Identify This! Identify That! New Identifiers and New Uses

Below are listed questions that were submitted during the January 11, 2012 webinar. Answers from the presenters will be added when available. Not all the questions could be responded to during the live webinar, so those that could not be addressed at the time are also included below.


  • Roy Crego, Product Manager, Title Linking/ISTC/ISNI, Bowker
  • Janifer Gatenby, Research Integration and Standards, OCLC
  • Chris Shillum, Vice President Product Management, Platform and Content at Elsevier

Feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions about library, publishing, and technical services standards, standards development, or if you have suggestions for new standards, recommended practices, or areas where NISO should be engaged.

NISO Webinar Questions and Answers

1. Have the developers of ISTC made any use of FRBR to define relationships between works and their derivatives?

Roy Crego: Yes, except with the ISTC, a work is more like an “original expression” in FRBR. An ISTC is assigned to a specific text and the derivation types that have been defined are similar to new expressions. See definitions below:

Definition from the ISTC Users Manual:

textual work / work – a distinct, abstract intellectual or artistic creation predominantly comprising a combination of words, whose existence is revealed (i.e. “published”) or intended to be revealed, through one or more textual manifestations. This requirement for there to be at least an intention to publish means that draft versions of a work should not be registered in addition to the fully developed version(s) which are published or submitted for publication.


For derived works, one or more of the following derivation types should be provided:

Non-text material added or revised

2. What about retrospective assignment? Problem with ISBN and ISSN is that they don't go back before the 1970s, making tools like OCLC's xISBN service of limited use. How would ISTC get around this?

Roy Crego: An ISBN or ISSN is not required to assign an ISTC to a work. The registration system looks at the combination of Title, Subtitle, Authors, edition information, etc. to determine if the work has already been registered or can be assigned a new ISTC. Also be aware that the central ISTC database is not an authority for products (ISBNs or preISBN books) that contain a specific text. A service like xISBN would have to be provided by a vendor using the ISTC to group ISBN and pre-ISBN products.

3. How do you define 'work' to be able to distinguish clusters?

Roy Crego: See definition of Work above in Question 1. Each work can be related to its derivations and to its source work(s).

4. What does it cost to register an ISTC?

Roy Crego: Bowker ran ISTC pilot programs (2009-2011) with publishers at no cost. In late 2011, to cover processing costs, we instituted a $10.00 per title charge for single ISTC assignments. We also offer discounted “bulk processing.” In bulk processing, publishers submit a list of ISBNs and we construct the ONIX for ISTC registration messages using data already in the Books In Print database. Discounts vary with the quality of publisher data. Interested publishers should contact me for a free estimate.

5. How does ISNI relate to ORCID?

6. Regarding the ISTC, how do you plan to get other countries involved? Right now the world seems to be divided by languages, but all European plus Chinese. What about other languages?

Roy Crego: ISTC International continues to have discussions with prospective registration agencies in other countries. To attract agencies from smaller markets, the ISTC board is also looking to revise the membership fees.

7. What is the relationship, if any, between ISNI and VIAF (virtual international authority file)?

8. Who can register an ISTC?

Roy Crego: There are seven types of registrants:

--Author: a creator of all or part of the content of the work being registered
--Creator of derived work: a creator of all or part of a work derived from the work being registered: used when a creator of a derived work registers the original work from which it is derived
--Agent: a person or organization (other than a collective rights society) that acts on behalf of a creator
--Collective rights society
--ISTC Registration Agency

9. In cases where the party registering an ISTC is not the publisher, how does the ISTC get propagated?

Roy Crego: The ISTC is in the very early stages of being propagated into the supply chain. All registrations made at Bowker are being recorded in the Books In Print database and will be made available to our data customers in the future. All registrations worldwide, are searchable on the International database and discussions are underway to make that data more widely available through a web service. Authors and agents who register their works should present their ISTCs to the publishers to use.