Bibliotheca Alexandrina's Model for Arabic Name Authority Control

Article excerpt

This paper describes the processes developed and implemented at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) to manage authority control in a multiscript environment. The author addresses key issues associated with creating a local authority file for multiscript materials', unique challenges associated with Arabic names, and authority control policy decisions and practices in place at the BA, including contributing records to the Virtual International Authority File. The author highlights important work that the BA is doing to promote standards for Arabic names in a way that takes into account user needs in the Arab community, as well as international standards, while laying the groundwork for further cooperative work between libraries in the Arab world and beyond. A detailed description of workflow with examples is presented.

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The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) is building its own local authority file for personal names, corporate bodies, and subject headings, with authority records presented in Arabic, English, and French. One of the most powerful features of the BA catalog links records in multilingual scripts. This means that when an author writes in Arabic and in French, the library creates an Arabic-language record for the Arabic books and a French language record for the French language books. The former will be based on the Arabic bibliographic records and the latter will be based on the name of the author in the French language records. The BA staff link the two authority records to each other. This allows the user to search the database in either language and retrieve all the works by the same author regardless of the language of publication.

The objective of this paper is to describe the Arabic name authority file that the BA is developing and the policies and processes involved. To study the BA authority file (which is not available to non-BA staff) and associated decisions and workflow, the author spent six and a half months at the library and worked with the BA authority control processing staff. The author developed the following set of questions to gather information about the process of creating authority records at the BA. Some questions deal with specific technical issues, while others are more general.

* What are the important issues related to creating authority records for classical Arable names?

* How is the BA authority control processing staffed?

* What are the reasons for creating a local BA authority file?

* What are the local policies for creating BA authority records for classical and modern Arabic names?

* How is the authority work handled for Arabic language materials?

* How are authority records for authors writing in multiple scripts handled?

* How is the BA participating in the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF)?

* What are plans for sharing and cooperating with other libraries?

Literature Review

Authority records constitute the backbone of the library catalog. Verification of authors' names accomplished through authority processing helps to merge the bibliographic records of a particular author's work, regardless of the language of publication, variations in the spelling of the name, or other points of confusion that may result from the publishing process. Authority control allows researchers to identify and locate works of an author regardless of what language they use in their search. The same form or version of a person and corporate body is used by everyone so that a researcher in Egypt, the United States, Japan, or any other country can use the exact same form of the name to find all the materials by a specific author.

Durance defined authority control as the function of providing access to the holdings of a repository through names and subjects, noting that authority records are being constructed in such a way that their relationships, or nonrelationships, to each other are apparent. …