Two books but one ISBN?

Here at SCIS one of the most common enquiries we receive is from school library staff who have scanned an ISBN into SCIS Orders, only to get the SCIS record for a completely different book show up in their results file.

The reason this occurs is usually pretty simple, and it’s not our fault.  Sometimes publishers print the same ISBN on more than one of their publications.

ISBNs are supposed to be unique to one edition of a particular title, but irritatingly, it’s actually quite common for publishers to accidently give the same ISBN to two different books.

If your browser and school settings allow pop-ups, you can alter your SCIS profile to prompt you to choose from a pop-up menu when there is more than one record on the SCIS database with the ISBN you’ve just scanned.

Go into your SCIS profile at (NB. you will need to be logged in to SCISWeb first).  Go to Basic preferences, and under ISBN duplicates select the option ‘Prompt me to choose from a list’.

Of course, this will only work if both titles with the duplicate ISBN have been catalogued onto SCIS, but provided your school hasn’t blocked pop-ups, it can save a certain amount of confusion.

If your school has blocked pop-ups (and we know there are a few schools with this problem) then your next best option is to try a keyword search in SCIS OPAC for the ISBN of the book you want a record for (again, you will need to be logged into SCISWeb).  If there are 2 books with that ISBN in the database, both will be returned, and you can then copy the SCIS number for the record you want into the SCIS Orders box and then download the record normally.

If you still can’t find the record you want, we may not have created a SCIS record for that book yet, in which case you should contact us to see if we can arrange to have that record added to the database.

For more information about ISBNs, see our earlier blog post.

ISBN-13 – a wee refresher

As you are probably aware, on 1 January 2007 the expansion of the International Standard Book Number from 10 digits to 13 was implemented.

The 13-digit ISBN was implemented to make it compatible with EAN-13 barcoding standards, which means that the ISBN and the barcode are now able to be the same number. Formerly the barcode was usually a conversion of the 10-digit ISBN which appeared printed inside the book, but some publishers chose to use barcode numbers which did not relate to the ISBN in any way.

It is now standard for publishers to assign the same 13-digit number for both the ISBN and the barcode number, allowing SCIS users to conveniently scan it into the Orders page in SCISWeb to retrieve their records.  However, SCIS users should be aware that books published in or before 2006 may have a barcode that does not relate at all to the ISBN, which may result in their records being unmatched when they try to download them in SCISWeb.  Where this is the case, you will need to type the ISBN in manually in order to retrieve the correct SCIS record.  Very rarely, recently published books may also be issued with barcodes that do not match the ISBN, although the standard has been widely adopted by most major publishing companies.

Currently, when ordering in SCISWeb, it does not matter whether you enter the 10- or 13-digit ISBN in your order – as long as it is the correct ISBN! SCISWeb will automatically convert the different ISBNs behind the scenes and retrieve the record. This is because all 13-digit ISBNs with the 978 prefix are able to be converted from from 10-digit ISBNs to 13-digit ISBNs and vice versa. Once all the numbers with a 978 prefix are used up, ISBNs will have a 979 prefix and will no longer have a 10-digit ISBN equivalent – making it impossible to convert them to a valid 10-digit ISBN. It also should be noted that the process of converting a 10-digit ISBN to an ISBN-13 does not simply require the numbers 978 to be added to the start of the old 10-digit ISBN. If in doubt, an online ISBN converter is freely available from the US ISBN Agency. If you haven’t already done so you may wish to reconfigure your barcode scanner to read ISBN-13.

You can also elect to have all ISBNs output in 13-digit format by changing your preferences in My Profile. Unfortunately, this conversion functionality is not available to those of you who download records via Z39.50 (also known as Rapid Entry or Z-Cataloguing). Because Z39.50 bypasses the SCISWeb interface to access the SCIS database directly without going through the SCISWeb interface, any import parameters (such as ISBN conversions) must be set up in the user’s local system.