As authors are recognised as resources to be discovered, managed, ranked, and tracked, an interest in names and identifiers will continue to grow. A focus on research evaluation, reputation management, publication management drive this, as well as general information management issues in a web environment.
Historically, national libraries have managed names within their jurisdictions. The LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control recognized that this was a partial activity, partial in two ways. First, a national approach may not make sense in a networked world: national scale policies and coverage do not work very well at webscale. Individual files are incomplete, and there is overlap between files, sometimes with different versions of names being established and so on. And second, we are interested in many more names than are captured in the cataloging process: some researchers, for example, may only publish articles and not get captured in authority work.
Working with several national libraries we manage the VIAF project which is a response to the first of these issues. As part of the VIAF process we match and link names across national authority files. This resource is then made available in several ways.
The second issue represents a different sort of challenge. We have recently seen two initiatives of importance emerge in the name identifier space, ISNI and ORCID. How the relationship between these evolves remains to be seen: they involve different players and starting motivations. OCLC is participating in each and we look forward to working with VIAF data to further their goals, and in turn to see how VIAF data might be enriched or extended in the process.
My colleague Thom Hickey - who manages VIAF - has a brief article about the project in a recent issue of NextSpace.