Name authority control is a valuable yet time-consuming part of information work. It can require savvy investigative skills on the part of the information professional, especially in cases where agent names are ambiguous, authority file content is sparse or vague, and little information is presented about the agent on the item (e.g., book, personal correspondence, map, illustration, etc.) being described. In many cases, an agent’s name is not enough to match the agent to an existing LCNAF with certainty; more information is needed—e.g., dates, associated works or places, or occupations. Moreover, since metadata reconciliation tools such as OpenRefine do not yield exact authority file matches in all instances, there remain times when information professionals must roll up their sleeves and search for authority matches manually. As such, information professionals need strategies for efficiently navigating authority control tools.
This poster will share insights gleaned from a semester-long, digital collections project performing name authority work on agents whose names appear in documents from the 18th and 19th centuries. Using personal names from historical documents as examples, the poster will compare the features of three online tools for name authority control---viz., Classification Web (classificationweb.net), Authorities (authorities.gov) and LCNAF (id.loc.gov). The benefits and limitations of each tool, based on the exhibitor’s experience, will be illustrated with clear, engaging graphics. Attendees will leave the poster with knowledge about the tools as well as some potentially time-saving insights for conducting name authority work in these contexts.
Ashlea Green– Cataloging/Metadata Librarian, Roane State Community College