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Automated Authority Control & the Human Component: How We Do What the Computers Can’t. Karla Geerlings Head, Serials & Authorities Unit, MU Libraries. Historically, catalogers were required to verify each and every controlled heading as they cataloged.

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Automated authority control the human component how we do what the computers can t l.jpg

Automated Authority Control & the Human Component:How We Do What theComputers Can’t

Karla Geerlings

Head, Serials & Authorities Unit,

MU Libraries

Historically catalogers were required to verify each and every controlled heading as they cataloged l.jpg
Historically, catalogers were required to verify each and every controlled heading as they cataloged.

Authority changes were done directly from the lcsh books l.jpg
Authority changes were done directly from the LCSH books … every controlled heading as they cataloged.

Onto the cards l.jpg
.. Onto the cards … every controlled heading as they cataloged.

Later in the computer l.jpg
… later in the computer … every controlled heading as they cataloged.

Heading accuracy alignment improved through l.jpg
Heading accuracy & alignment improved through: every controlled heading as they cataloged.

  • Standardization of authority forms

  • Common cataloging record sources

  • Global update capabilities

  • Spell check!

  • Heading verification

  • Authority control vendor services

  • Improvements in authority control programs in the local ILS

Today the authority control process is much more automated through l.jpg
Today the authority control process is much more automated through:

  • ILS (III) Bibliographic control (compares incoming/changed bibliographic record with local authority file)

  • ILS (III) AACP (Automated Authority Control Process) (compares incoming/changed authority records with local bibliographic records)

  • Vendor (Backstage/MARS) authority processing

Benefits l.jpg
Benefits through:

  • More freedom to accept copy cataloging and batch record loads with little or no review

  • Frees up staff time to address description and analysis, not double-checking headings

  • Authority control staff receive lists of possible problems and mismatches as identified

Possible issues l.jpg
Possible Issues through:

  • Often flag items which may be perfectly –

  • Only a match if match is exact

  • May match an unqualified name with wrong heading

  • Man hours to review lists

  • Authority control staff must review access points outside their areas of expertise

What the computer can t do but humans can l.jpg
What the computer can’t do through:(but humans can):

  • Check for unexpected misspellings

  • Match against bad subfield coding

  • Choose between conflicting authority records

  • Match former forms with headings where that exact form is not in a 4XX

Example old form of name l.jpg
Example: Old Form of Name through:

100 1_ Fishburne, Larry

400 1_ Fishburne, Laurence

400 1_ Fishburne, Lawrence

670 Hallmark hall of fame. Decoration Day [VR] 1990:|bcredits (Larry Fishburne)

670 Higher learning, c1995:|bcontainer (Laurence Fishburne)

670 Internet Movie Database, Feb. 6, 2003|b(b. 30 July 1961 in Augusta, Ga.; sometimes credited as: Laurence Fishburne III, Lawrence Fishburne III; changed his name from Larry to Laurence in his films in 1991)

New form of name computer will not change old forms to new form l.jpg
New Form of Name through:Computer will NOT change old forms to new form

100 1_ Fishburne, Laurence, ǂd 1961-

400 1_ Fishburne, Larry, ǂd 1961- (was Fishburne, Larry.)

400 1_ Fishburne, Lawrence, ǂd 1961-

670 Hallmark hall of fame. Decoration Day [VR] 1990: ǂb credits (Larry Fishburne)

670 670 Higher learning, c1995: ǂb container (Laurence Fishburne)

670 Internet Movie Database, Feb. 6, 2003 ǂb (b. 30 July 1961 in Augusta, Ga.; sometimes credited as: Laurence Fishburne III, Lawrence Fishburne III; changed his name from Larry to Laurence in his films in 1991) …

Slide14 l.jpg

Bib record Transaction file control:


Authority File

Controlled fields

checked againstLocal



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Note: control:

Both new and updated records go through the transaction file and are matched against the local authority file.

Changes to older records WILL NOT be sent for vendor processing.

