Adrian Pohl has a very informative blog post about the use of
identifiers in authorities, stimulated by his reading of Rob Sanderson's
The use of authorities to represent "preferred name" strings (as opposed
to representing identified *entities* who have a preferred display form
for human usage) appears to be an American anomaly - at least among the
libraries he mentions.
One question we could ask ourselves, because we do have identifiers for
the things described in authority records, is how feasible it would be
to transform LC authorities to identify an entity rather than a string.
Is this a few tweaks, a total re-do, or something in between? My gut
feeling is that it would be a behind-the-scenes change that wouldn't
affect cataloger usage. Does anyone else see it that way?
I also wonder if we really must resign ourselves to using strings in our
future data because "that's what's in the MARC records." There are
authority control services that match the strings in bibliographic
records to authority records in order to update the bibliographic data.
That same process should be able to add authority identifiers to the
bibliographic records for the same matches. In fact, there are vendors
who will do this today. I'm sure that matching isn't 100%, but I suspect
that having identifiers for name authorities in our bibliographic
records is much less of an effort than converting our data and systems
to BIBFRAME. It seems short-sighted not to begin this process today,
before the death of MARC, rather than carrying the strings forward to a
new bibliographic model.
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