I am sending a copy of an article from the August 2004 issue of RLG Focus
describing RLG's policy on 13-digit ISBNs.
RLG Supports Thirteen-digit ISBN
Ed Glazier - RLG ([log in to unmask])
As part of RLG's implementation of the RLIN21? Web-based cataloging client
and migration to a new database environment, we have incorporated support
for 13-digit ISBNs. The Library of Congress has announced that after
October 1, 2004 you might begin seeing such longer ISBNs in the records it
distributes; our systems are ready now.
Entering the longer ISBNs
Catalogers using the RLIN21 client can already enter 13-digit ISBNs in
field 020, subfield a or z. But you can also enter such ISBNs (unedited)
into other MARC 21 subfields that are defined as ISBN containers. These
include subfield z in most of the 761-787 range (not fields 760, 762, and
777). RLIN21 only does the longer ISBN check-digit edit for 020$a.
Catalogers using the soon-to-be-retired RLIN® Terminal for Windows® cannot
enter 13-digit ISBNs in 020$a. However, you can enter such ISBNs in 020$z
or any of the other, unedited ISBN subfields. In addition, if you encounter
a record with a 13-digit ISBN in 020$a (either a record created using the
RLIN21 client or a record added as part of a batch dataload), the old
software will force you to either delete the 13-digit value or move it to
020$z before you can enter the new or updated record.
Note: OCLC has adopted an interim policy instructing users, rather than
entering 13-digit ISBNs in field 020, to enter them into field 024, first
indicator 3: Other Standard Identifier - International Article Number
(EAN). If you are cataloging in RLIN21 and base your record on one with a
13-digit ISBN in field 024, you may move the ISBN to field 020.
Searching for longer ISBNs
In RLIN21, Eureka®, Z39.50 and RLIN, an ISBN search will retrieve any
13-digit ISBNs that have been entered in any appropriate field or subfield.
The future of 10-digit ISBNs
By January 2007 the 13-digit ISBN will be the standard. RLG has made no
decisions yet on whether or not to reformat existing RLIN 10-digit ISBNs to
13-digit. The old-style ISBNs will still appear in items in library
collections and in books published prior to that date. This is an important
consideration, since the original ISBN as it actually appeared on an item
when published is usually a primary access point in bibliographic record
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