Archive for the ‘Automated Authority Control’ Category

Blind References

Friday, May 22nd, 2009


Blind References:  A subject, name or series title authority record contains a blind reference if there is no heading in the database corresponding to the valid form stored in the authority file.  Usually the last bibliographic record that contained the heading has been deleted.  These authority records are to be deleted from your ILS system authority file.

On a library’s ILS system the blind reference will either not be included in the authority index or will be included in the index with zero hits (bibliographic connections) associated with it. When an authority file is in place on an ILS system only the authorized heading 1XX or the see also reference 5XX of the authority record can be a blind reference. The nature of the see reference 4XX always points to the authorized heading 1XX and can not be a blind reference though on some ILS systems a search on the see reference will have the same result as a search on the authorized heading if the authority record is a blind reference. That is no bibliographic record will be found.

Example of a Blind Reference: Note the 0 that is in yellow is a blind reference.  The other 0 under Topographic Brain mapping is a see reference.

Subject                                                                                    Titles

Topographic brain mapping.                                      0 

  • See: Brain mapping.                                           1

Topographic maps – Databases. 2

Topographic maps — Databases — Software. 0

Topographic maps — Software. 2

How a Blind Reference gets on a Library’s ILS system

There are several ways an ILS system produces Blind References.  The following is a list of a few.

1.      If a library deletes the last bibliographic record associated with an authority it will become a blind reference unless it is removed from the system.

2.      If a new authority does not match up to an existing authorized bibliographic heading it will become a blind reference.

3.      If an authority automation vendor delivers an authority that the library no longer owns it will become a blind reference.

The first description of how a blind reference gets on a library system can be avoided by making sure that you delete any authority associated with a deleted bibliographic record.  Most ILS systems automatically generate a report of these occurrences.

The second blind authority problem occurs during the automation authority control process.  In the past these had to be reconciled or connected through a semi automated and sometimes time consuming process.  Backstage now has a process called “Heading Tracker” that makes manual reconciliation almost obsolete.

The last blind authority problem also occurs during the automated authority control process but can be easily remedied by routine maintenance described below.


The library needs to send their authority deletes to their automation vendor.  There is no automatic removal from the master authority file your vendor keeps with the library’s authority database.  The process can be part of a simple routine maintenance. Most ILS systems automatically generate a file of deleted authority records that can be accessed through reports.  If a list of the deleted records is sent to Backstage we can remove them from your master authority file.  That list should include the control number (001) of the authority record.

Announcing: Heading Tracker a death date fix and more

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Backstage Library Works is pleased to announce Heading Tracker, a much-anticipated enhancement to the MARS Authority Control Service. This enhancement is free to MARS clients using ongoing authority control services — Current Cataloging, Notification Services, or both.

In response to requests from many of our clients, the MARS team has developed this Heading Tracker enhancement to bridge the gap between antiquated and updated headings provided by the Library of Congress, when LC does not formally establish a see reference to connect the old heading to its new version.

This gap is most often noticeable in the problem whose solution we’ve long referred to as the ‘death date fix’ — where LC adds a death date to a name heading, causing a disconnect between your records with open death dates and the new authorized headings with closed dates — but it shows up in changes to uniform titles and other headings as well.

To resolve this problem, the Heading Tracker subroutine automatically generates a see reference (4XX) in your authority record, using the old Library of Congress heading. This see reference is marked as a local tag with a subfield ‘5’ and Backstage’s institution code: $5UtOrBLW. The see reference is also prefaced with a subfield ‘w’ and the appropriate coding to hide the reference from the library’s public access module: $wnnea.

An example of a see reference (4XX) correcting for the addition of a death date would look like this:
(Note that the $w and $5 are highlighted in yellow.)

001 __ n 50000918
003 __ DLC
005 __ 20090218072944.0
008 __ 800208n| acannaabn |a aaa
010 __ $an 50000918
035 __ $a(OCoLC)oca00036619
040 __ $aDLC$beng$cDLC$dOCoLC
100 1_ $aParker, Fan,$d1908-2004
400 1_ $aPockrose, Fania M.,$d1908-2004
400 1_ $wnnea$aParker, Fan,$d1908-$5UtOrBLW
670 __ $aOCLC, Feb. 17, 2009$b(hdgs.: Parker, Fan, 1908- ; Parker, Fan, 1908- ; usage: Fan Parker)

As with most functions of MARS 2.0, options for the Heading Tracker can be selected in your profile. For instance, if you want to display in the Public Access module, we can do that. If you want the enhancement, but you would rather not include undifferentiated or generic headings, we can specify that, too. The standard options available for this feature are listed below.

