Cornell University Library received a grant from IMLS in 2016-17 to hold two forums on the topic of shareable local authorities. The meetings took place in October 2016 and April 2017. The project was motivated by a widespread interest, from data producers and consumers alike, in the problem of identifying persons and organizations across traditional silos. What we stand to gain by addressing this issue is not only the ability to scale up our coverage of names, but also to create knowledge by allowing new associations to be made, and to make our collections more widely seen and better understood.
Naturally we did not expect to solve these problems in a couple of meetings, but our hope was that a forum with wide representation would help us arrive at a common understanding of the issues. We approached a wide range of stakeholders to participate in these meetings. They included, among others, publishers of linked data vocabularies; members of the archival and cultural heritage communities; national libraries; institutions actively developing cross-platform name registries; and other grant-funded research projects. It became clear that each community was working to a different mandate, and this was reflected in significant differences in their practices and also in the problems that they were interested in solving.
Even so, when the participants came together there was a great deal of common ground to explore. Among the topics discussed were minimum requirements to support aggregation of authorities, both on the data and the technical side. We spent some time looking in depth at aggregation workflows, and also on a conceptual level at reconciliation services. And because change calls for a response from communities with long traditions of practice, business needs and community governance received discussion as well.
The project wiki includes a full list of participants and grant outputs including the final report and reference model.
Chew Chiat Naun is a Graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and recently joined Harvard Library as Head of Metadata Creation. Previously he was at Cornell University, where he and his then colleagues hosted the first IMLS Shareable Local Authorities forum. He is active in the Program for Cooperative Cataloging and co-chairs (with Ed Jones) the Standing Committee on Standards.
Do you have a project involving sharable local authorities? Feel free to share in a future guest post or in comments on this blog!