For the first time in its history, all five BISG committees are chaired by women, and this week, PW, in cooperation with BISG, is shining a spotlight on these exceptional volunteer chairs. The interviews have been conducted by industry consultant Julie Blattberg and edited by PW.
Today's interview is with Connie Harbison, director of authority control at Baker & Taylor for the past 15 years. She is chair of BISG subject codes committee.
How did you get into the industry?
I started working for my college’s Barnes & Noble as an undergraduate. As a graduate student, I moved into the role of trade book buyer. When I moved back to New Jersey, I had to leave that position and eventually landed a job with Marquis Who’s Who. There, I was lucky enough to work with Sam Dempsey who later created a role at Baker & Taylor for me.
What compelled you to volunteer for a BISG committee?
In 2004, the subject committee chair Wendell Lotz moved into the role of chair of general BISAC; this left the role of the subject committee chair open. At the time, I felt that volunteering for the chair position would be a good way to network within the industry.
(Editor's note: Today the subject codes have come to be known simply as BISACs. The subject codes committee used to be under the BISAC metadata committee as the codes & values subcommittee.)
What’s your committee working on now?
The subject committee has just begun work on the 2021 edition of the BISAC Subject Headings. We’ve started identifying sections that we want to look at in detail when revising the 2020 edition.
The 2020 edition was officially released to the industry in December of 2020. Highlights include the addition of a Fiction / World Literature tree and extensive revisions to the Sports & Recreation section in an effort to organize that section better.
A small working group is being formed to revise the FAQs. And the Thema working group will be focusing on the mapping of the 2020 edition of the BISAC subjects to Thema 1.4.
Thinking about your work with BISG, what are you most proud of?
I am actually very proud of each edition that we finish. Attendance at subject committee meetings has doubled over the past 15 years. We have some regular meeting participants who are very highly engaged. With their help, I can keep our meetings productive. The 2020 edition is the sixteenth that I have overseen as chair; each of those editions have been released smoothly and as scheduled.
Personally and/or professionally, what have you gotten out of volunteering with BISG?
I’ve gotten to know some really amazing people from my committee. In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to work under six BISG executive directors and have had a positive relationship with each.