National Bibliography Number

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National Bibliography Number (NBN), a group of publication identifier systems used by national libraries in certain countries like Germany, Italy, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. There is no global standard for the contents of NBNs; instead, they have a country-specific format. NBNs are typically used for documents which do not have a publisher-assigned identifier (like ISBN). They can be used to persistently identify media that are archived in national libraries, for instance PhD theses.

A Uniform Resource Name (URN) namespace for NBNs has been assigned[1], and is described in IETF RFC 3188. For example:

urn:nbn:de:bvb:19-146642

An NBN in Germany (de), in Bavaria (bvb = Bayerischer Verbundkatalog), library number 19 (University Library Munich), pointing to a PhD thesis on heat detection in cattle.

Some libraries, such as the National Library of Sweden, provide a resolution service for these URNs.[2]


In Italy an NBN (NBN:IT) is assigned to digital resurces deposited in the National Legal Deposit service [3]. The NBN:IT resolver is active at: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/