VIAF gets bigger and better

VIAF, the Virtual International Authority File, keeps on improving. In fact, OCLC Research staff just installed an update to VIAF recently. On 18 Feb 2011, to be exact. As of that update, VIAF now contains:

18.4 million source records
14.5 million VIAF clusters
6.2 million links between source records
2.4 million VIAF clusters built from more than one source record

As part of this update, new data has been added from Spain, France, Germany, Canada, LC, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Swiss National Library and Sweden.

The VIAF team has improved the process of matching records submited by participating libraries. As part of this effort, the matching processes is slightly more strict about matching names. For example we will no longer directly match ‘J. Lee Smith’ to ‘James Smith’.  Too many of these type of matches were incorrect. With more data from more sources, we may pick up such a match through cross references if it should be made.

VIAF also now extracts many more birth and death dates from 670 and 678 fields in our English language records.  In the LC file this results in 200,000 more full date (month and day) forms.  The full date forms are now carried into the cluster records, but not yet displayed.  The team is working on how to extract this information from non-English records.

At the request of the ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier) project, the VIAF team improved the MARC-21 view of VIAF clusters.  Some new data has been moved into the clusters, notably co-author information (though not yet visible).  As more groups are trying to match records against VIAF, this sort of information is important.  The RDF view of VIAF  also had some relatively minor changes. This includes:

  • Upgrading the cluster’s hub and spoke links to the contributed records to use skos:exactMatch instead of skos:closeMatch. This is a stronger assertion needed to justify the next change:
  • Use owl:sameAs instead of umbel:isLike to relate Linked Data URIs from various sources.
  • Added owl:sameAs references to Linked Data being published by National Széchényi Library (Hungary).

    How are you using VIAF? Would be interested to hear how people are using the data.


  • Karen Coombs

    Karen Coombs

    Senior Product Analyst