Voyager Authority Control Tips

QUESTION: How do I recognize authority records in Orbis?

Authority records are easily recognizable in both the Orbis and the LCDB databases. They have a salmon-colored background. They also have a yellow star-shaped icon that looks like a "sheriff's badge" in the upper-left corner. And the record number in the title bar is preceded by "Auth." Here is an example of an authority record:

Record image

Although background color, star icon, and record number are the quickest ways to identify authority records in Voyager, they can also be recognized by their fairly distinctive MARC tagging structure:

Each authority record will have a 1XX tag (e.g. names of persons will be tagged 100, names of organizations will be tagged 110, topical subject headings will be tagged 150, etc.). Most of the time, the 1XX field contains the authorized form of the heading (i.e. the form we should be using as an access point in our bibliographic records). Occasionally the 1XX contains a heading that is not authorized for use (e.g. a series-like phrase) and the record provides further instructions for the cataloger to follow.

Authority records may also have one or more 4XX tags containing variant forms of the authorized heading. These variant forms display as "see" references in the catalog and help direct users to the correct heading.

Authority records will sometimes have one or more 5XX tags. These contain headings that are somehow *related* to the authorized heading. These headings display as "see also" references in the catalog and help direct users to other headings that they may find useful.

Finally, authority records usually have one or more 670 tags. These contain citations to works consulted by catalogers when establishing headings and cross references. These citations do not display to the public but they can help staff determine whether they have found the correct authority record.

Other more specialized MARC tags do occur in authority records (e.g. most series authority records have 64X fields that detail classification, tracing, and analysis decisions) but the 1xx, 4xx, 5xx, and 670 tags are the most common ones.

Effective Date: 
March 3, 2014

Searching for Authority Records

QUESTION: How do I search for authority records in Orbis?

Most staff will be using the Authorities Validation box to help them verify headings and find authority records. But authority records can also be searched "from scratch" using any of the following methods:

1) To search by Voyager ID #, select the menu commands "Record>Retrieve By Record ID>Authority"

2) To search by Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), select the index called "Auth LCCN (010a)"

3) To search by former NOTIS ID #, select the index called "Auth System Number (035a)"

4) To search by a heading, select one of these four indexes:

Staff Name Headings Search 
Staff Name/Title Headings Search 
Staff Title Headings Search 
Staff Subject Headings Search

Note: Other indexes (e.g. Title) will not retrieve authority records in Orbis! When you save a bibliographic record to the Orbis database and Voyager performs automatic Authorities Validation on the headings, the system is using these same indexes.

Pick the Staff Heading index that matches the type of heading you are searching. Type in your search string and click "Do Search". If your search retrieves results, a Headings List will appear. Example:

List image

Look in the left-hand column. If you see the word "Authorized," that means the heading in question is authorized and can be used as an access point in a bib record. If you see the word "Reference," that means the heading is a cross reference form. In either case, you can click on the heading to highlight it:

and then click on the button marked "Authority" to actually retrieve the authority record and view the authorized heading.

If you do not find the desired authority record, you might try the search again using a different spelling or a shortened version of your search string.

If you still don't find an authority record in Orbis, you can repeat the search in the LC resource file. To do this, bring up the search box and click on the "Remote" button to get to the "Voyager Connection Options" window. Add LCDB to the "Selected Locations" column:

and click the "Connect" button. This will bring up a "Remote Search" box and your last search will be automatically entered for you so that you need only click the "Do Search" button:

Note: In LCDB you can also search for authority records for subject subdivisions. Select the index called "Staff Subject Subdivision Search". These authority records are currently not available in the Orbis database.

Don't forget to disconnect from LCDB when you are done searching and want to return to Orbis! To do this, click the "Remote" button to return to the "Voyager Connection Options" window, click "Clear" and then "Connect."

If you are ever unsure as to which database you are searching, look at the title bar of the search box. It will say "Search" if you are searching Orbis and "Remote Search" if you are searching LCDB.

Note: Authority records cannot be retrieved using a Simultaneous Search of these two databases.


