Skip to main content
OCLC Support

Learner guide: Authority control

Course overview

This course provides the basic skills needed to work with authority records in WorldShare Record Manager. At the end of this course, learners will be able to find detailed help on the available authority files in Record Manager; set user preferences for authority records and authority control; search and browse the Library of Congress (LC) authority file; use the LC Root/Expanded browse to find authority records having subdivisions; explain the purpose of authority control; control headings in bibliographic records; and export authority records.

Prerequisite: MARC Authority records (video 14 min.) or basic understanding of MARC authority records structure and purpose.

Authority record

Record of the decision of the authoritative form of a: Name (Personal & Corporate), Name /Title, Uniform title or a Subject used as a heading in a bibliographic record.

Authority control

The procedures by which consistency of form is maintained in the headings (names, uniform titles, series titles, and subjects) used in a library catalog or file of bibliographic records through the application of an authoritative list (called an authority file) to new items as they are added to the collection.

Authority tags and bibliographic tags they control

Heading Authority tag Bibliographic tags
Personal Name 100 100, 600, 700, 800
Corporate Name 110 110, 610, 710, 810
Conference Name 111 111, 611, 711, 811
Uniform Title 130 130, 440, 630, 730, 830
Chronological Term 148 648
Topical Subject 150 650
Geographic Subject 151 651
Genre/Form Subject 155 655
Topical Subdivision 180 6xx $x
Geographic Subdivision 181 6xx $z
Chronological Subdivision 182 6xx $y
Form Subdivision 185 6xx $v

MARC Authority records

Variable fields

010          LCCN

1XX          Heading

3XX          Additional information for names

4XX          See from reference

5XX          See also reference

6XX          Notes

  (XX = varies depending on type of heading)

Fixed fields (008)

Geo subd (008/06)
blank = Not subdivided geographically i = Subdivided geographically indirect n = Not applicable

Subj (008/11)
a - Library of Congress Subject Headings (also 010 (LCCN) prefix: sh)
b - LC subject headings for children's literature (also 010 (LCCN) prefix: sj)
c - Medical Subject Headings
d - National Agricultural Library subject authority file k - Canadian Subject Headings
n - Not applicable
r - Art and Architecture Thesaurus
s - Sears List of Subject Heading v - Répertoire de vedettes-matière z - Other
| - No attempt to code

Available authority files in Record Manager

  • AAT - Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • BNE - Biblioteca Nacional de España
  • Candiana Names - (Autorités de noms Canadiana en français) and Canadian Subject Headings
  • GND - German Authority File
  • LC - Library of Congress Names and Subjects Authority File
  • MeSH - Medical Subject Headings
  • Māori - New Zealand Subject Headings
  • NTA - Nederlandse Thesaurus van Auteursnamen
  • RVM - Répertoire de vedettes-matière (French Subject Authority file)
  • FAST – Faceted Application of Subject Terminology

Control headings

  • Control headings link headings in bibliographic records to matching Library of Congress, MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) and/or Canadiana authority records, if available.
  • Clicking a controlled heading hyperlink in a bibliographic record opens the authority record in a separate window.
  • Once you control a heading (and add or replace the record in WorldCat), the heading in the bibliographic record is automatically updated whenever the linked authority record changes.

User Preferences - Control headings

Click User Preferences in the left navigation, then click Working with Records and select Bibliographic Records.

  • Controlled Headings
    • Add Equivalent Subject Headings when controlling all headings (disabled by default).
      • When enabled:
        • System checks for uncontrolled headings and tries to control against the appropriate authority files and then tries to add equivalent subject headings for the controlled headings if the record contains controlled RVM, AAT, LCSH, or MeSH headings. If found, they are added and controlled to their respective authority files.
      • When not enabled:
        • You can select Add Equivalent Subject Headings from the Record menu after controlling LC or another type of heading.
    • Auto-Suggest LC Names * (enabled by default)
      • When adding a new heading:
        • Begin typing a personal, corporate, or conference name in a 1XX or 7XX field.
        • A list of potential matches appears. If the name you select is associated with a single authority record, the heading is automatically controlled.
      • When you click on a controllable name heading in a bibliographic record that is not controlled.
        • A list of potential matches appears. If the name you select is associated with a single authority record, the heading is automatically controlled.

*Note: For Auto-suggest LC Names, 040$b must = eng; for Auto-suggest Canadiana Names, 040 $b must = fre.

Control all headings

While viewing a bibliographic record:

  1. Click the Record menu.
  2. Select Control All Headings.

Control single heading (use for unqualified personal name)

  1. Click in the field and then click the Edit menu and select Controlled Heading > Add
  2. Or, right-click in the heading field and select Controlled Heading > Add.
  3. If a matching authority record is found, click on the heading to view the authority record to verify it is the correct record.
  4. Close the authority record.
  5. Click Insert Heading.

Edit a controlled heading

  1. Right-click in the heading field.
  2. Select Controlled Heading > Remove
  3. Edit the heading (for example, add a subdivision).
  4. Right-click in the heading field.
  5. Select Controlled Heading > Add.

