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ISMN Newsletter No11

International ISMN Agency
ISMN Users' Manual
International ISMN Directory
Other Publications
National ISMN Agencies
ISMN Ranges
Panel Meeting


2. Progress reports of ISMN agencies

Progress reports of ISMN agencies (April 2000 - March 2001, in alphabetical order)


The Croatian ISMN Agency was established in the National and University Library in November 1995. The ISBN agency takes care of the ISMN administration. As there is no music publishers' association in our country, it was a challenge to gather music publishers on the basis of ISMN. The first ISMN prefixes were assigned in April 1996.

In the report period seven publishers have joined the ISMN system. At present there is a total of 52 music publishers in the system whose data were published in December in „The Croatian Musicians' Hand book 2001" by Piano Publisher. An aver age of 300 titles of sheet music are published annually. Some of them have bar codes.

Daniela Zivkovic, Ph.D.


Czech Republic

The Czech National ISMN agency (NA ISMN) has been operating in the National Library of the Czech Republic since January 1, 1995. Full operation of the ISMN system in the Czech Republic began at the end of 1996.

In the last year five new music publishers entered the ISMN system. This means that the total number reached 40 as of January 10, 2001. Participation in the system is still voluntary in the Czech Republic. But there is a precondition of having the valid licence for publishing activity in case of physical subjects (i.e. individual publishers); in case of legal subjects (i.e. institutions) governed by statutes we demand them to mention their publishing activity in these statutes. Each publisher must be acquainted with the working of the system and its aim as described in the ISMN Users' Manual and the standard CSN ISO 10957. A publisher interested in the ISMN gets these publications from the NA ISMN be forehand. The new publisher must also fill in the registration form as a basis for building the database of music publishers. This database is maintained in the CDS/ISIS system and is currently being updated. The updates are sent to the International ISMN Agency regularly. Once a month the data base is converted into the Aleph system so that it can be available on the web site of the National Library ( to gether with book publishers. A printed version of the database is presented as a supple ment to the annual directory of Czech book publishers. The annual directory 2000 should be published in the spring 2001.

We constantly try to attract new music publishers but the circle of music is small and it seems unlikely to widen. Publishing music is even more expensive than publishing books and the market for music is limited. New publishers get the block of ISMNs with a perspective of 30 years in accordance with their present annual publishing activity.

They also get a calculation of the number into the bar code. But our agency does not provide film masters for the publishers; they must obtain these from a printer themselves.

In 2000, we checked ISMNs in 240 titles of music which came to the National Library of the Czech Republic under the Legal Deposit Law. The copies were presented to us by our colleagues from the Domestic Acquisition Department. When we come across any mistake we contact the publisher and inform him/her about it. If one number was assigned to two items then he has to assign a new ISMN to the other title. In the case of music publishers still not participating in the ISMN system we assign the number from the identifier M-66051 instead of him/ her (in 2000 it applied to about 50 titles). It means that all entries of music presented in the Czech National Bibliography have their ISMN which then becomes the unique access point.

As up-to-date information about the titles of music to be published we issue the bi-monthly O.K. - Ohlasene knihy. We collect the data for it from so-called announcement cards which the publisher is obliged to send us the moment the manuscript comes to a printing office. We can also detect any mistakes or misprints on the cards and manage to correct them in the publication by informing the publishers.

In July 2000 our Aleph computer system was upgraded to the version Aleph 500. The Library was closed to the public for one month and all databases working until that time in the version 300 were converted. In the NA ISMN it applied to the data base of music „to-be-published". The conversion was done success fully so that since August we are again in full operation.

The proportion of new music publishers is comparable with book publishers - i.e. 5 new music publishers out of 40 in total compared with 152 new book publishers compared with 2901 total ones. This proportion will not change in the future but still both music publishers and music items play a very important role in the picture of world culture.

The coming panel meeting will take place in Prague. The NA ISMN and also my other colleagues are already looking forward to meeting the ISMN community for the first time in this „town of a hundred towers".

