1. Purpose

This authority control policy provides a public statement of the National Library of Australia’s current policies concerning the creation and maintenance of authority records for all types of headings (personal, corporate and meeting names; uniform and series titles; subject and geographic headings; genre/form headings) required for the cataloguing of its collections of Australian and overseas resources.  It expands on the brief statement outlined in the National Library of Australia Cataloguing Policy

Although this policy has been formulated with an awareness of the Australian National Bibliographic Database and its role in relation to authority records, the focus of the policy is the Library's internal cataloguing operations.

This policy will be monitored and reviewed by the Serials Collection Management & Standards Branch and the Library’s Collection Development and Management Committee on a regular basis to ensure that it reflects changes in Library policy and strategic planning and takes account of wider developments in authority control.

2. Overview   

Authority control is the process of establishing a single preferred form of a heading, which can then be used consistently, uniquely and unambiguously to refer to a single entity or concept.  Authority records may also provide references from equivalent headings in non-Latin scripts and non-preferred headings, as well as references to related headings (former and later names; broader, narrower and related subjects).  A variety of notes such as scope notes and references to the sources consulted may also be included.  Selected elements of the authority record and its reference structure are made visible and useable in the Library’s online catalogue.

2.1.  Purpose of authority control

The primary purpose of authority control is to assist the catalogue user in locating items of interest.  The reference structure of the authority record guides catalogue users to the form of heading under which all relevant works are collocated.  In addition, the authority record itself has reference value.  Examples of this value are: the life dates on personal name authority records; former and later names and scope notes on corporate name authority records; and the broader, narrower and related terms given on subject authority records. 

Authority control is also of value to the Library as a whole by improving the efficiency of cataloguing processes and maximising resources.  The reference structure and notes provided in the authority record are of value to the cataloguer when selecting the appropriate heading to apply to an item being catalogued.  The creation of authority records allows cataloguers to record decisions made about the choice of a heading and information gathered in the course of cataloguing, which avoids the need to repeat this work when another item by the same author, or concerning the same topic, is catalogued.

2.2. Standards

The National Library of Australia recognises the importance of adhering to common standards in the creation of authority data in order to contribute the Library’s authority records to national and international authority files.  The Library is committed to using the latest version of all the standards that it has adopted and takes an active interest in the development, interpretation and implementation of these standards.

Cataloguing standards used by the Library include Anglo-American Cataloging Rules 2nd ed. Rev. (AACR2R), Library of Congress Rule Interpretations (LCRIs), Library of Congress’s Subject Headings Manual, Library of Congress’ Descriptive Cataloging Manual : Z1 : Name and series authority records, MARC 21 Format for Authority Data, and Libraries Australia standards for headings and authority records.

The Australian National Bibliographic Database (ANBD) authorities and headings file on Libraries Australia is used as the primary reference file when determining the form of Australian name, title and series headings, and the references to be provided.  This facilitates the contribution of the Library’s authority records to the ANBD. 

The Library of Congress Authorities is the primary source of authority records for overseas name, title and series headings. 

The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is used as the standard thesaurus for subject headings.  The Library also uses the Australian extension to LCSH, which comprises additional subject headings and references adopted for use in the ANBD.

 The headings from the following thesauri are used to supplement LCSH for the resources specified:

  • Headings drawn from the in-house Occupations thesaurus are used in bibliographic records for manuscripts, oral history recordings, and pictures.
  • Headings drawn from the Powerhouse Museum Object Name Thesaurus are used in bibliographic records for 3-dimensional objects.

Genre/form terms from the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT) are used in bibliographic records for cartographic materials and a small number of other materials, as appropriate.

A limited range of institution-specific subject headings may also be used in bibliographic records:

  • Music with an Australian association (i.e. by Australian composers, on Australian subjects, or published in Australia) may have institution-specific subject headings applied in addition to the more specific LCSH.  These headings are broad subject headings, modeled on LCSH, but qualified by 'Australian'.  They may be subdivided by chronological periods.  They also may be subdivided by '--Juvenile'.  The headings are controlled by an in-house listing, and are searchable in the Library’s online catalogue.
  • All maps are given institution-specific geographic headings in addition to the corresponding LCSH geographic heading.  The headings are modeled on LCSH, but qualified by situation date.  The headings are assigned in accordance with in-house guidelines, but no thesaurus of terms is maintained.  The headings are searchable in the Library’s online catalogue.

Where possible, the Library’s authority records contain all of the MARC 21 authority data elements recommended for a National-level authority record.

2.3.  National and international cooperation

The National Library of Australia contributes all its bibliographic data and authority data to the ANBD.  The use of authorised forms of headings improves the efficiency with which bibliographic records can be exchanged between the Library’s integrated library management system (ILMS) and the ANBD.

The National Library is mindful of the range of potential uses for authority data.  It may be re-used in a range of ways, such as in indexes and for intellectual property rights management.  It may also be shared with other communities through resource discovery services such as Trove, as well as through contribution of Australian authority data to international authority programs and the Virtual International Authority File

The National Library is active in the development of new and existing standards in relation to authority control. 

  • The Library participates in the Australian Committee on Cataloguing, which contributes to the development of Resource Description & Access.
  • The Library contributes to the development of the Library of Congress Subject Headings by proposing new subject headings and references for Australian terminology.

3. Authority control priorities

The Library does not create or import authority records routinely for all headings used in bibliographic records.  Priority is given to different types of headings depending on whether they are Australian or overseas, new or existing, whether the decision to create an authority arises during copy or original cataloguing, and whether the resulting authority data is required to support the Library’s management of intellectual property rights.[i]

Even if the creation or importation of an authority record is not deemed to be necessary, the appropriate authority files are checked and every reasonable effort is made to use the correct headings in bibliographic record.  In-house guidelines assist staff in determining when it is appropriate to create or import authority records.

3.1. Australian headings

Highest priority is given to the creation and maintenance of authority records for Australian name, title and geographic headings, and to the proposal of Australian subject headings and references when needed.

Authority records for names and uniform titles are created or imported if available from the ANBD whenever any of the conditions in Section 4 apply.  No distinction is made between original and copy cataloguing.

In placing the creation of Australian authority records as its highest priority, the Library recognises that:

  • As the national bibliographic agency for Australia, the National Library of Australia acknowledgesits responsibility to establish the authoritative form of name for Australian creators and contributors.[ii] This responsibility is shared between the Library's internal cataloguing operations and the ANBD.
  • The Library is uniquely placed to establish Australian headings earlier, and more accurately, than many other libraries, due to: 

3.2. Overseas headings

The creation or importation of authority records for overseas names and uniform titles is given a lower priority, except for Asian vernacular publications which are catalogued to a high level.  

For overseas publications in all other languages, authority records for names and uniform titles are generally created or imported if available from the Library of Congress whenever the conditions in sub-section 4.2 apply.

In placing the creation of overseas authority records as a lower priority, the Library recognises that:

  • The responsibility for establishing the authoritative form for overseas name and title headings rests with the national bibliographic agency in
    their country of origin.[iii]
  • In accordance with the National Library of Australia Cataloguing Policy, the cataloguing of overseas material has a lower priority than the cataloguing of Australian material.

4. Authority records for names and titles

Authority records may be created or imported for personal, family, meeting or corporate name headings, or uniform titles used as main or added entry headings in bibliographic records, and when any of the situations in 4.1-4.4 below apply.

Authority records are usually not created or imported for titles of numbered serials, but may be created for unnumbered monographic series if any of the situations in 4.1-4.3 below apply.[iv]

4.1. References or notes required

Authority records are created for headings used in bibliographic records whenever references or explanatory notes are required according to AACR2 and the LCRI.

References or explanatory notes may be required for names when:

  • Different names, or different forms of a name, are found in other bibliographic records or reference sources (AACR2 rules:  26.2A1-2, 26.3A1)
  • Different elements of a name could be chosen as the entry point for the heading (AACR2 rules: 26.2A3, 26.3A3, 26.3A7)
  • The works of one person are entered under two headings (AACR2 rule:  26.2C1)
  • More detail is required (AACR2 rule:  26.3C1), e.g. there are earlier and later forms of a name.

References or explanatory notes may be required for titles when:

  • Different titles, or variants of the title, are found in other bibliographic records or reference sources ( AACR rule:  26.4B1)
  • A part of a work has been catalogued separately (AACR rule:  26.4D2).
  • The title requires qualification to distinguish it from an otherwise identical title in the file.

An authority record does not need to be created if the alternative form of the title is already represented in the bibliographic record, either in the title proper or in an untraced series.  An authority record is also not required for name-title headings if the reference would result in the same string as the name/title in the bibliographic record.

4.2. Conflicts between headings

Authority records are created for headings used in bibliographic records whenever there is a conflict between headings that requires resolution.

A conflict exists if:

  • The works of a single person or body have been entered under several different name headings
  • The works of more than one person or body have been entered under the same heading
  • A uniform title is identical to another uniform title, or to a collective uniform title

Most conflicts are resolved as part of the cataloguing process.  However, more complex authority conflicts and problems affecting large numbers of records may require a batch clean up or reload of records.

4.3. Recording sources, research and decisions

Authority records are created for headings used in bibliographic records to record any information available at the time of cataloguing that is helpful in identification, but which does not appear in the heading, including date of birth, occupation, affiliations with institutions, etc.  Any additional sources that have been consulted to formulate the heading are also recorded in authority records (i.e. sources other than the item in hand and the bibliographic or authority files).  Any relevant decisions made about cataloguing treatment may also be recorded in the authority record.

4.4. Management of intellectual property rights

Authority records are created as necessary to support the management of the intellectual property rights of creators of items in the Library’s collections.

5. Authority records for subjects, geographic names, and genre/form terms                 

Authority records are created for proposed new or changed subject headings.  New geographic name headings are proposed only if there is a conflict with the LC name authority, or there is a specific issue associated with the name that requires resolution.  Authority records may be imported for existing Library of Congress Subject Headings and Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms.

5.1. Proposing a new or changed subject heading

Libraries Australia provides guidance on when it is appropriate to make a proposal for a new LCSH.

  • If an item cannot be given adequate subject coverage by using an existing LCSH, a combination of LCSH, or the Australian extension to LCSH, then a new subject heading may be proposed to the Library of Congress.  This occurs most frequently with Aboriginal languages and peoples, uniquely Australian concepts, Australian flora and fauna and some specific one-of-a-kind topics, e.g. product names (technology).
    • If an existing LCSH does not reflect Australian terminology, a reference using the Australian term may be proposed.

Authority records are created for all proposals, and notes on the progress of the proposal recorded in the authority record.  If a proposal is approved, the authority record is updated with this information.  If a proposal is unsuccessful, the heading may be considered for inclusion in the Australian extension to LCSH

6. Authority file maintenance              

The following problems with the current ILMS authority file are known to exist:

  • Headings may be miscoded as Australian,
  • Headings may not be coded as Australian when they should be (e.g. the subject headings that are part of the Australian extension to LCSH may not be coded with ‘anuc’ in the 042),
  • Some bibliographic records are attached to pre-AACR2 forms of headings,
  • Some bibliographic records are attached to references,
  • Some bibliographic records are attached to old forms of subject headings.

These problems will generally be fixed as they are encountered in the course of cataloguing work.  More complex problems or problems affecting large numbers of records may require a batch clean up or reload of bibliographic records, resources permitting.

The authorised form of subject headings may change from time to time, either as a result of the work of the ANBD in updating the Australian extension to LCSH, or due to decisions made by the Library of Congress.  These changes should be reflected in the ILMS database either by seeking refreshed files from the ANBD, or making changes directly on the database.

Appendix – Resources relating to the establishment of headings or authority records             

Anderson, Dorothy. Universal bibliographic control : a long term policy, a plan for action. Pullach/München : Verlag Dokumentation, 1974.

Cataloging Policy & Support Office, Library of Congress. Descriptive Cataloging Manual : Z1 : Name and series authority records

Clack, Doris H. Authority control: principles, applications, and instructions. Chicago: American Library Association, 1990.

IFLA UBCIM Working Group on Minimal Level Authority Records and ISADN. Mandatory Data Elements for Internationally Shared Resource Authority Records

IFLA Working Group on GARE Revision Guidelines for authority records and references 2nd ed. 2001.

Maxwell, Robert L. Maxwell's guide to authority work. Chicago : American Library Association, 2002.

National Library of Australia Cataloguing Policy

Tillett, Barbara B. "International Shared Resource Records for Controlled Access" in Authority Control in the 21st Century: An Invitational Conference.

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Footnotes

[i] Data from the authority records of intellectual property rights holders is re-used in the Library’s rights management system.

[ii]  This is an activity related to Universal Bibliographic Control responsibilities. See Anderson, Dorothy. Universal bibliographic control : a long term policy, a plan for action Pullach/München : Verlag Dokumentation, 1974.

[iii] A high proportion of overseas publications have pre-publication or copy catalogue records, and the correct form of the name will have been established by the cataloguing agency.

[iv] Bibliographic records are created for the series title of numbered serials, and any changes of title are traced within the serial record(s).  The title of the serial record is used as the series title in the records for monographs in that series.  The correct form of the series title is established using the appropriate authority file. If it becomes desirable in the future to create series authority records, this could be done using an automatic process, such as that used by the Library of Congress in Machine derived authority records.