The next speaker in the NISO webinar (Back From the Endangered List: Using Authority Data to Enhance the Semantic Web) was Jeff Young, a software architect at OCLC Research. His talk was titled “Linking Thing and the Virtual International Authority File.”
There are a lot of connotations as to what an authority is (agency, scheme, format, file, record, heading, data, etc.). The Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) consists of authorities from 18 authority agencies (which are mostly national libraries) in MARC format. This consists of 17 million name authorities and 60 million bib records. The authority records are for personal, corporate, and meeting names, with some geographic names.
Authority records from different national libraries are linked together with control numbers in a pair-wise matching format. Clusters are linked via a hub and spoke model (the main record links to the individual national library authority records => main record is the hub and authority records are the spokes). Cluster records are assigned a URI to identify the record when using different metadata schemes (e.g. MARC, XML, XHTML, RDF, etc.).
Headings can be deciphered by type by using the MARC tag encoding (100 = Personal Name, 110 = Corporate Name in MARC21 or 200, 210, etc. in UNIMARC). The main or primary entity has a different URI than the record that describes it.
This part of the webinar made sense in theory, but the examples that were given with URI’s seemed to muddle things in my head.