Lesson 3

Authority Control in the Automated Environment

I. Application of Authority Control

   Authority control is used to establish standardized key access points and references to ensure effective access to library catalogs.  Libraries should try to make sure their integrated library systems have authority control if at all possible in order to provide better service to their patrons and to save staff time and trouble.  In the automated environment MARC records are created for authorities and serve the same function as in the card environment.  Although it is not the purpose of this workshop to teach you how to create MARC authority records, it is nonetheless important to have a basic understanding of the workings of the MARC authority record because it forms the basis for the established headings and cross referencing structure in the online library bibliographic database.  Libraries using cards can also benefit from referring to automated authority records to establish headings and create cross references in their card catalogs.  
   Authority work is a continuous process which involves correcting, updating, and providing cross referencing to established headings.  When performing copy or original cataloging each heading subject to authority control should be verified against authority records.  Many libraries contract with an authority vendor to provide authority records for retrospective conversion and ongoing maintenance of the library catalog.  The vendors examine library shelflist cards and databases in order to provide the proper authority records.  The process should be repeated every five years if possible.  In the interim period, librarians examine headings as they catalog.   Some systems have built in authority control verification systems.   Several of the vendors have authority notification systems as well to inform libraries of changes.
    Integrated library systems handle authority control in several different ways.  In some systems the authority control component is already in place.  All the library has to do is chose MARC authority records needed and download or enter them into the database.  Some automated systems such as Athena offer a place to store authority records, while other vendors such as Winnebago have separate components with most of the authority records a small public or school library might use. 

II. Where to Find Authority Files
    Many authority records and guides to setting up headings are available through online sources.  Several good online sources for authority records are:

    Print sources include Anglo-American Cataloging RulesLibrary of Congress Subject Headings, Sears List of Subject Headings, the National Union Catalog (NUC), and other well known reference works such as Contemporary Authors: A Bio-bibliographical Guide to Current Authors and Their Works, the Encyclopedia of Associations, and encyclopedias to mention a few.  

III.  MARC Authority Records from Automated Systems

    Most libraries will not have to worry about learning coding for MARC authority records.  Generally, the records can be obtained from commercial sources or the Department of Libraries.  However, a few essential field tags should be remembered.

1xxs:  Established heading                                   }  the heading used
4xxs:  See from reference                                     }  cross reference
5xxs:  See also from reference                             }  cross reference
6xxs:  Notes, series treatment information          }  cataloger notes about  the source of information used as the
                                                                                     basis for setting up the established heading

The following is an example of a name authority record from the shared OCLC/Library of Congress authority file

005;     ;a 19930318111733.2
010;     ;a n    78086432
040;     ;a DLC   $c  DLC     $d  DLC
100; 10;a De Paola, Tomie
400; 10;a De Paolo, Tomie
400; 10;w nna  $a De Paola, Thomas Anthony.
400; 10;a Paola, Tomie de
400; 10;a Paolo,  Tomie de
400; 10;a DePaola, Tomie
670;     ;a Miller, L. Sound, 1965.
670;     ;a Watson, P.  The walking coat, 1981:   $b t.p. (Tomie dePaola)
670;     ;a Berg, J. Tomie de Paola, c1993:  $b CIP t.p. (Tomie de Paola galley (Thomas Anthony "Tomie" de Paolo, b. 9-15-34 in Meriden, Conn.)

For more information about MARC authority records, OCLC Authorities User Guide provides a complete description of MARC authority tags.  Another source on tags and formation of headings can be found at a Library of Congress site, MARC21 Concise Format for Authority Data.
    Libraries using catalog cards can look in VALS and the Library of Congress database to find authority records to use as a basis to make cross references on cards.  Automated libraries can use MARC authority records to generate cross references in their automated library system.  In many integrated library systems it is possible to create MARC authority records for local subject headings.  You can also edit the authority records by deleting unnecessary cross references and adding ones that would be helpful to your patrons.  Libraries that create or edit MARC authority records will need to become familiar with the codes found in the two sources listed above.   


To demonstrate an understanding of the key tags of the MARC authority, make catalog card cross references using the Tomie De Paola MARC record above.  It will be helpful for you to refer to the previous lesson on cross references in the card catalog.  Send the cross references on cards or on paper.  If you use paper, be sure to draw lines around each cross reference to look like cards.  Mail the assignment to:

                Lorraine Lanius, Head
                Technical Services Unit
                Vermont Dept. of Libraries
                109 State St.
                Montpelier, VT 05609-0601

Please note:
  Lesson 3 continues and has two more assignments.  You may mail the assignments one at a time or all at once.

IV.   Finding authority records in DOLCAT

   Many authority records are available for viewing in DOLCAT, the Vermont Department of Libraries' database.  From  DOLCAT in the web-based catalog, type "Twain, Mark" in the box where you are asked to "Please enter a word or phrase to search:" and click on "author" to perform an author search. When you see a list, choose the first entry and click on "[about]." The entry shown will be the established heading and the cross references.  Use the same procedure for locating subject, series, uniform title, and series records. Initiate the searches by clicking on "subject" for subject authority records, "title" for series authority records, and "title" for uniform title authority records.  Names of geographic areas are found using the subject search.


Look in DOLCAT for a subject authority record and a name authority heading.  Make 1 printout of each authority record.  Mail the assignment to:

                Lorraine Lanius, Head
                Technical Services Unit
                Vermont Dept. of Libraries
                109 State St.
                Montpelier, VT 05609-0601

Please note:  Lesson 3 continues and has one more assignment.  You may mail the assignments one at a time or all at once.

V.  Finding Authority Records at the Library of Congress Website

Established headings with the cross references can be found at the user friendly Library of Congress authorities website.  You can find established headings without the cross references at the Library of Congress Online Catalog, but the authority website is where you will find how to set up the cross references. 


Look up a few Library of Congress authority records in the   Library of Congress authorities website.
Nothing needs to be mailed to the workshop coordinator.

Please note: Lesson 3 continues.

VI.  Automated Authority Control in the Best of All Possible Worlds

    When shopping for an integrated library system, you will want to look for a good authority control component to maintain the online catalog. Several considerations are listed below:


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