Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Is the Current Way of Constructing Corporate Authority Records Still Useful?

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Is the Current Way of Constructing Corporate Authority Records Still Useful?

Article excerpt

Catalogers have been establishing corporate body name headings (and other entities) in their original language in the official form, as they appear most frequently on the title pages of publications for print publications, for many years. A random sample of corporate headings from the Library of Congress Name Authority File created during 1998-2002 was searched on the Web via Google to find corporate Web pages. The purpose of this research is to begin to answer the question: Does the current way of constructing corporate authority records still help users find resources by and about corporate bodies in the online public access catalog in this Web-oriented environment?

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For years, companies, businesses, associations, and scholarly societies have produced such valuable information as reports and research papers, which are essential to users' research needs. Catalogers have worked hard for decades to provide users with resources by and about corporate bodies through library card catalogs and online library catalogs. It has proved to be very successful, as the name of the author and the title of the book were the most important clues by which the books were identified when cited and by which they were looked for in the catalog or called for in the library. (1) However, the Web has changed the way users access information for their research needs. Does the current way of constructing corporate authority records still help users access resources by and about corporate bodies in the online public access catalog (OPAC) in this Web-oriented environment?

* Context

A 2002 survey by the Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and Information Resources indicated that most college students search the Internet before they search the OPAC for their research needs. (2) A 2002 OCLC white paper, titled "How Academic Librarians Can Influence Students' Web-Based Information Choices," pointed out that "students continue to depend upon the library for information resources, in both electronic and print formats. The data strongly suggest that there are real opportunities for academic librarians to connect students with libraries' high-quality resources." (3) Another report, "Web Growth Slows, but Time Online Rises" by Miller in USA Today, indicated that although Internet growth in the United States continues to slow, users are logging on more often and spending more time online. (4) More than 457 million people worldwide had Internet access at home in 2001; the number of active global users hit 254 million. (5)

Our users are searching the Web for their research needs, and the Internet is providing them with many alternative names for corporate entities. How important is OPAC authority control in the age of the Internet? What do users need to find the resources regardless of how they express the corporate name?

Authority control is important. Taylor defined the authority file in her article "Authority Files in Online Catalogs," stating that "authority work [is] the process of determining the form of a name, title or subject concept that will be used as a heading on a bibliographic record; determining cross references needed to that form; and determining relationships of this heading to other authority headings." (6) Burger explained in his book Authority Work that corporate names, like personal names, come into existence when the body itself is created. Unlike personal names, however, corporate name changes occur with much more rapidity and for different reasons, and hence are treated differently by cataloging codes. (7) Furthermore, corporate bodies can survive indefinitely. The longer lifespan of such entities provides a greater potential for change. Several recent studies indicate that the Web can also help with name authority work. Russell and Spillane explained in their article "Using the Web for Name Authority Work" that the Web could provide reference sources in finding information on personal and corporate authors. …

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