Automated Authority Control for a Consortium

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Automated Authority Control for a Consortium

Providing automated authority control for consortiums often brings about some unique challenges. Consortium is a more general term for an organization or library partnership. It is a cooperative arrangement of institutions that is often based on similar needs but is always based on sharing or pooling resources. In the library world there is a great diversity in consortium types. Typically you will find like institutions partnering for shared resources but unlike a library system where all financial and physical resources run through a central office, members of a consortium are responsible for most of their financial and physical resources but choose to consort with one another to share services that all will benefit from and defer some of that cost amongst the members.

When considering automated authority control for a consortium, Backstage Library Works, works closely with members to design the best solution for their consortium. Considerations include where the physical data resides, are there shared databases, and is there a need for a Union Catalog.

Physical Configuration:

The physical layout of the consortium is important more to the consortium then to Backstage. When Backstage completes a process the data is put on a server and downloaded via our web interface by our customers or in some instances it is put on an FTP server and retrieved by the library via FTP pickup. Either way, it is the library that needs to determine what server they will be loading their data on.

Data Configuration:

Processing data is a little more involved and is very consortium dependent. First we need to determine what the makeup of the data is. Some consortiums are completely data independent. Each library has its own server and an independent bibliographic database. They often have differing ILS systems as well. The Challenge for Backstage is to schedule independent runs for each member of the consortium. The advantage to the consortium is they can profile their automated authority process specific to their institutions needs.

The second type of consortium clusters their data among several groups within the consortium. You may see a fifty member consortium with five clusters of ten libraries. These clusters share the same database. Each cluster will need to profile their automated authority control process as a group. The advantage for them is they have a larger database to share with their group and they only have to process once for ten libraries.

The last type of data configuration we see with consortiums is a shared database consortium. This type of consortium is treated much like a library system in that profiling is only done once and processing is run once for the combined members. The obvious disadvantage to this type of a consortium is there is no room for unique member configurations.

Union Catalogue:

One benefit of a consortium is it is possible to set up and utilize a union catalogue of bibliographic records and their associated authority records. Only the data independent or clustered consortiums need a union catalogue. The Union catalog is used primarily for patron use to determine what else is in their library confederation but it can also be used by technical services for researching new acquisitions or reconciling existing bibliographic and authority problems.


Backstage Library Works is working with a number of consortiums providing an automated authority control solution customized for their particular needs. The key for any consortium considering authority control is to explore with their vendor the various options and particular needs they have to provide a solution that fit all of their needs.

The following are a few consortiums that Backstage Library Works currently does automated authority control processing with.

HELIN Consortium

OPALL Consortium


Lion Consortium of Virginia

MOBIUS Consortium

SILAS Consortium