Selecting a Staff Heading Index

QUESTION: Which Staff Heading index should I use?

In NOTIS, the "jx" and "fx" searches allowed us to search for authority records using a single index. In Voyager, we are forced to select an index based on heading type. There are four Staff Heading indexes in Orbis:

  • Staff Name Headings Search
  • Staff Name/Title Headings Search
  • Staff Title Headings Search
  • Staff Subject Headings Search

Let's look at each one in turn. 

Staff Name Headings Search

Indexes the following types of authority records:

  • personal names (e.g. "Stitt, Sonny")
  • corporate names (e.g. "New York Public Library")
  • conference names (e.g. "Conference on Aging")
  • jurisdiction names (e.g. "Peru")

Words of Caution: 

Personal names that are *only* valid for use as subject headings cannot be found using this index. Names of families are included in this category (e.g. "Borgia family"). Use the Staff Subject Headings Search to find authority records for names of families.

Staff Name/Title Headings Search 

Indexes the following types of authority records:

  • personal name/titles (e.g. "Joyce, James, 1882-1941. Ulysses. Italian")
  • corporate name/titles(e.g. "Catholic Church. Book of hours")
  • conference name/titles (e.g. "Congreso Obrero (1st : 1918 : Motul, Mexico). Tierra y libertad")
  • jurisdiction name/titles (e.g. "France. Treaties, etc. Portugal, 1886 May 12")

Words of Caution:

Cross references for the name portions of name/title headings are not normally carried in the name/title authority record. Instead they are found only in the authority record for the name by itself. Thus, if you search the Staff Name/Title index using an unauthorized form of name, you may not find any useful cross references to guide you to the record you want.

If you don't know the authorized form of name, a good search strategy is to first search the name portion of the heading in the Staff Name Headings index. Then, once you find the authorized name, you can use it to search the Staff Name/Title Heading index with greater confidence. 


If you search the Staff Name/Title index using "bach j s" you will not find a cross reference to a name-title heading beginning with "Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750." But, if you perform that same search in the Staff Name Headings index you will find out that the authorized form of the name is "Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750." Then, you can use this authorized form of name in the Staff Name/Title index to look for Bach name/title authority records.

Staff Title Headings Search

Indexes the following types of authority records:

  • series uniform titles that do not have a name heading as the entry element (e.g. "Astronomy and astrophysics series")
  • other uniform titles that do not have a name heading as the entry element (e.g. "King Kong (Motion picture : 1933)")

Words of Caution:

It is not enough to simply look at a list of headings and see that a series authority record exists for a particular title. You need to actually open the series authority record to verify such things as whether the series is analyzed or not, traced or not, classed separately or together. Sometimes the record will even tell you that the title is to be transcribed in a note.

Staff Subject Headings Search

Indexes the following types of authority records:

  • topical subject headings (e.g. "Paper airplanes")
  • geographic headings that are not jurisdictions (e.g. "Red River Gorge (Ky.)")
  • any heading with a subject subdivision (e.g. Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Books and reading")
  • almost all other headings

Words of Caution:

Because most name, name/title, and title headings are valid for use as subject headings, authority records for most of these headings can be found using a Staff Subject Headings search. An important exception is headings for superseded names of jurisdictions. These headings are not valid for use as a subject because one is generally supposed to use the current name of a jurisdiction when assigning subject headings (e.g. the former name of "Haiti" is "Saint-Domingue"; "Saint-Domingue" may be used in a bib record as a main or added entry but not as a subject heading; thus, you can only find the authority record for "Saint-Domingue" in the Staff Name Heading index).

You might wonder how Voyager knows the difference. The system is reading one of the fixed fields in the authority record, namely the "Heading Use--Subject Added Entry" fixed field (008/15 in MARC21-speak). In the authority record for "Saint-Domingue" this value is "b" meaning "not appropriate for use as a subject added entry."


Searching for Subdivision Authority Records

Question: How do I search for subdivision authority records?

