Authority control

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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 so, 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).


Conditions for creating NARs

  • Any personal or corporate name directly identified with the resource's contents should have a corresponding name authority record if a name can be determined.
  • Create a name authority record even if you have no more information than what's on the item itself.
  • Refrain from creating name authority records for:
    • personal or corporate names identified only with provenance, unless it is for a prominent collector or body, and information is readily available
    • personal names consisting entirely of initials when you do not know what the initials stand for
    • corporate bodies that are described or referred to rather than named (for example, the "Commons' Select Committee appointed to inquire into the petitions respecting the last return for the Borough of Warwick" does not have a name).

Conditions for revising NARs

Data elements

  • All data elements must be justified in the NAR itself, with a source in a 670 field (or, rarely, in a ǂv in the case of a 3XX that for some reason isn't practical to justify in 670). Some information may be inferred within a narrow scope. For example, you may infer 370 ǂe place of residence/headquarters from the location of an associated institution for a person. See MARC 370 Associated Place for more information.
  • For printers and publishers: when adding a 670 from the item in hand, routinely include the full colophon to justify other fields (such as location)
  • Routinely add field 046, regardless of how specific the available information is or whether it's used in the AAP.
  • Apply the RDA or optional addition if necessary to avoid creating a NAR for an unqualified personal name.

Entity attribute clusters

This section is under review as we work out the consequences of formal Folger preference for AAT. 2017-01-06

  • Use attribute clusters as maintained in Connexion authority constant data shared file.
  • Basic principles for these clusters:
    • Preference for highlighting activities and occupations that are of relevance to the Folger: booktrade, performing arts, writers, scholars, translators, editors.
    • MARC 372 Field of Activity will contain one or more AAT terms (broad and narrow), and a broad LCSH term, unless the latter is formatted exactly like the AAT term.
    • MARC 374 Occupation will contain one or more AAT terms, and an LCSH term only if there is no satisfactorily narrow AAT term.
  • Cataloger's judgment/preference:
    • Add LCSH terms to 372, even if it is exactly the same as the AAT term
    • Add LCSH terms to 374, even if it is exactly the same as the AAT term
    • Add 372 or 374 terms not relating to activities or occupations of particular relevance to the Folger. Example: Geographers
    • Whether to repeat subfields or retain separate fields, which happens when more than one attribute cluster is applied to a record

Special cases

Ambox notice.png This section contains outdated information and needs review.


See the talk page for ongoing discussion on choice of terms and term clusters. Printers, etc. should be established and traced as individuals or corporate bodies based on how they are represented in imprints. In case of doubt, establish a personal name access point when a verb is used in connection with the name, and a corporate body when a noun is used. If both are used interchangeably during the same time period, establish and trace as a corporate body.

Personal names
In general, do not get any more specific than "Book industries and trade" for field of activity for a person.

372  Book industries and trade ǂ2 lcsh
374  Booksellers ǂ2 itoamc
374  Printers ǂ2 itoamc
374  Printmakers ǂ2 aat
374  Publishers ǂ2 itoamc

Taken mainly from LCRI 24.1
Source: Gedrukt bij G.A. van Hoften

1001 Hoften, G.A. van ǂd 1835-1902

Source: Verlag Dr. Andreas Barthel

1102 Verlag Dr. Andreas Barthel

Source: Printed by John Basket ... and by the Assigns of Henry Hills

1001 Baskett, John, ǂd 1666 or 1667-1742
1102 Assigns of Henry Hills  

Source: Reprinted in Edinburgh by the Heirs and Successors of Andrew Anderson

1102 Heirs and Successors of Andrew Anderson

Source: Imprimé par John Lovell

1001 Lovell, John, ǂd 1810-1893

Source: Imprimerie Darantiere

1102 Imprimerie Darantiere

Religious folk


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 searches the local shared save file.
  3. Cataloger creates NARs in the local shared authority save file with workflow status In process.
  4. When NAR is ready for review, the cataloger changes the workflow status to In Review.
  5. 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.
  6. When the NAR is ready for additional review, cataloger changes status to In Review. Repeat steps 3-4 until the NAR is marked Complete.
  7. 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.
  8. Cataloger exports newly-contributed NAR to Voyager: keystroke = F5.
  9. Cataloger searches briefly to see whether BFM is needed by LC; if so, reports to NACO liaison. (See Guidelines for Reporting BFM)
  10. 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


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

Finding Folger records in the LC/NACO Authority File

Copy and paste the following search terms in the search box of

  • All records created by the Folger (i.e., 040 $a DFo): contentSource:
  • Records created by the Folger limited by date (example limits to between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2022): contentSource: AND cdate GT 2017-12-31 AND cdate LT 2023-01-01
  • Facets are also available for refining records created and/or modified by the Folger by decade

External links