personal favourite flavour of BISAC, as they are used to highlight location-specific opportunities for sales reps, bookstores, libraries, and media, and offer an opportunity to reinforce a book's location in metadata. But let's get to why you are all here, the BISAC Subject Headings. From this point on, if I mention BISAC, then you can assume that I am referring to the Subject Codes and not the Merchandising or Regional Codes. There are currently over 5,500 terms in the list spread across 52 major categories, each with detailed subtopics. There is a new list released each year, steered by the BISG Subject Code Committee. The Subject Code Committee consists of BISG members only and all are volunteers. No one on the committee is paid for their participation. BookNet Canada is a BISG member and the designated Canadian Market Representative. We sit on the committee and are joined by one other Canadian representing a different BISG member. Personally, I have been formally representing BookNet since Spring of 2022. The committee is tasked with reviewing sections or categories on a cyclical basis, adding or deleting codes as needed, and updating descriptions when warranted as well as soliciting and reviewing requests for updates from the publishing community and committee members. There is a process for the annual list of changes. The committee meets once per month, every month, from September to the summer. A final list of committee-selected proposals is submitted to and approved by BISG's Board of Directors in the fall of each year. The list is then released in November or December. Once released, it is up to the industry, i.e. publishers, distributors, retailers and more, to implement the new list into their systems. This should happen as soon as possible following the release.
  • 3. If this sounds clunky and slow, please recall that this volunteer-run process has steered significant changes, such as the major change to the Juvenile categories in 2015, when Young Adult was carved out and two new branches were born: Young Adult fiction and Young Adult non-fiction. Now, about the branches, since I have brought them up. It is worth confirming how BISAC is arranged. BISAC is arranged akin to the file systems you're familiar with from computers or akin to a phylogenetic tree you may know from evolutionary diagrams, where there are ancestors and descendants. This system is suggestive of hierarchies, which poses some challenges, but I'll get back to that in a bit. And this brings us to the topic of the moment, looking at the BISAC Subject Codes for Indigeneity. I wanted to share the work that BookNet has done for the 2023 release of the BISAC Subject Headings, and this continues work that has been done since 2018 to address terminology and representation in the BISAC list. Since 2018, BookNet has collected feedback and requests from mostly publishers and some retailers as well as other supply chain participants. Across the board, supply chain participants identified gaps in representation and missing Indigenous worldviews. While some subjects did have Indigenous-specific codes, such as in fiction and, in later years, the Juvenile and Young Adult categories, most of the 47 major headings had limited codes reflecting Indigeneity. Where Indigenous subjects did exist, publishers confirmed they wanted increased granularity represented in those subjects, i.e. Fiction Indigenous was not going to cut it. Moreover, even a cursory glance at the list exposed the conscious and unconscious bias in the headings and structure. Think about the hierarchical design that I talked about in the previous slide. All of this results in a persistent catch-22 for publishers of Indigenous content. You have to either select a subject code that does not represent Indigeneity authentically to respond to market opportunities or choose to honour Indigenous worldviews and have limited engagement with BISAC, which would therefore impact your access to entire markets, channels, and sales opportunities. We also had strong feedback from BISAC users following the release of a handful of new codes and changes that were made to the 2022 list. Particularly, Indigenous-owned and - operated presses and the authors working with them passed along feedback and encouragement to continue. There was a clear call to see changes and new codes extended beyond the Juvenile and Young Adult subject areas that were addressed in 2022. Here is a short history of terminology changes in BISAC. It is worth noting that BookNet and the BISG have tried to lead and respond to changes in terminology over the years. That change has indeed been slow, maybe even glacial, but you can see some progress has been made. Finally, the market for books classified as Indigenous using the existing BISAC Subject Codes continues to grow. So, we assembled a working group with a public and often directed call for participants and involvement going out in late summer and fall of 2022. We started meeting in December 2022 with 13 meetings spanning until June 2023. We engaged cross- functionally and job title agnostically with firms. We worked with people making Indigenous books and not just the data people. We had 17 participants and you can see their company names here. Important to our efforts was to work in collaboration with a U.S.-based representative to be able to present a united front to the BISG Subject Code Committee when
  • 4. making our requests. We knew it would lend strength to our request to present a whole market request for North America, and we think it strengthened the ask. As our group met, several themes emerged from our initial discussions when evaluating the then-current 2022 BISAC list. So, let's get into those themes. The first theme we identified was a need for more codes, full stop. Before the 2023 list was released, only 30 codes existed across all 5,200 plus subject headings, leaving major gaps. Take for example this "Chickasaw Prayer Book" from Chickasaw Press, a member of our working group. This book encapsulates some of the problems with the currently available subject headings. This is a dual-language prayer book for the Chickasaw, a federally recognised tribe in Oklahoma. The publisher selected two BISAC Subject Headings from those available: FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY/Indigenous Languages of the Americas and RELIGION/Prayer. Notable was what he chose not to select, the available RELIGION/Indigenous