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The problem is that our systems and our thinking are based on matching
strings rather than establishing identities.  If we created an authority
record for each identity regardless of whether the heading was the same
as another and stopped putting multiple identities on the same record,
it would be a big step forward.  Each heading on a bib record could be
linked to its proper authority record.  That would solve Stephen's
problem of changing referents for an LCCN.  If we had systems that could
create identity records based on linked data that show the known
information about a person, such as from the occupation and field of
activity fields, without having to make it an artificial part of the
heading, that would be more useful for catalogers and users.  If
information such as dates was later found for such an identity, it could
easily be added to the authority record without having to split up an
undifferentiated name record.

There would still be times when a bib record is linked to the wrong
authority, or a name that was thought to represent one person was
actually two, or two that were thought to be different were actually
one, but that's inevitable in the bibliographic universe.

Or we could do like the IMDb and just add (I), (II), etc. to identical
names.

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John Hostage                              Authorities Librarian
Langdell Hall                                 [log in to unmask]
Harvard Law School Library    +(1)(617) 495-3974 (voice)
Cambridge, MA 02138              +(1)(617) 496-4409 (fax)
http://www.law.harvard.edu/library/