  • Display in public access, or not. The default will be to not display.
  • Create an undifferentiated or generic see reference, or not. The default is to create the reference.
  • Clean up see references (other than a 430) by making the second indicator of that tag blank, in compliance with Library of Congress standards. The default is to not adjust the LC-provided indicator.
  • Run a second file without Heading Tracker data, directly after the first file, to remove the Backstage-created see references. This provides the connection between old and new headings when importing the files to your ILS, but removes the old references when the second file is loaded. The default is to not provide a second file.

If there are options that you are interested in that are not listed above, let us know and we’ll work to accommodate your needs.

To incorporate the Heading Tracker process on your next Current Cataloging or Notification run, please contact your MARS project manager.

The MARS staff hopes this enhancement will further streamline your automated authority control process. Your input is always appreciated. Contact us if you have questions or concerns.

To learn more, ask questions, or make comments on this enhancement, click over to the Heading Tracker thread on our Control Center Community Forum.


John Reese
Vice President, Authority Services
Backstage Library Works
1-800-288-1265 x.249

Loading Replacement Authorities into Polaris

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

An update from Polaris Integrated Library Systems – $z in the 010 tag

Polaris ILS versions prior to version 3.5 do not allow an incoming authority record to overlay if the Library of Congress authority record is replaced by an older version of that authority record.  When a newer record replaces an older record at the Library of Congress a “$z” with the old authority control number is added to the 010 of the new record.  This tells the library that there was an old version of this record and it has been replaced with this new version.  Prior to Polaris version 3.5, the Polaris system would not recognize the $z as the old record and the overlay would not take place.

According to Brad Rogers, Director of Implementation Services at Polaris, version 3.5 addresses this issue with a new dedupe rule added specifically for authority record importing.  Version 3.5 is slated for release by Polaris in just a few weeks.  The following Polaris importing setup screen reflects the change.

Screenshot showing new import rules allowed by the soon to be released latest Polaris update.

Screenshot showing new import rules allowed by the soon to be released latest Polaris update.

Always Load in Correct Order

Friday, March 20th, 2009


We have often had clients ask us in what order they should load their authorities, if they have several groups to load.  Perhaps you’ve found yourself in the situation where you haven’t loaded your last set of authority updates and now you’ve sent in new bibliographic records to be processed, or maybe your next scheduled update has arrived.  You find yourself looking at two or more batches of authorities and you wonder, “Does it really matter which goes first?”  Absolutely!  And here’s why:


    *  Say you had a scheduled authority update in December, but things went crazy busy and you haven’t had time to load those authorities yet.  Now it’s March and you have a large group of new bibliographic records that need processing, so you send them in.  Thinking you can save time by loading both the December updates and the bibliographic authorities at the same time, you wait for the new group to be returned.  But now … which to load first?  You should load the December updates first.  Example:

    *  You have a heading for Doe, John,$d1955-   and sometime last year LC updated that to Doe, John Joseph,$d1955- (and if we’re lucky, LC added the “old” heading as a 400 see-reference).  This changed authority would deliver with the December group you hadn’t loaded yet.

    *  Now you’ve sent in your bib records and in there is the heading for Doe, John,$d1955-  .  However, between December and today’s date LC decided to edit the record again and they put out a new authority with the new heading of: Doe, John J.,$d1955- (and still kept the original “old” heading of Doe, John,$d1955-  in a 400 see-reference tag).

    *  With the processed bibs you’d get back the very newest authority for Doe, John J.,$d1955-, which is what you’d want in your system.

    *  But if you decide to load the bibliographic records and associated authorities first and the December authority updates second, the middle version of Doe, John Joseph,$d1955-  (from the December updates) would overwrite the newest authority sent with the bibs, and you would be stuck with an older, not current LC version of this heading.

Which is why it’s always wisest to load oldest-to-newest, when you’re working with several projects at once.

Written by: Judy Archer

Open Ended Subject Dates

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

What do you do with open ended subject dates, when the Library of Congress has created authorities with closed dates and no open ended see references? This was the question we sought to answer over the last week.