Folk and Tribal Code, which exposes the white supremacy inherent in the list. This need for more codes that reflect an Indigenous worldview becomes increasingly apparent as you spend lots of time working with the list, as many of you as well as those in our working group have. That feeling in our working group was that it shouldn't cut it to just add an Indigenous subheading under every major subject heading. Rather, the list needed to use appropriate terminology to reflect an authentically Indigenous approach to those topics. This brings us to our next reference text, "Mother Earth Plants for Health and Beauty: Indigenous Plants, Traditions, and Recipes" by Carrie Armstrong. The publisher, Eschia, and their distributor, Lone Pine, has the following codes assigned to this book: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT/Healing/General, CRAFTS & HOBBIES/Candle Making, SOCIAL SCIENCE/Indigenous Studies. The codes selected from the available codes at the time, then from the 2022 BISAC Subject Heading list, fail to robustly express the intimate connection between plant life, health and healing through an Indigenous lens that is so clearly articulated in the text. Another major theme we identified was the need to distinguish between market participants, i.e. those in Canada, the U.S., and international. Working with a U.S.-based publisher helped our group identify the nuances required to reflect the needs of the so-called U.S. market while also recognising that Indigenous content may enter the so-called North American market from other parts of the world. And we know how important the Canadian market differentiation is for sales north of the border. Our working group did flag that this need for market differentiation does fly in the face of Indigenous worldviews. Where differentiating different Indigenous groups and therefore content according to a Canadian-U.S. statehood division is not straightforward nor respectful of Indigenous worldviews. Our working group agreed that an overarching challenge was that codes needed to be more visible i.e. discoverable by data providers and data recipients. They observed that some existing codes are third-level and not easily located by subject coders in- house nor located by buyers. And a known challenge is the tree-type structure of BISAC, the hierarchical model I mentioned before, and the supremacies and associations that are suggested because of this hierarchical system.
  • 5. Our working group also expanded its scope as time progressed and began examining the use of the word "ethnic" where it appeared in existing codes and suggesting alternative language as well as examining where some groups of people were subclassified in subheadings and others were not. One of the greatest challenges of the work that was done was to build a coding recommendation that would synthesise into the existing BISAC structure as it was far too outside of the scope to restructure BISAC entirely, at least not at this time. We landed on an approach that I call the "three branch" methodology. This follows the existing approach in the Young Adult categories where there are Indigenous, Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, and Native American subheadings. We also felt that this approach addressed the transnational issue that has been brought to BookNet in the past regarding the division of Indigenous headings across so-called Canadian and U.S. state lines. Our intent is that where further child subheadings are required, only the Indigenous branch would collect subheadings. What this looks like functionally is three branches where the main Indigenous branch has subheadings and then there are two additional subheadings to indicate a market content or further specify the Canadian-ness or American-ness of the book. Therefore, when one of the MAIN SUBJECT CODE HEADING/Indigenous codes are used to describe the book's content. The publisher could also select either that heading and then Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island or the same heading for Native American, effectively double-coding with regional information. This conservative proposal, akin to double-coding approaches used elsewhere in the list, does have its benefits. It enriches meaning and understanding of the selected Indigenous heading. It offers opportunities for market differentiation. It opens up opportunities in the future to add additional, more precise groups such as First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. And both non-branched headings could be used independently if there was not an appropriate Indigenous code to select, i.e. Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island or Native American. Finally, a publisher may choose to use BISAC merchandising themes to add additional granularity. The following codes are now all added from the 2023 list: CULTURAL HERITAGE/First Nations, CULTURAL HERITAGE/Métis, CULTURAL HERITAGE/Inuit, CULTURAL HERITAGE/Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, EVENT/Powwow, EVENT/National Indigenous History Month, HOLIDAY/Indigenous Peoples' Day, HOLIDAY/National Day for Truth and Reconciliation or Orange Shirt Day. Hit up the QR code on this slide if you want to review the complete list. So, let's look at all of the changes that were made for the 2023 edition. This is a high-level overview, but I'm trying to provide granularity where I expect the audience will need it. Our first task was to tackle the People & Places trees in Juvenile and Young Adult fiction and non-fiction categories. Again, remember that we were looking at the then-current 2022 BISAC Subject Headings. When you look at the 2022 BISAC Subject Heading, the distinction and segregation of specific peoples into a separate heading implies an "othering" where their identities are not
