Authority file

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In library, information and documentation science (BID), an authority file is a directory of standardized terms for use as a descriptor in documentation . A standard file is thus a form of a controlled vocabulary , in which it is determined which entry in the opening is to be used. In English, authority files are referred to as authority files .

Standardized terms can be personal names , corporate names and any other set of names for things, processes or abstract terms. The formation of standard terms is based on an ontology that defines the terms to be standardized and the type of standardization. After allocation, the standard terms belong to the metadata of the respective data set.

The free allocation of categories, keywords or tags can be considered a preliminary form, but this adheres to certain rules, such as the definition of singular or plural , the preferred use of compound words , etc.

In the German-speaking area, efforts to establish joint authority data began in 1973 with the joint corporation file (GKD) by the Bavarian State Library , the State Library of Prussian Cultural Heritage and the German Library .


Well-known library authority files are the Common Authority File (GND), which is cooperatively managed by the German National Library (DNB), all German-speaking library associations , the journal database (ZDB) and numerous other institutions, the Library of Congress Name Authorities Files (LCNAF) and the Système universitaire de documentation (SUDOC) of the French union catalog.

A number of authority files exist in the field of museums. These are often subject-specific and are operated internationally, e.g. B. for numismatics or the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) from the Getty Research Institute and the RKD-ID for artists. These authority data are freely available and are used by Wikidata , among others . These normative data are interesting because they have APIs, represent specialist knowledge and are provided with descriptions, picture credits and references to other normative data.

In the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) project, standardized personal names are linked via a concordance to form a virtual international authority file .


See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Authority file  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. G. Pflug, “Common Corporation File (GKD)”, in: Lexicon of the entire book system online. Consulted online on 12 July 2020 < >, First published online: 2017, First print edition: ISBN 978-3-7772-1412-2 , 2014
  2. The LCNAF uses the structure of the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN).
  3. Portal for research: ( Memento of the original from August 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /