Re: Recording ISBNs for RDA records in Connexion

Posting to RDA-L

On 06/10/2011 17:49, Robert Maxwell wrote:

I agree with Kevin and point out that this is not a new issue with RDA. AACR2 1.8B1 says “Give such numbers [e.g. ISBN] with the agreed abbreviation and with the standard spacing or hyphenation.”

OCLC is just following the MARC documentation, which under “Display constants” in 020 says “ISBN usually appears on an item with the prefix ISBN and with each of its parts separated from the other by hyphens or spaces. The initialism ISBN, the phrase ISBN (invalid), and the embedded hyphens are not carried in the MARC record. They may be system generated as display constants associated with the content of subfields $a and $z, respectively.” It’s not clear to me how any system could actually generate the hyphens since the hyphens in ISBNs do not appear to follow a regular pattern.

There is this tool from LC that adds the hyphens and converts to ISBN 13 at the same time! Non-English language areas seem to be beyond its abilities, though.

If we look at the situation through the international viewpoint however, some organizations put in the hyphens and others do not. Extremely few of the members of the public who will use our bibliographic tools will even notice whether the hyphens are there or not, and will care less. Therefore, any systems we create should just handle ISBNs with and without hyphens for searching purposes. Then, hyphens in ISBNs could be one of those rules that literally could be left to “cataloger’s judgment” because it won’t make any difference in searching, while for display purposes, nobody will notice one way or the other. If people are so picky as to complain over hyphens in an ISBN, they will very easily find far more serious problems with the rest of the catalog and even for them hyphenated ISBNs will take a back-seat.

The problems I have seen the public have with ISBNs relate to their misunderstandings of ISBNs, such as why something can have a different ISBN and yet be considered a copy. Plus, ISBN reuse, shows misapplications on a much more important level. The publisher cares only about the materials being published now, not those OP items. A logical idea at one time, but it no longer applies.