Virtual International Authority File

The Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) is an international authority file. It is a joint project of several national libraries and operated by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC).[1]

Virtual International Authority File
Screenshot 2012
Introduced6 August 2003 (2003-08-06)


Discussion about having a common international authority started in the late 1990s. After a series of failed attempts to come up with a unique common authority file, the new idea was to link existing national authorities. This would present all the benefits of a common file without requiring a large investment of time and expense in the process.[2]

The VIAF concept was introduced at the 2003 World Library and Information Congress, hosted by the International Federation of Library Associations.[3] The project was initiated by the US Library of Congress (LC), the German National Library (DNB) and the OCLC on 6 August 2003.[4][5] The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) joined the project on 5 October 2007.

The project transitioned to being a service of the OCLC on 4 April 2012.[6]

The aim is to link the national authority files (such as the German Name Authority File) to a single virtual authority file. In this file, identical records from the different data sets are linked together. A VIAF record receives a standard data number, contains the primary "see" and "see also" records from the original records, and refers to the original authority records. The data is made available online and are available for research and data exchange and sharing. Reciprocal updating uses the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) protocol.

The file numbers are also being added to Wikipedia biographical articles and are incorporated into Wikidata.[7][8]

Christine L. Borgman groups VIAF with the International Standard Name Identifier and ORCID systems, describing all three as "loosely coordinated efforts to standardize name forms".[9] Borgman characterizes all three systems as attempts to solve the problem of author name disambiguation, which has grown in scale as the quantity of data multiplies.[9] She notes that VIAF, unlike the other two systems, is led by libraries, as opposed to individual authors or creators.[9]

VIAF clusters

VIAF's clustering algorithm is run every month. As more data are added from participating libraries, clusters of authority records may coalesce or split, leading to some fluctuation in the VIAF identifier of certain authority records.[10]

Participating libraries and organizations

English Wikipedia entry name Identifier Native-language name Location Country
Bibliotheca Alexandrina EGAXA Arabic: مكتبة الإسكندرية AlexandriaEgypt
Biblioteca Nacional de Chile BNCHL Spanish: Biblioteca Nacional de Chile SantiagoChile
Biblioteca Nacional de España BNE Spanish: Biblioteca Nacional de España MadridSpain
Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal PTBNP Portuguese: Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal LisbonPortugal
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec B2Q French: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec QuebecCanada
Bibliothèque nationale de France BnF French: Bibliothèque nationale de France ParisFrance
National Library of Greece ΕΒΕ Greek: Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη της Ελλάδος AthensGreece
Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc (BNRM) MRBNR Arabic: المكتبة الوطنية للمملكة المغربية
French: Bibliothèque nationale du Royaume du Maroc
Biografisch Portaal BPN Dutch: Biografisch Portaal The HagueNetherlands
British Library LondonEngland
Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces Danish: Kulturstyrelsen CopenhagenDenmark
Danish Bibliographic Centre DBC Danish: Dansk BiblioteksCenter BallerupDenmark
German National Library (DNB) GND German: Deutsche Nationalbibliothek FrankfurtGermany
International Standard Name Identifier ISNI LondonUnited Kingdom
Israel Museum Hebrew: מוזיאון ישראל JerusalemIsrael
Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico ICCU
Italian: Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico RomeItaly
Lebanese National Library LNL Arabic: المكتبة الوطنية BeirutLebanon
Library and Archives Canada LAC French: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada Ottawa, OntarioCanada
Library of Congress
NACO consortium (Name Authority Cooperative Program)
LCCN Washington, D.C.United States
National and University Library in Zagreb NSK Croatian: Nacionalna i sveučilišna knjižnica u Zagrebu ZagrebCroatia
National and University Library of Slovenia Slovene: Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica LjubljanaSlovenia
National Central Library NCL
Chinese: 國家圖書館 TaipeiTaiwan
National Diet Library NDL Japanese: 国立国会図書館 Tokyo
National Institute of Informatics NII
Japanese: 国立情報学研究所 TokyoJapan
National Library Board NLB Singapore
National Library of Australia NLA CanberraAustralia
National Library of Brazil BLBNB Portuguese: Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil Rio de JaneiroBrazil
National Library of Catalonia BNC Catalan: Biblioteca de Catalunya BarcelonaSpain
National Library of Estonia ERRR Estonian: Eesti Rahvusraamatukogu TallinnEstonia
National and University Library of Iceland (NULI) UIY Icelandic: Háskólabókasafn ReykjavíkIceland
National Library of Ireland N6I Irish: Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann DublinIreland
National Library of Israel NLI Hebrew: הספרייה הלאומית JerusalemIsrael
National Library of Korea KRNLK Korean: 국립중앙도서관 SeoulKorea
National Library of Latvia LNB Latvian: Latvijas Nacionālā bibliotēka RigaLatvia
National Library of Luxembourg BNL Luxembourgish: Nationalbibliothéik Lëtzebuerg
French: Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg
Luxembourg CityLuxembourg
National Library of Mexico BNM Spanish: Biblioteca Nacional de México Mexico CityMexico
National Library of the Netherlands NTA Dutch: Koninklijke Bibliotheek The HagueNetherlands
National Library of New Zealand WellingtonNew Zealand
National Library of Norway BIBSYS
Norwegian: Nasjonalbiblioteket TrondheimNorway
National Library of Poland NLP Polish: Biblioteka Narodowa WarsawPoland
National Library of Russia NLR Russian: Российская национальная библиотека Saint PetersburgRussia
National Library of Scotland Scottish Gaelic: Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba
Scots: Naitional Leebrar o Scotland
National Library of South Africa Afrikaans: Staats-Bibliotheek der Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek Cape Town
South Africa
National Library of Sweden SELIBR Swedish: Kungliga biblioteket - Sveriges nationalbibliotek StockholmSweden
National Library of Wales Welsh: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru AberystwythWales
National Library of the Czech Republic NKC Czech: Národní knihovna České republiky PragueCzech Republic
National Széchényi Library NSZL Hungarian: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár BudapestHungary
Perseus Project PERSEUS Medford, MassachusettsUnited States
RERO (Library Network of Western Switzerland) RERO German: Westschweizer Bibliothekverbund
French: Réseau des bibliothèques de Suisse occidentale
Italian: Rete delle bibliotheche della Svizzera occidentale
Répertoire International des Sources Musicales RISM FrankfurtGermany
Système universitaire de documentation SUDOC French: Système universitaire de documentation France
Syriac Reference Portal SRP Nashville, TennesseeUnited States
Swiss National Library SWNL German: Schweizerische Nationalbibliothek
French: Bibliothèque nationale suisse
Italian: Biblioteca nazionale svizzera
Romansh: Biblioteca naziunala svizra
Narodowy Uniwersalny Katalog Centralny, NUKAT NUKAT Polish: Narodowy Uniwersalny Katalog Centralny Poland
Union List of Artist NamesGetty Research Institute ULAN
Los Angeles, CaliforniaUnited States
United States National Agricultural Library NALT Beltsville, Maryland United States
United States National Library of Medicine Bethesda, MarylandUnited States
Vatican Library BAV Latin: Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana Vatican City
Cultuurconnect (Bibnet and LOCUS) Dutch: Vlaamse Centrale Catalogus BrusselsBelgium
Wikidata WKP Berlin, GermanyInternational

