Friday, May 15, 2009

Adding the VIAF

The Virtual International Authority File, or VIAF is slowly being built and is becoming very useful. The VIAF is a specialized tool being created by librarians around the world to share their controlled vocabulary. To find out about controlled vocabulary and its importance to research, see the Two-Minute Tutorial on controlled vocabulary.

The main advantage of the VIAF for students at AUR is that it can help you search Italian catalogs because Italians often use different forms of names than Americans. As only one example, if you are interested in the previous president of the Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin, in the U.S., you must use:
Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich, 1931-2007

but in Italy, you must use:
Elʹcin, Boris Nikolaevič, 1931-2007

This means that you won't find anything in Italian catalogs if you search under the form of name used in the U.S., while the Italians won't find anything in American catalogs. How can you possibly know this?

The VIAF attempts to fix this, and at least you can find the correct forms of names to search Italian catalogs. Of course, this also can be used by Italians to search U.S. catalogs. There are other forms included as well.

We have added the VIAF to our Extend Search. To find out how to use the VIAF to help in your research, take the Two-Minute Tutorials on Finding & Using Synonyms and Related Tools and the other on Searching and Accessing Materials in Roman Libraries.

They will definitely be worth your while. This is another important step to making the World Wide Web much more useful to scholarship and society.

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