Answered By: MCC Librarian
Last Updated: Feb 24, 2016     Views: 317

According to the American Library Association (ALA) the ISBN and ISSN standardized numerical systems for books and serials may seem similar but have very different uses:

ISBN - International Standard Book Number

The article discloses that J. Whitaker & Sons Ltd. introduced the ISBN system to the UK in 1967, while R.R. Bowker introduced the ISBN system to the United States in 1968. Presently, the Technical Committee on Documentation of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO TC 46) is responsible for the international standard. The U.S. ISBN Agency is at R.R. Bowker, LLC.

The purpose of the ISBN is to coordinate and standardize the use of identifying numbers so that each ISBN is unique to a title, edition of a book, or monographic publication -- braille, microform, and electronic publications, as well as audiobooks, educational/instructional videos/DVDs and software -- published or produced by a specific publisher or producer.

ISSN - International Standard Serial Number

The article explains that the ISSN was developed in the early 1970s to enable identification of serial publications at the international level. Administration is coordinated through the ISSN Network, an international intergovernmental organization within the UNESCO/UNISIST program.

The number itself -- unlike the coded digits of the ISBN -- has no significance other than as a brief, unique, and unambiguous identifier; an ISSN consists of eight digits, specifically two groups of four digits, in Arabic numerals 0 to 9, except for the last -- or check -- digit, which can be an X. Its proper reference is for the two groups of four digits to be separated by a hyphen and preceded by the letters ISSN.

Can't find the answer? Submit an email question.

Please give an e-mail address so we know where to send your answer. We will not share it.
Your Question
Your Info
Fields marked with * are required.