International Standard Name Identifier

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International Standard Name Identifier
International Standard Name Identifier.svg
Logo used by ISNI
IntroducedMarch 15, 2012 (2012-03-15)
No. of digits16
Check digitMOD 11-2
Example000000012146438X Edit this at Wikidata

The International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) is an identifier system for uniquely identifying the public identities of contributors to media content such as books, television programmes, and newspaper articles. Such an identifier consists of 16 digits. It can optionally be displayed as divided into four blocks.

ISNI can be used to disambiguate named entities that might otherwise be confused, and links the data about names that are collected and used in all sectors of the media industries.

It was developed under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as Draft International Standard 27729; the valid standard was published on 15 March 2012. The ISO technical committee 46, subcommittee 9 (TC 46/SC 9) is responsible for the development of the standard.

ISNI format[edit]

The FAQ of the websites states "An ISNI is made up of 16 digits, the last character being a check character."[1]

Format without space[edit]

Format with space[edit]

In display it is frequently shown with spaces.

Uses of an ISNI[edit]

The ISNI allows a single identity (such as an author's pseudonym or the imprint used by a publisher) to be identified using a unique number. This unique number can then be linked to any of the numerous other identifiers that are used across the media industries to identify names and other forms of identity.

An example of the use of such a number is the identification of a musical performer who is also a writer both of music and of poems. Where he or she might currently be identified in many different databases using numerous private and public identification systems, under the ISNI system, he or she would have a single linking ISNI record. The many different databases could then exchange data about that particular identity without resorting to messy methods such as comparing text strings. An often quoted example in the English language world is the difficulty faced when identifying 'John Smith' in a database. While there may be many records for 'John Smith', it is not always clear which record refers to the specific 'John Smith' that is required.

If an author has published under several different names or pseudonyms, each such name will receive its own ISNI.

ISNI can be used by libraries and archives when sharing catalogue information; for more precise searching for information online and in databases, and it can aid the management of rights across national borders and in the digital environment.


ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) identifiers consist of a reserved block of ISNI identifiers for scholarly researchers[5] and administered by a separate organisation.[5] Individual researchers can create and claim their own ORCID identifier.[6] The two organisations coordinate their efforts.[5][6]

Organisations involved in the management[edit]

ISNI Registration Authority[edit]

According to ISO the Registration Authority for ISO 27729:2012 is the "ISNI International Agency".[7] It is located in London (c/o EDItEUR)[8]

It is incorporated under the Companies Act 2006 as a private company limited by guarantee.[9]

The 'International Agency' is commonly known as the ISNI-IA.[10][11]

This UK registered, not-for-profit company has been founded by a consortium of organisations consisting of the Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Auteurs et Compositeurs (CISAC), the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), the International Performers Database Association (IPDA), the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and ProQuest. It is managed by directors nominated from these organisations and, in the case of CENL, by representatives of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the British Library.

ISNI Registration Agencies[edit]

A registration agency provides the interface between ISNI applicants and the ISNI Assignment Agency.[12]

List of Registration Agencies in order as on ISNI-IA website
Name (as on ISNI-IA website) Since Relation
Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE) 1712[citation needed] Spain
BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France) 2014[13] France
Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg 1899[citation needed] Luxembourg
British Library 1973[citation needed] United Kingdom
BTLF (Société de gestion de la Banque de Titres de Langue Française) France
Casalini Libri Italy
China Knowledge Centre for Engineering Sciences and Technology (CKCEST) China
Consolidated Independent United Kingdom
Identification Agency (IDA) Russia
Koninklijke Bibliotheek Netherlands
Kültür ve Turizm Bakanliği Turkey
National Assembly Library of Korea South Korea
National Library of Korea South Korea
National Library of Poland Poland
Numerical Gurus United States
Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC)
Quansic Switzerland
Ringgold organisations, international
Rakuten Kobo Canada
Sound Exchange Inc. United States
Sound Credit United States
YouTube 2018[14] international
Takwene[15] 2021 MENA

In 2018, YouTube became an ISNI registry, and announced its intention to begin creating ISNI IDs for the musicians whose videos it features.[16] ISNI anticipates the number of ISNI IDs "going up by perhaps 3-5 million over the next couple of years" as a result.[17]

