OCLC Research launches Scholars' Contributions to VIAF activity

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This activity explores the benefits of collaborating with scholars to enrich the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) with new names from scholarly communities and additional script forms.

VIAF combines multiple name authority files into a single OCLC-hosted name authority service that is freely available on the Web. Most VIAF contributors to date have been national libraries and other library agencies. However, scholars have a stronger affiliation with their discipline than with any one institution. And although scholarly projects are often international in scope, some minority languages do not have an agency such as a national library committed to supporting their documentation needs.

To explore the benefits of collaborating with scholars to enrich VIAF, OCLC Research has launched a Scholars Contribution to VIAF activity that provides a path that domain experts can use to contribute their research in the form of authority data to enrich the information already in VIAF.

Contributing their authority data to VIAF will benefits scholars by:

  • providing them with a resource for disseminating their scholarly research on names beyond their own communities make to libraries and researchers around the globe
  • giving them the ability to contribute names to VIAF in scripts that are not represented in the MARC 21 character set used in the LC/NACO Authority File, since VIAF supports Unicode
  • generating VIAF uniform resource identifiers (URIs) as persistent identifiers for the names contributed that scholars can use in their own databases, linked data applications, scholarly discourse, and name disambiguation in multinational collaborations.

In addition, both scholarly societies and libraries will benefit from this activity because it will enrich VIAF with name authority data that would not otherwise be contributed by national libraries. It will also increase the number of "alternate names" associated with VIAF clusters that include scholars' contributions with scripts that are not yet represented.

The first set of personal names from a scholarly resource loaded into VIAF as part of this project are now live. Greek names from the Perseus Catalog hosted by Tufts University, an OCLC Research Library Partnership institution, are now available in VIAF in Greek and sometimes Arabic script forms. The Perseus Catalog aims to provide access to at least one online edition of every major Latin and Greek author from antiquity to 600 CE. Adding the Greek, Arabic and other script forms of names in the Perseus Catalog enrich existing VIAF clusters that previously lacked them. The number of "alternate name forms" associated with VIAF clusters that include the Perseus Catalog's contributions has already increased, with scripts not yet represented.

OCLC is eager to welcome VIAF contributions from other scholarly communities. If you're interested in discussing the opportunity to contribute names from your scholarly database to VIAF, contact OCLC Research Program Officer Karen Smith-Yoshimura.

See the OCLC Research Scholars' Contribution to VIAF activity page and Karen Smith-Yoshimura's First Scholars' Contributions to VIAF: Greek! post on the OCLC Research blog, hangingtogether.org, for more information about this work.

For more information:

Karen Smith-Yoshimura
Program Officer
OCLC Research

Melissa Renspie
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research


Quick links:

OCLC Research Scholars' Contribution to VIAF activity [link]  

First Scholars' Contributions to VIAF: Greek! blog post on hangingtogether.org [link]  

Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) [link]  

Perseus Catalog [link]  

Tufts University [link]  

Karen Smith-Yoshimura [link]  

OCLC Research blog, hangingtogether.org [link]

OCLC Research Library Partnership [link]