The use of a standard code for the unique identification of serials and other continuing resources is essential for the communities interested in the publication, distribution and management of serials and other continuing resources, in view of the fact that the exchange of information and communication between the different organizations transcends national boundaries.

Françoise Pellé, Director of the ISSN International Center, explains: “In recognition of the increasing need in the digital environment to collocate as well as differentiate media versions, a new category of resources, “continuing resources” was defined to encompass new kinds of resources, such as updating websites, as well as traditional serials. This notion has been introduced in the scope of the ISO 3297:2007, and a new functionality, the “linking ISSN” (ISSN-L) has been defined for the purpose of supporting services that offer search and delivery functionality across all media versions”.

ISSN allows the identification of any serial publication, including electronic serials, independently of its country of publication, of its language or alphabet, of its frequency, medium, etc. and is applicable to serials and to other continuing resources, whether past, present or to be published or produced in the foreseeable future, whatever the medium of publication or production.

Continuing resources include serials such as newspapers, periodicals, journals, magazines, etc., and ongoing integrating resources such as loose-leaf publications that are continually updated and Web sites that are continually updated.

The ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is an eight-digit number which identifies all periodical publications as such, including electronic serials. Each ISSN assigned to a serial publication is registered in an international database: the ISSN Register. It is the most comprehensive and authoritative source for the identification of serial publications world-wide.

The exchange of information and communication between the different organizations such as libraries, abstracting services, suppliers, distributors, publishers and other content users transcending national boundaries imposes the requirement for a standard code:  the ISSN.

Individual monographs, sound and video recordings, printed music publications, audiovisual works and musical works have their own numbering systems and are not specifically mentioned in ISO 3297:2007. Such items may carry an ISSN in addition to their own standard numbers when they are part of a continuing resource.

ISO 3297:2007 has been elaborated by ISO’s technical committee (TC 46) for information and documentation standards through the subcommittee (SC 9) that develops and maintains ISO standards on the identification and description of information resources.

ISO 3297:2007, Information and documentation – International standard serial number (ISSN) costs 96 Swiss francs and is available from national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and ISO Central Secretariat.