Authority Work Procedures:
Verifying and Establishing Headings

Summary of Interim Procedures for Original Cataloguing Authority Work

Document sections

Introduction Steps


Some of the original cataloguing procedures for verifying and establishing name and uniform title headings are likely to change once arrangements for an external authorities vendor have been made and in-house authorities workflow has been determined, if not before then.

This document represents a preliminary revision of our verification and establishment procedures of 1991, to be used when doing original cataloguing.

The introduction to the 1991 document, as annotated in 1999, should also be consulted.  For further details, please ask your trainer or the Database Management/Authority Control Librarian.

You may expect some changes to these procedures!

Please note:

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Searching steps

Online searching:  1-4 4.  Voyager bib file 7.  Establish heading
1.  LC/NACO authority file Offline or Web sources:  5-6 Record creation and maintenance:  8-9
2.  Voyager authority file 5.  NUCs 8.  Creating and editing authority records
3.  OCLC bib file 6.  Consider research 9.  Record maintenance

[Online searching:  Steps 1-4]

  1. Search the LC/NACO authority file in OCLC.

    If you find:

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  2. Search for TULANET Authority File (TULAF) records in Voyager.

    Use “Staff Name Headings Search,” “Staff Subject Headings Search” (if there is a good chance that the person or body may appear as a subject), “Staff Title Headings Search,” or “Staff Name/Title Headings Search,” as applicable.  (See also “Voyager Authority Searching.”)

    If you have not found an LC/NACO record and find in Voyager:

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  3. Examine any bib records in OCLC.

    Use derived “4,3,” author search

    E.g.    hark,mar,

    unless it would result in an unmanageable number of headings.  If you have a birth date available, you may limit the search chronologically by adding up to 20 years to the birth date.

    E.g.    Marvin Harkness was born in 1948        [imaginary]

    OCLC search key:  hark,mar,/1968-

    If a derived search is still not manageable, use “fin au” keyword search, repeating “and au” before second and third elements of name.

    E.g.    fin au harkness and au marvin

    Keyword searches can include date qualifiers, to narrow searches involving more common names.

    E.g.    Martin Harper was born in 1954.

    OCLC search key:  fin au martin and au harper and yr 1974-


    Authority records:  If you previously found either:

    Examine any information that you have found in the OCLC database.

    No authority record:  Print out or otherwise note any information found and continue searching (step 4).

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  4. Examine any bib records in Voyager.


    If you find a bib record with 035 $9 original system number (from our former NOTIS system) in the “A” range:  Watch for missing diacritics and special characters.

    Clearcut case Not clearcut case

    Clearcut case:  At this point, you will often be able to stop searching and select or accept a heading form.  If you are confident, keeping AACR2/LCRI rules in mind, that you have found:

    Go on to establish an AACR2 heading (step 7).  Please note:  The majority of headings that we establish fall into this fairly straightforward category.

    Not clearcut caseIf you know that more checking is needed, or if you are not certain whether more checking is needed, continue.

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    [Offline sources, or external Web resources:  Steps 5-6]

    If you have not yet found a clearly acceptable heading:

    If you have reason to believe that an individual or corporate body may have written or issued a work, or that an anonymous work may have been written, prior to 1977:  Go on to check the printed NUCs (step 5).  Do not routinely check the NUCs for all authors of unknown date.

    Your piece (pub. about 1859):       A. Ysabeau
    OCLC (various pub. dates, most prior to 1977):      Ysabeau, Alexandre, 1793-1873; Ysabeau, A. (Alexandre), 1793-1873; Ysabeau, Alexandre Victor Frédéric, 1793-1873; Ysabeau, Victor Frédéric Alexandre, 1793-1873; usage: A. Ysabeau, but usage rarely given

    Your piece (pub. 1953):      Fondation du Château de Rohoncz
    OCLC (pub. 1937-1941):      Stiftung Sammlung Schloss Rohoncz

    If you do not expect that you would find anything in the NUCs, go on to step 6.

    E.g.    Edwina Muggletrump

    Information in your piece:  born in 1896; wrote only one work, a play that was considered so far ahead of its time that it was not published during her lifetime; after she died in obscurity in 1928 or 1929 (no one is sure of the exact date), the manuscript was temporarily lost; first published in 1998.

  5. Check the printed National Union Catalogs (NUCs).

    See also Appendix –, “Tips on searching National Union Catalogs.”  [Not yet in HTML document.]

    When searching the NUC sets that you consider appropriate:

    • Note both LC and non-LC headings that you find.

    • Note the usage(s), if present, found in the bib record titles or quoted notes.  Make a quick tally to determine whether a particular usage is predominant.

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  6. Assess the information that you have gathered; consider whether further research will be necessary or helpful.

    Research required by rules Research not required by rules

    Research required by rules

    Perform additional research for categories of headings for which AACR2/LCRI rules require research, including:

    Generally focus on reference sources issued in the person’s language or country of nationality or residence -- except for early, pre-1500 authors, for whom English-language sources are preferred.  If none are available, you may use other reference sources.  (The LCRI do not provide for this extension, but in practice LC/NACO authority records frequently cite reference sources not in the person’s language.)

    Once you have performed additional research as required, go on to establish an AACR2 heading (step 7).

    Research not required by rules

    For other categories of headings, use judgment and restraint.  Keep in mind that your piece will often be the most thorough and authoritative source of information for your heading.

    Conflicts and other problems No conflict

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  7. Establish AACR2 heading.

    Note:   If the established heading requires a geographic or corporate body qualifier, you will also need to perform authority work on that qualifier.  For geographic headings, refer when necessary to AACR2 Chapter 23, LC’s Subject Cataloging Manual, and our local documents “Introduction to Geographic Headings” and “Geographic Headings and Subdivisions:  A Summary of Contrasting Structures.”

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    [Record creation and maintenance:  Steps 8-9]

  8. Creating and editing authority records

    Choosing type of record Checking Voyager files

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  9. Maintenance of authority and bib records

    If you have found any conflicting heading forms in any of the authority or bibliographic files that you have checked, authority file correction and/or bibliographic file maintenance (BFM) will be needed.

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Authority work procedures introduction

Draft, 16 August 2000; rev. draft 30 August 2000

HTML document last reviewed:  24 March 2004