Viva la VIAF!

April 6th, 2009 by Karen

Try out the enhanced and expanded Virtual International Authority File at It now contains 7.8 million records built from 9.2 million source authority records from the Library of Congress, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, and the National Library of Sweden. More files will be added. Thom discusses the recent changes to VIAF in his Outgoing blog:

The VIAF site has recently had a major overhaul.  What you now search are records created from a merge of matching source authority records.  Within this record you can see what source records were used to create it, along with cross references and other information gleaned both from the authority records and from associated bibliographic records.

We all have our favorite “authority control poster children”, as Lorcan calls them.  The example he blogged about is Flann O’Brien.  One of my favorites is Chiang Kai-shek – that is the preferred form in the LC and National Library of Sweden authority files, but it’s listed on top with Jiang, Jieshi, the preferred form in the Bibliothèque nationale de Franc and the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek authority files. It illustrates a difference in perspective: Jiang Jieshi is the Pinyin romanization of the Mandarin pronunciation of the characters in Chiang Kai-shek’s name. One of the beauties of VIAF is that it aggregates the preferred forms used in different sources without itself preferring one form over another.

Click twice to see the full sized images.

And it lists all the alternate forms each of those sources includes, a very long list that also includes several forms in Chinese characters:

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One Response to “Viva la VIAF!”

  1. » Blog Archive » Viva la VIAF! Encore Says:

    [...] File at now contains personal names from sixteen different authority files! When I last blogged about the file last April, there were only four: Library of Congress, the Bibliothèque nationale [...]