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Application of Authority Files

Who Uses Authority Files?

Libraries, archives, and museums create and use authority files for cataloguing their holdings. The names of authors, musicians, and artists are linked with the corresponding bibliographic and authority files. The same applies to work titles, corporate bodies or place names for which authority files also exist.

As well as commemorative institutions, other institutions participating in the creation of authority files include scientific and research organisations, Google, and academic publishers who are particularly interested in researcher IDs and are promoting standardisation.

An important user of authority files is the online dictionary Wikipedia. The articles contain links to authority files of various national and other libraries.

Who Uses Authority Files in Research?

The use of authority files in science and research is a new development which is increasingly recommended by research funding agencies, especially with regard to the conscious handling of knowledge.

Seven Good Reasons for Using Authority Files

  1. Authority files with the aid of ID numbers ensure an unambiguous identification.
  2. They help in searching digital data, especially when the same things have different names, such as towns (Constantinople/Istanbul), change of name (through marriage) or different spellings of names (Thomas von Aquin/Thomas d’Aquin/Thomas Akinatos).
  3. They are also of use when the same term has different meanings (bank <financial institution> or bank <furniture>).
  4. They assist in the correct interpretation of the results of search engines, e.g. they recognize which person or name is the one you want to find (Andreas Meier/Min Lee).
  5. Authority files connect things, for example, authors and their published articles.
  6. Because authority files ensure clarity, they improve the quality of data.
  7. Heterogeneous data from different disciplines and sources can be pooled, jointly searched, and consistently assigned to hit lists.