International Standard Name Identifier
The International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) is an identifier for uniquely identifying the public identities of contributors to media content such as books, television programmes, and newspaper articles. Such an identifier consists of 16 digits. It can optionally be displayed as divided into four blocks.
ISNI can be used to disambiguate names that might otherwise be confused, and links the data about names that are collected and used in all sectors of the media industries.
It was developed under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as Draft International Standard 27729; the valid standard was published on 15 March 2012. The ISO technical committee 46, subcommittee 9 (TC 46/SC 9) is responsible for the development of the standard.
2013-09-01 “INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ISO 27729:2012 TECHNICAL CORRIGENDUM 1” was published.
The FAQ of the isni.org websites states “An ISNI is made up of 16 digits, the last character being a check character.” 
Format without space
- MARC: it was proposed to store the ISNI without spaces, e.g. $0(isni)1234567899999799 
- isni.org URL: no spaces, e.g. http://www.isni.org/isni/000000012281955X
- URL https://viaf.org/viaf/sourceID/ISNI%7C000000012281955X
- URL https://viaf.org/processed/ISNI%7C000000012281955X
- the data dumps contain it in form ISNI|000000012281955X
Format with space
In display it is frequently shown with spaces.
Uses of an ISNI
The ISNI allows a single identity (such as an author’s pseudonym or the imprint used by a publisher) to be identified using a unique number. This unique number can then be linked to any of the numerous other identifiers that are used across the media 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 both of music and of poems. Where he or she might currently be identified in many different databases using numerous private and public identification systems, under the ISNI system, he or she would have a single linking ISNI record. The many different databases could then exchange data about that particular identity without resorting to messy methods such as comparing text strings. An often quoted example in the English language world is the difficulty faced when identifying ‘John Smith’ in a database. While there may be many records for ‘John Smith’, it is not always clear which record refers to the specific ‘John Smith’ that is required.
If an author has published under several different names or pseudonyms, each such name will receive its own ISNI.
ISNI can be used by libraries and archives when sharing catalogue information; for more precise searching for information online and in databases, and it can aid the management of rights across national borders and in the digital environment.
ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) identifiers consist of a reserved block of ISNI identifiers for scholarly researchers and administered by a separate organisation. Individual researchers can create and claim their own ORCID identifier. The two organisations coordinate their efforts.
Organisations involved in the management
ISNI Registration Authority
This UK registered, not-for-profit company has been founded by a consortium of organisations consisting of the Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs (CISAC), the (CENL), the (IFRRO), the (IPDA), the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and ProQuest. It is managed by directors nominated from these organisations and, in the case of CENL, by representatives of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the British Library.
ISNI Registration Agencies
A registration agency provides the interface between ISNI applicants and the ISNI Assignment Agency.
|Name (as on ISNI-IA website)||Since||Relation|
|Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE)||Spain|
|BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France)||2014||France|
|Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg||Luxembourg|
|Identification Agency (IDA)||Russia|
|National Assembly Library of Korea||South Korea|
|National Library of Korea||South Korea|
|National Library of Poland||Poland|
- ABES (French Bibliographic Agency for Higher Education)
- CDR (Centrale Discotheek Rotterdam)
- French National Archives (Archives nationales de France)
- Harvard University
- Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (ICLA)
- ISSN International Centre
- La Trobe University
- Library of Congress
- MacOdrum Library, Carleton University
- National Library of Finland
- National Library of New Zealand
- National Library of Norway
- National Library of Sweden (Kungliga Biblioteket)
- Publishers’ Licensing Services
- UNSW Library
ISNI-IA uses an assignment system comprising a user interface, data-schema, algorithms, and database that meets the requirements of the ISO standard, while also using existing technology where possible. The system is based primarily on the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) service, which has been developed by OCLC for use in the aggregation of library catalogues.
Access to the assignment system and database, and to the numbers that are generated as the output of the process, are controlled by independent bodies known as ‘registration agencies’. These registration agencies deal directly with customers, ensuring that data is provided in appropriate formats and recompensing the ISNI-IA for the cost of maintaining the assignment system. Registration agencies are appointed by ISNI-IA but will be managed and funded independently.
As of 5 August 2017 ISNI holds public records of over 9.41 million identities, including 8.757 million individuals (of which 2.606 million are researchers) and 654,074 organisations.
As of 19 April 2018 9.86 million identities, including 9.15 million individuals (of which 2.86 million are researchers) and 714,401 organisations.
As of 11 July 2018 10 million identities, including: 9.28 million individuals (of which 2.87 million are researchers) 717,204 organisations.
As of 13 August 2018 10 million identities, including: 9.32 million individuals (of which 2.87 million are researchers) 717,795 organisations.
As of 17 October 2018 10 million identities, including: 9.39 million individuals (of which 2.87 million are researchers) 719,010 organisations.
In 2018, YouTube became an ISNI registry, and announced its intention to begin creating ISNI IDs for the musicians whose videos it features. ISNI anticipates the number of ISNI IDs “going up by perhaps 3-5 million over the next couple of years” as a result.
- Authority control
- Digital Author Identification (DAI)
- International Standard Text Code (ISTC)
- Ringgold identifier
- “ISNI – FAQ”. www.isni.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
- Office, Library of Congress Network Development and MARC Standards. “Encoding the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) in the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Authority Formats”. www.loc.gov. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
- “ISNI 000000012281955X Ai-en-ssu-tan (1879-1955)”. www.isni.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
- “What is the relationship between ISNI and ORCID?”. About ORCID. ORCID. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- “ISNI and ORCID”. ISNI. Archived from the original on 4 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- “Maintenance agencies and registration authorities”. Iso.org. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
- “ISNI International Agency – ISNI International Agency”. Iso.org. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
- “ISNI”. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- “About the ISNI International Agency”. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- “Registration Agencies”. ISNI. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
- “BnF: First National Library In the World to Become an ISNI Registration Agency”. ISNI. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
- “YouTube Adopts ISNI ID for Artists & Songwriters”. ISNI. 2018-01-22. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
- “Members”. ISNI. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
- “ISNI”. www.isni.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
- “YouTube Adopts ISNI ID for Artists & Songwriters”. ISNI. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- “Transcript: YouTube Knows Who You Are”. Beyond the Book. 18 March 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- Karen Smith-Yoshimura, Janifer Gatenby, Grace Agnew, Christopher Brown, Kate Byrne, Matt Carruthers, Peter Fletcher, Stephen Hearn, Xiaoli Li, Marina Muilwijk, Chew Chiat Naun, John Riemer, Roderick Sadler, Jing Wang, Glen Wiley, and Kayla Willey. 2016. “Addressing the Challenges with Organizational Identifiers and ISNI.” Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.