Integrating library data into an authority file: The challenges of MARC XML and inconsistent transcription practices

a guest post by Till Grallert

A recent Twitter post from my former colleague Anne Klammt made me aware of a recent relaunch of “Zeitschriftendatenbank” (ZDB), the portal for periodical holdings in German (and Austrian) libraries.

Part of the German National Library (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, DNB), the website looks great and provides a lot of data-driven functionality, such as maps and timelines of holdings. The display language of the website itself, though not the bibliographic data, can be toggled between German and English. This is a welcome nod to international users and will certainly increase the visibility of this important portal. However, it must be noted that unfortunately the dataset of bibliographic data is not as accessible as the interface. Languages written in scripts other than Latin are provided in a variety of inconsistent transcriptions into Latin script for mostly historical technical reasons. This is not the fault of ZDB per se but it will prevent communities from the Global South from finding and accessing their own cultural heritage, which for various reasons are held by institutions in the Global North. This is especially relevant for Arabic material, as I will elaborate in the section on transliterations below.
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