The "Staff Subject Subdivision Search" cannot be used to search for authority records in Orbis. The reason for this is simple: Orbis does not have any authority records for subdivisions. This may change in the future but, for now, subdivision authority records can only be found in LCDB, our LC resource file.

In NOTIS, searching the LC resource file for subdivision authority records was easy for two reasons. First, you could limit your searches to authority records. Second, you could distinguish among various types of authority records in the results list because the MARC tag was included in the index display. For example, this NOTIS index display told us that "Periodicals" was valid as a topical subdivision (180), a form subdivision (185), or a subject heading (150):


In Voyager, searching for subdivision authority records in LCDB can be frustrating. You would think it would be easier because the "Staff Subject Subdivision Search" is devoted solely to subdivisions. However, the index is not limited to authority records. It searches subdivisions in authority records and subdivisions in bibliographic records at the same time. If you think about how many bibliographic records contain a common subdivision like "Periodicals," you realize that your search may take a long long time.

Here is what happens when you search LCDB for an authority record for the subdivision "Periodicals." I don't recommend that you try this yourself, by the way! From the search box, you click on the "remote" button and select LCDB as your database. You choose the "Staff Subject Subdivision Search" and type in "Periodicals." Then you wait. And wait. And wait.

Eventually, you got the message "The search was truncated" and you are given 10,000 records to look through. Scrolling through these records, you find two that are labelled "Subdivision/Auth," meaning they correspond to subdivision authority records. However, these two records are not at the top of the list, they do not file together, and there is no way to distinguish between the authority record for the form subdivision and the authority record for the topical subdivision (unless you actually open them up).

Given these difficulties, you might want to limit your use of the "Staff Subject Subdivision Search" to the less commonly used subdivisions (e.g. "Coronation" or "Bonsai collections" or "African American troops"). These types of searches go fairly quickly. Try one for yourself! But, if you need authoritative information about a more commonly used subdivision (e.g. "Bibliography" or "Encyclopedia" or "History"), it might be easier to consult the Subject Cataloging Manual in Cataloger's Desktop or the national authority file in OCLC. In OCLC, you can search using the index called "Subdivision Headings (sb:)". Subdivision authority records are NOT available via LC Web Authorities at this time.

Finally, it is possible to limit your searches in LCDB using filters. This is helpful if you know you want a particular type of subdivision (e.g. a form subdivision). However, searches for commonly used subdivisions will still tend to be slow.

Selecting Non-Staff Heading Indexes (Names and Subjects)

Question: How do I use the non-Staff Heading indexes for names and subjects?

In previous tips, we talked about using the "Staff" searches in the Voyager catalog module (i.e. those indexes that have the word "Staff" at the beginning). You may remember that these are the only searches, other than number searches, that can be used to find authority records and cross references.

Starting with this month's tip, we'll be looking at some of the other heading indexes available in the Voyager catalog module. Although these indexes cannot be used to retrieve authority records, they can be very useful for authority work.

We'll discuss four indexes this month: Names, Local Subjects, Subjects, andSubjects: Genre/Form. Read on!


Staff sometimes want to find *all* of the bib records that contain a particular name heading, no matter whether the name functions as an author or as a subject. In authority control work, this happens most frequently when doing heading maintenance and when doing research to create a name authority record. Voyager does not normally have an index that allows one to find all such bib records using a single search, so the Orbis2 Cataloging Implementation Group beefed up the "Names" index for this purpose. An Orbis "Names" search will find all the bib records that use a particular name heading as a main entry (1XX), added entry (7XX), series added entry (4XX or 8XX), or subject heading (6XX), including as a local Yale subject heading (69X).

More on these local subject headings next ...

Local Subjects

Yale catalogers, especially our special collections catalogers, assign a variety of local subject headings in Orbis. Because these headings, tagged 69X, are not retrievable using the Staff Heading indexes, the Orbis2 Cataloging Implementation Group created a special "Local Subjects" search that indexes all 69X headings. You can use this index to search for local subject headings such as "Incunabula in Yale Library," "World Christianity," or "Baskin, Leonard, $d 1922- $x Bookplate." The Group also included local subject headings in the "Names" and "Subjects" indexes to make these searches more comprehensive.