Antonín Jerábek



ISMN Agency for Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria
Progress Report 2000:

  1. The number of years that the system has been operating: 6 years.
  2. The nature of the organisation running the Agency: Profit-oriented company of the Association of Publishers, Book sellers, and Whole salers of Germany.
  3. Number of publishers to whom preixes have been allocated: 412 publishers.
  4. What percentage of the total number of publishers in the country does this present? Approximately 59 percent of an overall number of about 700.
  5. The number of prefixes allocated last year: 41 prefixes.
  6. Achievement of total number ing, i.e. are all music publications numbered yet? Approximately 27 percent if total numbering is around 600,000 music publications.
  7. Approximately what percentage of music publications listed in the major music publications lists or bibliographies of the country carry ISMNs? We can not answer this, because we do not have any overview about this theme.
  8. Adoption of bar coding: There is almost no adoption of bar coding.
  9. How much interest is there in ISMNs for non-printed mateial? There is almost no interest.
  10. Applications of the ISMN: CD-ROM Music in Print - Germany.

The German ISMN Agency started a Music in Print database very early, copying the very successful Books in Print model. The database is available on the Internet and contains about 230,000 records now. Unfortunately, the trade has not really accepted the Music in Print as the basis for its operations, probably because the number of records is still too small as compared to what is really available. Music publishers, on the other hand, are reluctant to pay the fees charged for an entry in Music in Print, and select only their latest releases and possible best sellers for listing. This situation seems to call for a new concept for this very attractive enterprise but the current financial situation of the agency's parent body, the Buchhändler-Vereinigung, does not encourage such action.



As the agency is newly established there is no progress report yet.



ISMN has been operational in Latvia since 1996. All in all 16 publishers have been registered and assigned ISMNs:

1997 - 10
1998 - 1
1999 - 4
2000 - 1

6 contingents of 100 numbers have been assigned to: Latvju kultura, Musica Baltica, Serviss Bastejs, SOL, Ulma, Zvaigzne ABC.

12 contingents of 10 numbers are in use; 2 publishers have been supported with the 2nd block of ISMNs after the 1st has been exhausted (Latvju kultura, Aleksandrs Firsovs).

26 new publications have appeared in the year 2000. All of them have international standard numbers, 19 carry ISMNs, 7 carry ISBNs (song-books and the descriptions of folk-dances).

8 publications - Musica Baltica (educational literature, children's and young persons' song-books). The collection of the students' works from the music schools of Vidzeme region might be worth mentioning.
5 publications - Latvju kultura (arrangements of Latvian folk music and authors' works for traditional instruments).

Publishing house SOL has continued the Anthology of Latvian Choral Music (3 volumes). Author-publisher Romualds Jermaks has published 2 selections of his choral compositions of Christian content.

Curia Metropolitana Rom. Cath. Rigensis has published 1 song-book.

Laimdota Pruse



In the section „Norway" in the re port of „Tuesday, 14th March 2000" in the ISMN Newsletter no. 10, July 2000, it is written that „there were about 10,000 titles published per year." This is a misprint. There is in fact a zero too much. The correct number of titles is about one thousand. About 350 of these titles are copies from The Norwegian Music Information Centre. It has been decided that these copies might not be given ISMNs.

Some of the composers make changes from time to time in the copies which are in deposit there. It would be very difficult to use ISMNs under these circumstances. The total sum of ISMN title numbers is 558. About 100 music scores published in the year 2000 have not been given ISMNs.

ISMN title numbers in 2000: 558.

The Norwegian ISMN Agency is situated at the National Library of Nor way. The agency was established in 1996. Until now ISMN is allocated to 35 Norwegian publishers. About 4000 titles have been given ISMNs so far.

The URL to the homepage is The homepage is also accessible in an English version. The ISMN User's Manual is translated into Norwegian. It is available in a printed format as well as on the Internet.

