Authority Control International Conference: Definition and International Experiences


The Conference "Authority Control: Reflections and Experiences" (Convitto della Calza, Piazza della Calza 6) is promoted by the University of Florence (Faculty of Arts, Middle Ages and Renaissance Studies Department and Library System Coordination Office), Ministry of Cultural Assets (Direzione generale per i beni librari e gli istituti culturali tramite l'Istituto centrale per il catalogo unico e le informazioni bibliografiche and the Biblioteca nazionale centrale di Firenze), Tuscany Region and Italian Library Association (AIB), with the financial contribution of several library service agencies: Burioni, Casalini Libri, Ellediemme, Licosa, Nexus, Pizzo Etichette, Swets Blackwell. The aim of the meeting is to reflect and compare different experiences about a main aspect of the cataloguing process and to continue the analysis of the issues discussed at the Conference Electronic Resources: Definition, Selection and Cataloguing Rome, November 26-28, 2001.

The cataloguing mediation needs the control of the formal coherence among the access points to the information, in order to let user find, identify, select and obtain the information available in a bibliography or in a catalogue. Authority control is the process which would assure the formal homogeneity of each entry (author, title, corporate body, subject heading) chosen as access authority control is an integral part of the cataloguing architecture, it is inseparable from the concept of catalogue. The control of the morphology contributes to avoiding conflicts with other entries already available or which can be presumed will be present in the catalogue.
The authorized form can be considered "standard" according to cataloguing conventions which themselves are built on a cultural tradition.
Authority control is a technique, established by the cataloguer, who is the child of his time and a member of a reality and of a cultural community already defined, but developing and changing at the same time. Authority control is, in conclusion, the identification process of different manifestations of a name or of a title which guarantees the heading's stability.
The electronic catalogue offers the possibility to reach indifferently the registration of an author's works starting from whatever correlated entry and from whatever combination order (for example: from Vergilius, but also from Virgilio or Virgil, and both from Dante Alighieri and from Alighieri, Dante); it offers the possibility to reach indifferently the anonymous works starting from whatever title format (for example: both from 'Novellino' and from 'Cento Novelle antiche'), thanks to the correlation among the variant formats of the work's name and title. We use now, infact, the expression 'clustered heading', which recalls efficaciously a conceptual definition which set the concept free from the terminological slavery of the authority.
Authority control contributes to reaching the catalogue's objectives, supervising the quality of the registration index construction, which contributes itself to ensure the general quality of the catalogue.

The Conference intends to be both an occasion of theoretical comparison among the most expert scientists from all over the world on the sector and an occasion of information on the principal international and Italian experiences (construction of national authority list and authority file). The Conference intends also to contribute to the debate on the revision of the national cataloguing rules and on their possible harmonization.

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