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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


1. Status Report of the International ISBN Agency


The director gave the status report on the work of the International Agency (IA). Since the establishment of the International Agency in 1994, 30 national agencies have been founded: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia*, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia*, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States
(* = not yet operational).

New member countries are Australia, Hungary, Slovakia, Turkey, and the USA. Membership negotiations are ongoing with Armenia, Israel and Poland. Interested countries (contacts) are Albania, Botswana, Kenya, Peru and Taiwan. Dr. Walravens pointed out that even small countries should be encouraged to join the system in order to make their music publications better known internationally.

Altogether, three Music Publishers' International ISMN Directories (M-PIID) have been published, the 3rd edition 2000/2001 having just appeared. It comprises 11,600 music publishers or similar institutions and persons from 72 countries involved with the publication of sheet music. That presents an increase of 5% in comparison to the previous edition. As in previous years, the data was collected from the national agencies, music publishers' associations, national libraries, music information centres, collecting societies and other institutions and organizations.

The director reported that editorial work for the M-PIID was more time-consuming than for the Publishers' International ISBN Directory because it was much more difficult to obtain the data and to reach institutions and music publishers. Dr. Walravens thanked the music departments of the national libraries of France, Germany and the UK for their excellent cooperation.

Unfortunately the data in the M-PIID is soon out of date; within one full year nearly 60% of the data is liable to change. It would be preferable to publish the M-PIID more often, perhaps annually.

Dr. Walravens pointed out that in spite of the ISMN system working more or less efficiently in 30 countries there is much work to be done in the field of promotion. Better infrastructures have to be built and the publishing world not only has to be in formed about the ISMN system but has also to be convinced to apply it.

A major success for the ISMN world was the installation of the new ISMN agency in the United States. After five years of negotiations and preparation R.R.Bowker finally consented to become the US agency.

In the beginning the main US music publishers and dealers were not interested in the system because they did not see a need for the number. Catalogues were already available on the Internet and the music trade had to be convinced that only comprehensive databases with unique identifiers would pave the way for a badly needed rationalization.

The US ISBN agency was an excellent promotor of the idea of introducing the ISMN even though, according to internal business studies, the future prospects of the ISMN in the US did not seem to be promising.

Furthermore, in music stores printed music is only a small part of the business besides musical instruments, recordings and stationery. Other, internal numbering systems exist. At the moment the ISMN is being implemented and a Music in Print is in preparation. It should cover all items a music store carries. ISMN is going to run on a self-financing scheme.
After this excursion Dr. Walravens discussed the current tax problems and reported about the practice in Poland. In Poland, ISBN as well as ISSN are exempted from VAT where as ISMN is not because it is a relatively new system widely unknown in Poland. This leads to the sad effect that music publishers would rather apply ISBNs to their sheet music. A letter to the Director General of the Biblioteka Narodowa has had no effect on the status quo so far.

In Canada (Quebec) there is a similar case with the ISBN being partly exempt from provincial taxes contrary to the ISMN. In the UK and in Russia there is no tax rate for the ISMN. The assembly consented that VAT on music publications should be removed. A joint initiative with IAML was proposed.

The new version of the ISBN and ISMN data administration system for the International Agency was supposed to be in working order last year. Due to several problems it will not be ready before autumn this year.

The ISO standard on the International Standard Audio-visual Number is practically finished (No. DIS 15706); it is a work identifier similar to ISWC. There may be a certain overlap, especially with regard to music videos.

Dr. Walravens mentioned the current situation of Unimarc, initiated by IFLA as a truly international data format. Now that many libraries have adopted this format, IFLA is withdrawing its financial support because of lack of funds, which will put the user community (among them many music libraries) in a difficult position. There is still some hope that the Deutsche Bibliothek in Frankfurt, which maintains the IFLA UBCIM Office which is in charge of Unimarc, will continue its funding.

The Open Society Fund has a good connection with both the International ISBN and ISMN Agencies. OSI might hopefully be persuaded to support the translation of the ISMN Users' Manual into the Russian language. The Russian Book Chamber which is also responsible for ISMN (but has not started to handle the ISMN yet) has no staff and the salaries are very low. Therefore neither the manual nor the ISO standard have been translated so far.

A major step forward would be to hold an ISMN seminar for music publishers and librarians in this area.



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