International Standard Name Identifier


November 28, 2021

The International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) is an identifier for authors and contributors of publications such as books, TV shows, newspaper articles; consists of a 16-digit number which can optionally be divided into four blocks. The last of the 16 digits can be "X". Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as Draft International Standard 27729, the standard was published on May 15, 2012. Development and updating of the standard are the responsibility of technical committee 46, subcommittee 9 (TC 46 / SC 9) of the ISO. The ISNI code, through a tool that creates the code on purpose, is assigned univocally without the possibility of identical codes.


ISNI allows a single entity to be identified by a unique number. This unique number can be linked to any of the numerous other identifiers that are used across publishing industries to identify names and other forms of identity. An example of the use of such a number is the identification of a musical performer who is also a writer of both music and poetry. Although he could be identified in many different databases using several different identification systems, according to the ISNI system, he would have had a single ISNI connection record. All the different databases could then exchange data relating to that particular identity without resorting to more imprecise methods, such as the mere comparison of the text strings that make up the names. An example that could be proposed relates to the difficulties encountered when locating a single 'John Smith' in a bibliographic database, as there can be many records for 'John Smith', without it being easy to understand which record represents the specific ' Mario Rossi 'we were looking for requested. If an author has published under several different names or aliases, each of those names will receive its own ISNI. ISNI can be used by libraries and archives for sharing catalog information; for a more precise search of information online and in databases, and can help the management of intellectual property rights across national borders and in the digital environment.


Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) are specific identifiers, part of the ISNI codes, used in particular in scientific research and managed by a separate organization. Individual researchers can create their own ORCID identifier.

ISNI Administration

ISNI is managed by an international agency known as ISNI-IA. The British non-profit company has among its members the Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d´Auteurs et Compositeurs (CISAC), the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO), the International Performers Database Association (IPDA), the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and ProQuest. It is managed by directors appointed by the members, in the case of CENL, by representatives of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the British Library.

ISNI number assignment

The ISNI-IA agency uses a system that includes a user interface, a data-schema, disambiguation algorithms, and databases that comply with ISO standards. The system is based primarily on the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) service, developed by OCLC for cataloging in libraries. Access to the assignment system is controlled by independent bodies called 'registration agencies', which then refer directly to users, ensuring that the data is correct and compensating ISNI-IA for system maintenance. The registration agencies are authorized by ISNI-IA but managed and financed independently


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