The Norwegian ISMN Agency has already tried to establish a Norwegian Music in Print. A registration form was worked out. This form was accessible from the Norwegian ISMN homepage for the publishers who where given user names and passwords. As time passed this did not function very well.

One reason was that some of the publishers did not have access to the Internet in this period. Other reasons were lack of resources for this extra work or that the database did not allow conversion of records from the publishers who already had done the cataloguing work in their own database systems. This attempt to establish a Norwegian Music in Print has now been brought to a close.

Nevertheless the Norwegian ISMN Agency is thinking of other ways of establishing a Music in Print. One idea is to transfer records already available in the Norwegian National Bibliography into a Music in Print database.

The ISMN agency has cooperated with the ISBN and the ISSN agencies about how to deal with electronic documents and the system URN:NBN which the National Library is also allocating.

Berit Holth



The national ISMN agency was established in February 1999 and its administration has been carried out by the staff of the National ISBN agency in cooperation with the staff of the Music Department of the National and University Library.

The ISMN users' manual was published and distributed in printed version to the music publishers, the electronic version can be found on the web.

During the period from February to December 2000, five new music publishers were added to the ISMN data base, making a total of 37 pub lishers, 18 of them being active.

The National ISMN agency was as signed two publisher groups, the first one contains 5 publishers and the second one 13. Although the second group is larger, the first group turned out to be more produc tive. Altogether 135 individual ISMNs were allocated (119 and 16) to 141 music publications published last year in Slovenia. Often ISMNs are allocated at the same time as publications are catalogued in ad vance (CIP).

The problem of legal deposit men tioned in last year's report has not yet been solved to our complete satisfaction, but the situation is improving.

The ISMNs are included in the bibliographical descriptions of the national printing production.

Alenka Kanic



1. Introduction

ISBN applications were initiated in Turkey during the official service of the Chairman of the Foundation for Information and Documentation Services (1987). Similarly, in the face of the fact that not one organisation volunteered to undertake the task of organising ISMN despite its being validated as a Turkish standard in 1997 owing to ISBNs proving insufficient for music publications, the Foundation, closely interested in information and documentation services, acted to undertake ISMN application in Turkey (May 2000). With supporting contributions from the Director of the International ISMN Agency Dr. Hartmut Walravens, essential permissions were received and a contract was signed by the sides concerned (September 2000).

2. Music Publications and Music Librarianship

Even though the first music publication was published in 1481 in Venice, this was only to be realised in 1876 in Turkey. Long after the first book was printed by Gutenberg in 1450s, the first book was printed in Istanbul, Turkey in 1728. (On the other hand, permission for publication in Greek, Armenian and Hebrew was given in Istanbul in as early as 1500s.) Although books published between 1728-1928 were set in the Turkish language with Arabic scripts, at the end of 1928 the „Alphabet Revolution" was realised and thus the Modern Turkish Alphabet (with Latin-origin scripts) was accepted. About thirty thousand publications were printed during the initial phase of 200 years, whereas the number of publications printed since 1928 to date has almost reached three hundred thousand. Thus, both the alphabet and the revolution have helped publication and intellectual life in Turkey gain impetus. The intellectual life of previous periods, on the other hand, survives in about three hundred thousand (as many as five hundred titles) Turkish manuscripts, the country with the largest manuscript collection in the world. Some of these manuscripts are present in libraries around the globe. Determining how many of these priceless sources are musical publications calls for detailed studies, which is an important and equally urgent problem.

Yet another point is that although musicians and composers create new works each day, they do not publish them. By means of current at tempts, the Turkish ISMN Agency and Foundation for Information and Documentation Services will encourage these composers and contribute to publish their works of music.

