Control at Yale
Authority Control Tips
QUESTION: How do I recognize authority records in Orbis?
Authority records are easily recognizable in both the Orbis and the LCDB databases. They have a salmon-colored background. They also have a yellow star-shaped icon that looks like a "sheriff's badge" in the upper-left corner. And the record number in the title bar is preceded by "Auth." Here is an example of an authority record:
Although background color, star icon, and record number are the quickest ways to identify authority records in Voyager, they can also be recognized by their fairly distinctive MARC tagging structure:
Each authority record will have a 1XX tag (e.g. names of persons will be tagged 100, names of organizations will be tagged 110, topical subject headings will be tagged 150, etc.). Most of the time, the 1XX field contains the authorized form of the heading (i.e. the form we should be using as an access point in our bibliographic records). Occasionally the 1XX contains a heading that is not authorized for use (e.g. a series-like phrase) and the record provides further instructions for the cataloger to follow.
Authority records may also have one or more 4XX tags containing variant forms of the authorized heading. These variant forms display as "see" references in the catalog and help direct users to the correct heading.
Authority records will sometimes have one or more 5XX tags. These contain headings that are somehow *related* to the authorized heading. These headings display as "see also" references in the catalog and help direct users to other headings that they may find useful.
Finally, authority records usually have one or more 670 tags. These contain citations to works consulted by catalogers when establishing headings and cross references. These citations do not display to the public but they can help staff determine whether they have found the correct authority record.
Other more specialized MARC tags do occur in authority
records (e.g. most series authority records have 64X fields that detail
classification, tracing, and analysis decisions) but the 1xx, 4xx, 5xx,
and 670 tags are the most common ones.
QUESTION: How do I search for authority records in Orbis?
Most staff will be using the Authorities Validation box to help them verify headings and find authority records. But authority records can also be searched "from scratch" using any of the following methods:
1) To search by Voyager ID #, select the menu commands "Record>Retrieve By Record ID>Authority"
2) To search by Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), select the index called "Auth LCCN (010a)"
3) To search by former NOTIS ID #, select the index called "Auth System Number (035a)"
4) To search by a heading, select one of these four indexes:
Staff Name Headings Search
Note: Other indexes (e.g. Title) will not retrieve authority records in Orbis! When you save a bibliographic record to the Orbis database and Voyager performs automatic Authorities Validation on the headings, the system is using these same indexes.
Pick the Staff Heading index that matches the type of heading you are searching. Type in your search string and click "Do Search". If your search retrieves results, a Headings List will appear. Example:
Look in the left-hand column. If you see the word "Authorized," that means the heading in question is authorized and can be used as an access point in a bib record. If you see the word "Reference," that means the heading is a cross reference form. In either case, you can click on the heading to highlight it:
If you do not find the desired authority record, you might try the search again using a different spelling or a shortened version of your search string.
If you still don't find an authority record in Orbis, you can repeat the search in the LC resource file. To do this, bring up the search box and click on the "Remote" button to get to the "Voyager Connection Options" window. Add LCDB to the "Selected Locations" column:
and click the "Connect" button. This will bring up a "Remote Search" box and your last search will be automatically entered for you so that you need only click the "Do Search" button:
Note: In LCDB you can also search for authority records for subject subdivisions. Select the index called "Staff Subject Subdivision Search". These authority records are currently not available in the Orbis database.
Don't forget to disconnect from LCDB when you are done searching and want to return to Orbis! To do this, click the "Remote" button to return to the "Voyager Connection Options" window, click "Clear" and then "Connect."
If you are ever unsure as to which database you are searching, look at the title bar of the search box. It will say "Search" if you are searching Orbis and "Remote Search" if you are searching LCDB.
Note: Authority records cannot be retrieved using a Simultaneous Search of these two databases.
QUESTION: Which Staff Heading index should I use?
In NOTIS, the "jx" and "fx" searches allowed us to search for authority records using a single index. In Voyager, we are forced to select an index based on heading type. There are four Staff Heading indexes in Orbis:
The "Staff Subject Subdivision Search" cannot be used to search for authority records in Orbis. The reason for this is simple: Orbis does not have any authority records for subdivisions. This may change in the future but, for now, subdivision authority records can only be found in LCDB, our LC resource file.