More on the "Subjects" index next ...


The Voyager "Subjects" index was expanded by the Orbis2 Cataloging Implementation Group to encompass Library of Congress subject headings, MeSH subject headings, genre/form headings, and all of the various local subject headings assigned by Yale catalogers in the 69X fields. Other subject headings, such as foreign-language headings found on vendor records, are excluded in the "Subjects" search.

And finally...

Subject: Genre/Form

Although genre/form headings (655) are indexed in both the "Staff Subject Heading Search" and the "Subjects" search, you will sometimes want to search them in the separate index called "Subject: Genre/Form." For example, if you needed to clean up the genre heading "Calaveras" because it had changed to a new form of heading, you could use the "Subject: Genre/Form" index rather than one of the two broader subject indexes to avoid the many subject headings for "Calaveras County (Calif.)". Our old NOTIS system did not have a separate index for genre/form headings.

Selecting Non-Staff Heading Indexes (Titles)

Question: How do I use the non-Staff Heading indexes for titles?

In last month's authority control tip, we talked about seaching the Voyager catalog module using various "non-Staff Heading" indexes for names and subjects. In this month's tip, we'll look at the "non-Staff Heading" indexes for titles: Title, Journal Title, Series Title, and Series: Not Traced. Remember that you cannot retrieve any authority records or cross references with these searches (because they are not Staff Heading searches) but they can still be very useful.


The "Title" search is a general all-purpose index that can be used to search many different kinds of titles. Most people use it to search for the title proper (245 field) but it can also be used to search for main and added entry uniform titles (130, 730), title portions of name-title headings (240, 7XX$t), variant titles (246, 740), and series titles (440, 8XX$t, 830).

However, you cannot use the "Title" index to find a title that has been used as a subject heading. Thus, if you want to find a work about Beowulf (as opposed to the actual text of Beowulf) you must use a subject search. If you are doing heading maintenance or NACO work in staff Orbis, you will often need to do two separate searches (both title and subject) to make sure that you find every bib record with a particular title heading.

Journal Title

The "Journal Title" search indexes the same fields as the "Title" search, but it only retrieves bib records that are coded as serials. The system looks at the values in the fixed fields to see if the record is a serial.

Series Title

The "Series Title" index limits your search to series title fields. It is especially useful to catalogers who create series authority records for NACO. The index searches the bib record 440 and 830 fields, as you would expect, but also the $t portion of 4XX and 8XX fields.

The series numbering ($v) is also indexed in this search. This allows you to search for a particular issue of a series. It also means that the series numbering will display in your list of search results. The Staff Title Heading index does not display series numbering. To see this for yourself, search the series "New perspectives in philosophical scholarship" using both a "Staff Title Headings Search" and the "Series Title" search.

Series: Not Traced

The "Series: Not Traced" index lets you search series that are coded 490-0 in bib records. Our old NOTIS system did not have this functionality. If you are doing series "cleanup" or establishing a series authority record for NACO, especially if it is an older series, you will probably want to search this index to see if any bib records that had the series coded as "untraced" should now be changed to "traced."

To try this for yourself, search the series "Studies in African history" using both the "Series Title" and the "Series: Not Traced" indexes. This series is supposed to be traced, according to its series authority record, and in the "Series Title" search results, you will indeed find about a dozen Orbis records that have this series traced. However, in the "Series: Not Traced" search results, you will find a handful of additional Orbis bib records that have the series coded 490-0 (not traced). These records can be corrected (to 440 or 490-1/830 as appropriate) and then all the books in this series can be retrieved using a single title search.


Order of Headings in Search Results

Question: How are headings organized in search results?

Voyager does not always do a very good job of organizing and displaying search results. It certainly does not follow the LC Filing Rules! The system simply files headings character by character according to some very basic rules: Nothing comes before something. Numbers come before letters. Letters are arranged in alphabetical order. MARC subfield codes are ignored.

