May 17, 2022

Journal Article: “ISNI and Traditional Authority Work”

The article linked to below was published today by the Italian Journal of Library, Archives, and Information Science (



Amy Armitage
Harvard University

Mary Jane Cuneo
Harvard University

Isabel Quintana
Harvard University

Karen Carlson Young
Harvard University


Italian Journal of Library, Archives, and Information Science (
Vol. 11, No. 1 (2020)
DOI: 10.4403/


This article describes key differences between ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier) and the authority work traditionally performed at libraries. Authority work is concerned with establishing a unique form of name for a person and collocating materials under that form of name. ISNI, on the other hand, is concerned with establishing a unique numerical identifier for each entity, and differentiating distinct entities. The focus of the work becomes identity management rather than the establishment of authorized name forms. This article looks not only at the differences in workflows, but also explains how these theoretical differences can affect the way librarians identify and collocate named entities. The focus is on the future, and how we can best use our skills to ensure that entities are properly differentiated and accessible to our patrons.

Direct to Full Text Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.