Metadata services

Magnifying glass on top of books in front of book shelves.

We offer a range of metadata services to libraries, publishers, researchers and the cultural heritage sector. Our free services include the British National Bibliography, alerts to new titles, metadata distribution and catalogue record conversion.

British National Bibliography

The British National Bibliography (BNB) records the publishing activity of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It lists new books and serials published or distributed in the UK or Republic of Ireland since 1950. The BNB also contains details of forthcoming books, making it the single most comprehensive listing of contemporary UK publications. 

Records for publications in electronic format such as electronic books, PDFs accessible via the World Wide Web, CD-ROMs, DVDs which contain data primarily in the form of text and charts are included, subject to exclusions.

Entries in the British National Bibliography are identified by the BNB number

The six legal deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland share the workload to create all the records for the BNB. This is done through the Legal Deposit Libraries' Shared Cataloguing Programme. All the records are made according to current bibliographic standards.

Get information about forthcoming books

The Cataloguing-in-Publication (CIP) programme provides records of new and forthcoming books in advance of publication in the United Kingdom and Ireland, which are included in the British National Bibliography.

The CIP programme serves publishers and libraries. For publishers, the programme is a bridge to the library book buying market. For libraries, it is an alerting service enabling them to identify titles of interest to their user communities in advance of publication.

The CIP programme is free of charge to participating publishers.

Publishers wishing to join the CIP programme can contact Bibliographic Data Services Limited who will supply further information.

Free metadata distribution services

With our free metadata distribution services, you can:

  • access MARC 21 records via Z39.50 for non-commercial use - ideal for libraries wishing to download records into their own local library systems.
  • download datasets in csv - useful if you're a researcher who wants to analyse and manipulate bulk data. 

Catalogue record conversion software

Download USEMARCON to convert catalogue records from one MARC format to another (for example from UKMARC to UNIMARC).

The software is designed as a toolbox-style application. This allows users with detailed knowledge of the source and target MARC formats to develop rules governing the behaviour of the conversion. Rules files may be supplemented by additional tables for more accurate conversion of MARC-specific character sets or coded information. The tables and rules files are simple ASCII text files and can be created using any standard text editor.

The British Library and the National Library of Finland have made the USEMARCON Plus software available free of charge.

For assistance or comments, please email


Get MARC 21 data

Our free service gives you catalogue or British National Bibliography data.