[rfc-i] In defence of the ISSN number

John Levine johnl at taugh.com
Fri Aug 28 20:48:27 PDT 2009

>Before we encourage people to use the ISSN number with the RFC
>Series, it would be important to know whether or not it is acceptable
>to associate an ISSN number with something that was published before
>the ISSN number was issued

I've published an actual quarterly paper journal with an ISSN
(1042-5721), and they don't care.  ISSNs are assigned to serials, not
to individual issues, and it's quite normal to get an ISSN for an
existing serial.  The point of an ISSN is similar to that of an ISBN,
so that someone who wants to subscribe can find the publisher and buy
a subscription.  Libraries would find me via the ISSN, either directly
or via Ebsco, a subscription agent that a lot of libraries use.  They'd
send me money, I'd send them magazines.

Considering that you can't subscribe to the RFC series, and they're
given away for free, there's precious little practical use for an

For info on ISSNs in the United States, see http://www.loc.gov/issn/

By the way, that web page says that serials with ISSNs are all
cataloged in Worldcat.  My ISSN shows up, but the RFC ISSN does not,
presumably because no RFC is cataloged in any library that Worldcat

I'm wondering, when a library writes to whoever the contact is for the
RFC series ISSN and asks to buy a subscription, then what?



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