Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 38, no. 3-4, 2004



Preface to Parts I-II

Preface to part I

The International Conference on Authority Control: Definition and International Experiences was held at the Convitto della Calza in Florence, Italy, February 10-12, 2003. The primary organizer was Prof. Mauro Guerrini of the University of Florence. He and his colleagues ran an efficient and enjoyable gathering of many of the world’s experts on authority control issues for an unexpectedly large audience, totaling 502 persons. Participants were from Italy, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Sponsors included the University of Florence Faculty of Arts, Middle Ages and Renaissance Studies Department and Library System Coordination Office, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Assets (Head Office for Book and Cultural Institutions, the Tuscany Region), and the Italian Library Association (AIB), plus the financial contribution of several leading library agencies: Burioni, Casalini Libri, Elldiemme, Licosa, Nexus, Pizzo Etichette, and Swets Blackwell. In addition it was under the auspices of the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico (ICCU), the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, and IFLA. With such credentials, it was off to an excellent start.

Prof. Guerrini began the conference declaring, “the aim of the meeting is to offer an occasion for rethinking and comparing experiences about a critical aspect of the cataloguing process, and to confirm the attention paid by Italian professionals to the issues most frequently debated at the international level.” The international nature of the meeting assured attention well beyond Italy.

The three days of the conference were organized into five sessions as follows:

Session I, State of the art and new theoretical perspectives.
Session II, Standards, exchange formats, metadata
Session III, Authority control for names
Session IV, Authority control for subjects
Session V, Authority control experiences and projects.

The languages of the papers were English or Italian, with most papers provided in both languages to help the audience follow along. The papers were also made available on the Conference Web site: An Italian version of the proceedings, edited by Mauro Guerrini and Barbara Tillett with the assistance of Lucia Sardo, was published in 2003. [1] The English version of the proceedings is being published in two parts here in Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, with some additional papers solicited by the co-editors. The special papers appear in places where they provide useful additional information to the section in which they have been inserted. Part I covers the introductory conference papers and papers from Sessions I through III, along with four additional solicited papers. Part II covers conference Sessions IV and V, along with one additional paper.

A consistent theme of several papers during the Florence conference was the importance of controlling access to names of persons, corporate bodies, works, and subjects – yet acknowledging that this could be done without the necessity for the former Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) requirement for a single form of the heading to be used by everyone in the world. Indeed, the new view of UBC acknowledges that the user comes first, and that through authority control the language and scripts that can be read by users and the cultural conventions best understood within a given community can be accommodated. Authority control lends precision to searching and enables collocation or clustering of bibliographic records under names of authors, titles, or subjects.

The first day of the Florence conference began with initial welcoming remarks from officials and a paper setting the stage on authority control in the electronic environment. In the introductory section Igino Poggiali and Mauro Guerrini welcome participants to the conference and set the tone of a meeting intended for increasing understanding and knowledge of the important concept of authority control in a world of international communication through global technological connections. Michael Gorman defines authority control and vocabulary control and their place in modern cataloging. He contrasts simplistic metadata schemes with the more complex MARC family of standards and relates the concepts of precision and recall to authority control in catalogs.

The conference introductory papers were followed by Session I, State of the art and new theoretical perspectives that included three papers. In this section Barbara Tillett reports on the state of the art of authority control and new perspectives, including a proof of concept project jointly conducted by the Library of Congress, Die Deutsche Bibliothek, and OCLC for a virtual international authority file (VIAF). This VIAF system is seen as a building block for the future Semantic Web. Arlene Taylor reports that in a survey she conducted of teachers in the area of organizing information, respondents emphasized the importance of teaching the concept of authority control despite difficulties in conveying to students such a difficult concept in the face of non-understanding from colleagues, lack of enough course time, and competition from technology courses. Cristina Magliano describes Italy’s national effort to build a shared online authority file and describes the implications of maintaining such a resource.

Session II of the conference, Standards, exchange formats, metadata, included papers about control of access points, IFLA activities, metadata, and historical reviews. This Section begins with Gloria Cerbai Ammannati’s description of Italy’s Bibliografia Nazionale Italiana UNIMARC database which has been created using authority control principles. Two papers present activities of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA): MarieFrance Plassard presents a history of IFLA’s efforts toward achieving international authority control since the 1970s, and Glenn Patton describes the focus of IFLA’s Working Group on Functional Requirements and Numbering of Authority Records (FRANAR) and identifying next steps towards the conceptual model, Functional Requirements for Authority Records. [2]

The papers then move on to a digital focus, standards, and computer systems. Metadata standards as means for accomplishing authority control in digital libraries is discussed by Jose Borbinha. We are given an overview of traditional international library standards for bibliographic control and authority control since the 1960s by Pino Buizza. Alberto Petrucciani gives consideration to the prospect of relieving a bibliographic record of the necessity for including all information needed to describe a manifestation of a work and also all its relationships to other entities. Instead, he suggests, some of these functions might be taken over by access systems or by links to images or texts of the publications themselves.

