07 January 2013

My Authority Record

Last week I received a nice note from a university library:
I’m cataloging your George Washington's headquarters and home. I wish to create an authority record for your name to distinguish it from the other J. L. Bells in our catalog. Would you be willing to provide me with some piece of personal information, such as a birth year (preferably), or what your initials J.L. stand for?

Thank you for considering this odd request.
I was already familiar with that system because it came up when I published my first book nearly twenty years ago. The cataloguing-in-publication system doesn’t like the semi-anonymity of author initials.

I replied:
Thanks for your email. I was born in 1965. I might show up in your system already as the author of SOAP SCIENCE. Yes, that's me.
That’s a collection of science experiments for kids aged 8 to 12 originally published by Kids Can Press.

And the cataloguer replied:
Thanks so much for your reply! Yes, your name has already be set up as “Bell, J. L. (John Leonard), 1965-” . I made the guess that you were not the same person as the author of Soap science, so this information is very much appreciated. I will add the George Washington info to your authority record.
It wasn’t the request that was unusual, you see; it’s my writing output.

I noticed that the cataloguer formats all book titles in the library way, with capital letters only at the start and for proper nouns. How cute.

Anyway, I now have an expanded authority record.

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