Email list hosting service & mailing list manager

Re: ISSN discrepancies (2 messages) ERCELAA@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu 16 May 2002 14:27 UTC

2 messages:


Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 15:55:57 -0700
From: Linda Pitts <lmpitts@U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Subject: Re: ISSN discrepancies (M. Jessie Barczak)


When a serial changes its title, the publisher will sometimes continue
printing the ISSN of the former title on new issues for a while.  Then
eventually, they switch over to the new ISSN.  So it looks like a single
serial title has two ISSNs.  At least in OCLC, both numbers will be
recorded in the ISSN field: the new (correct) number that the ISSN Center
has assigned to the new title will be in subfield a, and the old
(incorrect) number will be in subfield y.

                            Linda M. Pitts
                  Head, Serials Receipts, UW Libraries

Serials Receipts Section                e-mail:
Serials - Suzzallo                      v-mail: (206)685-3979
Box 352900                              phone:  (206)543-1863
Seattle, WA 98195-2900

> Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 12:30:12 -0400
> From: "M. Jessie Barczak" <Jessie.Barczak@USPTO.GOV>
> Subject: ISSN discrepancies
> Folks,
> I have been challenged to find out the following:
> Why is it that the same journal title can have different ISSN numbers?
> It has been many years since I earned the MLS, and I do remember learning
> WHAT ISSN's and ISBN's are for the purpose of building a database, but as is
> usual, what is taught is not necessarily the real world situation.
> Anyone else curious?
> Much obliged; I promise to digest all responses.
> M. Jessie Barczak
> Electronic Resources Librarian (ASRC)
> U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
> (703) 308-6099

Date: Thu, 16 May 2002 08:08:27 -0400
From: "M. Jessie Barczak" <Jessie.Barczak@USPTO.GOV>
Subject: FW: ISSN discrepancies (M. Jessie Barczak)

Jessie:  Take a look at the web-site   That
might help solve some of the mystery.  ISSN's are vaguely comparable to
patent numbers - i.e. - unique identifiers of specific entities.   I can
think of two reasons why a title might have different ISSN's.  The first is
that the item is really two different publications, produced by two
different publishers, but with the same, exact title.  There is an infamous
case from the early 1990's where a publisher in Leipzig and another
publisher in a different city/country???  were both publishing a scientific
journal using the exact same title, and confusing the (W&*%) out of the
library community.  Same title, two different ISSN's.  Until the two
publishers worked out a compromise, the ISSN's were the only way to be sure
which title was which.   The other instance would be when a journal gets
transferred/ bought out by one publisher from another.  Even if the title
remains the same, the publisher can request a new ISSN.

There is a comparable site (
for ISBN information.  The biggest difference  between ISSN's and ISBN's is
that ISSN are completely arbitrary, where ISBN segments represent country,
publisher, and title

Frances Piesbergen, Thomas Jefferson Library, St. Louis, MO  63121

I'd suggest that it happens most often when there are more than one version
of the journal - in theory at least  an electronic version should have a
separate ISSN from print version (in practice this isn't always done).  In
some databases, depending on how they are set up to display their
information, ISSNs of previous titles may appear in ISSN field of current
title (ie, the journal has changed title, and publisher has correctly had a
new ISSN assigned - I know of at least one database which will the display
in the record for new title the new ISSN, followed by old ISSN in brackets -
which can be useful at times, merely confusing at other times!)  So its not
that the journal in this case has 2 ISSNs, but system designer has decided
it would be useful to display previous title's ISSN in the record for
current title.
There are also cases where an erroneous ISSN was applied originally and has
been replaced - as I recall (and I'm not a serials librarian), there was at
least one instance of a batch of ISSN numbers being assigned more than once,
so a whole lot of titles had to be assigned new ones.   It may be that this
is still reflected in some records.
. . .
Sandra Henderson, National Library of Australia