I put the title of the book I'm cataloging (i.e. the person's new book) in the subject line; I don't think it's ever wound up in a spam filter.

I always explain to the person that I'm cataloging his/her book; then I explain briefly about controlled forms of names and why I need the information (birth date or middle name). I've never had anyone get mad at me; most respond promptly, although a few never respond.

Here's an example:

Dear ____:

I am cataloging your book  ______ in the international OCLC library database. When we create a record for a book we include access points for the authors [or editors, or illustrators, whatever's appropriate] to help people find the book who may not know the title. The name forms for these access points must be consistent (i.e., we always use the same form for the same person no matter how many books he or she wrote) and unique (i.e., the name form must be different from that of other people with the same name). Unfortunately there are many persons named _____ in the international database, so we need to find some way to make your name form different from the forms used by others. Typically we do this by adding the person's birth year (e.g., Bennett, Bob, 1955- ); alternately we can add an unused middle name (e.g., Roberts, Mike (Mike Jonathan)). Would you be able to provide me with either of these pieces of information? Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.


Robert L. Maxwell

Robert L. Maxwell
Head, Special Collections and Formats Catalog Dept.
6728 Harold B. Lee Library
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

"We should set an example for all the world, rather than confine ourselves to the course which has been heretofore pursued"--Eliza R. Snow, 1842.

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jennifer Lobb
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 5:45 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: writing to authors to disambiguate their names


I was wondering if people have a standard type email that they use when writing authors to try to get them to provide more information (i.e. date of birth or middle name) in order to differentiate them from
another author of the same name.

Also, what subject header do you use on your emails in an attempt to maximize the chance that the author will read the email and it won't land in a spam folder.