The fitting link

Ronald Snijder

Fri 15 Jan 2021

Read this article at hypothè

You are probably familiar with USB cables, the type of standard cable that allows me to connect a printer and a phone to my laptop, using the same port. However, the cable I use for my phone does not fit my printer. If I were to use one cable, I would either have to buy a new printer or use some kind of connector.

This is similar to ONIX: an XML standard designed to exchange metadata about books between all the different actors in the book supply chain. Here, the standard also comes in different sizes. For instance, an author might be coded as <b037>Snijder, Ronald</b037> or as <PersonNameInverted>Snijder, Ronald</PersonNameInverted>. Moreover, the current version of ONIX is 3, but publishers who have invested quite a lot in version 2.1 might be reluctant to give that up. These differences in standards and approaches can result in a complex situation for actors in the ebook supply chain; more details in this draft report by the Book Industry Group.

So, at OAPEN we need to make sure that all those different flavours of ONIX fit our import system and therefore we built a connector. In fact, we built two: one that converts different types of ONIX XML to Excel, and one that converts Excel to ‘our’ ONIX standard.

Why two conversions? Because we need to do a manual check on the metadata we received: does it contain titles that are already part of the OAPEN Library collection? Is there – still – metadata missing? Is there metadata that needs to be amended? When the metadata has been checked and updated, we convert the resulting Excel file into ONIX XML and import it into the OAPEN Library.

OAPEN's ONIX workflow

In this way, we have added over 1,600 books to the OAPEN Library. You can take a look here:*%22&submit=.

If you are interested in trying this out yourself, please mail me at r.snijder[@] But if you want to wait for a more user-friendly and better developed tool, you should head over to the COPIM project. In this project, development is on the way of Thoth, a tool to manage open access book metadata:

Connecting different things – whether appliances or systems – requires work and is never easy. But we are trying to create a better fitting solution.

USB: one size does NOT fit all