In NOTIS, searching the LC resource file for subdivision authority records was easy for two reasons. First, you could limit your searches to authority records. Second, you could distinguish among various types of authority records in the results list because the MARC tag was included in the index display. For example, this NOTIS index display told us that "Periodicals" was valid as a topical subdivision (180), a form subdivision (185), or a subject heading (150):
In Voyager, searching for subdivision authority records in LCDB can be frustrating. You would think it would be easier because the "Staff Subject Subdivision Search" is devoted solely to subdivisions. However, the index is not limited to authority records. It searches subdivisions in authority records and subdivisions in bibliographic records at the same time. If you think about how many bibliographic records contain a common subdivision like "Periodicals," you realize that your search may take a long long time.
Here is what happens when you search LCDB for an authority record for the subdivision "Periodicals." I don't recommend that you try this yourself, by the way! From the search box, you click on the "remote" button and select LCDB as your database. You choose the "Staff Subject Subdivision Search" and type in "Periodicals." Then you wait. And wait. And wait.
Eventually, you got the message "The search was truncated" and you are given 10,000 records to look through. Scrolling through these records, you find two that are labelled "Subdivision/Auth," meaning they correspond to subdivision authority records. However, these two records are not at the top of the list, they do not file together, and there is no way to distinguish between the authority record for the form subdivision and the authority record for the topical subdivision (unless you actually open them up).
Given these difficulties, you might want to limit your use of the "Staff Subject Subdivision Search" to the less commonly used subdivisions (e.g. "Coronation" or "Bonsai collections" or "African American troops"). These types of searches go fairly quickly. Try one for yourself! But, if you need authoritative information about a more commonly used subdivision (e.g. "Bibliography" or "Encyclopedia" or "History"), it might be easier to consult the Subject Cataloging Manual in Cataloger's Desktop or the national authority file in OCLC. In OCLC, you can search using the index called "Subdivision Headings (sb:)". Subdivision authority records are NOT available via LC Web Authorities at this time.
Finally, it is possible to limit your searches in LCDB using filters. This is helpful if you know you want a particular type of subdivision (e.g. a form subdivision). However, searches for commonly used subdivisions will still tend to be slow.
In previous tips, we talked about using the "Staff" searches in the Voyager catalog module (i.e. those indexes that have the word "Staff" at the beginning). You may remember that these are the only searches, other than number searches, that can be used to find authority records and cross references.
Starting with this month's tip, we'll be looking at some of the other heading indexes available in the Voyager catalog module. Although these indexes cannot be used to retrieve authority records, they can be very useful for authority work.
We'll discuss four indexes this month: Names, Local Subjects, Subjects, and Subjects: Genre/Form. Read on!
Staff sometimes want to find *all* of the bib records that contain a particular name heading, no matter whether the name functions as an author or as a subject. In authority control work, this happens most frequently when doing heading maintenance and when doing research to create a name authority record. Voyager does not normally have an index that allows one to find all such bib records using a single search, so the Orbis2 Cataloging Implementation Group beefed up the "Names" index for this purpose. An Orbis "Names" search will find all the bib records that use a particular name heading as a main entry (1XX), added entry (7XX), series added entry (4XX or 8XX), or subject heading (6XX), including as a local Yale subject heading (69X).
More on these local subject headings next ...
Yale catalogers, especially our special collections catalogers, assign a variety of local subject headings in Orbis. Because these headings, tagged 69X, are not retrievable using the Staff Heading indexes, the Orbis2 Cataloging Implementation Group created a special "Local Subjects" search that indexes all 69X headings. You can use this index to search for local subject headings such as "Incunabula in Yale Library," "World Christianity," or "Baskin, Leonard, $d 1922- $x Bookplate." The Group also included local subject headings in the "Names" and "Subjects" indexes to make these searches more comprehensive.
More on the "Subjects" index next ...
