Authority control

Revision as of 18:20, 9 January 2015 by DeborahLeslie (talk | contribs) (Added workflow sections)

Authority control in a library environment is the establishment and maintenance of consistent forms of names and terms to be used as authorized access points in records of the library catalog. Authorized access points must not only be consistent, each one must be unique. Traditional library practice focused on controlling names (personal, corporate, governmental, and geographic), works, and subjects. While authority control has always been important for library catalogs, with the growth of new environments of linked data it is becoming even more, with increasing elements in the catalog being represented by authorized forms. (One example: using authorized terms for occupations in authority records.)

See Contacting people for authority control for details on contacting authority file subjects directly.

Authority control at the Folger

The Folger is a member of NACO and SACO; the PCC liaison is Deborah J. Leslie. For NACO training schedule and workflows, see NACO in Bard2. (Access limited to Folger staff).


For more detailed workflow during training, see NACO workflow in Bard2. (Access limited to Folger staff)

New NARs from current cataloging

  1. Cataloger searches the NAF thoroughly.
  2. Cataloger creates NARs in the local shared authority save file with workflow status In process.
  3. When NAR is ready for review, the cataloger changes the workflow status to In Review.
  4. Upon review, the reviewer changes workflow status to Complete if the NAR is ready to be added to the NAF, or back to In Process if any revision or discussion is needed. For completed NARs, go to step 6.
  5. When the NAR is ready for additional review, cataloger changes status to In Review. Repeat steps 3-4 until the NAR is marked Complete.
  6. Cataloger re-searches the NAF, and if no conflict has arisen in the meantime, adds the NAR: keystroke = Ctrl-Alt-A || menu = Action - Add to Authority File.
  7. Cataloger exports newly-contributed NAR to Voyager: keystroke = F5.
  8. Cataloger searches briefly to see whether BFM is needed by LC; if so, reports to NACO liaison. (See Guidelines for Reporting BFM)
  9. Cataloger deletes NAR from save file.

New NARs from retrospective projects

  1. Cataloger searches Hamnet to make sure the authorized access point is used on a bibliographic record. If not, delete the saved NAR.
  2. Follow steps 2-9 for NARs from current cataloging.
  3. For 19th- and early 20th-century books, it may be worth searching for a digitized copy; there may be additional information about the person on the title page or another prominent source not recorded by the creator of the original NAR. (Five-minute rule.)
  4. Cataloger updates access points in Voyager bibliographic records if different from the newly-established form.
  5. Cataloger updates access points in Connexion master and institutional bibliographic records if different from the newly-established form.

Updates to existing NARs

Useful links


authorized access point (formerly, and sometimes still, known as heading)
bibliographic file maintenance
to link an instance of an authorized access point to its authority record
LC/NACO Authority File
the authority file maintained by the Library of Congress in collaboration with the PCC
Name Authority Cooperative Program; component of the PCC for name authority records
name authority file
name authority record
Program for Cooperative Cataloging
previously verified record; (used in the context of changes made to existing NARs)
Subject Authority Cooperative Program; component of the PCC for subject authority records
subject authority record
Virtual International Authority File