Libraries added for testing purposes

English Wikipedia entry name Identifier Native-language name Location Country
Lithuanian National Library LIH Lithuanian: Lietuvos nacionalinė Martyno Mažvydo biblioteka VilniusLithuania
National and University Library of Slovenia / COBISS SIMACOB Slovene: Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica, NUK LjubljanaSlovenia

See also


  1. Kelley, Michael; Schwartz, Meredith (2012). "VIAF service transitions to OCLC". Library Journal. Media Source Inc. 137 (8): 16. 
  2. O'Neill, Edward T. (12 August 2016). "VIAF: Origins". Authority Data on the Web, a Satellite Meeting of the 2016 IFLA World Library and Information Congress. OCLC. Archived from the original (Video presentation) on 13 July 2018.
  3. Loesch, Martha Fallahay (28 February 2011). "The Virtual International Authority File". Technical Services Quarterly. 28 (2): 255–256. doi:10.1080/07317131.2011.546304. ISSN 0731-7131. S2CID 62694070.
  4. Morris, Susan R. (September 2003). "Virtual International Authority". Library of Congress Information Bulletin. Library of Congress. Retrieved 5 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. Agnew, Grace (2008). Digital Rights Management: A Librarian's Guide to Technology and Practise. Chandos Publishing. p. 180. ISBN 978-1-84334-125-3. OCLC 62715356.
  6. Murphy, Bob (4 April 2012). "Virtual International Authority File service transitions to OCLC; contributing institutions continue to shape direction through VIAF Council" (Press release). OCLC. Dublin, OH.
  7. Klein, Max; Renspie, Melissa (7 December 2012). "VIAFbot Edits 250,000 Wikipedia Articles to Reciprocate All Links from VIAF into Wikipedia". OCLC.
  8. Klein, Maximilian; Kyrios, Alex (14 October 2013). "VIAFbot and the Integration of Library Data on Wikipedia". The Code4Lib Journal (22). ISSN 1940-5758.
  9. Borgman 2015, p. 260.
  10. Hickey, Thomas B.; Toves, Jenny A. (July 2014). "Managing Ambiguity In VIAF". D-Lib Magazine. Corporation for National Research Initiatives. 20 (7/8). doi:10.1045/july2014-hickey.


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