[OAI-implementers] LC Authorities via the Web

Caroline Arms caar@loc.gov
Wed, 24 Jul 2002 09:33:27 -0400 (EDT)

The following message was issued internally at LC from the Integrated
Library Systems (ILS) office.  The new service was announced at ALA and
has been disseminated to the cataloging community.  I thought that members
of WWIN and the OAI implementers list might also be interested in access
to the resource.

    Caroline Arms                                     caar@loc.gov
    Office of Strategic Initiatives
    Library of Congress


     On July 1, 2002, LC made its authority data available via the Web.
 This service, known as LC Authorities, provides access to LC's name,
subject, and title cataloging authority records, (including series
authority records) for search, display, and download.  The address for
this interface to LC's Database is: http://authorities.loc.gov   LC
Authorities is intended to be a resource for technical services
librarians engaged in cataloging and other activities that benefit from
authority control, cross references, and standardized vocabulary.
     Not included with this release are Z39.50 functionality; the full
MARC 21 character set for display and download of authority data; and
the approximately 2,300 subject subdivision records in the Library of
Congress Subject Heading file. LC will collaborate with Endeavor
Information Systems, Inc., our ILS vendor, to add Z39.50 functionality
and these other features in a future release.  Z39.50 is an information
retrieval (client/server-based) protocol that supports searching and
retrieving of information among remote databases.
     LC Authorities is intended to be a permanent service, offered free
of charge to users.  During the first phase of this implementation LC
will be gathering feedback from users to evaluate its usefulness and
determine how to improve its features.  Users should send comments to:
ils@loc.gov   A PowerPoint presentation on LC Authorities is
available at:  http://lcweb.loc.gov/ils/ALA02Arv.PPT 

P.S.  I also received a copy of a 'weblog' by Gary Price that includes
sample searches to help folks try out this vast file.

http://resourceshelf.blogspot.com/ }
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Web Resource of the Week
Invisible Web Database

New From The Library of Congress, Free Web Access to the LC Authority

At the beginning of July the Library of Congress began providing FREE
"trial" public access to the LC Authority File via the LC Authorities
site. For the cataloging community access to these files can serve many
purposes. Four files (Subject, Name, Title, and Name/Title Authority
Headings) are available for searching/browsing. 

A Few Details
According to the faq, "authority records cannot be searched by
keyword(s). are "left-anchored" -- search words must be entered in order
starting with the leftmost word (omitting initial articles and initial
punctuation)." Records are available in a labelled display and MARC
format. The only caveat, according to the faq, is that authority records
may only be saved, printed or emailed one at a time.

Reference Use?
Although in NO way are these files primary ready-reference tools but
they can assist in answering some "fast fact" questions. Here's one
example using the Names file. This file contains about 5.3 million
entries including data on 3.8 million personal, 900,000 corporate,
120,000 meeting, and 90,000 geographic names. After running a few
searches I found that you can learn "real names" and for birthdays for
authors, entertainers, and other celebrity types I was also able to
access some basic corporate name info. For example, info on company name
changes. Most entries include a citation to the source of the

Sample Name File Searches To Try
Select Name Authority Headings and Enter Name
*Comedian Albert Brook's name file. You'll learn that his birth name is
Albert Einstein
*Rock Music legend Pete Townshend's Name File. Learn his full name,
birth date, and birth location. 
*Name file for Metra (the commuter railroad service in Chicago). Learn
that Metra is a service name for the Northeast Illinois Regional
Commuter Railroad Corporation. 
*The often used example, because of the many spelling variations, of
Muammar Qaddafi's authority record. 

Final Notes
For those of you out there who are not familiar with authority work,
here are several definitions from ODLIS to assist. You probably already
realize that these concepts have applications outside the traditional
library database as more and more organizations build databases where
control and uniformity of material in the database is necessary. The LC
Authority file is one of many authority files that exist. OCLC, other
libraries, and database providers all build and maintain their own
files. Btw, the LC Authorities file is Invisible Web data. These records
cannot be accessed from general web engines like Google and AltaVista. 
Direct to LC Authorities

See Also: The LC Authorities FAQ 
Link Directly To This VAS&ND Post posted by g price on Thursday, July
18, 2002