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International Standard Serial Number

The International Standard Serial Number or ISSN is a unique eight-digit number used to identify serial publications. Serials are ongoing publications, issued in succession, in print or digital form. Examples include periodicals, newspapers, journals, and other types of continuing resources.

The growing number of serial publications worldwide, in various formats and under titles that often change, makes it necessary to have a standardized system that identifies one serial from another. The ISSN system assigns an eight-digit number (e.g., ISSN 1914-9271) to a particular serial, creating that publication's own unchangeable, internationally recognized identity.

The ISSN provides an efficient and economical tool to support the communication and commercial transactions of serials. It is widely used in databases and automated transactions for organizing, retrieving and transmitting information on serials.

As part of a network of ISSN national centres, ISSN Canada is a service of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) that assigns ISSNs to all Canadian serials. It also registers information about new or changed serial titles in the AMICUS database and in the international ISSN Register. Since its inception, ISSN Canada has assigned over 128,000 ISSNs to Canadian serial publications.

Publishers are encouraged to use ISSN Canada's online form to request an ISSN. They can also supply copies of their publication's cover and title page to aid in creating a standardized description. For information on the assignment and use of ISSNs in Canada, see the LAC website: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/isn/041011-2000-e.html.

For more information, contact ISSN Canada at issn@bac-lac.gc.ca or call 819-994-6895 or 1-866-578-7777 (toll free in Canada and the United States).