  • 6. presumed to be of the "norm" or the "dominant" or "majority" identity group. This mindset is harmful and marginalising to creators, publishers, and retailers. An additional issue with the People & Places branches was that they contained both regions and countries as well as people. Here were the People & Places categories in Juvenile fiction from the 2022 BISAC list. As you can see, regions, countries, and people. And here are the People & Places categories as they were in Young Adult fiction. Very similar to the Juvenile fiction list with slight variances, and you get the idea. I'm not going to repeat this for the Juvenile non-fiction or Young Adult non-fiction lists. Now I'm not going to be able to go over any of these in major detail, but I'm happy to confirm our request was successful. People & Places is no more and has been reworked to Places in all Juvenile and Young Adult fiction and non-fiction categories. The people that were previously grouped under people and places are now top-level subheadings, i.e. JUVENILE fiction/Indigenous, JUVENILE fiction/Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, JUVENILE fiction/Native American, and more. This recommendation impacted 71 codes in total. This is considered a massive change and we are thrilled it was successful. We took the successes of our pitch to the Subject Codes Committee concerning People & Places and applied it to the so-called Adult non-fiction category of BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY where we advocated to pulling out the groups of people clustered under the Cultural, Ethnic & Regional subheading and making them top-level BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY categories, as you can see here. We're quite happy to see these changes in effect now that the lists have gone live. Our second task was to tackle the much-loathed Legends, Myths & Fables code in Juvenile and Young Adult fiction. Now, Legends, Myths & Fables, which appears as a branch in both Juvenile and Young Adult Fiction. Reports to BookNet Canada asserted that Indigenous- owned and operated firms avoided this code as they felt it was disrespectful to their peoples. For many Indigenous cultures, their stories, teachings, and values make up their worldview, that of a living culture, and the connotation of being grouped with legacy, historical, or fictional cultures was offensive and harmful. Moreover, grouping into an omnibus code that includes all three components, legends, myths, and fables, suggests that these stories, including sacred stories, are untrue. This perpetuates colonial and Eurocentric ways of thinking that Indigenous worldviews do not deserve to be upheld in the same way as others. After all, BISAC codes do not consider Christian worldviews to be legends, myths, or fables. That would be disrespectful to beliefs of that community. As an aside, just for those of you tracking some stats, there were only 151 Legends, Myths & Fables Indigenous peoples in the Americas' ISBNs that had sales tracked in our SalesData tracking service since 2004. And fewer than 27% of those were from Indigenous-owned and/or operated firms. Indigenous- owned and or operated firms defer to and prefer to use alternative codes, especially considering the options available from the codes we added in 2022. So, here were the Legends, Myths & Fables in the Juvenile and Young Adult fiction sections. Looking at the subheadings under Legends, Myths & Fables, we found there are three types, Legacy, Living, and fictional. Seeing these grouped together reveals the offence. Living cultures' histories are being grouped together with the made-up stories and ancient tales of
  • 7. cultures no longer with us. Recall that these are all grouped currently under fiction categories as well. So, while you will have to recode your books that currently use this code, BookNet can and will assist. I have a list ready that I can send with ISBNs using this code that I am happy to share. Just email me at lauren@booknetcanada.ca and I'll send it over. Next, let's look at the changes that you can see now in the Adult fiction list for the 2023 edition. The 2022 code list only had one code for Indigenous fiction, fiction/Indigenous. So, first up, let's look at the changes to existing codes. The aforementioned solo code is being converted into General, which, yes, confirms that our "three branch" methodology is in effect and there are exciting new subheadings to share. Next up are all of the new codes you can look forward to to reflect the many genres of Indigenous storytelling. While this is not all-encompassing, the ones I am most excited about that are newly added are Elders, Indigenous Futurism, and Life Stories. There are a total of 19 new fiction codes relating to Indigeneity, so you never have to use fiction/General again. Notable on this slide are the new Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and Native American codes according to our "three branch" methodology. These can be added as a secondary or tertiary code to suggest Canadian or U.S. content, so your Indigenous Futurism book could also have an Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island code too to suggest so-called Canadian- ness. Also notable on this list is the inclusion of Two-Spirited & Indigiqueer under the Erotica, LGBTQ+, and Romance branches. Similarly, we have a stack of new codes for Juvenile fiction. The 2022 code list only had the following Juvenile fiction codes reflecting Indigeneity. Many of these have already changed as discussed. Now, thanks to our Working Group's efforts and the subjects approved by the BISAC Subject Committee, we have so many more new codes for Juvenile fiction, 17 to be precise. Here you can see the ones we've branched under Indigenous, including Cautionary Tales, which has a nuanced difference from Horror, as well as Oral Stories and Retellings, which were necessary subcategories that our working group felt addressed a number of titles on the market. Three codes that we didn't expect to have added were First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. I believe I mentioned before that we felt we assembled a conservative ask for new codes, and we did not include these three as we didn't expect the Subject Codes Committee would be open to such a large request for new codes as they traditionally tried to limit the overall size of the list. However, this was suggested by a Subject Code Committee member and approved for addition. You will see these elsewhere in the list in the YA fiction and non-fiction lists, as well as Juvenile non-fiction and the merchandising themes. We're thrilled to see them. Another code we're proud of is the one for Trickster Tales, something that extends beyond Indigenous storytelling and was appealing to the Subject Code Committee as well. And in keeping our eyes on the use of the word ethnic, a change to an existing Juvenile fiction category was approved. Fairy Tales & Folklore, Country & Ethnic is now Country & Cultural. This change was also made in the Young Adult fiction section.
