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Is Blogging Serializing?

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I got an email this morning from a colleague in the Office of Communications, who said that she was speaking to our ???guru of ISSN numbers.??? Here is the upshot:

Today she told me that after much debate, catalogers had decided that corporate blogs published regularly are in fact serial publications and therefore should have an ISSN number. The Library should be a model for all catalogers, she said. She promised to read and assess your blog and communicate further. Many bloggers have been requesting ISSN numbers. You may already have an ISSN number.

I thought it worth throwing this one out to the larger community, especially given our growing librarian and cataloger readership.

Should this blog and others have an ISSN number? What are the pluses and minuses?

I can certainly see the pride of having an official ???number.??? But I also know the blogosphere is, by and large, a notoriously independent ??� and sometimes cantankerous ??� place. Would bloggers chafe at such an identifier? What guidelines should govern who does or doesn??�t get assigned an ISSN? Do any blogs already have an ISSN?

Fire away in the comments.

Comments (42)

  1. For us non-librarians, what’s the value of having an ISSN and being classified as “serial publications”?

  2. I think SOME blogs could have ISSNs. That is, those that are non-personal in nature. They DO function as professional current awareness. I would apply for one for MY blog (if knew how….)

  3. I think of blogs more as integrating resources, since the whole archive is accessible from the same homepage. Do integrating resources have ISSNs?

  4. It seems to me the point of an ISSN is to make your blog findable over time. It’s not compulsory (who would force a blogger to register, anyway?), but if you have the ISSN and maintain the registration, your blog will be findable down the road whether you change “publishers” (hosting companies) or titles.

    An ISSN is free (via and has a low barrier to entry. Why not get one?

  5. Or for that matter, how should an archivist approach blogs?

  6. Does “serial” cannote regularity or continuity (if either)? “Serials” are notorious for “morphing” from one periodicity to another as well as one name to another (to name only two variables). Will blogs mimic serials in this manner? Several publications have gone from one ISSN to another with publishing changes in frequency and publishing structure. The 4+4 structure might not be adequate for the multiciplicity of blog additions.

  7. Although pre-dating the word “blog”, A List Apart (, an influential web design site that sure looks like a blog, has had ISSN 1534-0295 for years (6? 8?). I always thought the ISSN some kind of affectation, but the site calls itself a magazine, so there you are.

  8. See Internet Blog Serial Number

  9. While print publications may need a special number for identification or citation, I’m still not sure why a blog would need one. Web sites and blogs have URLs. A URL is a completely unique identifier.

  10. Thanks for sending the info about Internet Blog Serial Number (

    It makes total sense to start Blog Serial Number instead of mixing it with the ISSN number. Blogs are created almost every minute of the day, so it would be best if they have their own numbering system.

  11. Thanks for sending the info about Internet Blog Serial Number (

    It makes total sense to have Blog Serial Numbers instead of mixing it with the numbers for traditional serials.

    Blogs are created almost every minute of the day, so it would be best if they have their own numbering system.

  12. What would the significance be of having an ISSN? There seem to be millions of bloggers out there, a lot more bloggers than there are traditional publishers.

  13. I think that blogs _should_ get ISSN numbers.

  14. What is the significance of getting an ISSN number? There are so many bloggers out there, it’s hard to think of what it means to consider them all “publishers”

  15. From the experiences at the IBSN registry, I’ve learned that there is a widespread wish for some kind of blog identification, even for blogs that would otherwise fail to comply with ISSN minimum requirements. That is, blogs that have no regular issue dates or even persistent content, yet do generate a measurable amount of contents for long periods of time.

    Due to differences in the medium, there also seems to be a need to identify relations more complex than a 1-to-1 between title, author publisher (url), content and periodicity, for blogs that among time change one or more of them. Yes, even the content may change over time, as authors amend or even completely rewrite past entries in their blogs. From an archivists point of view, we are working on helping in this task too, through offering tools that would enable blog owners to explicitly prepare content for ordered archival.

    Given all this, I don’t presently believe any current registration scheme may be truly applicable to blogs, at least not without crippling and converting them into something much less flexible than they could (should?) be. For consideration, here are the current requirements to obtain an IBSN registration, which are intended precisely to allow a greater amount of flexibility while still maintaining some criteria that identify blogs as such:

    Anyway, it may be well possible that same as ISSN needs to differentiate from ISBN (yet still be compatible with each other), thus IBSN may need to be different from ISSN… and a step further we may need direct content identification, be it through hashes or any other way.

  16. Could not help thinking, “What have *I* wrought” by raising this question. Some corporate blogs are taking the place of traditional newsletters. For these, ISSN serves the same purpose as it does for newsletters: unique identification, unambiguous citation, linking metadata records together, etc. Agreed, however, that identification via ISSN is neither useful nor appropriate (nor possible per ISSN policy) for personal blogs. P.S. ISSN coverage now includes integrating resources although blogs more closely fit the library definition of serial.

  17. I have to admit that much of this conversation is over my head, which is why I hope librarian-specific and/or cataloger-specific blogs are among the first we can launch once the institution-wide blogging policy is in place.

    That said, I find it an interesting issue, and while I will look to people like you at the LOC for guidance, Regina, I think it is sometimes also useful to open up these things for group contemplation.