This means that the heading you are trying to find might not be where you expect. Here are a couple of examples, one showing a typical Staff Name Heading Search and the other showing a typical Staff Subject Heading Search, but keep in mind that other search results will be organized in the same way.

Example 1: Staff Name Heading Search

A search on the heading "Smith John" might retrieve:

Smith, John
Smith, John, 1927-
Smith, John Albert
Smith, John, ca. 1735-1824
Smith, John Charles
Smith, John, d. 1684
Smith, John Day, 1845-1933
Smith, John F.
Smith, John, fl. 1794.
Smith, John Francis.

You might expect to find all the names in the form "Smith, John, [date]" to be filed together in one sequence, followed by all the names in the form "Smith, John [middle name]." But this does not always happen. Date fields in personal name headings sometimes include letters (b.=born, ca.=circa, d.=died, and fl.=flourished) and these letters file as if they were middle names or middle initials.

Example 2 : Staff Subject Heading Search

Subject headings are also arranged in a strictly alphabetical way, but they can be even more confusing because dashes between subdivisions do not display. For example, a search on the topic "Paper" might retrieve:

Paper airplanes
Paper Analysis
Paper bags
Paper Bibliography
Paper clips
Paper England History

If the dashes actually displayed the list would look like this:

Paper airplanes
Paper bags
Paper clips

But even if you manage to visualize the headings this way, the display is still not very intuitive. All of the subdivided forms of the topical heading "Paper" should file together at the beginning. Instead, they are interspersed with other headings that just happen to begin with the word "Paper".

Remember to keep the Voyager filing rules in mind when scanning your search results. The heading you want might be further down the list than you would expect. Sometimes you'll have to scroll!

[Jan. 2007 update: Starting with Voyager 6.1, dashes are now displayed before subdivisions in the "Staff Subject Heading" and "Staff Subject Subdivision" indexes but not in these indexes: "Special Collections Subject"; "Subject: Genre"; "Subjects"; and "Names".]

010 Fields (LCCNs)

Question: What does an authority record's 010 field contain?

The 010 field contains a number called the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN). Each authority record distributed by the Library of Congress is assigned an LCCN. It provides a unique identifier that can be used by all systems. When our Systems Office loads authority records into Orbis, the LCCN serves as the match point for record overlays.

Although the Library of Congress is the distributor for these authority records, many of the records are actually created by catalogers at other libraries. These libraries contribute authority records to LC through the Name Authorities Cooperative Program (NACO). Yale is a participant in the NACO program.

NACO participants generally contribute authority records to LC using either RLIN or OCLC. If you look carefully at the LCCN in an authority record, you can identify where the record was originally created simply by looking at the number's alphabetic prefix:

n = Library of Congress created the record
nr = NACO participant created the record in RLIN
no = NACO participant created the record in OCLC
nb = NACO participant at the British Library created the record 
sh = Library of Congress subject heading

So, an authority record with an LCCN in the form "nb2003012487" means
the record was contributed through NACO by the British Library. The next four digits mean the record was created in the year 2003.

Sometimes the 010 field will have two LCCNs, one in subfield $a and one in subfield $z. This means that at some point in the past, duplicate authority records were discovered and one of them was deleted. The LCCN from the deleted authority record was coded subfield $z and added to the LCCN of the authority record that was kept.

Finally, you will sometimes come across an authority record in Orbis WITHOUT an 010 field. This is a "locally created" authority record. Before the Library was a member of the NACO program, Yale catalogers only created authority records in our local catalog and did not share them with other libraries. These "locally-created" authority records will always have an 035 field containing a NOTIS system number that begins with the letter "Y".

As NACO catalogers encounter these locally-created authority records in Orbis, they are supposed to recreate them as NACO records and then delete the locally-created authority records. In time, we hope to eliminate all of the locally-created authority records that currently exist in Orbis.

Effective Date: 
January 23, 2014

Undifferentiated Name Authority Records

Question: What is an Undifferentiated Name Authority Record?

