Using Existing Bibliographic Identifiers as Uniform Resource Names
Network Working Group C. Lynch
Request for Comments: 2288 Coalition for Networked Information
Category: Informational C. Preston
Preston & Lynch
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Using Existing Bibliographic Identifiers
Uniform Resource Names
Status of this Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does
not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this
memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998). All Rights Reserved.
A system for Uniform Resource Names (URNs) must be capable of
supporting identifiers from existing widely-used naming systems.
This document discusses how three major bibliographic identifiers
(the ISBN, ISSN and SICI) can be supported within the URN framework
and the currently proposed syntax for URNs.
The ongoing work of several IETF working groups, most recently in the
Uniform Resource Names working group, has culminated the development
of a syntax for Uniform Resource Names (URNs). The functional
requirements and overall framework for Uniform Resource Names are
specified in RFC 1737 [Sollins & Masinter] and the specification for
the URN syntax is RFC 2141 [Moats].
As part of the validation process for the development of URNs the
IETF working group has agreed that it is important to demonstrate
that the current URN syntax proposal can accommodate existing
identifiers from well established namespaces. One such
infrastructure for assigning and managing names comes from the
bibliographic community. Bibliographic identifiers function as names
for objects that exist both in print and, increasingly, in electronic
formats. This memo demonstrates the feasibility of supporting three
Lynch, et. al. Informational [Page 1]
RFC 2288 Bibligraphic Identifiers February 1998
representative bibliographic identifiers within the currently
proposed URN framework and syntax.
Note that this document does not purport to define the "official"
standard way of moving these bibliographic identifiers into URNs; it
merely demonstrates feasibility. It has not been developed in
consultation with these standards bodies and maintenance agencies
that oversee the existing bibliographic identifiers. Any actual
Internet standard for encoding these bibliographic identifiers as
URNs will need to be developed in consultation with the responsible
standards bodies and maintenance agencies.
In addition, there are several open questions with regard to the
management and registry of Namespace Identifiers (NIDs) for URNs.
For purposes of illustration, we have used the three NIDs "ISBN",
"ISSN" and "SICI" for the three corresponding bibliographic
identifiers discussed in this document. While we believe this to be
the most appropriate choice, it is not the only one. The NIDs could
be based on the standards body and standard number (e.g. "US-ANSI-
NISO-Z39.56-1997" rather than "SICI"). Alternatively, one could lump
all bibliographic identifiers into a single "BIBLIOGRAPHIC" name
space, and structure the namespace-specific string to specify which
identifier is being used. Any final resolution of this must wait for
the outcome of namespace management discussions in the working group
and the broader IETF community.
For the purposes of this document, we have selected three major
bibliographic identifiers (national and international) to fit within
the URN framework. These are the International Standard Book Number
(ISBN) [ISO1], the International Standard Serials Number (ISSN)
[NISO1,ISO2, ISO3], and the Serial Item and Contribution Identifier
(SICI) [NISO2]. An ISBN is used to identify a monograph (book). An
ISSN is used to identify serial publications (journals, newspapers)
as a whole. A SICI augments the ISSN in order to identify
individual issues of serial publications, or components within those
issues (such as an individual article, or the table of contents of a
given issue). The ISBN and ISSN are defined in the United States by
standards issued by the National Information Standards Organization
(NISO) and also by parallel international standards issued under the
auspices of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
NISO is the ANSI-accredited standards body serving libraries,
publishers and information services. The SICI code is defined by a
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