Life is a Mystery

10 February 2009

LT takes on authority control

I love to see how LibraryThing approaches the task of cataloging. LT invites everyone to catalog, which rules out the use of priestly tools like AACR2 (3!) or the Library of Congress Subject Headings. One nifty feature of the professional library catalog has been authority control, which among other things provides the ability to distinguish one person from another, even if their names are the same. Last week LT started to offer an alternative for sorting out names.

LT calls this “distinct authors” and the concept centers on the fact that each author will have a universe of books they have authored, likely quite distinct from the universe of books authored by someone else of the same name. This clustering of books can be used to disambiguate the authors themselves. That could work! It is fuzzier than authority control, but that may matter little in our fuzzy tech enabled world. It also only deals with one of the problems in the authority control domain, but LT already has solutions to some others and I am convinced that over a long term the LT approach will prove more sustainable. We’ll see.

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Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org