Ethical Questions in Name Authority Control

Editor: Jane Sandberg
Price: $35.00
Expected: Fall 2018
ISBN: 978-1-63400-054-3

Catalogers hold very specific types of power when they describe people, families, and corporate bodies. When creating a personal name authority record, for example, catalogers determine the authorized name by which an individual will be known, then identify a few characteristics of the individual that distinguish them from others, while balancing their judgment with respect for the individual’s self-concept. This is a powerful position, and that power must be exercised ethically.

As name authority control moves toward an identity management model, catalogers are taking on new roles, authority data is used in innovative ways, and libraries increasingly interact with non-library datasets and name disambiguation algorithms. During this transition, it is imperative that the library community reflect on the ethical questions that arise from its historical and emerging practices.

The present volume raises many of these questions in the hope of building toward a framework for the ethical practice of name authority control. This framework would include -- at minimum -- the following concepts:

  • Respect for the people described in authority systems, including deceased people
  • Fulfillment of name authority control objectives for names from a variety of cultural naming traditions and personal histories
  • Local community needs
  • Acknowledgment of historical and contemporary injustices
  • Consideration of potential future uses of authority data
  • Ethical employment practices

This collection explores and developes this framework through theoretical and practice-based essays, stories, content analyses, and other methods. As it explores ethical questions in a variety of settings, this book will deepen readers’ understanding of names, identities, and library catalogs. The chapters from this volume are intended to spark conversations among librarians, archivists, library technologists, library administrators, and library and information science students.

Jane Sandberg received her MLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the Electronic Resources Librarian at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon, where she coordinates library cataloging and systems. Her research interests include linked data approaches to name authority control, queer and trans local histories, open source software in rural communities, and historical dimensions of online transgender activism.