International ISMN Agency

The International Standard Music Number for Notated Music.
A System for Publishing, Distribution and Library Practices




Dear Agencies and Friends of ISMN,

The year 2021 was also dominated by the pandemic and even though there were some glimmers of hope in the summer, the winter and the virus variants made it clear that we will have to expect the restrictions on public (and private) life for some time to come.  But we all quickly learned to work remotely and so we were also able to hold our general meeting online in September - it was great to have so many agencies around the globe join us.  With this in mind, we look forward to a "real" reunion next year in Oslo!

Until then, we wish everyone peaceful holidays and a good start into 2022

After a long illness the former general director of the Russian Book Chamber (1996-2004), doctor of philology, professor at the Moscow Polytechnic University, head of the department of the Centre for Book Culture Research of the RAS, editor-in-chief of the "Book. Studies and materials" Boris Vladimirovich Lenskiy passed away in Moscow on Nov. 27, 2021, at the age of 93.

Boris came to work at the then All-Union Book Chamber in 1985 as Deputy Director at the invitation of his friend and colleague, Yuri Vladimirovich Torsuev, who had just become Director General. This friendly and equal tandem of leaders in the most difficult times of “perestroika” and then the collapse of the USSR managed not only to maintain the staff and all the functions of the Book Chamber, but also to achieve the seemingly impossible in many areas and directions of its traditional and completely new activities. To mention here such breakthrough achievements include the creation of the All-Union Book Chamber NGO, which united the Book Institute, the publishing house “Book Chamber”, the printing house and other information and analytical services together with the Chamber in 1987, and the construction and commissioning in 1988 of two buildings for the National depository of legal deposit copies in Mozhaisk. The Chambers international and interdisciplinary relations and cooperation with various organizations and associations expanded dramatically, the automation of production processes, scientific and information support of national book publishing, bibliography and press statistics began to develop rapidly.

   Not everything that had been created back then was preserved, but the dedication, enthusiasm and optimism of the Chamber’s leaders remained unchanged. After Y.V. Torsuev left his post due to ill health, Boris V. Lenskiy, who replaced him, honorably preserved and augmented all the traditions of democratic leadership and continuous development of the Book Chamber in the interests of our state and society, the book industry and the book culture.

   Boris formally stopped working for the Chamber in 2005, but his close ties with it did not cease until the last days of his life. Too much effort was given by this man to develop and sometimes protect our organisation and its workforce for this friendship, respect and mutual love to be shaken or diminished.

   The loss of such an organizer and scholar is irreplaceable for our book industry and book science, and the memory of this charming, cheerful, big-hearted and generous man will forever remain with all those who had the chance to work and meet him.


(Note by the editor) Boris was always a pleasant colleague and a jolly friend. He was instrumental in introducing the ISBN and ISMN into Russia and thus improving Russia’s role in the international book-trade. In 1991, negotiations between the International ISBN Agency (ISMN was created later, in 1993) and the Russian Book Chamber as the national bibliographic center were at a preliminary stage. The annual congress of IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) in Moscow offered a welcome opportunity to discuss ISBN and to move forward towards a decision. On Monday evening there was a reception at the Pushkin Museum and this seemed to provide a suitable atmosphere for a relaxed discussion of the matter. But when the participants had assembled there were no drinks and hardly any food. Something was wrong but what? It slowly transpired that there had been a putsch, and the military had occupied the city. The Russian colleagues showed anxiety: what would happen? Who were the people behind this coup? Would perestroika be roled back? Boris, when later describing the situation, continued: „While we were all stricken with uncertainty and concerned about the next days, my friend said, “Boris, we are not going to save Russia. But we are here together, and even if we are lacking relaxing drinks, we have the opportunity to settle the ISBN matter now!” And so we did!” The coup was over on Wednesday night, and we all celebrated at a party at the Kremlin palace - this time with plenty of champagne and ample food ... A few years later Boris supported the introduction of the ISMN in Russia, and the Book Chamber remained a good and reliable partner ever since.

Hartmut Walravens

Due to the global pandemic situation, the AGM and International Panel Meeting, planned for September 2020 in Oslo, is to be postponed to 2021. More informations are going to be released in time.

We are glad to announce a new member: Japan is establishing it's own ISMN Agency. We hope that they will also become operational, soon.

Seasons Greetings

created by: Birgit Böcher, on: 20.12.2019 Kommentare (0)

Dear Agencies, Colleagues and Friends,

the year 2019 is going to end and we ant to take the chance to wish you all

Happy Holidays and a peaceful year 2020

Best wishes from the International ISMN Agency

(Please note that our office will be closed from Dec 23 to Jan 3rd)

Please note that the International ISMN Agency has moved. We are now located in a shared office together with other associations from the music business, e.g. the DMV (German Music Publishers Association and German ISMN Agency). Our new address is:

Int. ISMN Agentur e.V.
Hardenbergstr. 9a
10623 Berlin

Phone and Fax stay the same.

On 18 April 2019, the National Book Chamber of the Republic of Moldova, which also hosts the country's ISMN agency, organized a conference of editors/representatives of the editorial system in Moldova: 'National editorial system - the National Book Chamber: interactions and paradigms'. Please view the press release here.


created by: Carolin Unger, on: 17.04.2019 Kommentare (0)

ISO TC 46, the standards body to which the International ISMN Agency with its standard ISO 10957 belongs, will have its next meeting in Ottawa, Canada, 6 - 10 May 2019.

IAML, the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and documentation Centres, will have its 2019 congress in Krakow, Poland, 14 - 19 July. Please view the congress website here.

CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, now launched a project to upgrade the ISWC (International Standard Musical Work Code) to better serve authors societies and rights holders in the digital age. The new system will help speed up the process by which authors’ societies assign an ISWC code for use by digital service providers and publishers.

View the press release here:

We are happy to announce the relaunch of the website of the International ISMN Agency The principle design has not changed much but the inner structure, the content management, and the connection between website as such and the publisher database are now easier to manage. It also provides for more safety of the data.