Participants 2014

Jean-Hugues Morneau: Cataloguing person authorities records in the new context of semantic web

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Hello ! My name is Jean-Hugues Morneau. I work in Grenoble in a university library specialized in medicine and pharmacy.

Libraries have long been responsible for creating new authority records for new authors, be it at the national or local level. One of my main task in my current job is to collect and catalogue medical and pharmaceutical thesis defended in the university of Grenoble (France). During this process I create new authorities for the newly graduated physicians and pharmacists. For the vast majority of them, the thesis is their first document to be described in a library catalogue.

Now, with the implementation of semantic web principles in the professional world of libraries, data that used to be confined in local library catalogue systems is now freely accessible through web search engines.

This brand new visibility can be troublesome though. Thesis authors were not aware that we, as librarians, recorded (for example) their date of birth in our catalogues provided it was printed on the cover of their thesis and as such, considered as a public piece of information. Now, some of them may discover this while surfing on the Internet and get really upset. Practically speaking, this lead to a dramatic increase of authors asking for their personal data to be removed from their person authority record.

So, how shall we answer these requests? Shall we unknit what has been patiently built by generations of librarians? Or shall we instead explain the usefulness of a date of birth for distinguishing homonyms in a library catalog? What is the point of view of the law? What is IFLA’s? What’s yours?

I would like to discuss this matter with foreign colleagues. If you don’t find this issue too technical, of course!

I feel it is all the more interesting that:

1/ Authority records will be a cornerstone of semantic web.
2/ VIAF and ISNI initiatives are gaining momentum.

Take care and see you soon !

JHM

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