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ISBNs WITH hyphens


Hi everyone,

The Folijet development team will be working on integrating a central code library for FOLIO to use when normalizing ISBNs, for searching and for being able to recognize 10/13 counterparts as equivalent to each other.

One question has come up that I’d like your thoughts on. When the ISBN eye-readable equivalents are printed on physical pieces, they tend to include hyphens, which separate logical pieces of the ISBN: country of publication, publisher, piece ID, and check digit. The placement of the hyphens can vary, especially depending on how long the publisher segment is. In Acquisitions and in any system-to-system exchanges, we usually transact via ISBNs without hyphens. In MARC records, they are usually stored without their hyphens.

The normalization software that we’re planning to use has the capability to parse an ISBN and insert hyphens into it.

Is there any real value in being able to display ISBNs with hyphens in the FOLIO Inventory or Codex? Does anyone feel a need to be able to output ISBNs with hyphens in exports from FOLIO?

My inclination is to deprioritize this aspect of the ISBN work, or perhaps not do it at all, unless folks can provide a compelling use case.

Thank you for any comments or feedback you can provide!

Ann-Marie Breaux
EBSCO/PO for Data Import


All libraries cataloguing in the GBV database will enter the ISBN with hyphens. During the conversion from Pica format to Marc 21 the hyphens are removed and the ISBN without the hyphens is stored in 020 $a. In addition to this, the ISBN with hyphens is stored in the country-specific subfield $9. It would look like this:
020 $a 9783844057430 $9 978-3-8440-5743-0

After importing the records to FOLIO we’ll have only the content from subield $a stored in Inventory.

At GBV we’d like to be able to print the hyphens, e.g. on slips for suppliers/vendors or patron reminders. But I don’t think we have to display the hyphens in Inventory and/or Codex.


I could possibly see use cases to print the ISBNs with hyphens as mentioned for vendors. For display in inventory, at this moment I’m unable to think of a use case to support it. I would say that the display of ISBNs with hyphens in inventory/Codex isn’t necessary. Actually for my work, hyphens in ISBNs aren’t necessary.


Hi Felix, to print the hyphens on vendor slips or patron reminders means that you would need to be able to output them from FOLIO. If your 020 $9 is still available in the underlying MARC record, and includes the hyphens, would we actually need to do the calculations to insert hyphens into the unhyphenated 020 (or into the unhyphenated ISBN in the order), or could we just pull the 020 $9 field instead?

I guess that’s a question for @dennisbridges as well. If it seems like there will be a user need to send out paper or PDF POs or claims with hyphens in the ISBNs, then we may need to include the way to add hyphens into unhyphenated ISBNs.

I think I would push back a little on it being better to send hyphenated ISBNs to vendors. For small vendors or individuals (or patrons) who are manually working with ISBNs, having the hyphens might help them with this 13-digit string. For any vendor working with them in an automated way, their systems will ignore the hyphens. As a vendor in the latter category, our first handling on the vendor side was to always strip them if they showed up in an electronic file or in a paper or PDF document.


I can’t come up with a compelling use case and I’m very much in agreement with you on this, Ann-Marie.


Hi Ann-Marie, that is a good idea. I added a comment on this to the Inventory Beta - Metadata Elements spreadsheet. Still not completely sure if we should display both $a and $9 or suppress $9 and use it only for printing etc.


Is there anyone that uses a scanner to read in ISBN barcodes? The ISBN barcode does not contain hyphens but there is an ISBN range file that allows software to calculate the correct hyphen positions:


I was told that many German libraries use a barcode scanner for reading in ISBNs.


At Chicago, we see the value in being to search within FOLIO when starting with an ISBN with hyphens. We have use cases of using a vendor catalog/site where the hyphens are listed with the ISBN, and it is better not to have to strip them out in order to search.

We did not come up with use cases for need to reinsert the hyphens into ISBNs already in FOLIO.