In 2020, Sound Credit, together with ISNI, announced that music industry ISNI registrations were free and automated. The free registration system is part of Sound Credit user profile creation, used by its larger system for music crediting. It includes an automated search to avoid duplicate ISNIs and a certificate generated by the Sound Credit registration system to officiate newly registered ISNIs.[18]

ISNI members[edit]

ISNI members (ISNI-IA Members[19]) as of 2018-07-11:[19]

  • ABES (French Bibliographic Agency for Higher Education)
  • Brill Publishers
  • CEDRO (Centro Español de Derechos Reprográficos)
  • CDR (Centrale Discotheek Rotterdam)
  • Copyrus
  • FCCN
  • French National Archives (Archives nationales de France)
  • Harvard University
  • Iconoclaste
  • Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (ICLA)
  • ISSN International Centre
  • La Trobe University
  • Library of Congress
  • MacOdrum Library, Carleton University
  • National Library of Finland
  • National Library of New Zealand
  • National Library of Norway
  • National Library of Sweden (Kungliga Biblioteket)
  • Publishers' Licensing Services
  • UNSW Library

ISNI assignment[edit]

ISNI-IA uses an assignment system comprising a user interface, data-schema, disambiguation algorithms, and database that meets the requirements of the ISO standard, while also using existing technology where possible. The system is based primarily on the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) service, which has been developed by OCLC for use in the aggregation of library catalogues.

Access to the assignment system and database, and to the numbers that are generated as the output of the process, are controlled by independent bodies known as 'registration agencies'. These registration agencies deal directly with customers, ensuring that data is provided in appropriate formats and recompensing the ISNI-IA for the cost of maintaining the assignment system. Registration agencies are appointed by ISNI-IA but will be managed and funded independently.

ISNI coverage[edit]

The following table lists ISNI coverage counts, for millions of identities of all types, millions of people, millions of researchers (also included in people), and organisations.[20]

As of Identities (M) People (M) Researchers (M) Organisations
2017-08-05 9.41 8.757 2.606 654,074
2018-04-19 9.86 9.15 2.86 714,401
2018-07-11 10 9.28 2.87 717,204
2018-08-13 10 9.32 2.87 717,795
2018-10-17 10 9.39 2.87 719,010
2018-12-05 10 9.4 2.88 826,810
2019-03-11 10 9.59 2.88 864,999
2019-06-21 10.5 9.6 2.88 876,017
2019-11-27 10.92 10.01 2.89 908,299
2020-02-13 11.02 10.11 2.91 912,991
2020-10-20 11.51 10.45 2.91 1,062,333
2021-05-30 12.22 11.10 2.93 1,119,480
2021-11-17 14.38 12.79 2.94 1,591,038

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ISNI - FAQ". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. ^ Office, Library of Congress Network Development and MARC Standards. "Encoding the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) in the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Authority Formats". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  3. ^ "ISNI 000000012281955X Ai-en-ssu-tan (1879-1955)". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  4. ^ "75121530".
  5. ^ a b c "What is the relationship between ISNI and ORCID?". About ORCID. ORCID. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b "ISNI and ORCID". ISNI. Archived from the original on 4 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Maintenance agencies and registration authorities". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  8. ^ "ISNI International Agency - ISNI International Agency". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "ISNI". Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  11. ^ "About the ISNI International Agency". Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Registration Agencies". ISNI. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  13. ^ "BnF: First National Library In the World to Become an ISNI Registration Agency". ISNI. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  14. ^ "YouTube Adopts ISNI ID for Artists & Songwriters". ISNI. 22 January 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  15. ^ "ISNI Registration Agencies". ISNI |. 8 November 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  16. ^ "YouTube Adopts ISNI ID for Artists & Songwriters". ISNI. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Transcript: YouTube Knows Who You Are". Beyond the Book. 18 March 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Music Industry ISNI Registrations Now Free and Automated". ISNI. 23 October 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Members". ISNI. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  20. ^ "ISNI". Retrieved 19 April 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Karen Smith-Yoshimura, Janifer Gatenby, Grace Agnew, Christopher Brown, Kate Byrne, Matt Carruthers, Peter Fletcher, Stephen Hearn, Xiaoli Li, Marina Muilwijk, Chew Chiat Naun, John Riemer, Roderick Sadler, Jing Wang, Glen Wiley, and Kayla Willey. 2016. "Addressing the Challenges with Organizational Identifiers and ISNI." Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.

External links[edit]