Music scholars state that, next to music of the West, Turkish music is one of the richest and most wide spread. However, there has not been a complete Discography of Turkey nor a National Phonotech or Official Discotech, nor have studies on a Music Publications Bibliography been completed. Despite that, it is estimated that the number of known works in Traditional Turkish Music and Turkish Folk Music (musical score) amounts to about thirty thousand and twenty thousand, respectively. When collected pieces are recorded in notation and, together with new collections, already avail able entertain ment, popular and universal Turkish music works are added to the number, the total will be around one hundred thousand. Yet, little is known, despite the limited knowledge in the Turkish National Library, as to how many of them were published how many times, where and by whom.

Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) is the pioneering agent in radio and TV broadcasting in Turkey, having collected and published the greatest number of music pieces, to be followed by various units of the Ministry of Culture.

In Turkey, the number of music departments in libraries concerned (National Library, TRT, universities and conservatories, etc.) is still hardly half a dozen. The Foundation for Information and Documentation Services and the Turkish ISMN Agency aims to contribute to both music librarianship and, parallel to that, music publication in Turkey.

3. Music Schools and Groups

Studies on Turkish music and academic and scientific studies received great emphasis during the Atatürk period (1923-1938) in the initial stages of the Republic and have continually done so for the last eighty years, together with intensive efforts to promote Turkish music to a multi-vocalic and universal level.

The Ministry of Culture has greatly contributed to this. Also worth mentioning are the Istanbul Municipality Orchestra and TRT. The efforts by associations and amateur groups must not be ignored either.

At present there are eighteen State Conservatories in universities and twenty-two Music Departments in Music and Performing Arts (The Fine Arts) sections of Faculties of the Humanities in Turkey. Within the structure of the Ministry of Culture, twenty-five choruses of various branches currently operate through out the country. In addition, together with orchestras and music groups founded by certain municipalities, NGOs and the private sector, there are Military Music Schools and Bands of Turkish Armed Forces.

In Turkey, thousands of radio and hundreds of television channels operate. There are various music-related associations and foundations (NGOs) as well as Copyright Establishments/Professional Institutions where writers, artists, composers and musicians come together. Also, there is an increasing number of private and official theatres, opera and ballet groups, their schools and courses.
This way, in Turkey, not only are there professional institutions of thousands of people to whom music publications are important and relevant, but there also exists a dynamic public - mainly of young people - interested in music. Yet, it is also a fact that many things need to be done in terms of recording related information and documents, as well as sorting and organising, archiving and eventually publicizing them both at home and abroad so that larger groups of users can benefit. Music publications (scores) are greatly and urgently needed both in academic life and in the daily life of the youth and general public.

4. Activities of the Turkish ISMN Agency

In the current environment outlined above, the Foundation for Information and Documentation Services, having set up the Turkish ISMN Agency, has speedily started operating and had the ISMN handbook and two brochures sent by the International ISMN Agency translated into Turkish - five thousand copies of which were then printed. Likewise, an ISMN Export and Import Format has been prepared. A music-related Reference Library has been set up and a Library Software Pack and supplementary hardware have been obtained to operate compatibly with the current Foundation Library and future information-documentation services. Website and e-mail addresses ( and have been obtained and web pages will have been designed and activated in the months to come. In the meantime, in accordance with the contract, contribution fees to the International ISMN Agency for 2000-2001 have been paid and the Music Publishers International ISMN Directory and Music in Print have been ordered. We will also participate in the International ISMN Meeting to be held in Prague in April 2001.

As far as ISMN publications and the formation of the Music Publications Information Centre is concerned, initially three hundred addresses have been compiled and envelopes/ kits have been assembled . These kits include - in addition to documents prepared - letters from the Minister of Culture, who greatly supports our activities, professional institutions, and press coverages, and are scheduled to be sent to organisations concerned as of January 2001.

5. Turkish ISMN Agency and Music Publications Information Centre

All these preparations aim to serve two important targets:

1. Although there are over five thou sand publishers in Turkey according to ISMN data, expert publishers/ producers exclusively dealing with music publication are almost non-existent. Publication of musical scores is done by various book publishers, music and arts centres, and amateurs. This number is estimated to be a hundred at present. The annual quantity of music publication/ production, on the other hand, will depend on ISMN applications in future.