The final two papers of this section were solicited by the editors for this publication. Murtha Baca traces the evolution and current status of authority control tools for art and material culture information, a field that did not have authority control or controlled vocabularies until the 1980s. Mirna Willer describes the UNIMARC authorities format.

The second day of the conference began with Session III, Authority control for names, and included papers on archival perspectives, on NACO, on fact finding about authority control in Japan, China, and Korea, and on authority control of publishers and printers. We include it here as the last section of Part I, “Authority Control of Names and Works.” This section begins with Stefano Vitali describing the International Standard Archival Authority Record (Corporate Bodies, Persons, Families) [ISAAR(CPF)], concentrating particularly on the changes in the second edition to be issued in August 2004. Daniel Pitti, in turn, describes the Encoded Archival Context (EAC), an initiative in the international archival community to design and implement a standard using XML for encoding descriptions of record creators – especially the descriptive data prescribed in ISAAR(CPF). Jutta Weber describes a project to develop a model architecture for collecting, harvesting, linking, and providing access to name authority information regardless of its creation in libraries, archives, museums, or other institutions, called LEAF (Linking and Exploring Authority Files). LEAF is initially linking information about the writers of letters that are harvested by the MALVINE network. It will lead to establishment of a Central European Name Authority File.

Continuing the discussion of authority control of names, John Byrum describes the Name Authority Cooperative (NACO), whose membership includes institutions in 16 countries in Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia, and Latin America, as well as institutions in most of the states of the United States; the program can be used as a model for other national programs while working toward an eventual global approach to authority control. Eisuke Naito reviews national bibliographic control in China, Japan, and Korea, and he describes workshops on name authority control that were held in the region to set a framework for regional authority control. Lorenzo Baldacchini points out that publishers, printers, and booksellers in the years of hand printing were the entities responsible for the existence of what is called manifestation in FRBR. He suggests that just as national agencies are responsible for authority control of authors, so should they provide authority control of printers, publishers, and booksellers.

Two papers not presented at the conference have been added to this section by the editors. Qiang Jin writes about authority control of corporate names. After observing how much modern users may rely on the Web for the form of names that they search for, she presents three case studies as examples of corporate name authority records that could be improved by addition of current information from the Internet. After pointing out that authority control of works is essentially non-existent, Richard Smiraglia discusses a study of linkages that would be required for authority control of a sample of works. His analysis shows that only a very small proportion have Library of Congress authority records. He points out that collocation can provide implicit linkage if titles of manifestations are the same, but this does not work for title changes, translations, and containing relations.

The second day of the conference ended with Session IV, Authority control for subjects, which contained presentations on subject gateways and SACO, MACS – Multilingual Access to Subjects project, OCLC’s FAST project, the new Soggettario, subject indexing languages, and ICCU and SBN, the national library service in Italy. The third day of the conference contained Session V, Authority control experiences and projects, a very full day of reports on numerous projects taking place in various countries that have been working on many different aspects of improvement of authority control. The final speaker was one of Italy’s well-known librarians, Luigi Crocetti, past President of the Italian Library Association (AIB), who spoke eloquently about the importance of this topic and this meeting for libraries in Italy and everywhere. Part II of this special collection of papers on authority control will include the papers from Sessions IV and V.

Arlene G. Taylor
Barbara B. Tillett

[1] Authority Control: Definizione ed esperienze internazionali: atti del convegno internazionale, Firenze, 10-12 febbraio 2003, a cura di Mauro Guerrini e Barbara B. Tillett con la collaborazione di Lucia Sardo (Firenze, Italy: Firence University Press; Associazione italiana biblioteche, 2003).

[2] Since the conference, the draft Functional Requirements for Authority Records was distributed by IFLA for worldwide review as a conceptual model extending the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) into the realm of authority control for names. It is expected to serve as another fundamental concept in the foundations of cataloging theory.

Preface to Part II

The International Conference on Authority Control: Definition and International Experiences was held in Florence, Italy, February 10-12, 2003. The proceedings of this conference are being published in two parts in Cataloging and Classification Quarterly. In Part I we presented the papers from Sessions I through III of the conference, along with four additional solicited papers. In Part II we present the papers from Sessions IV and V, along with one additional paper. Many of these papers have been translated from their original Italian in order to share the information with the English speaking world.