Most personal name headings in authority records are unique. Each authority record represents a single person (or, in the case of pseudonyms, a single bibliographic identity). If two people happen to share the same name, then other information (such as birth and death dates) can be used to differentiate them.

However, sometimes two people with the same name cannot be distinguished. Their birth and death dates cannot be determined from reference sources and no other information can be found to break the conflict. In these cases, catalogers will generally create what is called an "undifferentiated personal name" authority record. The same record (and the same heading) will be used to represent more than one person in the catalog.

How can you recognize these records?

One way is to check the 008 fixed field called "undifferentiated personal name." If this field contains the letter "b," then the record is an undifferentiated personal name record.

However, a more immediate way of identifying such a record is by the distinctive pattern of its 670 fields. The 670 fields occur in pairs and each pair represents a different person or identity. The first 670 in each pair will contain a generic phrase such as "[Author of .....] in square brackets. The second 670 will contain the title of the work associated with that person.

An example of an "undifferentiated personal name" authority record is shown below. As you can see, the first "Nigel Smith" is a physician. The second "Nigel Smith" is a journalist:

If a birth or death date is later found for an identity on this authority record, that identity will be taken off and a new record (with a unique heading) will be created for that person.


Voyager Authority Validation Messages

Authority Control at Yale

Authority Validation Messages
  1. Heading Validated
  2. Heading Validated - Cosmetic Differences
  3. Partial Heading Validation
  4. Nonexistent Heading
  5. No Validation Performed
  6. See Reference
  7. See Also Reference
  8. Earlier Heading

1. Heading Validated


The "Heading Validated" message means that the heading in the bib record matches a heading in an authority record. The authority record heading is displayed in the "Near Heading" column.


Note that in the example above, the bib record heading has a final period but the authority record heading does not. This is not unusual. Older authority record headings will often have a final period; newer authority records will not. The presence or absence of a final period will not affect heading validation.

Suggested Action:

No action is generally needed. Simply click the "Continue" button if you want to continue saving the bib record to the database.

Occasionally, you might want to click the "Retrieve auth" button to actually look at the authority record and verify that the matching heading is the right one. For example, if your bib heading has a very common name like "Brown, James" but the heading lacks dates, you might want to check the authority record to see if it represents the same person. Just because a bib heading matches an authority record doesn't always mean it's the correct heading! If it isn't a correct match, you will want to click on the "Search" button to look for a different authority record. The heading you need might be "Brown, James,$d1800-1855."

2. Heading Validated - Cosmetic Differences


The "Heading Validated - Cosmetic Differences" message means that the heading in the bib record matches a heading in an authority record, but not exactly. Examples:

Difference in capitalization:


Difference in diacritics:


Difference in subfield values:



Suggested Action:

Differences involving capitalization or diacritics can usually be ignored because MARS will correct the headings. Simply click the "Continue" button to continue saving the bib record to the database.

Differences involving subfield values should usually be corrected because they are more difficult for MARS to fix.

However, keep in mind that many 100/240 tag combinations generating a "cosmetic differences" message are actually correct! In the Flaubert name/title example (above), the bib record correctly splits the uniform title into two different fields (100 for name portion and 240 for title portion) but the authority record correctly carries the entire name/title heading in a single field. Thus, the title in the bib record 240 field starts with $a but the title in the authority record starts with $t. No correction is needed.

3. Partial Heading Validation


The "Partial Heading Validation" message means that the heading in the bib record is only apartial match to an authority record heading. The "Near Heading" column displays the authorized heading that the system has identified as a partial match (or the portion of the authorized heading that is a partial match). Example:

The "Near Heading" is followed by a number in square brackets. This number refers to the total number of authorized headings (or cross references) in Orbis that begin with the "Near Heading" in the index for that particular heading type. In the example above, the Near Heading "Military art and science" is followed by the number [15], meaning there are fifteen authorized headings (or cross references) in the Staff Subject Heading index that begin with the words "Military art and science".

You will encounter the "Partial Heading Validation" message most frequently when validating subject headings because many of the more commonly-used subdivisions (such as "Biography" and "History") are "free-floating." These subdivisions can be added to any subject heading and an authority record for the entire string is not required.