Iii headings reports generated l.jpg
III Headings Reports Generated: control:

  • First Time Use

    -Author, LC Subject, MeSH

  • Invalid Headings

    -Author, LC Subject, MeSH, Title

  • Duplicate OCLC number

  • Near Match

    -Author, LC Subject, MeSH, Title

1 ftu first time use l.jpg
1. FTU (First Time Use) control:

Bibs with current update dates which contain headings which are were unique within our database when they hit the list.

  • Authors—Smith, Mary Q.

  • Subjects—Jargon (Terminology)|vPeriodicals

  • MeSH—at MU all MeSH headings from reports are sent to MU-HSL for review and processing

2 invalid headings l.jpg
2. Invalid Headings control:

Heading matches authority 4xx field in local authority file

  • Author—checked carefully

  • LC Subject—checked carefully, frequently a conflict, so they’re not truly wrong

  • MeSH—MU sends to MU-HSL to check

  • Title—largely useless—checks 130, 240, 490 0 830, 730 + 245, 246, 490 1, 505, 730, 740, 970

3 duplicate oclc numbers l.jpg
3. Duplicate OCLC Numbers control:

Generated by cross-checking 001 and 019 of new or changed records

  • Duplicate records are merged (by hand), OR

  • 019/001 is removed from/modified in the brief bib built or OCLC clone record (by hand)

  • “Duplicate” records appear on the list even if they were immediately resolved.

4 near match l.jpg
4. Near Match control:

Lists bib records that were not updated by the local auth. control as the heading in the bib record did not exactly match a heading or SEE reference (4XX) in an authority record. Possible causes:

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Rotational/Cluster Reports control:

The cluster report (called “rotational” report at UM) contains items with multi-site “owners”:

  • FTU,(first time use)

  • Invalids

  • OCLC Duplicates

  • Near Matches

    PLUS AACP-generated categories…

Aacp automated authority control processing l.jpg
AACP (Automated Authority Control Processing) control:

AACP is an automatic process in Millennium which compares new and updated authority records (loaded/ changed locally or through vendor processing) with the local database, making changes when needed.

  • Includes local authority records

Aacp generated items without owners l.jpg
AACP-generated items control:without “owners”

  • Blind authority records

    -Author, MeSH, LC subject, title

  • Non-unique 4XXs

    -Author, MeSH, LC subject, title

  • Updated Bibliographic Records

  • Duplicate authority records

    -Author, title, subject

  • Zzzzzs (unknown locations)

1 blind authorities l.jpg
1. Blind Authorities control:

Authority record heading doesn’t match any bibliographic record heading in MERLIN

These are reviewed to deicide:

  • Is it truly blind?

  • Is it a heading we need? (Conference Headings tend to be blind by nature)

    Actions: leave alone (not blind), code for deletion (blind, unneeded), code as intentionally blind (Conference heading, etc.)

2 non unique 4xxs l.jpg
2. Non-Unique 4XXs control:

Indicates there are two authority records with the same see reference (4XX) (in the local authority file), and the computer cannot differentiate for “flipping” existing bibs

These are reviewed and corrected, if needed

3 updated bibliographic records l.jpg
3. Updated Bibliographic Records control:

Lists corrections made by the computer during processing (incoming authorities against existing bibs)

These are reviewed to be sure the change was appropriate

Ex.: IEEE in 4XX in local

(3 in OCLC, 1 in local)

Incoming record: Instituto

Español de Estudios Estratégicos

4 duplicate authorities l.jpg
4. Duplicate Authorities control:

This happens when someone imports an authority when it already exists in the local authority file

We review to find which has the most up-to-date information

  • If the same, we keep the oldest,

  • If different, we transfer any local information to the newest record


5 zzzzzs l.jpg
5. Zzzzzs control:

The bib record has no known location code (rarely happens at UM used to occurred w/record loads)

We try to determine who loaded the record and what may have happened

If we cannot locate the owner and no records are attached, we delete

Cluster duplicate reports l.jpg
Cluster Duplicate Reports control:


  • Duplicate Patron IDs

  • Duplicate OCLC nos. (no clear “owner”)