  18. For an interesting twist on the use of ISSNs to identify blogs you might be interested to listen to Jon Udell’s recent interview with Geoffrey Bilder of CrossRef. Their discussion ranges widely over the intersection of the web (blogging in particular), scholarship, and the needs of the libraries and archives. They talk more about the use of DOI than ISSN–but the issues are largely the same. Near the end Geoffrey compares the current state of the web to the early days of printing where printed books (aka incunabula) still incorporated hand written features. Perhaps the use of ISSNs on blogs will be regarded in the same way sometime in the future? For a great example of a incunabulum you can visit the Gutenberg bible over on te 1st floor of the Jefferson Building.

  19. I don’t understand the need for an ISSN on a web log. Some blogs are used as periodicals, most are used as personal web logs, what benefit would anyone gain by having a number assigned to their blog? Doesn’t the LOC archive everything that it assigns numbers to? Would blogs then need to be copied and archived by the LOC to ensure that the content of that blog isn’t lost? It sounds a bit like I’m not against it, but I just don’t understand who stands to gain from archiving web logs.

  20. HI dear friendes

    im very glad to visit LC BLOG .

    I am librarian of library in IRAN …

    see you later …


  21. The ISSN for my blog, LIBRARIAN, is 1932-8559.

    What librarian wouldn’t want her own ISSN?
    Non-librarians may not feel the same, but I like having my own ISSN. That is why I dutifully number and date each entry.

  22. A very small and picky point – please don’t say “ISSN number!” The N stands for number, so you’re saying “International Standard Serials Number Number.” (Don’t get me started on “ATM machine!”)

  23. Fair point. I suppose if I allow myself to be driven crazy when so-called baseball “purists” insist on pluralizing the acronym for “runs batted in” as “R’sBI” instead of RBIs, then there is validity in your comment.

  24. I have a question about assigning an ISSN to weblogs. Correct me if I am wrong, but would there not be a lot of numbers assigned to “dead” weblogs? For instance, the library lady who commented about her blog earlier hosts her blog with a librarian only hosting service. What if that hosting service went belly up?

    Search engines check for “dead” links and automatically remove them from their search results. Is there something like this set up for web documents assigned an ISSN?

  25. If a corporation is a person, legally, why is a corporate blog to be accorded a status not given to other blogs? Are some bloggers more equal than others? One implication here is that the comments of any individual, when made in the “persona” of that individual’s identity within a corporation, differs inherently from a comment by that individual in some other context. Etymology thickens the sauce here. A “persona,” we know, is a Latin word that originally had a concrete meaning. It referred to a mask worn by actors. It gets better. The mask contained a mini-megaphone that amplified the speaker/actor’s voice. That’s why the word combines per (through) and -sona (the root of many sound related words). So, is a blog a place to go wearing a mask, even a corporate mask, to amplify one’s voice, or is it a place to speak in an unmasked way? Over to you.

  26. A related question: should blogs be cataloged?

  27. ISSN or IBSN? Seems to be tough to choose or decide. But the simplest question comes to my mind is, if ibsn is already there to organize blogs then why to go for another option. Though one can’t deny how much useful in the current situation the IBSN system. If one from ISSN can get control or anticipate in the current system, then wouldn’t it be useful to solve the issue? Justa thought.

  28. Securing an ISSN number for your blog has a couple of advantages

    Your blog indisputably qualifies as a serial or periodical, putting you in the same category as Stern and the New Yorker. Your blog will be indexed in the international database of publications. It will then be possible for anyone to ask a librarian to locate your blog via the ISSN database.

  29. ISSN seems like a good idea for a lot of things!

    But then do we really need to make things that simple? Can we just ask for a specifc copy?

  30. I’m scratching my head here wondering why blogs need IBSN numbers? As of yet, I haven’t read one good reason.

    As stated above, blogs have URL’s that are distinctive. No need for Uncle Sam trying to slap IBSN numbers on them.


  31. It would certainly help organise the masses of blogs out there!

  32. Hey that’s great to read. How/Where can I request ISSN number for my blog? I am much eager to have one. Thanks.

  33. I’m very late to this discussion – but I have cataloged my blog in OCLC and applied for an ISSN but was turned down. Now, I do have numbers and dates on all of my posts as Kathleen de la Pena McCook mentions above – but I was told that blogs do not qualify for ISSNs – this was earlier this year.

    Has anyone had any experience that this has changed?

  34. I can only imagine how hard it is to implement… there are so many bloggers.. some can actually be publishers and some are just.. “i dont know”

  35. I believe that this is bound to happen eventually. It’s very hard to find quality blogs thru search engines these days. Having some sort of organization and ensuring some sort of legitimacy on blogs you come accross may save you a ton of time.

  36. Just another stunt. Wont they every quit? First the sbot the military plan to put into action that gives them the right to take down any site with content they feel should not be made public, not this.

    So bogs that don’t qualify get the boot? Right, we get censored by the government in real life, then censored by search engines online, now they want to censor out blogs online.

    On other blogs i run I like to blog as anonymous for a reason, anyway no point in complaining, it wont happen, it can’t.

    We have a right to blog in privacy without disclosing our identity to anyone.

  37. I think it might go with the process of making the blogosphere more and more conventionnal…

  38. You should better go the process of making the libraries more modern. Every Blog should have an URI and ISSN is just a special case of an URI.

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