Tuesday, April 6, 2010

FW: Better Form for Name Authority?

Posting to Autocat

On Mon, 5 Apr 2010 10:25:51 -0400, Deborah Tomaras wrote:

>An opinion question for everyone:
>What do you feel is better to use in a name authority record for someone when birth/dates are not known, but profession and flourishing dates are known? I personally feel that flourish dates are too fuzzy, and would rather have "photographer" or something like it in a subfield c instead. But there is debate about this internally, so I'm curious about the wider cataloging world. Is there a rule/rule interpretation that addresses this that I've missed? Or simply other views on what might be best for the public?

Today, I think it's a mistake to focus only on our own files, but rather we should be trying to include other files as well so that we can make the broadest impact on the wider world of information, which is where our patrons really are. So, in the future, I think we will be coming to terms with merging files such as the VIAF:

with other files such as dbpedia:

where the concept of "authorized form of name" doesn't really matter so much as using the correct URI(s).

Also, when considering the question of "better forms" for names, the view is different based on whether you are a cataloger or a patron. As a cataloger, I am interested in creating a unique form that performs its function, i.e. there are no conflicts. Whether I do this using a $c, various dates (year, month, day), flourished dates, century dates or whatever, I don't really care. Just show me the rule so that I can follow it. For example, some cataloging guru out there declares that we can't use flourished dates in the 20th century. OK, I won't do that. If that same guru would change his or her mind and says that we can add the flourished dates, that would be OK too.

As a patron however, everything is very different. I want meaningful distinctions. So, which do I prefer as a patron, the authority file search (a search for "David Johnson" in VIAF)

or in Wikipedia:

The VIAF display is superior to the view at http://authorities.loc.gov/, since it at least has some 670 information that gives me additional information about the person, but I must say that many would prefer the Wikipedia disambiguation page. One person who much prefers the Wikipedia method is me! I think it's brilliant.

So, what I am saying is that it is not so important what we like as catalogers but what our patrons like, and including other related files as much as possible, especially in this new information universe.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes, those unique forms of names in catalogs are ugly, hard to read, and hard
    to use.

    Perhaps we should retain all the various disambiguating display elements in the NAR (dates, occupation, gender, roles, etc.), some of which are already displayed with names in WorldCat identities, and have the system apply them when necessary based on the local context. Of course, this assumes the use of unique identifiers behind the scenes.

    If there is no conflict to break in your context, then perhaps it's not necessary to display all the elements (e.g. dates). Maybe we do not necessarily need to display static, unique forms of headings as we to collect enough unique elements (i.e. dates, gender, profession) that, when applied contextually and selectively, help in displays to disambiguate one name from another.