  • Duplicate barcodes

    None of these can be resolved satisfactorily by a computer program; the human error must be untangled by a human

Quarterly vendor mars reports l.jpg
Quarterly Vendor/MARS Reports control:

  • Bib and authority records new in local database + authorities coded for deletion are gathered quarterly by MCO

  • Authorities for deletion are reviewed by authorities personnel

  • MCO codes BCODE3 in bib records to indicate out for authority processing

  • MCO sends records to authority vendor for processing

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Authority Vendor control::

  • Compares controlled fields in bibs to the national authority file, makes corrections

  • Notes recent changes to authority records in OCLC on records held locally

  • “Deletes” coded authority records from their file of our authority holdings

  • Retrieves and loads authority records needed but not yet present in local database

Mco completes the process l.jpg
MCO completes the process: control:

  • Loads new authorities into local (cluster) database

  • Overlays changed authorities

  • Overlays corrected bibs

  • Recodes BCODE3

  • Sends vendor reports to cluster representative; at UM they are then splits up and distributed using a distribution matrix

Vendor mars reports l.jpg
Vendor/MARS reports: control:

  • Authority Change Reports

  • Split Headings Reports (LCSH)

  • Deleted (Cancelled) Authority Records

  • Partial Match Headings

  • No Match/Unmatched Headings

  • Possible Invalid Tags

Backstage mars reports cont l.jpg
Backstage/MARS reports (cont.) control:

  • Tags Flipped

  • Partial Match Child Subjects

  • Partial Match Local Subjects

  • Unmatched Local Subjects

  • Suspicious Filing Indicators

  • Heading Usage Not Authorized

Still more backstage mars new l.jpg
Still More Backstage/MARS (new) control:

  • Possible Leading Articles

  • Unrecognized Z Subfields

  • Heading Matches Multiple Authorities

  • Changed Genre/Forms

  • Unmatched Genre/Forms

1 authority change reports l.jpg
1. Authority Change Reports control:

  • Report changes to authority records for: Author, Title, LCSH, Series, Author/Title

  • Significant changes = changes to 1XX, 4XX and 5XX text

  • On occasion a new title is ascribed to the author in a 667 and can be taken off an undifferentiated name

Authority change reports cont l.jpg
Authority Change Reports (cont.) control:

Changes are reviewed and searched in the local database to determine if:

  • The change was completed to the authority

  • All changes to applicable bib. record were completed by AACP

  • There are no floating undifferentiated headings on bibs. in the database which can now be differentiated.

2 split headings l.jpg
2. Split Headings control:

Reports LCSH split headings. We have these applied to all bibs. with old heading, but must check for completeness


Old 650 0 $aJewels$vCatalogs.

New 650 0 $aGems$vCatalogs.

New 650 0 $aInsignia$vCatalogs.

New 650 0 $aJewelry$vCatalogs.

New 650 0 $aPrecious stones$vCatalogs.

3 deleted authority records l.jpg
3. Deleted Authority Records control:

We review these to determine:

  • If the authority record has, indeed been deleted

  • If there are headings remaining on bibliographic records which may need to be changed

  • If there is a suggested replacement record, if it’s present in our database and if it has been used appropriately

4 partial match headings l.jpg
4. Partial Match Headings control:

Reports where the ǂa of a Uniform Title, Author or Subject Heading matches an authority record, but the rest does not match an authority. We look for:

  • Misspellings

  • Miscoded subfields

  • Fuller forms

  • Conference Authorities to be coded intentionally blind

    This report largely inconsequential

5 no match unmatched headings l.jpg
5. No Match/Unmatched Headings control:

These occur mostly with geographic subjects, names not yet established and name/titles with no matching name/title authority. We look for:

  • Misspellings

  • Fuller forms

  • Proper format

  • Keyword search hits

    which might match

6 possible invalid tags l.jpg
6. Possible Invalid Tags control:

Happens when a heading matches an authority in another index or is coded for a different use:

100 0 $aM. (matches a series authority)

We can usually straighten these

out, but takes some intuition and

knowledge of local practice,

especially for series titles.