WorldCat Entities Identifiers

  • Insert WorldCat Entity Identifier in $1
    • 100, 600,700, 800 - Names
    • 647 - Events
    • 651 - Places
    • 758 - Works

While viewing a WorldCat bibliographic record (not from Save In-Progress file):

  • For controlled or uncontrolled headings*:
    • Edit menu > Insert WorldCat Entity
    • or Right click > Insert WorldCat Entity
  • For controlled headings:
    • Expand the field by clicking on the arrow before the field
    • Select subfield Real World Object (URI $1)
    • For Value, type or paste the Entity URI (from )
    • Click Done

*Note: WorldCat Entity Identifiers will be automatically added (if available) when you control headings.

User Preferences - Search and browse authority records

Click User Preferences in the left navigation, then click Searching – Basic and select Authority Records.

  • (Optional) Click on checkbox for One Search Result only – open record for editing.
  • Diacritics: Enter search terms with diacritics.
  • Authority references:
    • Show See references in search results
    • Show See Also references in search
    • Show Heading Linking Entries in search results
  • Search Scopes: Specify whether you want each search scope to be displayed in the menu and what order you want them to be listed. You must display at least one search scope.
    • Click on the name of the search scope to customize indexes and display order
    • Default Search Scope: Click the radio button to set a search scope as the default

Search Library of Congress (LC) authority file

  1. Select Authority Data.
  2. Select Scope – LC to search the LC file.
  3. Select Index to search.
    • Keyword
    • Corporate/Conference Name
    • Geographic Name
    • LCCN
    • Personal Name
    • Title
    • Topical
  4. Enter search terms and click Search.

Browse Library of Congress (LC) authority file

  1. Select Authority Data.
  2. Select Scope – LC Browse to browse the LC file.
  3. Select Index to browse.
    • Corporate/Conference Name Phrase
    • Genre Phrase
    • Geographic Phrase
    • Personal Name Phrase
    • Subdivision Phrase
    • Subject Phrase
    • Title Phrase
  4. Enter browse terms in exact order from left to right and click Search.

LC - Root/Expanded Browse

 Note: This type of browse is useful for name-title headings, and subject headings with subdivision(s).

  1. Select Authority Data.
  2. Select Scope – LC Root/Expanded Browse to browse the LC file.
  3. Select Index to browse.
    • Corporate/Conference Name
    • Genre
    • Geographic
    • Personal Name
    • Subdivision Heading
    • Topical
    • Title
  4. Enter terms.
  5. Enter the Expanded Term(s).
  6. Click Search.

User Preferences - Export authority records

Click User Preferences in the left navigation, then click Export – Authority Records.

  • General
    • Format: MARC21 with MARC8, etc.
    • Excluding Authority Data
      • Exclude Matching field(s)
      • Exclude Subfield(s) in Matching Field(s)
  • International
    • Diacritic character usage: Decomposed, Precomposed
  • TCP/IP Export Preferences
    • Host name
    • Port Number, etc.

Export authority records

  1. While viewing an authority record you wish to export, click Send to > Export list or TCP / IP.
  2. If sending to Export list, add it to an existing list or create a new list.
  3. When creating a new list, optionally, click the check box Make Default and/or click the checkbox My List to make the new list only available to your login and no other logins for your institution.
  4. Click Export lists in the left navigation.
  5. Click the Authority tab.
  6. Click the name of the export list.
  7. To delete records from the list, click the check box, and then click Delete.
  8. When  ready to export, click Export > Send to my computer or Send to Local System via TCP / IP.

Test your knowledge

  1. What is the purpose of authority control?
  2. Using Record Manager, search for the bibliographic record with this OCLC number: 214309412. Then add ǂz Hawaii to this subject heading: 650 0 Seismology ǂx Statistical methods ǂv Congresses and control the new heading. (Do not replace the record!)
  3. Using Record Manager, search the authority file for the following:
    • LCCN: sh 85056208. What is the OCLC ARN?
    • OCLC ARN: 2133462. What is the heading in the 150 field?
  4. Using Record Manager, browse the authority file for the subject heading Digital photography. What is the established form of this heading?
  5. Using the LC Root/Expanded Browse scope in Record Manager, find an authority record for Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Taming of the shrew. What is the authority record number?
  6. Using the LC Root/Expanded Browse scope in Record Manager, find an authority record for the topical subject heading: Law--interpretation and construction. What is the authority record number?


Answer key
  1. Some possible answers might be:
    • To maintain consistency of form in headings for names, uniform titles, series titles, and subjects
    • To provide cross-references from forms that are not used to those that are; or to related headings
    • To disambiguate similar headings
    • To collocate similar headings
  2. To add a subdivision to a controlled heading, you must first uncontrol it: Click in the field. Then right-click and select Controlled Heading > Remove. Then type $z Hawaii and control the heading again (right-click Controlled Heading > Add. The system will correctly move the geographic subdivision to appear right after Seismology, even if you have added it to the end. (Seismology $z Hawaii $x Statistical methods $v Congresses.) and will link each subfield in the multi-part heading to its respective authority record.
  3. For LCCN sh 85056208, the OCLC ARN is 2036127.
    For OCLC ARN 2133462, the heading in the 150 field is Cereal products.
  4. The ARN is 2755164, and the established form of this heading in the 150 field is Photography $x Digital techniques.
  5. The ARN for Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Taming of the shrew is 1578794.
  6. The ARN for Law--Interpretation and construction is 2159632.

Supplemental information


Additional questions? Contact OCLC Support in your region.

If you attended the WorldShare Record Manager: Authority control class or listened to the recording,  please complete our brief evaluation. Your feedback is very important! Thank you!