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ISTC (International Standard Text Code)

What is the ISTC?

The ISTC is a numbering system that is being developed for the unique identification of textual works. The ISTC will be a 'dumb number', meaning that it will not include any codes or other signifying elements. It will not, for instance indicate the work's author or owner. It will have no legal implication or meaning and is in no way related to copyright.

The ISTC is a unique code to collocate the information about works held in various databases worldwide and was published as an International Standard ISO 21047 in March 2009.

A textual work is any work composed predominantly of words: for example, an article, an essay, a novel, a poem, a screenplay or a short story. The ISTC will be an identifier for the work itself. It does not apply to physical products and other manifestations of a work such as an edition of a book, an article printed in a journal, a talking book or electronic versions of such products.

The number will consist of four elements and be 16 hexadecimal units in length. An ISRC should appear in print or other human-readable form with the letters ISTC preceding it and hyphens or spaces separating each of the four elements.

0A9Registration agency
12B4A105Work code
6Check digit

E.g. ISTC : 0A9-2002-12B4A105-6

Notes on use

The ISTC is a voluntary numbering system and there will be no requirement to adopt or implement ISTC for textual works.

The screenplay Sense and Sensibility by Emma Thompson is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jane Austen. The screenplay and the novel would have separate ISTCs.

The Trial is a translation by Edwin and Willa Muir of Franz Kafka's novel Der Prozess. The novel and the translation would have separate ISTCs.

The link between the original work and the version or translation is shown in the ISTC metadata.

Any piece of a textual work that needs to be identified (for example, a stanza of a poem or a monologue from a play) may be assigned an ISTC. For example: All the world's a stage - Jaques' speech from Shakespeare's play All's Well that Ends Well. Again, the link between the part and the parent work is shown in the ISTC metadata.

When the need arises to assign an ISTC to a work in the public domain (out-of-copyright) the ISTC agencies can 'adopt' an author's repertoire and assign ISTCs. It is likely this would be done on the basis of national interest. Traditional folk repertoire will likely be handled in the same way.

ISTC Agencies

ISTCs will be allocated by ISTC registration agencies acting on behalf of the authors and (in some cases) producers of textual works. Administration of the system is through the International ISTC Agency.

Recording an ISTC in MARC 21

The ISTC is provisionally expected to be recorded in Field 024 (Other Standard Identifier) in both bibliographic and authority formats but some details have still to be resolved. Currently the subject of MARBI Discussion Paper 2010-DP03.

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Content by: Ann Chapman of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 11-Mar-2010
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