Analysis and Reflections on VIAF, Virtual International Authority File


The Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) is a joint experiment of the Library of Congress (LC), the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB), and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF) with Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). Started in 2000, VIAF is a linking between authority records of the participant national agencies, that are freely on the net through a global authority service, and provided with crush algorithms.

Through its interface, the system allows the virtual search of authority records in the language, writing, and alphabet of the users. Integration of data happens with the fusion of entries with the same names, even though a system based on additional infomation linked to personal names has been developed, in order to confirm or to avoid crush actions on the names. Those crush algorithms are divided into three categories: strong, moderate, weak, to assure more safety in building virtual enhanced record. VIAF uses the Open Archive Initiative (OAI) protocol, with a central server harvesting authority file metadata from national or regional agencies. The system is virtual based since the complete authority record remains to its original authority file, while data harvested into the central server are a small part only. At the moment, catalographic agencies participating to the project are 18, but their number will increase.

Although its features are strictly due to precision and quality of data supplied by agencies, VIAF is becoming a even more coherent and trustable system.


Virtual International Authority File; Authority control; Open Archive Initiative; International Standard Name Identifier; Resource description framework

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