Representation of Pseudonyms in the Library of Congress Name Authority File

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee
Question/Answer on cataloging issues – April 2016

By Isabel del Carmen Quintana, Harvard University

Question: If an author publishes under a pseudonym, how should this be represented in the name authority file?

Pseudonyms have been used by authors in many countries for many years. Some authors use only one pseudonym. It may have been established because the author felt it would help get a better audience. Some authors use various pseudonyms for the various genres they publish in. Some well-established authors have even used pseudonyms in order to obscure their relationship with a new text.

For whatever reason they are used however, pseudonyms can present problems for catalogers, as well as people who work in rights management. We want to make sure the correct “real identity” is somehow connected to the pseudonym. We also want to help patrons find the alternate names for a particular entity. This can, at times, take significant research. If patrons only have a citation or a book in hand, and this only states one name, how can we help them navigate from that name to the real identity and/or other pseudonyms used by that person?

Due to the challenges presented by pseudonyms the Library of Congress has, for many years, had guidelines for dealing with pseudonyms. When the library community changed to the RDA (Resource Description and Access) cataloging rules, the Library of Congress issued an FAQ to clarify their position on how to deal with pseudonyms. That document is found here:
(Most of the examples below are taken from this document, as are the basic main points of how to represent pseudonyms in the catalog. MARC coding is only represented in the examples when it aids in clarification.)

The first consideration for a cataloger is to decide if the author has ever used their real identity to publish. If they have not, then we set up only one name authority record as follows:

Author uses pseudonym but not their real identity
100 10 Quinn, Julia, 1970-
400 10 Pottinger, Julie Cotler, 1970-
In this case, Julie Cotler Pottinger, is the real name of the author. The 400 is a See reference. If a patron searches for “Pottinger, Julie Cotler” they will be redirected to “Quinn, Julia, 1970-“

The next consideration, if the author uses both their real name and pseudonyms, is how many pseudonyms have they used?

Author uses real identity and one pseudonym
100 10 Sandford, John, 1944 Feb. 23-
500 10 Real identity: Camp, John, 1944-
100 10 Camp, John, 1944-
500 10 Alternate identity: Sandford, John, 1944 Feb. 23-

In this case the real name and the pseudonyms are separate authorized forms of names, since the author uses both for different publications. However they are linked by “see also” references, so that a patron is alerted to look under the other form of name.

Author uses more than one pseudonym
The issue gets more complicated when the author uses various pseudonyms, whether or not he/she uses his/her real name, because the cross-reference structure can be time-consuming to build and maintain. Therefore there are separate guidelines for these cases.

If an author uses more than two names, catalogers will create a separate authority record for every name they use, including their real name whether or not they have ever used it in publications. The cataloger will choose one heading as the “base heading.” This is the most commonly used name, or, if this cannot be determined, then the real name.

The basic heading is then set up as follows:

100 10 Barbet, Pierre
500 10 Avice, Claude, 1925-
500 10 Maine, David
500 10 Sprigel, Oliver, 1925-
663      For works of this author written under other names search also under: Avice, Claude, 1925- $b Maine, David  $b Sprigel, Oliver, 1925-

The other headings only link back to the basic heading and have a note directing the patron to the basic heading for the full list of names used.

The other headings are set up as follows:

100 10 Avice, Claude, 1925-
500 10 Barbet, Pierre
663      Works by this author are identified by the name used in the item. For a listing of other names used by this author, search also under: Barbet, Pierre

(A similar heading is set up for Maine, David, and Sprigel, Oliver, 1925-)

So far we have dealt with single persons using one or various pseudonyms, but pseudonyms are also used at times by more than one person. Here is how we handle these situations.

Multiple authors use a joint pseudonym, and there are no publications under their real names in the catalog:

100 10 Rosslyn, Virginia
400 10 Rivenbark, Isabelle A.
400 10 Luna, Claire D.
(Virginia Rosslyn is the pseudonym of Isabelle A. Rivenbark and Claire D. Luna. The authors real names are given as See-references.)

Multiple authors use a joint pseudonym, and they also publish under their real names and there are works published under their real names in the catalog:

In this case, we once again set up a “basic heading”:

100 10 Alexander, Hannah
500 10 Hodde, Cheryl
500 10 Hodde, Melvin
663       Joint pseudonym of Cheryl Hodde and Melvin Hodde. For works of these authors written under their own names, search also under: Hodde, Cheryl $b Hodde, Melvin
(The authors real names are given as See also-references, and a note is also added to clarify the situation.)

The other headings are set up as follows:

100 10 Hodde, Cheryl
500 10 Alexander, Hannah
663      For works of this author written in collaboration with Melvin Hodde, search also under: Alexander, Hannah
(A similar heading is established for Hodde, Melvin.)

Some catalogers do not agree that we need to establish a “basic heading” and only link all the pseudonyms to that heading. They would prefer to have all pseudonyms and the real name of a person linked to each other, as we do when there is only one pseudonym. There has been some talk about this on cataloging list-serves. However, some catalogers still see this as too much extra work, especially since every time a new pseudonym is used by an author, all of the other records for that author’s pseudonyms would have to be updated.

Finally, there are also cases where multiple authors have used the same pseudonym, and they are working independently of each other. For example, the pseudonym Alan Smithee is used by film directors who want to disassociate their names from a film. According to Michael Singer’s film directors: a complete guide, c1995: Alan Smithee is the pseudonym designated by the Director’s Guild of America for those members who wish to remove their names from the screen and advertising credits of a particular film. This is usually the result of studio and/or network interference with their intended cut of a film, and therefore a loss of creative control.

This authority record is set up as follows:
100 10 Smithee, Alan
500 1   Bogart, Paul
500 1   Oristrell, Joaquín
500 1   Windsor, Terry
500 1   Wong, Che-Kirk, 1949
500 1   Totten, Robert, 1937-1995
663       Pseudonym used by multiple persons; for works of authors known to have used this name search also under: $b Bogart, Paul, $b Oristrell, Joaquín $b Windsor, Terry $b Wong, Che-Kirk, 1949- $b Totten, Robert, 1937-1995
667       LC practice is to make an added entry for Alan Smithee and to also make an added entry for the real director if known.

Lately catalogers have had to catalog materials “created” by a computer program. We have grappled with the notion that the author may be the program or the programmer, as well as how to relate these two “entities.” So, it looks like the concept of pseudonyms and alternate identities will continue to intrigue us, baffle us, and make us come up with ways to best present this information to our patrons, so that they can find the relevant texts no matter what “name” the author chose to use on a particular piece.