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Stevens,Pat wrote:

>As I read this I began to think that we should rethink the philosophy of a single authorized version of the name to which all other variants are linked.  Instead we could link multiple versions to a name identifier.
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Pat, from what I have heard, there are folks working on (or at least
thinking about) the idea of an "author identifier". This would solve a
number of problems, at least for those current authors that would
participate: it would bring together articles written under variant
forms of the name; it would give authors and publishers a way to
identify authors unambiguously (all of the William Jones', for example).
The down side is that there's a huge backlog of authors in our
environment, so we'll still have many ambiguous or un-identified authors
in our databases. But we know that it's often necessary to work on the
future even when you can't resolve past issues.

Interestingly, the authoritative form of the name in library authority
files IS a unique identifier. No two authoritative names can be the
same, which is why birth dates are sometimes added to make the name
unique. It was a pre-automation technique that solved the same problem
in a way that was appropriate to the catalog of the past. What is
different today is that we could retrieve the authority record
dynamically or link records based on an identifier other than the name
itself; in the past, the authoritative form of the name had to be placed
in the actual bibliographic record in order to have that quality of
being a unique identifier. If one relies on the LC Name Authorities
file, the LCCN on each record is an identifier for the author, so at
least for book authors we have a nearly complete file of IDs that could
be used.
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