The Voyager "Subjects" index was expanded by the Orbis2 Cataloging Implementation Group to encompass Library of Congress subject headings, MeSH subject headings, genre/form headings, and all of the various local subject headings assigned by Yale catalogers in the 69X fields. Other subject headings, such as foreign-language headings found on vendor records, are excluded in the "Subjects" search.
Although genre/form headings (655) are indexed in both the "Staff Subject Heading Search" and the "Subjects" search, you will sometimes want to search them in the separate index called "Subject: Genre/Form." For example, if you needed to clean up the genre heading "Calaveras" because it had changed to a new form of heading, you could use the "Subject: Genre/Form" index rather than one of the two broader subject indexes to avoid the many subject headings for "Calaveras County (Calif.)". Our old NOTIS system did not have a separate index for genre/form headings.
In last month's authority control tip, we talked about seaching the Voyager catalog module using various "non-Staff Heading" indexes for names and subjects. In this month's tip, we'll look at the "non-Staff Heading" indexes for titles: Title, Journal Title, Series Title, and Series: Not Traced. Remember that you cannot retrieve any authority records or cross references with these searches (because they are not Staff Heading searches) but they can still be very useful.
The "Title" search is a general all-purpose index that can be used to search many different kinds of titles. Most people use it to search for the title proper (245 field) but it can also be used to search for main and added entry uniform titles (130, 730), title portions of name-title headings (240, 7XX$t), variant titles (246, 740), and series titles (440, 8XX$t, 830).
However, you cannot use the "Title" index to find a title that has been used as a subject heading. Thus, if you want to find a work about Beowulf (as opposed to the actual text of Beowulf) you must use a subject search. If you are doing heading maintenance or NACO work in staff Orbis, you will often need to do two separate searches (both title and subject) to make sure that you find every bib record with a particular title heading.
The "Journal Title" search indexes the same fields as the "Title" search, but it only retrieves bib records that are coded as serials. The system looks at the values in the fixed fields to see if the record is a serial.
The "Series Title" index limits your search to series title fields. It is especially useful to catalogers who create series authority records for NACO. The index searches the bib record 440 and 830 fields, as you would expect, but also the $t portion of 4XX and 8XX fields.
The series numbering ($v) is also indexed in this search. This allows you to search for a particular issue of a series. It also means that the series numbering will display in your list of search results. The Staff Title Heading index does not display series numbering. To see this for yourself, search the series "New perspectives in philosophical scholarship" using both a "Staff Title Headings Search" and the "Series Title" search.
Series: Not Traced
The "Series: Not Traced" index lets you search series that are coded 490-0 in bib records. Our old NOTIS system did not have this functionality. If you are doing series "cleanup" or establishing a series authority record for NACO, especially if it is an older series, you will probably want to search this index to see if any bib records that had the series coded as "untraced" should now be changed to "traced."
To try this for yourself, search the series "Studies in African history" using both the "Series Title" and the "Series: Not Traced" indexes. This series is supposed to be traced, according to its series authority record, and in the "Series Title" search results, you will indeed find about a dozen Orbis records that have this series traced. However, in the "Series: Not Traced" search results, you will find a handful of additional Orbis bib records that have the series coded 490-0 (not traced). These records can be corrected (to 440 or 490-1/830 as appropriate) and then all the books in this series can be retrieved using a single title search.
Voyager does not always do a very good job of organizing and displaying search results. It certainly does not follow the LC Filing Rules! The system simply files headings character by character according to some very basic rules: Nothing comes before something. Numbers come before letters. Letters are arranged in alphabetical order. MARC subfield codes are ignored.
This means that the heading you are trying to find might not be where you expect. Here are a couple of examples, one showing a typical Staff Name Heading Search and the other showing a typical Staff Subject Heading Search, but keep in mind that other search results will be organized in the same way.
Example 1: Staff Name Heading Search
A search on the heading "Smith John" might retrieve:
You might expect to find all the names in the form "Smith, John, [date]" to be filed together in one sequence, followed by all the names in the form "Smith, John [middle name]." But this does not always happen. Date fields in personal name headings sometimes include letters (b.=born, ca.=circa, d.=died, and fl.=flourished) and these letters file as if they were middle names or middle initials.
