It is true that authority work ‘s focus has been to remove ambiguity between sources, not to fully describe an entity, hence only adding birth dates if there are two identical names, only added death dates if there are two Nate Trails born in the same year, etc.


It is also true that the research and contextual info is often only found in notes, but on the plus side, now that we’re creating resources that instead focus on entities, it will be easier for catalogers to link to resources  than to type out textual notes. That work can start now even without bibframe. We have begun to encourage catalogers to put LCCNs and other identifiers in separate fields, instead of writing out the titles or entity names (or in addition), so that systems can make those linkages already, in spite of the fact that the data was in marc. Terry Reese is building into his MARC converter an entity resolution process that turns an identifier into a link .


MARC data, with the exception of the controlfields, was always intended to be consumed and understood by people, not machines, in the same way as early HTML was to be read by people, not understood by machines.





Nate Trail

Network Development & MARC Standards Office


LA308, Mail Stop 4402

Library of Congress

Washington DC 20540



From: Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Karen Coyle
Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 9:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BIBFRAME] BIBFRAME Identifier, Role, and Authority Proposals



On 8/26/15 3:17 PM, Thomas Berger wrote:

LC records may be lacking explicit (especially death) dates, but
they usually contain a wealth of textual references which more often
than not reveal exact birth dates and other important contextual
information (affiliations, notable works, places of birth, death
and activity).

You say "usually," but I see "occasionally." As an example, here's the LC authority record for me:, and if you can find "other important contextual information" you are a better reader than I am. Plus, when that information is available it's in a note field and can be quite cryptic:

"found: Phone call to Curbstone Press, 07-13-94 (Michael H. Cooper is a pseudonym of Michael Clark; b. 6-11-51; res. in Alaska)"
"found: Message from J. Baker, 11/08/88 (Michael D. Cooper; b. 10/30/41) "

Thomas, I think you are being overly optimistic about the state of authority data today. I agree that it can get better, but I don't agree that VIAF extracts much "data" -- it basically gets what you can get from a MARC name heading field, and adds in titles of works (which it gets from the WorldCat database). There may be more information in non-US authority files, but rather than relying on impressions it would be better to have a good study of available data.


Karen Coyle
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