I was going to save these questions for the ALA preconference I’m hosting together with Karen, Laura Dawson and others on data modeling (yes, that was a shameless plug), but since this thread has gone in this direction… 

Following Naun’s observations/questions, I’m interested to understand better how other “non-traditional” authorities can enter the VIAF and ISNI ecosystems. It seems as if VIAF is mostly interested in National Libraries, https://www.oclc.org/viaf/contributors.en.html. Is this true? Or have non-traditional organizations just not attempted to become VIAF contributors? ISNI includes VIAF and also has less “traditional” contributors, http://www.isni.org/content/data-contributors

I think that quality of clustering and ease of contribution very important, but there is more to the which-service-to-use-when decision making process. There’s also how each organization models their data and what data they make available; VIAF models their data as schema:Person for the person and foaf:Document to store the data about the person and authority/label data (e.g. https://viaf.org/viaf/96994048/rdf.xml). VIAF ids are available in OCLC’s linked data via their SQARQL endpoint and is shown in their linked data via WorldCat (e.g. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see Shakespeare’s VIAF id in linked data https://www.worldcat.org/title/king-lear/oclc/191746187). ISNI seems to model their data as an identity which looks a lot like a traditional name authority (e.g. See the rdf here, http://www.isni.org/isni/0000000121032683/). ISNI has a lot of data that is displayed when you look at one of their [human readable] pages, e.g. http://www.isni.org/isni/0000000121032683.html has related names to other people and related titles (titles to works that the ISNI identity is associated with). This data isn’t available in the ISNI RDF example above. Does ISNI have a SPARQL endpoint (or other method) to look at all the data related to an ISNI URI in total?

Thanks for any insights,

Steven Folsom
Discovery Metadata Librarian
Cornell University Library

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging on behalf of Chiat Chew
Reply-To: Program for Cooperative Cataloging
Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 5:56 PM
To: "[log in to unmask]"
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Technicalities article on authorities

Andrew, Karen,


Thanks for this very interesting additional information.


I’m interested in the question of which of VIAF or ISNI is to be preferred for cataloguing use. Clearly it’s not a question with a simple answer, but ISNI does start with the advantage of drawing on more sources. On the other hand, I see that VIAF has three authorities for some person or persons called Elizabeth Stubbins Bates, but ISNI has none (at least that I have been able to find). Is this because of the stricter rules for inclusion in ISNI that Andrew mentions? For many purposes it’s probably appropriate not to expose records that have not been matched beyond a certain threshold of confidence. But I can also see a use case where a cataloguer wants to research all the available authorities – for example, in order to decide whether to create yet another authority, or perhaps in order to evaluate the clustering. For such purposes, if VIAF is more permissive in the authorities makes available, then that may be a reason for a cataloguer to prefer it.


Would my reasoning and assumptions be correct in this case?




From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Smith-Yoshimura,Karen
Sent: Tuesday, June 09, 2015 2:47 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Technicalities article on authorities


Thanks for sharing the slides, Andrew.


Particularly relevant to this discussion, I draw people’s attention to slide 35:


      VIAF includes XA records that act as “Police records”

      If an ISNI record has 2 VIAF Ids & an indication of a manual merge, the ISNI record gets XA status & will cause merges in VIAF


If you spot a seeming VIAF duplicate (or triplicate) record, you can also report it by using the “Send us a comment”  link at the lower right of each VIAF screen.



Karen Smith-Yoshimura

OCLC · Program Officer , OCLC Research

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From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of MacEwan, Andrew
Sent: Tuesday, June 09, 2015 5:48 AM
[log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Technicalities article on authorities


The attached presentation on the International Standard Name Identifier provides a lot of detail on the VIAF clustering processes that are shared in common with the ISNI database.  It also outlines the editing and quality control functions used by ISNI to correct and fix clusters, both in ISNI and in VIAF.   This presentation was given to cataloguers at Harvard university by Janifer Gatenby of OCLC and Pauline Chougnet of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in November 2014 (and they have kindly given their permission for me to share it with this forum)  As more national libraries join ISNI they will be able to manage and correct/merge clusters which contain their own national authority records.  The ISNI Quality team at the British Library and Bibliothèque nationale are already doing this on a small scale.


With regard to the specific example below the duplication only exists in VIAF.  The rules for loading into ISNI are stricter and records with no titles are not loaded.  As the state of the records on VIAF shows they are unable to match with each other due to the sparseness of the metadata accompanying the headings.  ISNI is designed to assign and manage a persistent identifier so the ISNI iD is only assigned at a high level of confidence based on the matching rules.  So in this case we have fed back to the VIAF team at OCLC to merge these records.  In general though if anyone sees duplicate clusters/records on VIAF it is worth checking on ISNI where you can click on the feedback box to ask for records to be fixed or merged.  See ISNI website.


Apologies that these are only slides without supporting explanatory text but I hope they will give an overview of the way in which ISNI is pushing the boundaries of authority control into management of identities and links. 






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Andrew MacEwan

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The British Library
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From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Stephen Hearn
Sent: 05 June 2015 23:34
[log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Technicalities article on authorities


One could try to fathom the algorithms that VIAF uses to cluster authorities like these and have each system modify its authority to cluster with the others; or one could hope for some functionality in VIAF that would let any of the three libraries assert sameness of their authority's entity with the other two by stating all three VIAF IDs in a designated field or fields.




On Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 5:08 PM, Christopher Thomas <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Thank you, Naun, for sharing this timely and interesting article.


I have a question about the idea of using identifiers from multiple authority files.  What can be done to bring together different identifiers for the same person?  For example, below are three different VIAF identifiers for the same person.  The first is from the NACO authority file, the second is from the German National Library, and the third is from the National Library of the Czech Republic.  If these are all fair game for PCC data, how are we going to collocate works by the same author?









Christopher Thomas | Electronic Resources and Metadata Librarian

(949) 824-7681 | fax (949) 824-6700 | [log in to unmask]

Law Library · Universityof California · Irvine



From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Chiat Naun Chew
Sent: Friday, June 05, 2015 5:27 AM
[log in to unmask]
Subject: [PCCLIST] Technicalities article on authorities


John Riemer has a short but I think compelling piece in this month's issue of Technicalities about the major questions facing authority control practice. It's a useful way into the issues raised by several of the main items in the new PCC strategic plan, including the use of non-LC name authorities and the broadening of participation in name authority work. It also helps provide further context for the important discussion we’ve been having here about identifiers in MARC records. I hope people will read it and respond with their thoughts.


The online version may not be widely available yet, so Technicalities editor Peggy Johnson has kindly agreed to allow the article to be excerpted and circulated to this list (see attachment).


The article draws partly on the work of the recently discharged PCC Advisory Committee on Initiatives that John chaired (full disclosure: I was also a member). Its report on name authorities is now available here: http://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/documents/PCC-white-paper-ACI.pdf





​Chew Chiat Naun
Director, Cataloging & Metadata Services
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Cornell University
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Stephen Hearn, Metadata Strategist

Data Management & Access, University Libraries

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