  • 8. Similarly, the 2022 code list only had the following Young Adult fiction codes relating to Indigeneity. You can see those here. These were the available codes reflecting Indigeneity in the Young Adult fiction list from 2022. Many of the 21 codes that we advocated for in this section are familiar from what we discussed in Adult fiction and Juvenile fiction, so I'm not going to spend much time here. Young Adult is a genre-heavy category, and we paid attention to the detailed categorisation that was possible here. Of note here is that Comics & Graphic Novels has three new categories. Plus, we advocated for the branching of LGBTQ+, which allowed us to add the aforementioned Two-Spirited & Indigiqueer category that you saw in Adult fiction. So, let's look at Juvenile fiction next. Similarly, the 2022 code list only had the following Juvenile non-fiction codes reflecting Indigeneity, which have all been discussed and reworked. We are adding 18 new Juvenile non-fiction categories with the 2023 BISAC Subject Code release. Of these, I'd like to flag the Land-based Knowledge and Reconciliation codes, which will be of interest to many of the publishers watching. We spent a large amount of time considering the Religion section, of which you can see the results here. A tactical decision was made to use the known BISAC term of religion with the expectation this would increase discoverability and sales opportunities. It was one compromise we felt was necessary to confirm the respect that these topics deserve to differentiate the books, to be able to get further granular and reflect Indigenous beliefs while balancing the Subject Code Committee's desire to constrain titles about belief and spirituality into either BODY, MIND & SPIRIT or RELIGION categories, neither of which Indigenous spirituality feels particularly aligned with. I'll touch back on this later. We also constructed a tree in Young Adult non-fiction that mirrors this. We restructured the 2022 code for teachings and traditions to fit into our religion reorganisation and addressed the use of the word "ethnic" in Biography & Autobiography, which we also did in the Young Adult non-fiction section. And we successfully advocated for the rename of FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY to just LANGUAGE STUDY, arguing that the use of the word foreign does nothing to better identify the section and is offensive. We made these changes, as you can see here, in the Juvenile non-fiction section as well as in Young Adult. And this work will not stop with the 2023 list, as we have already started work to advocate for additional changes to this and other sections in the BISAC list concerning languages. Similarly, we have a stack of new codes for Young Adult fiction. These were the available codes in the 2022 list reflecting Indigeneity in Young Adult non-fiction. With some of the changes here. And we successfully added 17 codes to this category and you will see shared terms from earlier slides where I discussed the Juvenile non-fiction codes. So, let's move into so-called Adult non-fiction, which we consider all codes that are not fiction or in the Juvenile or Young Adult categories. Note that neither the term Adult nor Non-fiction appear anywhere in the BISAC list, but I'll use them because I feel it helps keep us on the same page. These were the only available codes reflecting Indigeneity in Adult non-fiction, 14 codes across 47 major headings. First, let's look at RELIGION. As I recently covered some of our working groups' discussions when we looked at the Juvenile non-fiction codes a few slides ago. Our first step was looking at the current Indigenous, Folk & Tribal code, which we successfully advocated to remove the Indigenous element to aid us in
  • 9. building out a robust religion tree. You can see that tree here and our "three branch" approach in effect. I'd like to discuss ART next, which I think shows the dedication and skill of the working group and the recommendations made to the Subject Code Committee. You can see here in the first three lines our proposed "three branch" approach was successful and we have three branches. We also successfully advocated for codes for Basketry, Beadwork, Leatherwork & Hidework, Quillwork, Textiles & Weaving. We very tactically proposed these techniques for the ART category and not Crafts & Hobbies to confirm the respect they command. And the use notes for the Crafts & Hobbies category, the BISG directs users to use subjects in Crafts & Hobbies for works discussing technique from a craft as opposed to a fineart viewpoint. We wanted to be sure that Indigenous artistic accomplishments were elevated above the craft assignation that they're so commonly given. We also advocated for a restructuring of the History subcategory to remove the Eurocentricity of its structure. You can see that some of the major European timeperiods are now grouped under European and a new Indigenous ART/History code is now introduced. History proved to be one of the longest discussions we had as a working group and you can see our results here. We considered a number of methodologies but decided