NISO/DCMI Webinar: Cooperative Authority Control: The Virtual International Authority File (VIAF)

DATE: December 4, 2013
TIME: 1:00pm - 2:30pm Eastern (17:00-18:30 UTC) [World Clock:]



Libraries around the world have a long tradition of maintaining authority files to assure the consistent presentation and indexing of names. As library authority files have become available online, the authority data has become accessible--and many have been published as Linked Open Data (LOD)--but names in one library authority file typically had no link to corresponding records for persons and organizations in other library authority files. After a successful experiment in matching the Library of Congress/NACO authority file with the German National Library's authority file, an online system called the Virtual International Authority File was developed to facilitate sharing by ingesting, matching, and displaying the relations between records in multiple authority files.

The Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) has grown from three source files in 2007 to more than two dozen files today. The service harvests some 30 million authority records, enhances them with information from 100 million bibliographic records to produce a file of 20+ million clusters, each representing a person, organization, jurisdiction, work, or expression. In addition to supporting a Web browser HTML interface, the API to VIAF supports content negotiation for other views, such as RDF-XML and MARC-21.With English, French, German, Spanish interfaces (and a Japanese in process), the system is used around the world, with over a million queries per day.

The NISO/DCMI webinar, Cooperative Authority Control, will cover some of the challenges VIAF meets in dealing with many different formats and approaches to describing identities, the relationship of VIAF to the source authority files, to other identity systems such as ORCID and ISNI, VIAF's approach to sustainability, governance and persistence, and how ambiguity is recognized and managed.


Thomas Hickey ( is Chief Scientist at OCLC where he helped found OCLC Research. Current interests include metadata creation and editing systems, authority control, parallel systems for bibliographic processing, and information retrieval and display. In addition to implementing VIAF, his group looks into exploring Web access to metadata, identification of FRBR works and expressions in WorldCat, the algorithmic creation of authorities, and the characterization of collections. He has an undergraduate degree in Physics and a Ph.D. in Library and Information Science.


Registration is per site (access for one computer) and closes at 12:00 pm Eastern (16:00 UTC) on December 4, 2013 (the day of the webinar). Discounts are available for NISO and DCMI members and students.

For more information and to register, visit the event webpage:



Cynthia Hodgson

Technical Editor / Consultant

National Information Standards Organization

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