The New Metadata Downloader: Richer Data, Improved Discoverability

By: Kristy Gjertsen, Mon May 21 2018
Kristy Gjertsen

Author: Kristy Gjertsen


Springer Nature has replaced its MARC Downloader with an enhanced Metadata Downloader which is seeing fast uptake from the global library community. Users can now download extensive datasets for both books and journals and quickly embed these into catalogues and discovery services. With improved filtering features for more refined data sets, the option to save searches, and 24-hour updating, the Metadata Downloader will deliver faster and more accurate data sets for librarians. We asked two of the minds behind the tool - Sebastian Bock, Digital Product Manager in the Metadata Management Team and Björn Johansson, Senior UX Designer – what had inspired the new tool, what improvements they’ve made, and how it has been welcomed by librarians.

How does the Metadata Downloader differ from the MARC Downloader?

We launched the Metadata Downloader in January 2018 to provide the global library community with a higher quality of metadata and a range of improved workflow features not previously available in the MARC Downloader. Our aim in developing the tool was to make cataloguing and data set reporting quicker and more precise for librarians and at the same time improve discoverability for researchers. The Metadata Downloader has now entirely replaced the MARC Downloader and provides easily-downloadable and frequently updated metadata for both eBooks and journals.

With a daily refresh of records, librarians can keep catalogues and discovery services completely up-to-date and access data for new titles just 24 hours after their publication. For books, users can select from a much broader range of filters than was previously available to better refine their data sets. Categories include languages, eBook collections, series, copyright years (including archive collections), subject classifications and ISBNs. We also wanted librarians to be able to include or exclude Open Access titles as well as Static Reference Works.

Journal data are also now available through the Metadata Downloader and users can refine by language, subject classification and ISSN as well as having the option to include or exclude Open Access titles.

What were the reasons for replacing the MARC Downloader with the new Metadata Downloader? 

The MARC downloader was relatively old in technology terms and was no longer compatible with the more advanced data requirements of the library community. Developing the new Metadata Downloader platform not only gave us the opportunity to significantly enhance accessibility, but also meant we could increase the range of data librarians could access, whilst making the process of running data sets more efficient. The Metadata Downloader provides all of the data offered by the MARC Downloader and significantly more. The MARC downloader was shut down in May and anyone wanting to extract data for their eBook and Journal holdings should go straight to the new downloader tool.

Which formats can users download data in and do you plan on adding new formats? 

With the new Metadata Downloader tool, users can extract data into the following formats:

• Excel Title List
• MARC 21

These reflect formats most commonly requested by our library community and we expect to add new formats such as BIBFRAME and JATS in coming months.

Which major new features were launched with the Metadata Downloader and have there been any further developments in the four months since its launch? 

Improved filtering for more refined data sets

Since the Metadata Downloader launched we’ve worked on a series of enhancements, including filtering improvements to enable more refined data sets for Reference Works, Protocols and Open Access titles. Users are now able to add thousands of ISBNs in a single batch and generate metadata for hundreds of titles in seconds.

Increased update frequency

We’ve also made big improvements to the frequency of updates for both books and journals. Users can now capture metadata for books and journals published just 24 hours earlier, which is a big improvement on previous monthly updates. We’ve added a group feature which enables you to break out collections into separate data files, and we’re now focusing on finalising a unified admin portal which combines data for our 240,000 books with almost 3,000 journals.

Bookmark search settings

Users can now bookmark their search settings. If, for example, they subscribe to 20+ eBook collections, they can save their search and not have to re-select all collections individually the next time they run a data set. This is a significant workflow improvement for librarians who can now download metadata for multiple collections in just two clicks.

Which publication formats does the new metadata downloader tool work for?

Users can generate metadata files for all Springer Nature books and journals, including Open Access publications, Reference Works and Protocols. The data sets can be filtered by ebook-collections, book series, subject classification and language for current and archival copyright years. We also anticipate users being able to download data by industry sector collections at some point in the future.

How has the library community responded to the Metadata Downloader?

We’re receiving regular, positive feedback from librarians across Europe and North America. Springer Nature is one of the few publishers to offer a tool with this capability and we’ve seen a substantial growth in usage over the four months since its launch. The most important thing for us is to develop and enhance the tool in line with the needs of the global library community. To that end, we’re actively seeking feedback on existing features and suggestions for improvements. We’re encouraging anyone trying out the tool on either a regular or ad-hoc basis to complete our in-product survey and let us know of any problems they’ve encountered, which tasks they’re using the tool to support, and what improvements would help them in their role.

Will there be new features users can expect to see?

Now that the Metadata Downloader has launched, we’re focusing on getting it into the hands of as many librarians as possible to gauge their response, feedback and suggestions for future developments. We have lots of ideas but it’s important that these are validated by the library community. Our primary goals are to provide librarians with rich, up-to-date and accurate metadata, but we also want to reduce the time they spend generating data sets and accessing the data they need to make their collections more discoverable. We expect to provide additional formats for downloading data over the coming months and one feature launching soon is recognition of multiple ISBN formats, which will save users a lot of time reformatting. One-click metadata downloads of a customer’s holdings is also something we’re looking forward to adding in the future.

Users can now bookmark their search settings. If, for example, they subscribe to 20+ eBook collections, they can save their search and not have to re-select all collections individually the next time they run a data set. This is a significant workflow improvement for librarians who can now download metadata for multiple collections in just two clicks.

For more information or to start using the new metadata downloader, visit: 



Kristy Gjertsen

Author: Kristy Gjertsen

Kristy Gjertsen is a Senior Content Marketing Manager on the Institutional Sales & Marketing team based in New York. She brings to the Academic and Government markets insights and activities specific to the Librarian community, whilst raising awareness of Springer Nature’s products and services.