on a classification system for HISTORY that de-emphasised dates and state-based geographies and focused on widely represented experiences of groups from across the continent. This work resulted from consultations with archaeologists and historians associated with our working group's members' firms. We're interested to have BISAC's user feedback on these new codes particularly to see if we hit the mark. And we have the aforementioned Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and Native American codes that a subject coder can use to double- code a book to flag its Canadian-ness or American-ness. Similarly, for POLITICAL SCIENCE, we discussed this over several meetings and landed on the following codes. And we're not entirely sure that we've encapsulated all of the possible subheadings for this category, so we look forward to your feedback to see what changes could be made to the list in 2024 and beyond. Our "three branch" approach is seen in the DRAMA, LITERARY COLLECTIONS, and the LITERARY CRITICISM, and POETRY sections. You're only seeing one POETRY code here, as there are existing codes for Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and Native American poetry. Our work in the fiction categories, as discussed before, informed the recommendations that we made for the so- called Adult COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS section. And, again, keeping our attention to the misuse of the word "ethnic" across the list, we advocated for the 45 codes under the Regional and Ethnic subheading in COOKING to be reclassified as Regional & Cultural. We advocated for changes in line for the Ethnic Studies section under SOCIAL SCIENCE, but we were not successful in that regard as Ethnic Studies does continue to be a term used widely in academia. However, we were able to reposition them as Cultural & Ethnic Studies. And here you can see the "three branch" approach in effect for the COOKING category and the SOCIAL SCIENCE category. You're not seeing the Indigenous Studies code here, as it's already on the SOCIAL SCIENCES list. I've collected many of the other changes here that
  • 10. you can see when you browse the live list. I think there will be some interesting and provocative categories that will be of interest to publishers and data receivers, including two codes in FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, Indigenous Health & Healing codes in the HEALTH & FITNESS, MEDICAL, and SELF-HELP categories, and LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINE/Orality. And here's the last batch of note. The ones I'd like to flag are the two NATURE codes, Cultural Botany and Indigenous Stewardship, as well as Indigenous Knowledge & Perspective codes in the SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING categories. And that's my wrap-up for the 2023 BISAC Subject list. Our work is not yet done. We have an aggressive list of work to do over the coming months and years, not only for BISAC, but for all standards considerations. Some of the things that our standards team will be working on includes how to reflect Indigenous geographies, looking at the BISAC regional themes, Thema, and then other places in product metadata. We also have to continue our work on examining Indigenous worldview in the BISAC list, particularly considering the settler approach to pan-Indigeneity, navigating the fiction and non-fiction divide, as well as evolving terminology, as well as ongoing ethical considerations of all of this work. All of this culminates here with a thank you to the dozens of people who volunteered and informed the work of our working group, as well as those who volunteered and considered our proposal working on the BISG Subject Code Committee. Hundreds of codes added and changed would have not been possible without the efforts of all of these people. And this is meant to be a soft reminder that BookNet is a non-profit organisation and we work for you. We want you to participate. We need active stakeholder groups discussing these problems. That is how change happens, and we need your feedback on these BISAC changes regarding Indigeneity, as well as other issues that you identify in the supply chain. I leave you with a quote from our colleague, BookNet's venerable bibliographic manager, Tom Richardson, that lives rent-free in my head, as the kids say, "All forms of categorisation are colonisation against identity." We are always thinking about this work and ensuring that we are balancing requests for sales tools with a keen eye to preventing further acts of systemic racism and harm to Indigenous peoples as well as other equity-seeking communities. And we need to work with you. Thank you. If you'd like to be in touch about anything we've discussed here or if you have suggestions or feedback on anything you've seen today, our email is standards@booknetcanada.ca. And if you'd like to stay abreast of updates regarding standards as well as anything else that BookNet is working on in terms of our products and services, you can sign up to our newsletters at booknetcanada.ca/newsletter-sign-up. Thanks a lot and have a great day.