The International Standard Books Number- ISBN is a standard from the International Standard Organization - ISO. Each number is unique, and the main purpose of this international book number system, is to separate each individual item as well as possible from all others. Through this standardized numbering system for books, there is an increased possibility to use computers, both for publishing companies, book-sellers and libraries.

The National and University of Iceland is a service agent for the ISBN-system. The allocation of numbers and information services are provided to publishers for free. Each publisher is provided with a series of numbers which include the publisher’s identification number or individual book numbers for small publishers, who publish a few books or perhaps one book only. The Library also supervises that the use of these numbers is correct. A registry of Icelandic publishers is created, which forms a part of an international register, Global Register of Publishers.

Newspapers, journals and printed scores should not be given ISBN-number, but rather an International Standard Serial Number - ISSN and an International Standard Music Number – ISMN. The National and University Library is also the service agent for the international number systems ISSN and ISMN.

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