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Library and Learning Services

ISBN and DOI numbers.

The library can provide ISBN and DOI numbers for university publications.

This paper provides information about why and how you can assign ISN (International Standard Number) to a published book, journal or monograph. It is important to assign an ISN because it will help when you wish to sell your book, and the library can help you with assigning the number.

We also have a legal requirement to supply copies of published documents for legal deposit as stated under the “Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 and the Copyright and Related Act, 2000”.

If you or your school publishes a book, journal or monograph series in print or online, you may want to consider the following:

  • getting an ISBN (for books and other one-off publications)
  • legal deposit (a legal requirement on every publication in the UK & Ireland)


There is no legal requirement for a book to have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) but it helps with cataloguing and if you wish to sell your book through major bookselling chains, or internet booksellers, they will require you to have an ISBN.

Some types of publication are not eligible for an ISBN. These include calendars, diaries, entertainment videos, documentaries on video or CD-ROM, computer games, computer application packages, and items which are available only to a restricted group of people, e.g. an educational course book only available to those registered as students on the course.

It is possible to obtain an ISBN before publication so that it can be printed on the back of the title-page and quoted in advertising literature. Getting an ISBN and giving details of the book to Nielsen Bookdata has the great advantage of securing an entry in the weekly publication, The Bookseller, which promotes sales.

How to apply for an ISBN

Library and Learning Services at De Montfort University has ISBNs which can be used for publications by departments and schools. Contact Di Hills ( x8033) in the Bibliographic Services Team who will provide the ISBN.

If you want to self-publish externally to the University, then you will need to get your own ISBNs. The ISBN Agency handles all applications for new ISBNS. Any Publisher publishing a qualifying product for general sale or distribution may apply on payment of a registration fee. In return the Agency provides 10 ISBNs. Larger allocations may also be purchased, but it is not possible to obtain a single ISBN. The standard service time is 10 working days from the time the Agency receives a correctly completed application. There is also a Fast-Track service, taking 3 working days, for which an additional charge is made.

Legal Deposit

Publishers and distributors in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have a legal obligation to send one copy of each of their publications to the Legal Deposit Office of the British Library within one month of publication under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 and the Copyright and Related Act, 2000. It is the responsibility of the publisher to send this, without being asked. Publishers should send one copy of their publication to:

Legal Deposit Office
The British Library
Boston Spa, Wetherby
West Yorkshire
LS23 7BY
Tel: 01937 546268

In addition the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 and the Irish Copyright Act 1963 entitle the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, and Trinity College Library, Dublin to a free copy on request. The request is usually made a few months after publication.

Copies may be sent (without necessarily waiting for a demand) to:

Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries

161 Causewayside
Tel: 0131 623 4680
Fax: 0131 623 4681


Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are unique numbers assigned to some journal articles and conference papers. The DOI can be used to create a url which will take you straight to the article or conference paper. This helps to provide easy access to your research outputs.

The library has a subscription to CrossRef which enables the generation of DOIs. DOIs cannot be generated for a single article but can be generated for all articles within a journal volume or for a whole conference proceedings.

For more information on obtaining DOIs please contact Alan Cope ( or ex 6391)