Authority control

Revision as of 13:24, 10 December 2014 by ErinBlake (talk | contribs) (Added questions)

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.)

Authority control at the Folger

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


to link an instance of an authorized access point to its authority record
authorized access point (formerly, and sometimes still, known as heading)
bibliographic file maintenance
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


  • Module 2 - Describing Persons
    • Slide 53 says of the "If date of birth and/or death, fuller form of name, period of activity of the person are not available to distinguish one access point from another, add his/her profession or occupation ("
AND Slide 60, Recording Other Attributes, says of the following "recording them, if readily available, in RDA authority records has been recommended by PCC"
      • 370 Associated place
      • 371 Address
      • 372 Field of activity
      • 373 Associated group
      • 375 Gender
      • 377 Associated language
THEREFORE there's no actual recommendation on what to do with "Profession or occupation" if it is NOT needed as part of the access point. Logic says it should also recorded if readily available. But should it be privileged above Field of activity as a time-saver? Often, the 372 and 374 will be different forms of the same concept. The implication is the 374 is more important than the others, since the others aren't options for the access point ... BUT the others aren't particularly useful for disambiguation: either the form of the word doesn't fit well, or it doesn't narrow it down enough (adding "male" and "English" to "John Brown" isn't likely to distinguish him from other John Browns).
  • Is there a recommendation on how, in the 670, to record which library's record from VIAF is cited?

Draft policy

  • Narrower term for 374 (Field of activity); broader for 372 (Occupation)