Using International Standard Book Numbers as Uniform Resource Names
RFC 3187

Document Type RFC - Historic (October 2001; No errata)
Obsoleted by RFC 8254
Was draft-hakala-isbn (individual)
Last updated 2017-10-21
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Network Working Group                                          J. Hakala
Request for Comments: 3187                   Helsinki University Library
Category: Informational                                     H. Walravens
                                           The International ISBN Agency
                                                            October 2001

              Using International Standard Book Numbers as
                         Uniform Resource Names

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2001).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document discusses how International Standard Book Numbers
   (ISBN) can be supported within the URN (Uniform Resource Names)
   framework and the syntax for URNs defined in RFC 2141.  Much of the
   discussion below is based on the ideas expressed in RFC 2288.

1. Introduction

   As part of the validation process for the development of URNs, the
   IETF URN working group agreed that it is important to demonstrate
   that the current URN syntax proposal can accommodate existing
   identifiers from well established namespaces.  One such
   infrastructure for assigning and managing names comes from the
   bibliographic community.  Bibliographic identifiers function as names
   for objects that exist both in print and, increasingly, in electronic
   formats.  RFC 2288 [Lynch, et al.] investigated the feasibility of
   using three identifiers (ISBN, ISSN and SICI) as URNs.  This document
   will analyse the usage of ISBNs as URNs in more detail than RFC 2288.

   A registration request for acquiring Namespace Identifier (NID)
   "ISBN" for ISBNs is included in chapter 5.

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RFC 3187                  Using ISBNs as URNs               October 2001

   The document at hand is part of a global joint venture of the
   national libraries to foster identification of electronic documents
   in general and utilisation of URNs in particular.  The document was
   written as a co-operative project between the Helsinki University
   Library and The International ISBN Agency.

   We have used the URN Namespace Identifier "ISBN" for ISBNs in
   examples below.

2. Identification vs. Resolution

   As a rule the ISBNs identify finite, manageably-sized objects, but
   these objects may still be large enough that resolution into a
   hierarchical system is appropriate.

   The materials identified by an ISBN may exist only in printed or
   other physical form, not electronically.  The best that a resolver
   will be able to offer in this case is bibliographic data from a
   national bibliography database, including information about where the
   physical resource is stored in the national library's holdings.

3. International Standard Book Numbers

3.1 Overview

   RFC 2288 [Lynch] describes the ISBN system in the following way:

      An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) identifies an edition
      of a monographic work.  The ISBN is defined by the standard
      NISO/ANSI/ISO 2108:1992 [ISO1]

      Basically, an ISBN is a ten-digit number (actually, the last digit
      can be the letter "X" as well, as described below) which is
      divided into four variable length parts usually separated by
      hyphens when printed.  The parts are as follows (in this order):

      *  a group identifier which specifies a group of publishers, based
         on national, geographic or some other criteria,

      *  the publisher identifier,

      *  the title identifier,

      *  and a modulus 11 check digit, using X instead of 10.

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RFC 3187                  Using ISBNs as URNs               October 2001

      The group and publisher number assignments are managed in such a
      way that the hyphens are not needed to parse the ISBN
      unambiguously into its constituent parts.  However, the ISBN is
      normally transmitted and displayed with hyphens to make it easy
      for human beings to recognize these parts without having to make
      reference to or have knowledge of the number assignments for group
      and publisher identifiers.

   Groups usually cover only one country, but occasionally a single
   group is used in several countries.  For instance, group "3" is
   utilised in Germany, Austria and German-speaking parts of
   Switzerland.  "976" is used in Caribbean community (Antigua, Bahamas,
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