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Overview of the PCC ISNI Pilot

Creator: Michelle Durocher

Table of Contents

Goals and Objectives

In By initiating an ISNI Registration Agency Membership agreement, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging is undertaking a year-long ISNI pilot (July 2017-July 2018) began a partnership with the ISNI International Agency to explore the mutual benefits of PCC contributors engaging in identity management activities within the ISNI database.  Beginning in the Fall of 2017 through the end of calendar year 2018, the PCC conducted a multi-institution ISNI Pilot to develop an understanding of ISNI tools and systems, to create PCC documentation and training for its members, and to put in place member supports for cost-effective scaling of broader PCC involvement in ISNI. (The pilot has since been extended until the end of the calendar year 2018 in order to work on a late-breaking opportunity to begin experimenting with ISNIs within OCLC WorldCat MARC bibliographic records.)

With the November 2016 PCC Policy Committee 'agreement in principle' to seek a PCC umbrella membership in ISNI (original proposal that was endorsed), a PCC ISNI pilot has been proposed was seen as the best way forward to explore the needs and issues that would arise for all parties (libraries, ISNI-IA and OCLC) when PCC metadata practitioners seek to incorporate ISNIs into their metadata workflows and pursue a wide range of ISNI use cases.  The experience of having PCC metadata librarians working in ISNI would generate has generated information for all parties to understand the characteristics (tools, services, workflows, training & documentation) necessary for a sustainable, affordable and effective long-range PCC membership agreement beyond the pilot.


Participation in the PCC ISNI pilot is being was drawn from three segments of the PCC:  institutional participants, PCC Standing Committee representatives (Applications / Standards / Training) and the PCC Identity Management in NACO Task Group.  Institutional participants come from the following libraries:  Brown, University of Chicago, University of Colorado Boulder, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan State, Stanford, Stony Brook, Texas A&M, UC Davis, UCLA, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

PCC Standing Committee Involvement

These short term charges have been were approved by PCC Steering and by the Standing Committees involved. 


The PCC pilot participants commit committed to working together such that our engagement presents presented the lowest possible overhead to our ISNI colleagues and their technical partner, OCLC.  For example, the pilot group would designate used a single point of contact for each functional area (practitioner training questions, tool-based technical questions, etc.) so that we ask asked questions in a coordinated and non-duplicative manner;  the pilot participants would first ask asked questions to each other, in a train the trainer model, and then present only presented outstanding questions to ISNI, OCLC, or ISNI Quality Team members as appropriate.  Answers would be were documented so that the PCC would develop internal documentation and would could share that documentation as would be helpful to others if desirable.

Workflow Activities

Pilot participants will experiment experimented with workflows to:

  • search for existing/ modify existing/ and create new ISNIs for persons and organizations using ISNI member tools, both as single practitioner-initiated transactions as well as batch work;
  • work as a group to establish a PCC common batch template and batch workflow processes, agreeable to and coordinated with OCLC, so that best practices from the pilot could be adopted as the common template within the future PCC umbrella membership and not require ongoing scripting overhead on ISNI technical partners for PCC batch activities;
  • understand and utilize the ISNI member APIs so that transactions requiring OCLC staff-mediated batch processing would be kept to a minimum and the API used to its fullest capacity as a “self service” model.


While a range of use cases utilizing identifiers are emerging within libraries, the most common uses for ISNIs initially articulated by pilot participants are were the following:

  • incorporating ISNIs within library MARC bibliographic and authority work;  examples include:
    • seeing how the creation and assignment of ISNIs could support the authority control of personal and department names found in theses & dissertations collections
    • searching for existing and/or create new ISNIs in conjunction with or instead of creating new NACO authority records
    • developing a distinct and complementary “identity management” track within NACO
  • utilizing ISNIs within non-MARC contexts, such as institutional repositories, which would require batch searching and creation of ISNIs for institutional affiliates
  • exploring how ISNIs can complement and enhance faculty research platforms, such as VIVO
  • creating ISNI URIs for use in linked data

Other use cases are were also likely to be pursued during the PCC ISNI pilot;  this list is not exhaustive.