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Naming names January 7, 2009

Posted by Mia in Collections, Repositories, Uncategorized.

I keep returning to the idea that academic libraries can do much to promote name identification by focusing on the thesis supervisor angle. There is hardly an academic library with an institutional repository which doesn’t include theses and dissertations in it.

Look to the earliest stages of the thesis hard-copy deposit in the library’s collection as the alerting mechanism, or alternatively (and perhaps ideally) in the absence of a hard-copy library deposit, look to the IR thesis deposit stream and siphon the names at that stage.

Either way, neither of these approaches depends on the library having acquired and catalogued a faculty member’s work (assuming there are published monographs to purchase in the first place, that fit into the collection policies, that there are funds available for purchasing, etc.) to be the primary mechanism for the author-identification process to begin (as is typically the case).

The number of faculty members at any one particular institution is extremely finite in nature. So once begun, and following an initial start-up phase, the process of adding new uniques will diminish, as will the variations that repeat. It is not open-ended like new authors represented by the monographic acquisition stream.

Given that the majority (maybe 80%?) of author names added to the collection in a year for new acquisitions are probably uniques (the longest tail is due to one-time published authors), something like the inverse would hold true for IR deposits: probably 80% would be repeating names, since the names are culled from a very finite population of given authors/thesis supervisors.

Ergo, we stand to get quite a high return on an investment of this nature, i.e., establishing some kind of name identification (aka authority control/verification) for the set of authors.