WorldCat Identities is a way to find out which books by or about an author, artist, composer, etc., are the most popularly held in libraries. The opening page lists the top 100 'names' in libraries. Each link goes to a page on Shakespeare, Beethoven, Mozart, L'Amour, Azimov (composers dominate) and the like. You may also search for an individual using a simple search form.
Take the link to Steinbeck, for instance. The main section of the page lists the full name and dates (is this linked to the OCLC Name Authority file?). Other sections are:
Publication Timeline: This section shows the years 1910-2010. Under "1934-1935", there are 21 publications by the author. "1936-1937" shows 68 publications by John Steinbeck, but now there are 10 items about the author.
Works About: A list of the top 20 titles in libraries about the author.
Works By: The most widely held books written by John Steinbeck. The first entry of course is "The Grapes of Wrath". Then the line: "397 editions published between 1939 and 2006 in 27 languages and held by 17,463 libraries worldwide". Finally a synopsis of the book itself, and a bit of historical background of the book. Twenty titles are also listed in this category.
Audience Level: on a scale from 0 to 1 the author's 'appeal' is listed. 0 for kids, .5 for general audience, and 1 for special interest. Steinbeck garnishes "Audience level: 0.46 (from 0.39 for The red po... to 0.54 for Steinbeck ...)".
Related Names: What other names are associated with the "Person of Interest"? Well, Ernest Hemingway, John Ford, Eli Kazan, and Henry Fonda are four of ten listed.
And finally, Useful Links: Entries to the LC Authority File entry and Wikipedia entry are given.The sidebar lists thirteen alternate name variations (several in other languages). Popular titles are grouped by language, with the number of entries given for each. Finally, book covers are shown for the most popular works.
Clicking on page links takes you to the Open WorldCat entries for the titles in that category.
We certainly hope OCLC will develop this site further and keep this information available. This is an excellent source of concise... reliable Internet information on individuals. Anyone doing collection development, reference, or setting web links on their sites should utilize this service!
Further information is available from the OCLC ResearchWorks page (see also: OCLC ProductWorks and OCLC Research Projects pages for other ideas under production). And in a pinch, you could do a Google search on +"worldcat identities" to get pages of leads. Of note is Thom Hicky's blog entry on his blog "Outgoing".