International Identifier for serials
and other continuing resources, in the electronic and print world


Press Release: ISSN: 40 years of identification for serial publications




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If the ISSN did not exist, someone would have to invent it! 

Fortunately, that work was accomplished 40 years ago and in the intervening years, the ISSN has become a crucial part of the serials and electronic resources landscape. 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the ISSN International Centre and its Network which were formally established in 1975 under the terms of an agreement signed between UNESCO and France, the host country of the International Centre.

For the past 40 years, the ISSN International Centre has developed its network of member countries that now total 89 and span five continents.  The ISSN International Centre is responsible for maintaining and publishing the ISSN International Register and products such as the ISSN Portal, the subscription database of ISSN metadata records.  The International Centre also supports and trains ISSN centers, and coordinates the harmonization of metadata among the bibliographic network and with the wider community of librarians and publishers. It is also responsible for assigning ISSN to international publications and publications of countries that do not yet have ISSN centres. The International Centre is currently implementing its new strategic plan which focuses on the sustainability of the ISSN system and its extension.


The ISSN Register contains more than 1.8 million ISSN bibliographic records.

About 60,000 new ISSN records are created annually.

100,000 records are modified annually.

89 National Centres have been established worldwide.

ISSN records are available in various formats (MARC 21- UTF 8; UNIMARC, MARC XML).

The ISSN Register is online as the ISSN Portal (, and also available through the OAI-PMH and Z39.50 protocols.

ROAD ( provides free access to those ISSN bibliographic records which describe scholarly resources that are fully Open Access: journals, conference proceedings, scholarly blogs, monographic series and academic repositories.


Please have a look at our blog to discover ISSN history and people:


Summer 2015: A special 40th anniversary issue with articles on different aspects of ISSN history and use, written by members of the ISSN community, will be published in English in the Brazilian journal “Ciencia Da Informaçao”, (ISSN 0100-1965, volume 44).

27-28 June 2015: At the annual conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco, the US ISSN National Centre will give a presentation entitled “ISSN @ 40:  Past, Present, and Future” at the Library of Congress exhibit booth and the ALCTS Continuing Resources Update Forum will feature three presentations about ISSN.

10 August 2015: The National Library of Colombia will organize a national workshop on “Colombian Serial Publications: profiles and prospects.” The ISSN International Centre will make a presentation about its current projects.

15-21 August 2015: The ISSN International Centre will exhibit at IFLA conference in Cape Town in South Africa (booth n°E127).

7 September 2015: Edina and the ISSN International Centre will organize the conference Taking the Long View: International Perspectives on the Stewardship and Archiving of E-journals and Serials in Edinburgh (Scotland).

14-18 October 2015: The ISSN International Centre will exhibit at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany (booth ILC, 4.2).

4th November 2015: The Bibliothèque nationale de France will organize a one-day conference about the identification of serial publications facing the digital transition: a tribute to ISSN’s 40th aniversary.

Fall 2015: An article about the history of ISSN IC will be published in the journal Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France.

Check out the 40th anniversary blog to learn more:

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