TUCoPS :: Truly Miscellaneous :: issn.txt

ISSN Numbers- An Introduction

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Subject: Introduction to the ISSN (Please Read First)

               *     ISSN Numbers: An Introduction    *

What follows this introduction is a slightly updated version of the
Library's general information brochure about the ISSN: "ISSN is for
Serials."  The brochure was prepared by the National Serials Data
Program (NSDP), the office within the Library of Congress which
assigns International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSN.)  The brochure
gives information about how the ISSN is used and how to obtain an
ISSN.  The brochure includes an ISSN application form.  This
introduction augments the brochure by clarifying some of the
requirements for obtaining an ISSN, by further discussing ISSN use
by the U.S. Postal Service, and by addressing some newly expanding
uses of the ISSN, such as its use in bar codes and its
applicability to electronic serials.

The ISSN is an internationally recognized identification number for
serials.  It can be thought of as the "social security number" of
the serials world.  The ISSN is the serial counterpart of the ISBN
(International Standard Book Number).  However, NSDP does not
assign ISBN numbers.  ISBN are assigned by the R.R. Bowker Co., 121
Chanlon Rd., New Providence, NJ 07874.

NSDP is the U.S. center of the International Serials Data System
(ISDS), the international body which coordinates assignment and use
of the ISSN worldwide.  NSDP can only assign ISSN to serials
published in the United States.  ISSN for serials published outside
the United States are assigned by ISDS national centers located in
the country of publication, or by the ISDS International Center
located in Paris.  There are approximately 50 national centers in
the ISDS network.  For a referral to the appropriate center, please
contact the ISDS International Centre, 20, rue Bachaumont, 75002
Paris, France. 

ISSN can be assigned to serials published in any medium.  Different
ISSN are usually required for each physical medium, e.g., print,
electronic, sound recording, etc.  In order to be considered a
serial all issues (except for volumes in unnumbered monographic
series) must carry unique numerical or chronological designations
(e.g., Vol., No., and/or date) by which individual issues can be
identified and distinguished from each other. 

The requirement that each serial issues carry a unique designation
applies to electronic publications (e.g., CD-ROMs, electronic
journals), as well.  If an electronic publication is a dynamic
database, a bulletin board, or a listserv, it is probably not
eligible for an ISSN, but in any case of doubt please contact NSDP.

One major use of the ISSN in the United States is its use by the
U.S. Postal Service as an identification number for certain
publications mailed at second class rates.  However, it is not
necessary to have an ISSN before applying for a second class
mailing permit; the ISSN can be assigned or confirmed as part of
the application process.  Also, merely printing the ISSN does not
automatically confer any special mailing status on a publication. 
For specific information about obtaining second class permits,
consult your local postmaster. 

A growing use of the ISSN is in bar codes.  While the ISSN is not
used in the UPC code (the code seen primarily on trade and mass
market titles) it is used in the EAN and SISAC bar codes.  In these
two codes, the ISSN constitutes the portion of the code that
identifies the title of the serial.  Other data in various bar
codes can represent the number or date of the issue, or the price. 
Bar coding of serials is further speeding the efficiencies in
serial processing which can be realized through the use of the
ISSN.  For information about ISSN in the SISAC bar code, contact
the Serials Industry Systems Advisory Committee, 160 Fifth Ave.,
New York, NY 10010 and for information about ISSN in the EAN code,
contact the Uniform Code Council, 8163 Old Yankee Road, Dayton, OH

ISSN can be assigned to serials either before the first issue is
published or after publication has begun.  ISSN requestors should
allow about one month for NSDP to assign the ISSN and send it to
them by return mail.  There is no charge for an ISSN assignment.

In 1992 an American ISSN friends group, called "AmIS" (as in the
French pronunciation) was established to help defray the cost of
dues assessed the United States for participation in the
International Serials Data System.  This dues obligation, one of
the several means by which the ISDS International Center is
financed, amounted to $100,000 in 1991, of which the Library of
Congress could pay only $55,000.  AmIS provides the opportunity
for those who share in the benefits of the ISSN to help ensure
its financial viability.  Membership benefits include an annual
report containing news from NSDP and ISSN statistics from the
previous year, as well as receipt of other ISSN, and ISDS
information. Subscriptions to AmIS can be arranged through
periodical subscription agents such as Faxon, EBSCO, or a library's
regular agent.  Brochures listing categories of membership in AmIS
are available from NSDP.

National Serials Data Program
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540-4160                                   8/31/92

                ***Last update 6/8/93 (efm)****

Nigel Allen                     ae446@freenet.carleton.ca

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