News Item | 17. May 2022

GND and NFDI4Culture together for better data

News Item


"Grafik zur Gemeinsamen Normdatei (GND)" Creator: DNB, Owner: DNB

In the context of the development of existing data formats, controlled vocabulary and authority records for the disciplines involved in the NFDI4Culture consortium (art history and architecture, musicology, theatre and media studies), an intensive cooperation between Task Area 2: Standards, Data Quality and Curation and the Integrated Authority File (GND) has developed over the last few months. The GND is the largest authority data service for cultural and research data in the German-speaking countries. It is coordinated by the German National Library (DNB) and co-operatively maintained by mainly libraries in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Originally created as a tool for cataloguing in libraries, the importance of authority records in the course of digital transformation grows in research contexts as well as in archives and museums, which provide data for scientific use. In particular in the areas of humanities and  cultural studies dealing with tangible and intangible cultural heritage, authority data allow unique references to persons, places, corporations, but also to buildings and works of art as nodes, which in turn enable linking and contextualisation of information and knowledge. Universally valid, jointly agreed and verified authority data are the ideal approach to digitally connect dispersed cultural assets, library collections and research data across disciplines and divisions. With this in mind, the GND partners are in the process of pushing forward the consistent opening of the authority services to non-library application scenarios, for which the project GND for Culture Data (GND4C) lays the foundations.

With the aim of standardising and improving the quality of data relevant to the disciplines represented by NFDI4Culture, TA2 is particularly committed to its FAIRness, i.e. its improved findability, accessibility, reusability and interoperability. These requirements need to be increasingly considered in the context of semantic technologies such as linked open data applications, with the interpretability of data by machines being a prerequisite. Here, linking with widely used authority records plays a key role. In cooperation with the GND, subject-specific requirements for authority records can be discussed, while, additionally, sustainable solutions can be developed. Primarily, the focus is on authority records for buildings, musical works and (multimedia) works of art, and on modeling concepts for event-based staging works and controlled vocabulary in the performing arts. Here, more supporting community initiatives have emerged with the support of NFDI4Culture's TA2.

Pilot Agency for Buildings

Through a pilot agency for monuments established as part of the GND4C project, the German Documentation Center for Art History – Bildarchiv Foto Marburg aims to promote the improved representation of buildings and immobile monuments in the GND. On the one hand, the aim is to improve the coverage of objects that have so far been underrepresented in the GND in terms of quantity while on the other hand, it communicates the requirements of non-library user groups to the GND cooperative and its committees. As a service point, it particularly will support stakeholders from national heritage agencies, building research and history of art and culture, who are eligible as prospective data providers for the GND or as GND users in research and documentation.

Authority records for musical works

RISM (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales), the international source dictionary of music, has been discussing the need for authority data for musical works for a long time. Within the framework of NFDI4Culture, a cooperation between RISM and the GND has now been initiated. The aim is to network the two data hubs, to ensure controlled data exchange and efficient data management. The consistent use of authority record for musical works would sustainably qualify research data from the field of musicology.

Forum Performing Arts in the GND

In the field of performing arts, modelling of authority data still requires further clarification, since both the specific, mostly collective ways of working and the structural connection of production and reception processes can hardly be adequately covered by the usual categories of work and authorship. Performative practices as well as corresponding research focus on performances and processes that are not reproducible in an identical manner. As immaterial cultural assets, they have a connection to the materials and documents preserved by GLAM institutions that are often difficult to reconstruct. The process of builing an universal understanding on terms, vocabulary and modelling of authority data for performative works and events is now under way, to improve data quality for a more sustainable research on the performing arts.
Further information about the activities:


In addition to exploring the role and possible applications of authority data, the above-mentioned cooperative initiatives between NFDI4Culture and the GND repeatedly focus on the question of how to communicate the specific services of the GND to the 4Culture community in an effective, targeted, and easy-to-use manner. In an exchange of ideas, solutions are designed that enable or facilitate the use of GND for researchers. A common objective is the improvement of the GND towards a sustainable interdisciplinary service. This includes the adaptation of the data model and the indexing  rules as well as the provision of a software toolbox with tools  and interfaces for authority data referencing in non-library application scenarios. Intensifying communication with various stakeholders and making the GND network visible are additional approaches to help consolidate work with authority records in research contexts. The following tutorial produced by the GND team contributes to this: 

Further information on the GND cooperative and on how to participate can be found at: