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Authority Control: What You Need to Know to Do It Yourself

Dana Kemp, Mercer University
Barbara Kriigel, University of Michigan, Dearborn Library
Beth Taylor, University of Michigan, Dearborn Library
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Dana Kemp described how she, as the only professional cataloger for the main library, handles authority control for 20,000 titles per year. Her approach is to use the INNOPAC headings report, limiting it to author (name) and subject headings used for the first time.

Giving specific examples, Dana highlighted areas needing special attention -- authorities with mixed tags (x10 and x50), root subject headings, personal names with initials as forename, duplicate authority records, and blind references.

Ms. Kemp provided hints on when to search INNOPAC and OCLC; noted that interactive downloading does not allow designation of which table (author or subject) to use; and gave examples of how she marks reports to keep track of what has been done.

The handouts provide most of the information in a clear, concise presentation. They include the slides used during the presentation, examples of reports, a summary of authority control activities for 1996/97, and five pages of procedures from the Mercer University Main Library.

Barbara Kriigel explained the procedures used at the University of Michigan - Dearborn Library for updating authority records using Library of Congress Subject Headings Weekly List. She noted that these changes show up in OCLC 2-3 weeks after the list is posted to the Internet.

The rationale at UMD is that updated headings help the patrons in searching the catalog. Clerical and student workers make a preliminary check of the list; then one of the catalogers makes the changes. The weekly lists include changes to existing headings, cancelled headings, new headings, headings that may now be subdivided geographically, cancelled cross references, and new or cancelled free floating subdivisions.

Barbara noted that rotated subject headings also display in database maintenance which makes updating more difficult. In that case, one must look at the bibliographic record or go into "global update" and search. However, one cannot search in "global update" for part of a heading. Libraries without rotated headings can use "create list" as part of their database maintenance routines.

UMD's rule of thumb is that if there are five (5) bibliographic records or fewer that will be affected, the authority changes are done via database maintenance. Global update is used when there are many titles and the MARC tag in the bibliographic record stays the same. Create list is used if it will take more than one session to complete the changes; for example, if the change is not one-for-one and requires decisions.

Ms. Kriigel provided tips on authority control after vendor clean up and as a do-it-yourself project. She also noted enhancements that have been submitted to the IUG.

The handouts include the slides that describe the weekly lists and how to work with them, resource tools, tips for beginning authority control, and the III wish list.

Beth Taylor presented the approach taken by the University of Michigan - Dearborn Library's Cataloging Department in using the Library of Congress's Cataloging Service Bulletin and the INNOPAC patron search analysis reports as the basis for adding new headings to appropriate records and making additional cross references.

The CSB is used to check on the subdivision simplification program, as a final check that the LC Weekly List changes were implemented, and to add new headings of current interest to existing bibliographic records.

Headings from the search analysis reports from public service workstations are checked if they pass the "look good to me" test. Headings sometimes checked include those that appear on the same list but at different times during the day and those that appear on multiple lists. Headings not checked are those for searches with misspellings or typos, in sentence form, subject areas not collected by the library, names in direct order, done in the wrong index, and previously analyzed and considered "unhelpable."

For headings to be checked, a cataloger re-does the search, looking for the heading on the screen, a cross-reference on the screen, or other clues on the screen. She also tries it as a keyword search then decides whether there need to be 1 or 2 subject headings and makes cross references. Local decisions are recorded through use of the ACODE2 and in the 667 field of the authority record.

Beth noted that the examples on the help screens never appear on the "no direct hits" list. The INNOPAC lists, which cover only a 10-day period, are printed every two weeks during the school year. Staff spends about 3-4 hours biweekly enhancing the catalog at the UMD Library. In 1996/97 catalogers added 177 cross-references to authority records and from 9/1-4/20/98 had added 108 cross-references.

The handouts cover use of the CSB and the INNOPAC patron search reports (with the path into the "no direct hits" list given). Also included is an explanation of headings checked and not checked, examples of headings which fall into different categories and their resolution, and statistics for five years.

Recorded by: Jeanette Mosey, Austin Community College

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