Take for example, you have a bib record with the following heading:
650 _0 $aWorld politics$y1955-

The authority for this heading has the following authorized and see references:

sh 85148226
150 _0 $aWorld politics$y1955-1965

Although these records are related, in an automated process they wont be linked, and the ending date will not be supplied. We decided there had to be a better way to link these up, and the process wasn’t very difficult, in fact, we’ve been doing it for names forever!

The answer is in the hierarchy. If we allowed our hierarchy system to include the closing date for subjects, we could provide the open ended bib dates a form of hierarchy to match against.

In essence, our Authority record above would create 2 possible heading matches. They would be (after following our normalization routine):
$aWORLD POLITICS$1955-1965

Now your bib heading $aWorld politics$y1955- could match and update against the proper LC Authority record. When we started researching this, we discovered another caveat. In some cases there are 2 authorities, one with an open ended date and one with a closed date. Our conclusion is that it’s obviously better in this case to trust what the original cataloger selected and match the open ended authority, rather than the closed authority. An example of this would be the authorities:
sh 85007061
151_0$aArgentina$xPolitics and government$y1810-
sh 85007060
151_0$aArgentina$xPolitics and government$y1810-1817

In this case, our bib record heading of 651 _0 $aArgentina$xPolitics and government$y1810- would match the first Authority.

After figuring that out, we discovered a real surprise, headings that were exactly the same, but had different closing dates. For example, France — History — 1789 has the following Authorities:

sh 85051348
sh 85051347
sh 85051346
sh 85051314

Obviously there are different meanings for different time periods starting from 1789. Now, if the bib record had an open ended date, it would take the open ended authority. And, if the bib record had any of the closed dates, it would take the authority with the matching date.

Our focus here, has been making sure that open ended authorities take the best possible match, and if there are no open ended authorities, matching it to the correct closed date authority, without creating false positive results.

Announcing a new Product

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Bibliographic Record Update Service

Due to popular demand, Backstage Library Works is now offering a third ongoing service product that we call Bibliographic Record Update Service.  This service updates your bibliographic records during our Notification Service.

Over the years Backstage has offered two ongoing products for automated authority control.  For all of your new bibliographic records we provide a product called Current Cataloging.  Current Cataloging is designed to pick up where you left off with the original automated authority process.  We take all of your new bibliographic records and process them exactly like we processed your original bibliographic database.  With this process we return to you newly validated bibliographic records with updated authority headings that match the new and updated authority records we return to you.  We retain in your master authority file all new and updated authority records.

To complement our Current Catalog product Backstage offers Notification Services.  Notification Services matches your library’s master authority file against the National Databases on pre determined intervals to give you updated and new authority records that replace the old authority records on your database.

Both of these products together are a very efficient and cost beneficial way to maintain your authority database.  For most libraries this is sufficient.  However, with the Notification product it is left to the Library’s ILS system to reconcile new authorities delivered by Backstage with existing authority headings in their bibliographic records.  The process of importing and updating the Library’s authority records is straightforward.  Control numbers are matched up and the newly imported record overlay the old authority record.  However, for some ILS systems the updating of the authority heading is done by a string match on the 1XX or the 4XX of the authority record.  If neither are the same as the old bibliographic authority heading the record will not automatically reconcile.  Typically, this is done through reports but the effort to reconcile or to populate the authorized heading in the bibliographic record can be partially manual and can be time consuming depending on the ILS and the library.

How big of a job is this?  It really depends.  Up until the advent of the closed death date Backstage did not receive a call involving the amount of time you spent on reconciling new authority records to existing authority headings but that has changed.  Recently, we have noticed an interest in having this part of the ongoing authority process further automated.  As a result we have developed a complimentary service we call Bibliographic Record Update Service.

What we will do during our Bibliographic Record Update Service is maintain your bibliographic records along with your authority records.  With this service, Backstage will have a master bibliographic file as well as a master authority file for your library which we will maintain for you.  When Notification Services run on your database, our Bibliographic Record Update Service will also run.  Backstage will update or reconcile your bibliographic database as well as your authority file before we send records back to you.  We will deliver to you updated bibliographic records along with your updated and new authority files.

How does this help you?  The time spent reconciling your new and updated authority records to their associated bibliographic records will disappear.  Your library will simply need to upload updated bibliographic records along with new and updated authority records.  The process will be identical to what you do for Current Cataloging.

To maintain your bib file we will need any changed bibliographic records sent to Backstage prior to your Bibliographic Update service.

If you are interested in this new service please contact your sales representative or the MARS authority control team for more information.