International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

National Library Role as International Standard Book Number Agency

The National Library Section is mandated to assign the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to Kenyan Publishers. The National Library is a national agency for the International Standard Book Numbering system. Recognized in more than 160 countries throughout the world, the International Standard Book Number is short and clear identifier that is potentially machine-readable. The ISBN denotes a particular monographic publication uniquely and should, therefore, be associated with it from early production stages. An essential instrument in production, distribution, sales analysis, and bibliographic data storage systems in the book trade, ISBN is also of vital importance to library information management.

ISBN is assigned to monographic publications and certain types of related products that are available to the public, whether those publications and related products are available on a gratis basis or to purchase. In addition, individual sections (such as chapters) of monographic publications or issues or articles of continuing resources that are made available separately may also use the ISBN as an identifier. With regard to the various media available, it is of no importance in what physical form the content is documented and distributed; however, each product form should be identified separately.

Some examples of types of monographic publications to which an ISBN shall be assigned are:

1. Printed books and pamphlets
2. Braille publications
3. Publications that are not intended by the publisher to be updated regularly or continued indefinitely
4. Individual articles2 or issues of a particular continuing resource (but not the continuing resource in its entirely)
5. Maps
6. Educational/instructional films, videos and transparencies
7. Audio books on cassette, or CD, or DVD (talking books)
8. Electronic publications either on physical carries (such as machine –readable tapes, diskettes, or CD-ROMs) or on the Internet
9. Digitized copies of print monographic publications
10. Microform publications
11. Educational or instructional software
12. Mixed media publications (where the principal constituent is text-based)

ISBN Charges
We wish to bring to your attention that new rates are applicable as per the Legal notice 16 dated 20th November 2014, published in the Kenya Gazette. The new rates also incorporate the ISBN Barcode which was initially sold separately.

Charges Applicable (Kshs)

Levels (Range of ISBN Numbers)

Current rates (Kshs.)

 1 1,500
 10 10,000 
 100 50,000
 1000 100,000 

Apply for an ISBN Online now at

 Download ISBN Application Form hrere>>

International Standard Music Number (ISMN)

Kenya National library has signed a contract with International Standard Music Number (ISMN) Agency in Berlin. The signing of contract mandates knls to act as the National Agency in issuance of ISMN numbers to local artist. knls now becomes the third country in Africa after Ghana and South Africa to sign contract to administer ISMN.ISMN like ISBN for books, is a number that identifies published works of music for a given country. It is used to identify publications of notated music, whether available for sale, hire, gratis or copyright purposes only. The ISMN is not targeted at sound or video recordings (except in the rare case below):

Individual sound recordings are identified by the International Standard Audiovisual Number (ISAN)

Items to be numbered include:

  • Scores
  • Miniature(study) scores
  • Vocal scores
  • Sets of parts
  • Individual parts, available separately
  • Pop folios
  • Anthologies
  • Other media that are an integral component of a publication of notated music (e.g , a tape recording that is one of the <part> of a composition
  • Song texts or lyrics published with the notated music (if available separately)
  • Commentaries published with the notated music( also available separately)
  • Song books(optional)
  • Micro-form music publications
  • Braille music publications
  • Electronic publications of musical notations
  • ISMN must also be allocated to each constituent part of a publication which is separately available

Download ISMN Application Form hrere>>