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OCLC Support

Changes to existing records

Learn which problems should be reported, which errors should not be reported, and which changes require proof when requesting changes to existing authority records.

When appropriate, OCLC changes records in the OCLC authority file. OCLC can correct tagging and typographical errors and add or modify references in name authority records, as well as resolve conflicts and disagreements with the form of heading. OCLC also merges data as appropriate on duplicate authority records before reporting to LC for final processing.

 Note: OCLC cannot make changes to subject authority records (i.e., any record with LCCN prefix sh, sj, or gf).

The OCLC MARC Organization Code OCoLC in subfield ‡d of field 040 identifies OCLC-modified records.

Report these problems

Problem Example(s)
Coding and input errors
  • Topical term headings coded 100
  • Omission of subfield codes
  • Typographical errors in explanatory text
Duplicate authority records
  • Duplicate records are two or more records (with different control numbers in field 010) for the same entity.
  • Do not report reference records as duplicate records (in a tagged display, reference records are identified by code b or c in fixed field element Auth/Ref).
Inconsistencies in the file Two records in a hierarchy for the same author, one record a name only, the other a name-title record with differing forms of the name.
Records missing from the file Authorized access points used in full-level LC-MARC RDA bibliographic records that are not in the OCLC authority file.
Conflicts Conflicts between name authority records and subject authority records for the same entity.
Lack of references from other form of name An author appearing on one item with a given name and on another with that given name abbreviated as an initial.

Do not report as errors

  • Subject headings that exist in WorldCat records that are outside the scope of the subject authority file (i.e., not represented in the file).
  • Disagreements with spelling, choice of term, and other matters of opinion outside the requirement of cataloging rules.

Changes that require proof

Major change requests require supporting documentation which can either be sent electronically, mailed, or faxed. See Requesting Changes to Records for information about how to determine if proof is required and how to label proof from the item.

Examples of changes requiring proof

  • Changes to the authorized access point except those based on rules only
  • Addition of linking references (5xx)
  • Merging two records with different forms of name where it cannot be readily determined from the records that they are definitely one person
  • Creation of a new authority record

Types of proof

  • The works of the author are proof for establishing the correct form of name
  • Preferable sources are those where the access point in question is shown on the title page
  • Reference materials (e.g., national bibliographies, encyclopedias, organization member directories)
  • Websites can be used as proof, in which case the change request can be sent via the Web form and does not need to be mailed or faxed.

Changes that do not require proof

Simple corrections to authority records do not require supporting documentation and can be submitted via Web form or by sending an email to These changes include:

  • Incorrect assignment of tag or indicator values
  • Incorrect or missing subfield codes or fixed field element codes
  • Incorrect use of a field
  • Omission of required record elements or rule-based cross-references
  • Typos in access points when the correct form is found in a citation field (670)
  • Typos in citation fields