Authority Control Interest Group (ACIG)

Authority Control Interest Group (ACIG)

About twenty years ago I attended my first American Library Association Conference.  I was relatively new to the library world and really looking forward to the ALA experience.  I had heard so much about the great meeting being held about all topics known to “Library” Mankind.  It was a long time ago, and I don’t remember the details of any of the meetings I attended with the exception of one.  It is as clear today as it was some twenty years ago.  I stepped into a rather large conference room, standing room only, as I recall.  There was a panel of experts placed at the very front of the conference room on a stage with microphones for each and pitchers of water placed strategically on the table for all to share.  There was a standing microphone placed in the middle of the isle and as the panel completed their discussion, an anxious group of librarians lined up behind the microphone to say their piece.  Soon an angry tirade of heart felt opinions emerged.  I don’t remember the exact discussion, but I do remember it had something to do with the creation of an authority control record for “nuns”.* I was amazed at the passion and at times anger expressed in the varying opinions.  I remember thinking to myself, “What is wrong with these people!

That, ladies and gentlemen, was my first introduction to what we know today as the ALA Annual Session of the Authority Control Interest Group.  Oh yes, there is great passion in authority control.

So, you may ask: what is the Authority Control Interest Group (ACIG), and why should I care?    We will start with the group’s history and mission.  The ACIG was established in 1984 by Barbara Tillett.  Its original name, “Authority Control in the Online Environment Interest Group” highlights the original purpose of the group, which was to bring about awareness to technical service librarians who were moving to the online environment. At that time most of the existing ILS systems had not configured authority control into their ILS systems.  In 2006 the name was shortened to, “Authority Control Interest Group”.   The goal of the group was to provide a forum for discussion of issues related to authority control for online cataloging.  The forum is used to raise the level of awareness on authority control issues and to encourage ideas for new approaches to authority control.  Each year officers are elected to coordinate overall activities of the interest group.  The group is co-sponsored by the LITA and ALCTS divisions of the American Library Association.  A program is presented at each ALA conference.  The programs typically address what is new in the world of controlled vocabulary.  A representative for the Library of Congress typically gives an update of what is going on with authority control within their organization.  OCLC usually sends a presenter to update the library world on OCLC involvement with authority control.   The rest of the panel usually consists of people who are either experts in an area the group is focusing on for that particular meeting, or people who have done research in the area that the group is focusing on for that meeting.  The sessions are usually well attended.  You can expect several hundred for the summer session.

Upon completion of the presentations, the ACIG group gathers to have a business meeting.  All who are interested are invited to attend.  In this meeting officers are elected and the next conference presentation is discussed.  Over the next six months, the Vice-Chair works with the library community and the ACIG committee to put together a presentation for next conference.

I have been involved with the Authority Control Interest Group for the last four years.  I found it a very good vehicle for keeping a pulse on the authority control world.  The group is always looking for volunteers and welcomes new members.  For more information on the ACIG please visit their wiki site at

*Out of curiosity, I looked to see if there was a heading for nuns and there is.  It is listed below.  For the life of me, I don’t remember what the debate was about!

LDR                   00385cz   2200145n  4500
001                     sh 85093287
003                     DLC
005                     19961001105801.6
008                     860211i| anannbab|          |a ana |||
010                     $ash 85093287
040                     $aDLC$cDLC$dDLC
150         0         $aNuns
450         0         $aSisters (in religious orders, congregations, etc.)
550         0         $wg$aChristians
550         0         $aMonasticism and religious orders for women
Record Info
Ctrl No: sh 85093287
Record Date: 10/1/1996 10:58:01 AM
Last Updated/Loaded: 3/4/2009 1:56:25 AM
Usages: Subject
Rec Status:

**Post by John Reese, Chief Operating Officer of the Utah dept. of Backstage Library Works


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