Last Friday at the NISO/BISG forum on changing standards I heard a presentation by Andy Weissberg at Bowker on the ISTC standard. This standard was adopted in March of 2009 and according to an ISTC press release, “The ISTC system provides a means of uniquely and persistently identifying textual works in information systems, and facilitates the exchange of information about such works between publishers, authors and authors associations, collective management organizations, libraries, search engines and others on an international level. The ISTC makes it possible to group products containing the same content, or even in some cases, different content with the same origins, together, optimizing their discoverability in search engines, retail and library cataloging systems.
This means that the exact same text, whether in ebook, large print, paperback, hardback, or other will have a unique ISTC code. It’s bigger than ISBN, identifying the text, not the physical book. As a reference librarian, I’m interested to know more about ISTC and how it could help us search for text in any format available. I find multiple records in a catalog for the same text (hardback, paperback, large print, ebook, audio book) to be very distracting. Many users just want – the text – and will take it in whatever format is available. ISTC could benefit these users.
I’ve invited Andy to do a NSR interview to discuss ISTC. I hope to have that posted soon.