Cross-Referencing Two Authority Files to Match Generic Name Headings

Disambiguating names in a library catalog is one of the core purposes of authority control. Can triangulating data between VIAF and NAF improve matches when a generic name heading comes into play? We think so.

A generic name heading — an X00 field without a $q to show a fuller form of the name or $d containing dates — is notoriously tricky to match. Backstage can cross-reference the name to works in VIAF, the Virtual International Authority File, making a verified match more likely, and still return the preferred LC name authority that you expect.

Sometimes an authority record will have a cross reference that matches your name heading, but it will not actually be the same as the individual represented in your record. Even without a cross reference, sometimes the 1XX is still for a different individual. By incorporating a name/work search against VIAF, we’ve been able to successfully update these names more often and with greater accuracy.
Our process takes your generic 100 and 700 fields that contain a $a only and will search VIAF for that form of the name. If your form of the name is found, we then compare the title within the 245$a of your bib record against the associated works for that name in VIAF.

Most US libraries prefer the LC name authority, though, so if a match to the work is found in VIAF, we select the United States form of that name to pass formally through our authority matching process. The LC authority record will be returned to you as expected and your bibliographic heading will be updated with the authorized form.
The process for a name subject in the 600 field is similar, but due to the 245 $a not being present as a work in VIAF for these name subjects, we only search 600 fields that have a $t title present. We felt we could not accurately attempt to match a 600 without a $t in VIAF to confirm the correct form of heading. We can deliver one of our many free optional reports, the R24 report, to help you review changes to these generic name headings.

Of course, the success of this matching will only be as good as the data represented in VIAF. Through testing we’ve discovered that a work’s title may differ slightly in different contributors’ VIAF records, so some names may be updated while others aren’t.

Any headings that do not have a match in VIAF still go through our authority matching process as outlined within your library’s profile settings.