Standards Watch

Country Codes

New announcements from Cindy Hepfer, ALA Voting Representative to NISO are coming along quickly, and these are, for the most part, of more general interest to libraries. The first of these is ISO 3166-1:2006, Country codes.

“This part of ISO 3166 establishes codes that represent the current names of countries, dependencies, and other areas of particular geopolitical interest, on the basis of lists of country names obtained from the United Nations. It is intended for use in any application requiring the expression of current country names in coded form; it also includes basic guidelines for its implementation and maintenance.”

“This standard is managed differently from other ISO standards due to the ongoing changes to or additions of country codes. The maintenance agency regularly issues a newsletter with new or changed codes. Those codes are added to the standard’s country code database and become usable when the newsletter is issued. So it is not necessary to revise the standard just to incorporate those new codes. The main reason for voting for a revision would be if the “principles” for establishing the codes, as defined in the standard, need to be changed or updated. There is already a corrigendum (correction supplement) for the standard, which is also included as a reference to this ballot. If the standard were to be revised, these corrections would be merged to the revision. For more information on the ISO 3166-1 standard and how it is managed, see:

As usual, these ISO standards documents are not openly available, but ALA members can request documents for the purpose of review and comment from Cindy at (please copy me at Please be sure to state explicitly that you ARE a current ALA member — Cindy cannot send you a document without this assurance.

Deadline for comments to Cindy is no later than Monday, Feb. 15, 2010.

Diane I. Hillmann
LITA Standards Coordinator