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There are two types of Usage in the Authority Control World. This article will attempt to explain each of them, how they are used, and how they can affect you and your library.

In the simplest of terms, usage describes two things: 1.) How an authority record is allowed to be used; and 2.) How your library uses a particular authority record.

Library of Congress Allowed Usage

The first type of usage deals solely with the Authority Record and is determined by the Library of Congress. This usage is designated in the 008 control tag in bytes 14, 15, and 16. Bytes 14 – 16 set the authority records ability to be used as a Subject, Name, and Series.

008 Byte Usage
14 Name
15 Subject
16 Series

The presence of an ’a’ means it is appropriate to use that authority record as that type of usage. For example, an ’a’ in 008[15] indicates that the authority record may be used as a subject authority. The presence of a ’b’ means it is not appropriate to use that authority record for that usage. For example, a ’b’ in 008[15] indicates that the authority record should not be used as a subject.

008 Byte Value Appropriate to use? Yes / No
A Yes
B No
| No attempt to code

Backstage Library Works Usage

MARS Authority Processing uses both the Library of Congress usage and the bibliographic record in determining the actual usage of the authority record.

When attempting to match a bibliographic field against the MARS Authority Record Master Databases our process determines the bibliographic usage by the tag number the heading is in. When we find a match, the authority record is stored in your authmaster with your specific usage designated, even if you get your authority records returned to you in 1 file. This allows us to have the most information possible about your database, and if you were to switch to a new ILS which required authority files split up by usage we would immediately be able to accommodate your needs without reprocessing any of your data.

The following chart describes how usage will be set by the MARS 2.0 software. Note the usage is determined by the bibliographic tag the heading is in.

Tag Usage
1XX/7XX (Except X30) Name
6XX (Except 630) Subject
4XX/8XX (Except X30) Series
130/730 Title (Name)
440/830 Title (Series)
630 Title (Subject)

Common Questions about Usage

What if my usage (based on tag) isn’t allowed by the Library of Congress (based on 008 bytes)?

We still take the match and the heading shows up on Report 11 – Heading Usage Not Authorized

Should I have my authorities sent to me split up by Usage, if so, which usages?

The answer to this question will be based on the way your ILS system handles Authorities. Most ILS systems allow you to load Name and Subject authorities as separate files. You should check with your vendor.