Suggested Action:

Use judgment when you encounter the "Partial Heading Validation" message.

Although subject headings that contain "free-floating" subdivisions or geographic subdivisions will not usually require further action, some might. Example:


The main subject heading "Family life" is not a valid Library of Congress subject heading. The system has simply found a match to 6 authority records in Orbis that begin with the words "Family life." A valid LC subject heading for this concept would be "Family$zAfrica".

Name headings are very likely to require investigation and correction. Example:


The validation box tells us that although the heading "Franklin, Benjamin, $d 1819-1898" does not have an authority record in Orbis, it is a partial match to 5 authorized headings (or cross references) in Orbis that begin with the words "Franklin, Benjamin." One of these authorized headings could be the one needed in our bib record.

To investigate further, we simply click on the "Search" button. This will automatically perform a "browse" search on the bib record heading and we can look to see whether any of the other "Franklin, Benjamin" headings is the correct one for our bib record. As it turns out, our bib record heading had the wrong birthdate. We find a reference from "Franklin, Benjamin, $d 1818-1898" that leads us to the correct heading for the bib record: "Franklin, B. $q (Benjamin), $d 1818-1898."

Please note that the "Retrieve auth" button is grayed out whenever the "Partial Heading Validation" message is generated; you must click on "Search" to look for the authority record.

4. Nonexistent Heading


The "Nonexistent Heading" message means that the heading in the bibliographic record does not match any authority records in Orbis. No exact matches, no matches with cosmetic differences, no partial matches, nothing! The "Near Heading" column remains blank. Example:


Suggested Action:

Use judgment. If the heading is one that you are supposed to validate, you should investigate further. An authority record might need to be created for the heading through the NACO program. It so happens that the "Stropeni, Domenico" heading is not one that requires an authority record according to current Yale policy. However, a personal name heading with compound surnames would require that an authority record be created.

More information on which categories of headings require validation and/or authority record creation can be found in the Library's authority control workflow documents:

C&T Staff:

Catalog Librarians:


Important!The "Nonexistent Heading" message does not necessarily mean that no authority record exists for the heading; it just means that the system has not found a match. There may be an authority record with the name in a different form in Orbis or you might find the authority record in LCDB or RLIN.

Pay particular attention if you see the "Nonexistent Heading" message displayed next to a heading for a prolific author (or any person well-known enough that you suspect an authority record already exists for that person). You will probably want to investigate further, even if it is a heading type that you would not normally be required to validate.

This is especially true if the heading in your bib record has no dates or has only a surname followed by a forename initial. Why? Read on...

A "Nonexistent Heading" message is generated by the system whenever the bib record heading has no dates but the heading in the Orbis authority record has dates (provided there are no *other* authority records in Orbis that match the bib record heading). Example:


A "Nonexistent Heading" message is also generated by the system whenever the bib record heading has a surname plus forename initial but the Orbis authority record has the full forename (again, provided there are no *other* authority records in Orbis that match the bib record heading). Example:


In both of these examples, the heading in the 100 field validates but a shortened form of the same heading in the 600 field displays a "Nonexistent Heading" message. You might expect to see a "Partial Heading Validation" message in such situations, but Voyager doesn't work that way.

Be on the lookout for these situations!

5. No Validation Performed


The "No Validation Performed" message means that the system has not performed any validation on the heading (or tag combination). This happens most commonly with 1XX/245 tag combinations in records that do not also contain 240 fields. Example:


Suggested Action:

No action is generally required. If you suspect that the record needs a 240 uniform title (e.g. if the work is a translation of another work or is a musical work), you may refer the record to a catalog librarian.


There are some headings and tag combinations for which the system 1) does not perform validation and 2) does not generate a "No Validation Performed" message. These fields do not even appear in the validation box. The 490, 656, and 69X fields are examples of disregarded headings. The 1XX/245 is disregarded if the record contains a 240 field. Not surprisingly, tags that contain fields not under authority control are also ignored (e.g. 222, 246, 260, 653).

