Bibliographic Cataloging: Selective Registration for ISSN Assignments

ISSN Program – General Information

GPO submits requests for government documents continuing resources whereby the U.S. ISSN Center assigns a unique identifier to each work/expression/manifestation (See the ISSN International Centre website for complete details on the ISSN program, and for details about the ISSN-L for publications on multiple media).

The assigned number ensures an entry in the ISSN International Portal (formerly the ISSN International Register), which lists all ISSNs assigned to serial publications, and thus is the most complete reference source in the world for the identification of serial publications.

The ISSN principle of selective registration allows GPO catalogers to exercise judgment about which continuing resources will be submitted for ISSN assignment.

ISSN Assignments

Criteria for Decision-making

GPO submits requests for assignation of ISSNs to serial works and integrating resources that are described in CONSER-authenticated records.

It is necessary to check that each fully authenticated CONSER record is up to date on its description before requesting an ISSN (because the ISSN Program does not require surrogates or other proofs of publication with CONSER requests).

General criteria from the ISSN Program and GPO for deciding which continuing resources to submit for ISSN assignments are listed below.

Request ISSN assignments for continuing resources that:

  • have CONSER authenticated records, whether original or adapted
  • are either live or ceased
  • include title changes warranting a new key title
  • change mediums (e.g., a print magazine becomes an online magazine)
  • are announced by the issuing agency via a press release and/or in popular media and that might remain “high-profile”
  • are of national interest and demonstrate stable issuance (few or no irregularities), with no such sign of instability as frequent gaps,

Do not request ISSN assignments for:

  • microform and other reproductions
  • CRS reports (integrating resources within Congressional Research Service report series)
  • newsletters and progress reports
  • limited duration serials for small projects and programs
  • such frequently-but-irregularly revised monographs as local guides and consumer updates that are treated as serials
  • ephemeral resources (i.e., resources known to be ephemeral) or of purely local interest
  • works that do not demonstrate stable issuance, e.g., works with multiple gaps between issues, such as an “annual report” for which 4 volumes are published in a 10-year period; or, works for which agency commitment to continuation and maintenance is questionable due to known or suspected lapses in funding or personnel, lack of website maintenance, apparent disappearance with website re-design, etc. An example of an agency statement that indicates questionable commitment that was given in response to a GPO question about intended seriality is: plans on being printed 2 to 3 times per year depending on staff availability and interest/demand (although we have only produced one publication so far).
  • continuing resources that simply change publisher, publisher location, frequency, or editorial policy

When in doubt, exclude a continuing resource from ISSN assignment.

Add a 922 to every continuing resource for which an ISSN determination has been made.

To indicate a continuing resource is being excluded from ISSN assignment, add the field: 922 NOISSN

If applying for an ISSN, add the field: 922 ISSNREQ ǂb yyyymmdd

  • When adding a 922 ISSNREQ code, be sure to include today’s date in a subfield b.
    • Example: 922 ISSNREQ ǂb 20200701

(See the ISSN Manual (sections 0.3 and 0.7.1) for more information on inclusion and exclusion criteria)