The first task to be fulfilled is to document publishers nationwide and report to the International ISMN Agency within two months. The Turkish ISMN Agency is fully aware of this responsibility. Next, regional meetings and training studies will start as soon as possible.

It is believed that the process of ISMN allocation for music publishers and the printing of the numbers together with barcodes on publications will start in a matter of 3-5 months. The goal is that Turkey should have its place in the editions of M-PIID and Music in Print to be published in 2002.

2. Considering the need at national level for a centre on music publications, it seemed to be essential to establish the Music Publications Information Centre within the constitution of the Foundation for Information and Documentation Services and, to this end, essential printed documents have been prepared and plans for the organisation of a nationwide Music Publications Donation Campaign have been considered. The aim here is to collect from many artists, composers, music lovers, libraries and archives excess music publications and present these publications for more active use. Throughout this campaign, surplus publications will be collected and those that cannot be obtained through collection will be purchased.

This way, in future, an Information Centre will be established and will serve both at national and international levels, housing Turkish and world music publications obtained through both ISMN allocation and donations and purchasing, no matter previously where, in which language and by whom they may have been composed or published. It is be lieved that this initiative will contribute to promotional activities as well.

Yet another aim is that, in addition to the Foundation publications, there should be music publications as well, so that the Foundation itself can become a music publisher using ISMN.

6. Campaign and Sponsors

Preliminary agreements have been made with influential sponsors both for ISMN applications and the Music Publications Information Centre to be founded. To this end, initially five thousand copies of essential documents have been printed and three thousand kits have been prepared. (Each kit includes the ISMN Hand book, two leaflets, an ISMN Application Introductory Article, call for campaign, Music Publishers Form and Envelope. In addition, we plan to include the support letter stating the im portance of the matter by the Minister of Culture.)

These kits will be posted to universities, music libraries and archives, conservatories, related associations and foundations (NGOs), official and private music authorities, news papers and certain columnists, artists, writers and obviously to composers.

Thus, the body of those dealing with music and the art of music in Turkey will be informed and eventually the science of music libraries will be triggered.

Due to the above-mentioned rea sons, in order to initiate larger par ticipation, to find important sponsors to contribute, and consequently, to initiate more dynamic activity, and organise a full campaign, those points that should have been realised by December 2000 have had to be rescheduled to January 2001. (By the end of January, one copy of the Campaign Kit will be sent to the International ISMN Agency.)

7. Conclusion

It can be safely asserted that before the April 2001 Prague Meeting, the International ISMN Agency will have been provided with sufficient and satisfactory information about ISMN work and music publishers in Turkey.

It is believed that, by means of viewing this event from a very broad perspective, this multi-purpose campaign will be realised with full success. It is thought that starting off with a campaign as such will also match founding principles and the philosophy behind ISMN.

I believe that music as a universal body is a magical tool that makes important contributions to friend ship and peace, fraternity and even trade both at national and international levels.

Our success will be thanks not only to the Foundation but also to our dear colleague Dr. Hartmut Walravens, who has always provided us with his sincere support, and the International ISMN Agency staff, particularly Ms. Katrin Spitzer.

Hasan Duman


United Kingdom

The UK agency sent a more elaborate progress report than the one which was already available on the net. It was read in the absence of Lois Clark, ISMN Agency UK:

Delegates should already have been circulated with the factual data concerning the number of prefixes issued so far by the UK ISMN Agency. This report is submitted in addition to that data as it is not now possible for me to attend the meet ing in person (for which many apologies).

The main area of concern for the UK ISMN Agency continues to be with those publishers who have not transferred to ISMNs and are still using ISBNs to number their music. We have put a great deal of effort into trying to persuade these companies of the benefits of being a participant in the ISMN system but to no avail. At a recent MPA Printed Music Publishers Committee meeting our members re-confirmed their continued support for the ISMN system and signalled their belief that a move to another numbering system or return to the ISBN system would be a retrograde step. The pragmatic approach was to realise that those principal publishers currently outside the ISMN system would eventually use up their ISBNs and would at that time take ISMNs. In some instances this could be years rather than months as some publishers still had many ISBNs left - but it would happen eventually.

