What is an ISBN?

Apr 11, 2023

What is an ISBN and how is it used?

You may have heard the term “ISBN” used before. What is an ISBN, and how is it used? ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is used to uniquely identify books and similar items published internationally. They were first introduced in 1967 as 10-digit numbers, and moved to the 13-digit format in 2007. In theory, ISBNs identify a unique publication. Duplicates can occur but are not common.

Where to find an ISBN

You can find this number on the back of the title page (also called the “verso”), and on the back of the book itself or on the book jacket.

Using ISBN for copy cataloging

In many library software systems, it is possible to use the ISBN to search for bibliographic records using a process called copy cataloging. Some libraries, such as the Library of Congress and some large public and university libraries, have agreed to share their records so they can be copied to other libraries’ databases. Surpass Cloud allows you to choose from over 400 libraries when searching for records by either ISBN or Author/Title, giving you a wide variety of sources.

Another use for the ISBN is to connect to services such as Reading Program Services for Accelerated Reader or Lexile. Enhanced Content, Google Books, and Open Library’s cover images are also connected to the ISBN.

Conversion of 10-digit to 13 digit format

All ISBNs issued currently use the 13-digit format. Sometimes, you may need to convert a 10-digit ISBN to 13 digits to find a record. Some library software, such as Surpass Cloud, automatically handles the conversion for you.

The usefulness of ISBNs in cataloging items

ISBNs are an important and useful piece of information that you can use to make cataloging your items much easier, saving you time and effort. We at Surpass hope that this information will help you make use of ISBNs in your library.

About Surpass 

Surpass Cloud is the easy-to-use, cloud-based library management system for libraries of all types and sizes. Whether you’re a school, church, museum, business, or any other organization with resources to lend, Surpass is likely a good fit for you. We pride ourselves on being affordable and flexible, with an expert support team ready to help you at a moment’s notice.



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