What’s that name?

We have made the LC Name Authority File available for some time at a human user interface and as a web service.
Recently, Ralph LeVan has nicely enhanced the search with a range of fuzzy matching techniques. It works quite well with incorrect or incomplete search strings, often returning what was intended as part of a list of candidate answers. For example, a search on Richard Fineman returns Feynman, Richard Phillips at the top of the list. A search for Walace Stephens returns Wallace Stevens number two. Feynman and Stevens were who I was looking for.
Sometimes it does not help so much (in the current implementation). So for example, say I mistakenly search for Jane Austin (meaning Jane Austen), well then I get a lot of Austins, including at number one, reasonably, Jane Austin. Say I mistakenly search for J.L. Austen (meaning J.L.Austin), well then I get a lot of Austens, including, at number one, Jane Austen.
Now, I am quite attached to my name. I like that fact that Lorcan is not very well known outside Ireland, yet is readily pronouncable and spellable (we have done no such favors for our children Eoghan and Eavan). Many years ago – I think it was my first trip to the US – I travelled to a Meckler Media conference with Derek Law (that’s Derek G. Law to you). We were both speaking. When it came my turn, the person introducing me fumbled and said that they were pleased to welcome Dorcan Lempsey to the stand. Derek has never forgotten this 😉
I am pleased to say that a search on Dorcan Lempsey returns Lorcan Dempsey first, followed by, er, Rhonda Anne Semple.

3 thoughts on “What’s that name?”

  1. Thank you for letting us know about the human user interface for the Authority File. I made use of it right away on a Canadian record that lacked a date for the author. It saves a lot of search time…..
    I remember reading somewhere that most people only use 10% of the features of a word processing program. I’m sure the same is true of OCLC for me – I try to keep up, but there is always some little treasure like this that gets by me….
    BTW, what did Lorcan look like before it was anglicized? My maiden name is Devine which is properly spelled Daibhmin, or something like that. I guess it is more easily pronounced now, but the Gaelic spelling would have saved a lot of silly comments like “Isn’t that divine?” and “Any relation to Andy Devine?”…..
    Thanks again for the tip about the AF search……
    Anne D. Knight
    Library Services Specialist (Cataloger)
    Collection Management
    LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library System
    200 W. Park Avenue
    Tallahassee, FL 32301
    (850) 606-2664

  2. Libraries are sitting on treasure of past controlled vocabularies and LCSH MARC records, which so far we do not utilize (or do not know how to utilize) to enhance search, find and discovery. This project seems to me has great potentials for new initiatives.

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