OCLC Research 2010: VIAF now includes corporate names

December 23rd, 2010 by Merrilee

As 2010 comes to a close, we’d like to call attention to some of the things we’ve worked on or created this year. You can see a rundown of highlights here.

VIAF (or the Virtual International Authority File) is another one of these cool projects developed by our Dublin-based colleagues in OCLC Research. Since 2003, OCLC has been working with the Library of Congress, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France to produce a merged resource with authority files from 18 participants. I don’t monitor this project closely but it seems like new participants are joining all the time. VIAF does not privileged one authoritative form over another, instead uniting all forms so that the most appropriate form can be identified.

Just last month VIAF was expanded to include corporate (and conference) names in addition to personal names. As Thom explains in this blog post, corporate names are more difficult to match across the files than personal names. But at this point the project team has such finely honed algorithms and magical matching powers that they were able to fold corporate names into the mix. If you want to see an example of how complex corporate names can get, take a look at this entry for the United Nations (with 165 different alternate forms of the name, in addition to the twelve authoritative headings).

Resources like VIAF, which are machine derived but built on the very human labor of catalogers worldwide, will help to power multilingual searches, thus enabling improved discovery of materials, regardless where they are held or where they are cataloged.

For more information on VIAF, see the project page.

More? Check out a three-page summary of an accounting of accomplishments over the last five years!

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