I send email from a work account with a work signature and a short explanation of what authority files do (and that we have rules that require the addition of personal information, and that we are only asking for the birth year not their actual birth date.). Academics, scientists and commercial authors have been gracious. State government officials generally don't even acknowledge the email.
I've been even less successful on the phone. I once almost got into a screaming match with a secretary who refused to let me talk to her boss when I was trying to find out what higher body the unit reported to. Maybe if I worked in the Midwest it would be different ...
I think commercial authors are used to having a lot of personal information about them available and that using dates helps patrons (and NACO librarians) sort out appropriate authors for their research. However, it's a lot different with other people who just happen to be responsible for creating something, but don't think of themselves as authors. I would like to see the rules on qualifiers much looser. It would have saved us all a lot of time if I could have just slapped Municipal finance analyst on Mr. Thompson and been done with it. Aside from his dissertation (and possibly a thesis he did to get his BA), he'd only helped write one book and testified at a hearing in his whole long life.
Billie Aul
Senior Librarian
Technical Services and Systems
New York State Library
Cultural Education Center
Albany, NY  12230
(518) 474-8610
[log in to unmask] 

>>> Stephen Hearn <[log in to unmask]> 8/6/2008 10:02 AM >>>
When I send this kind of request, I do it from a work account with a 
work signature, and I include the URL for the online LC Authority file. 
Generally I've gotten good responses.

I have a different question.  In our data security training, we've been 
advised that full birth dates are secure information. I know from 
talking to tech folks that birth dates can be very useful for gathering 
information about a stranger's identity. Given that, should we be more 
circumspect about requesting birth dates in a public file like LCNAF? 
This is one more reason to look for a better, more neutral mechanism for 
distinguishing personal name headings than just adding more personal 


Whitsitt, Kathleen S wrote:
> Hi,
> This kind of touches on an issue I've been wondering about.  I am just
> now learning how to make NARs as a Texas NACO Funnel participant.  I
> have not approached any authors for personal information as yet. I'm
> very hesitant to do so, and don't have a clue as to the best approach.
> Do you just introduce yourself as a PCC cataloger, and explain the need
> for additional personal information in bibliographic databases?  And do
> people understand what any of that means?  Do catalogers usually consult
> with the legal departments of their institutions for policy
> clarifications on requesting personal information from people this way?
> Personally, I would be very wary of anyone calling or emailing me for
> personal information, if I didn't fully understand why it was needed.
> It would be good to hear any guidelines or advise about that.
> Thanks,
> Kathleen Whitsitt
> Authority Control Librarian
> Automated Library Services
> Lone Star College System
> 5000 Research Forest Drive
> The Woodlands, Texas 77381-4356
> 832.813.6785
> 832.813.6614 (fax)
> [log in to unmask] 

Stephen Hearn
Authority Control Coordinator/Head, Database Management Section
Technical Services, University Libraries, University of Minnesota
160 Wilson Library
309 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN  55455
Ph: 612-625-2328 / Fax: 612-625-3428