Archive for August 2008

A Cooperative “Identities Hub”

August 27, 2008

Amanda Hill announced on the Names Project Blog that OCLC is going to prototype a cooperative Identities Hub. Among the reasons for this project:

The current LC/NACO contributor model has severe limitations, both in who is enabled to add and edit authority records and the rules that constrain what information can be entered (even if the cataloger knows more information).The intellectual work that librarians who are not NACO contributors do in the course of creating bibliographic records is untapped.

There has been discussion of the need for such a project here among other places.  I am glad to see the prototype moving forward.


Project to control headings in WorldCat

August 22, 2008

Back in the spring OCLC began a project to control headings in Worldcat.  In his blog Outgoing Thom Hickey described this project here.  Among the reasons behind the project:

Getting more of WorldCat’s headings linked to authority records has a number of benefits.  It gives us a chance to merge some variant forms of headings and makes it easier to update the database when names change.  This has become a substantial problem for us since LC changed their policy on adding death dates to headings.  Right now we are working our way through the a set of fairly easy 26 million headings, personal names that match an authority record on multiple subfields.  If this works, we will look at controlling names that are harder to match.

The project was on hiatus for part of the summer, but as Glenn Patton reports to OCLC-CAT in a post on Aug 22, 2008 [permission to quote]

On August 4, 2008, OCLC restarted the project to control headings in WorldCat.  As of yesterday, almost 1.3 million headings have been controlled since the project was restarted, bringing the total number of newly controlled headings to just under 17 million.

I think this is an excellent use of resources, and am glad to see that the project has resumed.

UPDATE:  On September 5, OCLC completed the first phase of the project to control more headings in WorldCat.  A total of about 25.5 million new personal name headings were controlled during this first phase. — from post by Glenn Patton to OCLC-CAT on Sept. 9, 2008.

Subject headings derived from authority records

August 21, 2008

On Everybody’s Libraries John Mark Ockerbloom describes a project to add subject headings to the records for an online book collection.  The collection had brief records that lacked subject access, but did have call numbers.  Recognizing that subject authority records frequently include call number ranges, he created a program that used the call number to search authority records and return subject headings.

After filtering out some bad data in a few authority records, and suppressing some terms to break ties, I ran the program, and instantly got subject terms for tens of thousands of books. Some of them were pretty generic (thousands of books were simply labeled “English literature”, for instance), but many were quite specific, and I’d say over 90% of the time were useful descriptions of the book. The maps I built largely based on these assigned subjects worked pretty well from day one.

I really like the way he leveraged the work of the catalogers that created the authority data and the existing call numbers to create subject access for a collection.

IFLA discussion on FRSAR

August 12, 2008

Over on The FRBR Blog, William Denton reports on the Working Group on FRSAR meeting. The section most relevant to this blog was:

Glenn Patton of OCLC was at the table to discuss FRAD, he chairing the WG on that, and FRAD took up the first hour of the meeting. He said they’d made some changes to the latest draft based on comments, and part of it will be removed and made available separately.

There was some involved discussion of what is an entity, why name and controlled access point are two different entities and not the same, etc. Patton said they wanted to separate the attributes of a person, the names by which they are known, and the access points by which they are found. It seemed easiest to do this by having different entities. Person is related to name is related controlled access point. “Define your entities at least in part by what you want to do with them,” he said, which is why, for example, Family and Agency are different from Corporate Body though they’re really kinds of Corporate Body.

Since I’ve been trying to get a handle on attributes of a person and how this relates to controlled access point, I found these comments interesting.

International Society for Knowledge Organization 2008 conference

August 9, 2008

Amanda Hill reports on ISKO 2008 here.  It was the first I had heard of the Names Project, which I see I will have to follow, given these comments:

The questions at the end of my talk included one from a librarian who took exception to the Names project’s aim of not having a preferred form of name for individuals. I had thought that this would be more acceptable now than it had been in the past – it’s a distinction between authority control and access control that has been fairly widely discussed in the library literature, but apparently it is still controversial. Interesting!

Karen Coyle’s fall 2007 post on name authority control

August 4, 2008

When I had bookmarked this post to come back to, I hadn’t noticed that it appeared last September.  However, an issue I just saw raised on AUTOCAT reminded me that I hadn’t come back and commented.  In her post, Coyle focuses on the following issues:

There are some problems with the current method used by libraries to realize authority control, not the least of which is that it is a difficult and expensive process and the number of authors is growing rapidly as we all become creators in this information age. I want to address here 3 aspects of name authority control that are especially non-functional: 1) the use of dates as distinguishing characteristics is not easy for the catalogers creating the authority record 2) the use of dates as distinguishing characteristics does not help the users 3) the name heading is not a legitimate identifier because it may change.

I don’t have a good answer to the problem, but I remember far too many times spent clicking on every heading from a given time period, trying to identify a common name from the religious world in the middle of the last millenium.  I don’t think eliminating the dates is the answer, as there is value in being able to limit to a time period, but it would be helpful to librarians and patrons alike if an identifying phrase could be added to the established heading on a regular basis.