All cataloging staff are supposed to validate series, so pay particular attention to any 490 fields present in your record. They will not appear in the validation box. Look carefully at the 490 field's first indicator. If the 490 first indicator is "1", then the record should have an 8XX. The 8XX is what you validate (it will appear in the validation box). HOWEVER, if the 490 first indicator is "0" (meaning untraced), you will have to remember to search for a series authority record independently of the validation box. The authority record will tell you if the series is supposed to be traced or not. If there is no authority record, you should refer the record to a catalog librarian.

Catalogers who assign 656 and 69X headings must also remember to validate them independently of the validation box. 

6. See Reference


The "See Reference" message means that the heading in the bib record matches a "see reference" in an authority record. The matching "see reference" is displayed in the "Near Heading" column. Example:


If you click the "Retrieve auth" button and look at the authority record, you will find the "see reference" in a 430 field. The correct form of heading in the 130 field is "Paralelos (Valparaiso, Chile)" which means that we need to change the 440 in our bib record to a 490 1 and add the authorized series heading as an 830 field.

Suggested Action:

Whenever you encounter a "See Reference" message, always check the authority record to make sure that the match is correct. It is entirely possible that the heading in your bib record and the "see reference" in the authority record do not represent the same person, corporate body, or series. Many people have the same name and many series have the same title. Information in the 670 fields or the 643 field can help with this identification process.

If you determine that the authority record IS appropriate to your bib record, you may correct your bib record heading to the authorized form or let the MARS authorities service fix it, whichever you prefer.


If you determine that the authority record is NOT appropriate to your bib record, or if you are unsure, then you should investigate further to find the right authority record or show the heading to a catalog librarian. Do not send the bib record to MARS as is! The "see reference" will cause MARS to make an incorrect heading flip.

7. See Also Reference


The "See Also Reference" message means that the heading in the bib record matches a "see also reference" in an authority record. The matching reference is displayed in the "Near Heading" column. Example:

If you click the "Retrieve auth" button and look at the authority record, you will find the "see also reference" in a 500 field:

In this case we have an author named Wilbur Braun who also writes books under various pseudonyms, including the one used in our book, Bruce Brandon. Each pseudonym is coded 500 (meaning it generates a "see also" cross reference in the catalog).

Headings in 5XX fields are valid headings and each one actually has its own authority record in the national authority file. So an authority record for "Brandon, Bruce, 1896-" does exist. The problem is that the authority record is not in Orbis yet. That is why we are getting the "See Also Reference" message rather than the "Heading Validated" message.

Suggested Action:

Whenever you encounter a "See Also Reference" message, you may generally ignore it. Once your bibliographic record goes through MARS processing, we will be sent the authority record that is missing in Orbis.

8. Earlier Heading


The "Earlier Heading" message means that the heading in the bib record matches a "see also reference" in an authority record. Specifically, the "see also reference" is in the authority record for an *earlier* form of that same heading. The reference is displayed in the "Near Heading" column. Example:

If you click the "Retrieve auth" button and look at the authority record, you will see that the earlier form of heading (Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport) is coded 110 and the later form of heading (Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport) is coded as a 510 "see also reference":

The presence of the "$w b" before the 510 reference is what identifies it as a later form of heading. In this case the airport changed its name in 1986 when it went from being a regional to an international airport.

Headings in 5XX fields are valid headings. Each 5XX heading actually has its own authority record in the national authority file. So, an authority record for "Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport" does exist. The problem is that the authority record is not in Orbis yet. That is why we are getting the "Earlier Heading" message rather than the "Heading Validated" message. 

Suggested Action: 

Whenever you encounter an "Earlier Heading" message, you may generally ignore it. Once your bib record goes through MARS processing, we will be sent the authority record that is missing in Orbis and then the "Heading Validated" message will replace the "Earlier Heading" message when the heading in the bib record is validated. 

More Validation Messages to Come...

Comments to Rick Sarcia 
Last revised: 24 September 2007

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