Authority Control Comes to LibraryThing

LibraryThing has been strugling with the issue of authority control for a while.  But now they’ve come up with a solution, one that differs greatly from the rest of the library world.  The way it works in libraries for authors is to keep adding extraneous data onto a given author’s name until it becomes unique.  Sometimes a middle initial is enough, but in many case birth and death dates are required.

But that’s a method that entails a cumbersome amount of research at times and can still result in confusing records if there are too many John Smith’s to dig through.  The alternative at LibraryThing is to allow users to break up the titles under and author as they see fit.  Thus instead of Smith, John A. and Smith, John B., you’ll have John Smith who wrote books A and B but not book C.

Yes, this system is problematic, but I’m not sure it’s any more confusing or error prone than what libraries are doing and there’s no need to conduct any sort of genealogical research.  I’m real curious to see how it’ll work out.

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