Tag Archives: VIAF

Update on VIAF’s Linked Data

I recently had a chance to return to the Virtual International Authority File, or VIAF. Actually I was looking for another name instead of Eddie Santiago. As it turned out, I didn’t find the name I was hoping to find. I did however see some changes to VIAF in terms of linked data. I searched again for Santiago, Eddie out of curiosity to see if the results where any different from last week. Unfortunately, Eddie Santiago still had 3 distinct VIAF records. However, I noticed that the first search result had grouped in one record different headings from different national agencies.

viafsearch

When I clicked on this first link, the result was very much what one might expect of a linked data experiment.

viafsearch3
Unfortunately, the bottom of the diagram was cut off. Despite this, this diagram still illustrates the hope to link information from one source of information to another.

But, I was again led to the same question. How is this helpful for libraries and in particular catalogers?

I came across this post to AUTOCAT by Allen Mullen.

Commentary on this by Jennifer Eustis:

https://celeripedean.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/viaf-and-linked-data/

Except:
"How will this help libraries? Essentially, instead of an authority record
being tied to one language,headings can be accessed according to a unique
identifier. In that way, the information associated with that identifier
can be displayed according to language. More importantly, this allows
those searching for records to have a larger pool within to search.
Especially for digital libraries, the VIAF, given the recent addition of
the Getty List of Artists Names, could be extremely useful since it is
almost like a federated search."

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most
intelligent, but the one most responsive
to change."   Charles Darwin 

Is VIAF the strongest of such authority file species? Is it the most intelligent? Is it the most responsive to change? When I first wrote my post on VIAF and linked data, I did not think of VIAF in terms of strength or intelligence. I think Allen brings up an important point by quoting Darwin. In my post, I mentioned that VIAF is a pilot project from OCLC, which is one of the only players in terms of bibliographic data. The spread of their influence seems to be increasing and this project, VIAF, is an example. However, does this make VIAF strong? Furthermore, I mentioned that the service provided by VIAF could be helpful to libraries and librarians. But, does this make VIAF an intelligent service?

Perhaps a better way to phrase these questions are: What are the strengths and/or weaknesses of VIAF? Is the way in which VIAF links information between national agencies done in an intelligible manner? What’s more, is the way in which VIAF links information between national agencies an intelligent thing to even undertake?

As to the last point from this quote from Charles Darwin, I have to say that the VIAF is already making changes as to how various forms of authorized headings are linked in terms of which national agencies use which authorized form of that heading.

But again, are these changes adding to the strength and/or overall intelligence of this project?

2 Comments

Filed under cataloging, Linked data, OCLC

VIAF and Linked Data

Tom Hickey recently posted on a new development with the VIAF. The VIAF or the Virtual International Authority File is an international project to bring together in one place authorized headings from several libraries and institutions around the world. Interestingly enough, VIAF is hosted and implemented by OCLC. This is where the linked data part comes into play because Tom Hickey is the co-lead for what is essentially a OCLC project using OCLC software.

According to Tom Hickey, linked data means:

To us linked data means:

  • URIs for everything
  • HTTP 303 redirects for URIs representing the personae our metadata is about
  • HTTP content negotiation for different data formats
  • An RDF view of the data
  • A rich a set of internal and external links in our data

This is what the OCLC website on the VIAF explains as well. This means that there will be one giant authority record from which any institution can use independent of language. OCLC’s website explains the process as follows:

  • OCLC has proven software for matching and linking authority records for personal names.
  • That software will be used to match the authority records from The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and the Bibliothèque nationale de France to the corresponding authority records from the Library of Congress.
  • Once the existing authority records are linked, shared OAI servers will be established to maintain the authority files and to provide user access to the files.
    • Users then will be able to see names displayed in the most appropriate language.
      • For example, German users will be able to see a name displayed in the form established by the dnb, while
      • French users will see the same name as established by the BnF, and
      • American users will view the name as established by LC.
  • Users in either country will be able to view name records as established by the other nation, thus making the authorities truly international and facilitating research across languages anywhere in the world.

How will this help libraries? Essentially, instead of an authority record being tied to one language, headings can be accessed according to a unique identifier. In that way, the information associated with that identifier can be displayed according to language. More importantly, this allows those searching for records to have a larger pool within to search. Especially for digital libraries, the VIAF, given the recent addition of the Getty List of Artists Names, could be extremely useful since it is almost like a federated search.

In my own research for an image collection, I used the VIAF to find the name of a Puerto Rican musician called Eddie Santiago. I was able to find 2 different forms of the authorized heading that referred to the same person. LCNAF and the National Library of Germany both used the heading, Santiago, Eddie, while the National Libraries of Spain and France used Santiago, Eddie, 1961-. This was useful in that I was able to see results from not only my own country but also 3 others. The problem is that for this one person, there were 2 authorized forms. Furthermore, there were 3 distinct VIAF authority records for this one name: VIAF ID: 13972441, 90646721, 71683685. It didn’t look like these authority records were in any way linked to one another. It was my own research that lead me to see that these 3 VIAF records were for the same individual. This is a sign that the VIAF has some way to go.

I like the idea. However, I am not completely happy to see that it is hosted and implemented by OCLC. Right now this is a pilot project. Most likely, it will pick up speed and the problem that I encountered will be taken care of. This begs the question of how OCLC will profit from VIAF. Will libraries have to pay in order to access this giant authority file? Because nothing, as yet, exists like the VIAF, will libraries have to pay premium prices for data that was created by them in the first place?

2 Comments

Filed under cataloging, Linked data