7 tags flipped l.jpg
7. Tags Flipped control:

Reports MARC tags flipped during processing; we check for appropriateness.


  • Old 610 10 $aLiberal, Mo.

  • New 651 0 $aLiberal (Mo.).

  • Old 61020 $aKansas.

  • New 6510 $aKansas.

    … context might say Kansas (Musical Group)

8 partial match child subjects l.jpg
8. Partial Match Child Subjects control:

Although we are not supposed to receive this report, we do check to be sure something else was not meant.

651 1 $aYukon$vPoetry

These are almost always miscoded in the 2nd indicator, and should be LCSH

9 partial match local subjects l.jpg
9. Partial Match Local Subjects control:

Mostly Canadian local headings

(65x _5), which we handle in other ways through LCSH

We also review for miscoding here

10 unmatched local subjects l.jpg
10. Unmatched Local Subjects control:

Local subjects with no corresponding Local authority record

Again, mostly Canadian (65x _5)

11 suspicious filing indicators l.jpg
11. Suspicious Filing Indicators control:

Filing indicators point to an initial article which is not evident to the computer.


740 20 $aWhite dawn is stealing.

What was actually meant:

740 02 $aWhite dawn is stealing.

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12. Heading Usage Not Authorized control:

“Headings in this report matched a heading in the authority file, but the usage codes in the authority record indicate that the heading is not appropriate for the use to which it has been applied in the bibliographic record. An example would be when the authority record indicates that the heading is appropriate for use as a main or added entry, but the heading has been used as a series added entry.”


610 10 $aEngland and Wales.$bSovereign (1625-1649 : Charles I)

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13. Possible Leading Articles control:

Flags words which may be initial articles(language-dependent) but which are not coded as such. Correct as needed.


110 20 $aA & M Telephone Company

246 33 $aA day in the life of Today's Dental

246 3_ $aA la Convention nationale

A, An, Los…

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14. Unrecognized Z Subfields control:

Reports headings in subfield z which are unrecognized because:

  • Heading has no authority record

  • Subdivision needs a qualifier

    We look for:

  • Misspellings

  • Incorrect use or division

  • Another form of the heading

  • Correct formation of heading if not yet established

What it s not sophisticated enough to do l.jpg
What it’s not sophisticated control:enough to do:

  • Differentiate between abbreviated or unqualified forms based on content—Kansas the state or Kansas the musical group?

  • Differentiate between people based on publication dates or topical differences: Roy Acuff, Jr. or Sr.?

  • Look for fuller (or less full) forms of names: Fisburne, Laurence = Larry

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New added wrinkle— control:machine-generated metadata

Metadata located by machine processing, transferred into catalog records by machine processing, checked by machine process follow a scripted formula and usually produces coherent headings, BUT:

100 1 &c, Alexander Pushkin

100 1 Emblems, Author of The choice.

700 1 &c, &c.

The perils of sloppy authority work l.jpg
The Perils of Sloppy Authority Work control:

  • “Lost” resources

  • Loss of collocation

  • Further machine/human manipulation will miss those items not controlled correctly

  • Migrating badly formed or miscoded data to a new database can cause further data degradation: “Copy of a copy” effect

A controlled heading is a happy heading l.jpg
A controlled heading is a control:happy heading

Questions discussion i d like to hear about your opinions situations l.jpg
Questions/Discussion control:I’d like to hear about your opinions & situations

Bibliography l.jpg
Bibliography control:

Innovative Interfaces. Innovative Guide & Reference; Release 2007, Rev. 2.

MOBIUS. “Authority Processing Summary.” MCO, 9/28/2009.

Aycock, Mary. “MERLIN Authority Reports; Everything You Wanted to Know and More!” PowerPoint presentation, 8/22/2008

  • Backstage Library Works. MERLIN cluster reports, various dates

    BackStage Library Works. Report descriptions, July 2009 batch.

    Geerlings, Karla. “How MU Headings Control is Accomplished” PowerPoint presentation, 9/29/2009