While debugging the endless edge cases of name authority reconciliation we are doing at NYPL I came across this LCNAF record. It had been deleted from VIAF because it became a LC subject heading in 2014 and stopped being a name authority record. Equally interesting/annoying. But I noticed the ‘new’ Change Note, meaning the date it was created and added to the file, was a few days before my birthday. I always find it compelling when you know something happened around the same time as your birthday as it puts the thing into a very relatable contextual narrative. Even with something like library metadata you begin to anthropomorphize it a little: This name authority record was created in 1982, sat around for 32 years and then decided it wanted to be a subject heading.

This got me thinking about the life cycle of authority records, the seemingly innocuous change note history, the biographical information of bibliographic data. I was curious what headings were added on specific dates so I parsed the LC NAF and LCSH headings and built a simple lookup tool:


You enter a date and it tells you what headings were added on that day, and the surrounding dates. There is no correlation of course, between a specific day and a heading added on it. But it does point to a larger of concept of when ideas enter our collective record, when a heading has to be created for something/someone new. I also just like the idea of being able to only explore a dataset by its least valuable facet.

Boring stuff: The data is from 2014, the last time LC extracts were available, the NAF create dates seem to start appearing in the mid 1970s and the LCSH a decade later, so you are limited to that range even if LC has been maintaining the headings for many more decades.

The data is in four google fusion tables if you would like to play with it: