BDS Builds a New Website for ISNI

BDSDigital, the web services and IT arm of BDS, has built a new ISNI website, which went live in June 2020. BDS also transferred existing content from the previous ISNI website and hosts the new site for the ISNI International Agency (ISNI-IA)

ISNI (the International Standard Name Identifier) is the ISO certified global standard number for identifying contributors to creative works and those active in their distribution. It is used to identify persons and organisations involved in creative activities, as well as their public personas. An open standard, it is a critical component in Linked Data and Semantic Web applications. 

For ISNI-IA, the body responsible for promulgating the use of the ISNI identifier, managing its deployment worldwide and maintaining the central repository of ISNI identifiers, the website is an important element in communicating with ISNI users around the world. These include libraries, publishers, producers of music or films, bibliographic services, rights management organisations, search engines, online stores, and data aggregators. It also plays a vital role for those eager to learn more about ISNI.

Three Objectives Achieved

“When first we decided to move away from our previous supplier, we had three initial objectives in mind,” says ISNI-IA’s Executive Director, Tim Devenport. “We needed to radically improve ISNI’s main “shop window” and replace its by-then obsolescent software foundations. After benchmarking against other vendors’ offerings, we wanted a more cost-effective website operation, allowing us to channel more of our scarce developmental funds toward improvements in ISNI’s facilities. And quite specifically, we were looking for a web-hosting service that was prompt, attentive and responsive.”

“Colleagues from ISNI’s Quality Team, based at the British Library, play a crucial role in maintaining the site’s content and were closely involved alongside BDSDigital personnel in the transition and subsequent running of the site,” continues Devenport.

BDSDigital Ticks the Boxes

“BDSDigital ticked all the boxes. We were expertly led through a process to determine the most important features and website navigation routes to best support ISNI’s purposes. The result has been a new, secure site that provides a responsive framework for the content and features we need. And partnering with BDS gives ISNI confidence that we can develop the platform further as ISNI’s business evolves.”

Since the ISNA-IA was established in 2010 by international bodies, ISNI has expanded rapidly, at first in the realms of rights organizations and national libraries and more recently into the music industry, which has been quick to recognise the potential benefits of unambiguous identification of the myriad creative parties involved.

A infographic showing ISNI-IA's key statistics which states that ISNI holds public records for more than 12 million identities

With over 25 years’ experience in supplying industry-standard metadata to libraries, the book and home entertainment sectors, alongside its expertise in building websites for the book trade, BDS has the trade knowledge, the IT experience, and the sound intellectual base to work with ISNI-IA and maintain the ISNI website into the future.

12 Million Identities and Counting…

Today ISNI holds public records of more than 12 million identities, including over 11 million individuals and more than one million organisations, held in a database from 104 sources. As a universal form of name authority control, ISNIs are assigned when there is a high level of confidence in matching new names to existing names in the database or when sufficiently rich metadata is available to determine that the new name does not yet exist in the ISNI database. To get a better idea of the breadth of information recorded, you are welcome to try some trial searches from the site’s Search Database page which looks directly into the main ISNI database.

“BDS was delighted to be chosen as the web services provider for ISNI-IA,” says Eric Green, Managing Director of BDSDigital. “As a company that prides itself on adherence to internationally agreed standards when working with bibliographic information, we feel a deep synergy between our organisations and what they represent. BDSDigital looks forward to developing the ISNI website in the future, working alongside ISNI-IA.”

Future Opportunities

Looking to the future, Tim Devenport identifies several areas for development for ISNI and its website. These include ongoing work to support the delivery of ISNI metadata in “Linked Data” format, the introduction of web analytics so we can better monitor and optimise the user experience and exploring whether there is more that can be done to make the site more accessible for visually impaired users.

“We are happy with the appearance and functioning of the ISNI website right now,” says Tim Devenport. “But opportunities will doubtless arise to make still-better use of this website real-estate. We’re looking forward to moving forward in partnership with BDSDigital as a demanding but, we hope, stimulating client in future!”

Find out more about ISNI ( and how to get an ISNI ( at


This article was kindly written by John Hudson for BDSlife magazine.

Read the full, latest edition of BDSlife (March 2021) here.