International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD)

The International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) is a set of rules produced and maintained by the IFLA - ISBD Review Group 

The ISBD’s main goal is… to offer consistency when sharing bibliographic information.” (http://www.ifla.org/about-the-isbd-review-group#objectives ). 

A consolidated edition was published in 2011, combining separate ISBDs for monographs, cartographic materials, serials and other continuing resources, electronic resources, non-book materials, and printed music. The consolidated ISBD simplifies the application of ISBD and reflects the increasing significance of electronic carriers for all content types.

ISBD regularises the form and content of bibliographic descriptions. It mainly deals with description of resources and is not directly concerned with access points or authority control since it was created long before the possibilities offered by computerized data processing were understood. 

ISBD determines the data elements to be recorded or transcribed in a specific sequence as the basis of the description of the catalogued resource. While being the common standard on which numerous cataloguing rules are based, ISBD is not itself an instruction manual for cataloguing national bibliographies. National cataloguing rules are nearly all derived from the ISBDs, but with a number of significant interpretations.

A key advantage of ISBD is that it is a concise rule set that produces an easy to understand, human readable representation of a bibliographic record that can be understood without knowing the language of the resource. 

The basis for the core elements of FRBR was also derived from the ISBD, among other sources and the ISBD review group have produced a Mapping of ISBD elements to FRBR entity attributes and relationships. The ISBD review group also maintains an ISBD RDF/XML schema, to enable libraries to publish their metadata as linked data.

More about ISBD can be found at:

Last update: 5 December 2017


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