In the first paper in Session IV, Authority Control for Subjects, Ana Cristán discusses the Program for Cooperative Cataloging’s SACO Program, attempting to fit it into the context of subject gateways. She concludes that while SACO is a “gateway” into Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), it is not a subject gateway in the sense of an online service that provides a browsable subject catalog of Internet resources. Genevieve Clavel-Merrin describes MACS (Multilingual Access to Subjects), a system that allows users to carry out searches in major national library collections in Europe using subject headings in their own languages. Rebecca Dean describes OCLC’s FAST project, which is an attempt to retain the very rich vocabulary of LCSH while making the schema easier to understand, control, apply, and use. The Soggettario (Subject Headings for Italian Library Catalogs) is described by Anna Lucarelli as a thesaurus that will facilitate the transfer of controlled terminology to lists or authority files and archives. Stefano Tartaglia suggests that subject indexing languages should be more concerned with the semantics of subjects than with the syntax in order not to impede its function as a unifying element between the different cataloguing languages. And, finally, Maria Lucia Di Geso describes the work of the Italian network of bibliographic services, Servizio Bibliotecario Nazionale (SBN), and its recent work toward the goal of building a new, consistent vocabulary for documentation of subject matter.

Session V, Authority Control Experiences and Projects was a very full session of reports on numerous projects. Claudia Leoncini and Rosaria Maria Servello present experiences with authority control within the project Census of Italian 16th Century Editions (EDIT16) carried on by ICCU (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico) with the cooperation of 1200 library institutions all over Italy. Massimo Gentili-Tedeschi and Federica Riva discuss issues in the control of music names and titles. Claudia Fabian describes the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) thesaurus file, which particularly serves the interests of early printing, which in the context of the activities of CERL means printing of the hand press book area. Gabriele Me?mer gives an overview of the library situation in the Bavarian Library Network and the authority files used in German libraries, after which she discusses experiences in implementing and using the German Name Authority File (PND).

Andrew MacEwan describes Project InterParty, a project that aims to develop a mechanism that will enable the interoperation of identifiers for “parties” or persons (authors, publishers, etc.) across multiple domains, including the book industry, rights management, libraries, and identifier and technology communities. Sherry Vellucci presents some of the issues that are faced when using commercial services for providing authority control, and comments on the challenge of getting vendors to participate in international authority control. Lucia Sardo explains the problems of persons and corporate bodies using multiple names, examines their treatment in library catalogs, and gives a preliminary analysis of the multiple names using FRBR attributes. Lily Hu, Owen Tam, and Patrick Lo provide an overview on the latest developments of Chinese authority control work implemented in Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong, concentrating on the Hong Kong Chinese Authority for Names (HKCAN). Maurizio Savoja and Paul Weston’s paper reports on the Progetto Lombardo Archivi in INternet (PLAIN), which enables easy public access to the wide heritage of descriptions, already existing in electronic format, of historical archives preserved in the Lombard region. Françoise Bourdon presents work going on at the Association française de normalisation (AFNOR) to model authority data for libraries, archives, and museums. Fausto Ruggeri writes about Autori cattolici e opere liturgiche in italiano (ACOLIT), a project for authority control of religious entities for the Catholic Church. Nadine Boddært discusses two research programs at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France aimed at creating authority records for specific fields – specific but very important for access to the national bibliographic heritage. These two programs are respectively named COFAR (particularly concerned with official corporate bodies of the Ancient Regime) and CORELI (for religious corporate bodies). Claudia Parmeggiani’s paper deals with the project Authority File which aims at the creation of an experimental aid for reference and bibliographic control addressed to librarians, keepers of archives, and historians interested in the study of the Perugian (Italy) area in the period prior to the nineteenth century.

Luciana Sabini writes on authority control at the University of Florence. Guido Badalmenti presents a case study of a shared authority control systems in Tuscany, Italy, involving academic libraries, the Central National Library of Florence, and civic and provincial libraries. Annarita Sansò writes on a project to create an authoritative list of ancient Italian states and the related problems in first of all agreeing on a definition, as the concept of state has changed over time. Maria Teresa Donati describes the project to create an authority file of Medieval Latin authors and works for the Biblioteca di Cultura Medievale, which delves into the complexities of historical analysis to discover the true identity for attribution of anonymous works. The project BISLAM described by Roberto Gamberini results from a census of authors of the Medieval ages with the purpose to offer a program useful both to scholars of medieval Latin literature and to specialists in bibliographic catalogs and repertories. The project developed a program entitled Authors in “Medioevo latino,” available both in print and on CD-ROM.

The final speaker at the conference was one of Italy’s famous librarians, Luigi Crocetti, past President of the Italian Library Association (AIB). His paper speaks eloquently about the importance of this topic and this meeting for libraries in Italy and everywhere. We are very pleased to share these papers with a wider audience in English translations.
The final paper in this issue was added by the editors as another case study. In this paper Lihong Zhu writes about the authority control procedures she and her colleagues developed in order to use the OCLC MARC Record Service (MARS) in conjunction with Innovative Millennium, their local automated system.

Arlene G. Taylor
Barbara B. Tillett 

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