With regard to the problems with ISBNs, the UK ISMN Agency is in debted to the UK ISBN Agency for their complete co-operation and the building of a good relationship between the two agencies to ensure that the correct standard numbers are issued for every new application. In practical terms the UK ISBN Agency cannot stop publishers using ISBNs on their music publications if those publishers originally took out ISBNs before the ISMN system was in place. However, both agencies are now being very strict about issuing new numbers and it was with some satisfaction that a realistic compromise was achieved late in 2000 to ensure that Warner/Chappell Music (International Music Publications) must now use ISMNs as well as ISBNs on their new publications. I know that purists will argue that two numbers on a publication are confusing! However, this compromise means that an ISMN now appears where none did previously, in connection with a publisher/ distributor who is very prominent in the UK and whose publications will be handled widely not just by the music trade but also by libraries and members of the public. This is a very important point in publicizing the ISMN system. It is hoped that this will be an interim measure that will be resolved once the US ISMN Agency is operational.

Although the UK agencies were very pleased with the Warner/ Chappell outcome, we were disappointed that we did not receive more support from the International Agency in this respect and that this solution was effectively solely the work of the agencies hammering it out with the publisher. A paper prepared by the UK ISBN, ISMN & ISSN agencies had been made available by Carole Moran at the International ISBN Meeting in Berlin in October 2000.

This expressed our general concern at the pressure the agencies were being put under by users (publishers) to 'bend' the rules and issue standard numbers (in particular ISBNs) for their commercial convenience, to the detriment of the other standards (ie ISSN & ISMN). [If delegates would like to see a copy of this please let either Dr Walravens or me know and a copy will be sent to you.] The UK ISMN & ISBN agencies had approached the International Agency during July/ August 2000 requesting clearer support and guidelines as they felt they were 'out on a limb' and it would be helpful to refer to an International Agency ruling.

(Effectively, we wanted confirmation that both agencies should have the right to independently accept or turn down applications according to their suitability, regardless of any commercial pressure being applied.) However, although the International Agency did correspond with Whitaker it was specifically over their TeleOrdering system (in terms of its acceptance of ISMNs and their bar codes) rather than responding clearly to our request.
To end on an upbeat note, the UK ISMN Agency issued its highest ever number of prefixes during 2000 and the uptake for 2001 has been good so far. We have been in correspondence with the organisations responsible for setting up the Australian ISMN Agency and their work is progressing well. We also hope very much that Dr. Walravens will have good news for us all with respect to the US Agency!


No. of prefixes allocated:

 (Period from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 1999)

 3-digit prefixes 050 - 060 0    
 4-digit prefixes 2201 - 2300 1    
 5-digit prefixes 57001 - 57999 1    
 6-digit prefixes 708001 - 709000 5    
 7-digit prefixes 9002000 - 9002999 10   

 Total No of Prefixes Allocated: 17    


 (Period from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2000)

 3-digit prefixes 050 - 060 0    
 4-digit prefixes 2201 - 2300 0    
 5-digit prefixes 57001 - 57999 7    
 6-digit prefixes 708001 - 709000 10    
 7-digit prefixes 9002000 - 9002999 18    

 Total No of Prefixes Allocated: 35    

Total number of prefixes allocated by the UK ISMN Agency 1996 - 2000: 111

Lois Clark



In the following discussion acompromise was found for TeleOrdering: they should use ISBNs instead of ISMNs for the time being. There should be no decision against traders and a spell for a change-over period should be given. The use of ISMNs should be made possible in the long run. But there is no sense in forcing the system and the structures on the trade right now.

There are similar problems of acceptance in other countries, for example in the Czech Republic and in Latvia.



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