ISBNs and University publications
This is a service for members of the University of Melbourne community. The National Library of Australia has kindly permitted the use of information contained in The ISBN Agency Australia
An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique code for the identification of books, which is used whenever information on books needs to be recorded or communicated.
ISBNs for University of Melbourne publications are allocated by the University Library.
Advantages of the ISBN
As a unique code assigned to a book, an ISBN can be used to identify books
- stock control and
- library systems
It simplifies processing of book orders and receipts through the identification of
- binding and
- edition required
Structure of an ISBN
ISBNs are always 13 digits long and are divided into five parts. They should always be printed exactly as given:
ISBN 978 0 17 006737 8
ISBN 978 0 949155 09 8
ISBN 978 1 96252 140 9
- The group identifier (first group of digits) is based on national, geographic or language considerations.
- The publisher identifier (second and third groups of digits) designates a particular publisher or group of publishers.
- The title identifier (fourth group of digits) is assigned to a particular title or edition of a title.
- The check digit (last digit) is calculated from the preceding nine digits and is used by computers to trap errors made in the writing or keying of the ISBN number.
What publications should receive ISBNs?
An ISBN should be assigned to:
- printed books and pamphlets
- microform publications
- microcomputer software
- multi-media kits containing printed material
- Educational videos/DVDs
- Electronic publications
- Educational or instructional software
An ISBN should be assigned the first time a book is published.
A separate ISBN must be assigned to every edition of a book, but not to an unchanged reprint of the same book.
A reissued book is considered a different edition if, for instance,
- it has a different format (such as microform, large print);
- it has a different binding (such as paperback, hardbound);
- if the type has been reset;
- if the title, author or publisher has changed; or
- if there has been a change in size, text or illustrations.
An ISBN should be assigned
to the whole set of volumes of a multi-volume work, as well as to each
individual volume in the set.
If an item from a publisher's back stock was not assigned an ISBN when it was originally published, and is being reprinted, then the reprint should be assigned an ISBN which should be printed on it.
What publications should not receive ISBNs?
- Ephemeral printed materials such as:
- theatre and concert programs
- advertising matter
- prospectuses, etc.
- Sheet music, art prints and art folders without a title page of text.
- Music sound recordings
- Serial publications such as:
- annual reports.
do not receive an ISBN, but are given an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).
A brochure on ISSN is available from the Australian
ISSN Agency, National Library of Australia. Telephone: (02) 6262-1213.
Request individual ISBNs as required by completing the ISBN Application Form
University departments may request
a sequence of ISBNs for allocation to future publications.
The department requesting a batch of sequenced ISBNs accepts full responsibility for the accurate recording of publications and ensuring this information is forwarded to Sherree Evans at Information Access - Monograph Team; Information Services:
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: (03) 903 54785
- Fax: (03) 8344 0197
When you have received your ISBN print the ISBN on
- the reverse side of the title page or
- the bottom of the title page
- the base of the spine or
- the back cover of the book.
If it is not possible to print the ISBN in the preferred
locations listed above, print it in some prominent position on the book.
The ISBN should also be printed on the dust jacket (if any).
The University is required to send one copy (Legal Deposit) of every work that has been reproduced and supplied (whether by sale or otherwise) to the public to
The University Library has a special collection that aims to include all publications published within the University.
We would appreciate a copy of each publication sent to the Library for inclusion in this collection.
Legal deposit is a statutory provision which obliges publishers to deposit copies of their publications in libraries in the country in which they are published.
Under the Copyright Act, 1968 and various State legislation, a copy of any work published in Australia must be deposited with the National Library of Australia and the appropriate State Library. In New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, a copy must also be deposited with one or more other specified libraries.
Legal deposit extends not only to commercial publishers but also to private individuals, clubs, churches, societies and organisations.
What are the benefits of Legal Deposit?
ensures that the works of authors and publishers will survive for the use
of future generations, because the National Library and most other deposit
libraries assume an obligation to preserve all material lodged with them.
The comprehensive collections of Australian publications formed in this way provide the means for research into all aspects of Australian life, culture, and artistic, commercial, technical and scientific endeavour.
The University is required to send each of the following libraries one copy of every work that has been reproduced and supplied (whether by sale or otherwise) to the public
- Legal Deposit Unit
National Library of Australia
(within one month of publication)
- Legal Deposit Officer
State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston Street
(within two months of publication)
The University Library has a special collection that aims to include all publications published within the University and would appreciate a copy of each publication sent to the Library for inclusion in this collection.
Technically a work intended for the public (i.e. an audience outside the University) can include almost any printed item that be considered library material:
- periodical (including newsletter, annual report)
- musical score
- print and, for the State Library
- picture and photograph.
- Commercial advertising material, and publications produced for internal University use are not included
In practice, the two libraries do not pursue the whole range of publications. The State Library, for example:
- does not wish to receive any publication of less than five pages.
- brochures and leaflets promoting University courses should not be sent.
- pictures, maps, photographs etc. are only required in the form of the publication in which they appear.
Legal deposit is quite separate from book/serial numbering and applies whether or not an ISBN/ISSN has been assigned
- Legal deposit should not be confused with copyright
- Under the Copyright Act, 1968 copyright protection is granted automatically in Australia from the moment of creating a work.
- There are no formalities to be completed, such as registration or payment of fees.
- Publication is not necessary for copyright to subsist in the work except in the case of sound and television broadcasts and publishers' copyright in editions of works.
- Library records and the legal deposit slip issued to the publisher by some legal deposit libraries may be used as evidence of date of issue.
for advice to authors and publishers on copyright contact
The Australian Copyright Council
Suite 3, 245 Chalmers Street
Redfern NSW 2016
Toll-free telephone (008) 226 103 or (02) 318 1788