I think an authority record is “about” a person (or bibliographic person), rather than a name. We record attributes of the person, such as their preferred name, variant names, dates of birth and death, occupation and so on.


A while ago, we debated in my team whether “pseudonym” was an appropriate qualifier in an authorised access point, and whether “Anonyms and pseudonyms” should be recorded in 368 $c, when these describe the name, rather than being attributes of the person. Nobody seemed to share my concerns very much; I concluded that it was really a semantic issue, that needn’t get in the way of the usefulness of recording these things. A person can’t be a pseudonym, but if we conceive that we’re using the term as shorthand for “pseudonymous entity”, the user is helped, and won’t care about these distinctions.  


There are currently 95 authorised access points in LC/NAF, with the qualifiers “Pseudonym”, “Joint pseudonym”, or variants thereof.







Richard Moore

Authority Control Team Manager

The British Library


Tel.: +44 (0)1937 546104                                  

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From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Ian Fairclough
Sent: 18 December 2018 18:24
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [PCCLIST] Describing pseudonyms/real identities


Dear PCCLIST readers,


John Hostage wrote, "I don't particularly like the idea of using (Pseudonym) because it's a characteristic of the name rather than the person or identity." But that's what a name authority record is about: a name, rather than a person or identity.  NARs can document information about all three concepts, but what is being established is a heading, and the heading is based on the name.  Historically, we've had problems with that, in particular because an undifferentiated NAR is about a heading based on a name shared by multiple persons/identities.


I'm in favor of qualifiers whenever they will help a catalog user.  For example, I wish that Charlie Chan had a name authority record.  Actually there is one (no 98047732) but it doesn't refer to the fictional character referred to in Wikipedia    Instead, we have sh 93005499 Chan, Charlie (Fictitious character).  WorldCat has seven cases of the unqualified form used as a subject heading - not many, but enough to illustrate the point.


Sincerely - Ian


Ian Fairclough

Cataloging and Metadata Librarian

George Mason University


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