Example 2 : Staff Subject Heading Search
Subject headings are also arranged in a strictly alphabetical way, but they can be even more confusing because dashes between subdivisions do not display. For example, a search on the topic "Paper" might retrieve:
If the dashes actually displayed the list would look like this:
But even if you manage to visualize the headings this way, the display is still not very intuitive. All of the subdivided forms of the topical heading "Paper" should file together at the beginning. Instead, they are interspersed with other headings that just happen to begin with the word "Paper".
Remember to keep the Voyager filing rules in mind when scanning your search results. The heading you want might be further down the list than you would expect. Sometimes you'll have to scroll!
[Jan. 2007 update: Starting with Voyager 6.1, dashes are now displayed before subdivisions in the "Staff Subject Heading" and "Staff Subject Subdivision" indexes but not in these indexes: "Special Collections Subject"; "Subject: Genre"; "Subjects"; and "Names".]
The 010 field contains a number called the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN). Each authority record distributed by the Library of Congress is assigned an LCCN. It provides a unique identifier that can be used by all systems. When our Systems Office loads authority records into Orbis, the LCCN serves as the match point for record overlays.
Although the Library of Congress is the distributor for these authority records, many of the records are actually created by catalogers at other libraries. These libraries contribute authority records to LC through the Name Authorities Cooperative Program (NACO). Yale is a participant in the NACO program.
NACO participants generally contribute authority records to LC using either RLIN or OCLC. If you look carefully at the LCCN in an authority record, you can identify where the record was originally created simply by looking at the number's alphabetic prefix:
n = Library of Congress created the record
So, an authority record with an LCCN in the form "nb2003012487"
Sometimes the 010 field will have two LCCNs, one in subfield $a and one in subfield $z. This means that at some point in the past, duplicate authority records were discovered and one of them was deleted. The LCCN from the deleted authority record was coded subfield $z and added to the LCCN of the authority record that was kept.
Finally, you will sometimes come across an authority record in Orbis WITHOUT an 010 field. This is a "locally created" authority record. Before the Library was a member of the NACO program, Yale catalogers only created authority records in our local catalog and did not share them with other libraries. These "locally-created" authority records will always have an 035 field containing a NOTIS system number that begins with the letter "Y".
As NACO catalogers encounter these locally-created authority records in Orbis, they are supposed to recreate them as NACO records and then delete the locally-created authority records. In time, we hope to eliminate all of the locally-created authority records that currently exist in Orbis.
Most personal name headings in authority records are unique. Each authority record represents a single person (or, in the case of pseudonyms, a single bibliographic identity). If two people happen to share the same name, then other information (such as birth and death dates) can be used to differentiate them.
However, sometimes two people with the same name cannot be distinguished. Their birth and death dates cannot be determined from reference sources and no other information can be found to break the conflict. In these cases, catalogers will generally create what is called an "undifferentiated personal name" authority record. The same record (and the same heading) will be used to represent more than one person in the catalog.
How can you recognize these records?
One way is to check the 008 fixed field called "undifferentiated personal name." If this field contains the letter "b," then the record is an undifferentiated personal name record.
However, a more immediate way of identifying such a record is by the distinctive pattern of its 670 fields. The 670 fields occur in pairs and each pair represents a different person or identity. The first 670 in each pair will contain a generic phrase such as "[Author of .....] in square brackets. The second 670 will contain the title of the work associated with that person.
An example of an "undifferentiated personal name" authority record is shown below. As you can see, the first "Nigel Smith" is a physician. The second "Nigel Smith" is a journalist:
If a birth or death date is later found for an identity on this authority record, that identity will be taken off and a new record (with a unique heading) will be created for that person.
Whenever you save a bib record in Orbis, an Authorities Validation box displays. Within this box is a list of headings from that bib record accompanied by validation messages telling you whether the headings are valid. Eleven different validation messages are possible. These messages are described in greater detail at: