Karen Coyle’s fall 2007 post on name authority control

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.

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