Authority Record

General Information
Determining When to Create an Authority Record
Searching and Using Headings
Gathering Information for Creating Authority Records

See also:
Additional Guidelines: Beinecke

General Information

Authority work ensures consistency of headings in catalog records. Authority records also explain the use of headings in a catalog record, and provide a reference structure which guides readers to bibliographic information. Yale participates in the Name Authority Cooperative Project (NACO) and Subject Authority Cooperative Project (SACO). Only catalogers who have completed NACO training are authorized to establish name authority records. This section offers guidance in the use of established names and subjects, and in assembling supporting information for use in the creation of new headings. To create a new heading, route the supporting information to an authorized NACO cataloger in your unit. For further information see the Authority Control at Yale website.

Determining When to Create an Authority Record

The Yale Libraries create authority records for headings that meet criteria outlined in Authority Control Workflow for Yale Catalog Librarians. Generally, these criteria state that an authority record is created when necessary to break a conflict, for headings that require cross references, or in cases when research on the heading should be documented in the authority record. In addition, creation of an authority record for a name used as the main entry for a collection of personal papers is recommended. This ensures that a repository holding a major collection of papers of that person will determine the form of the heading. Research should be documented only to justify the form of the heading and the necessity of any cross references. Further research on biography or historical context should be documented in the 545 (Biographical/historical data) in the bibliographic record.

If there is no existing authority record, and creation of a new authority record is not required, according to the criteria above, enter the heading in accordance with RDA and in a form that does not conflict with existing headings.


Smith, Jane, ‡d 1897-1973.
(dates needed to distinguish from an existing heading for Smith, Jane)

Luhan, Mabel Dodge.
(requires cross reference from Dodge, Mabel)

Wilbur, George W.
(main entry for George W. Wilbur Papers)

Carroll Trail (Mont.)
(requires cross references for Helena-Carroll Wagon Road (Mont.) and Helena Road (Mont.))

Salsbury, Nathan, ‡d 1846-1902.
Cross references:
Salsbury, Nate, ‡d 1846-1902
Salsbury, N. ‡q (Nathan), ‡d 1846-1902
Research justifying dates, cross references, and verifying identity:
Nathan Salsbury papers, 1860-1965 ‡b (Nathan Salsbury; b. 1846; d. 1902)
RLIN, Jan 17, 2003 ‡b (hdg.: Salsbury, Nate, 1846-1902; usage: Nate Salsbury; N. Salsbury)
Nat. cycl. of Amer. biog.: ‡b v. 8, p. 166 (Salsbury, Nathan; actor and manager; b. Feb. 28, 1846; d. Dec. 24, 1902)

Burton, Charles O.
(no authority record required; does not conflict with existing headings)

Searching and Using Headings

The Orbis database ("Local Database") contains authority records for established headings used by Yale catalogers. 

An authority record may be searched in the Orbis Local Database by any of the following procedures:

Click Record>Retrieve by Record ID>Bibliographic>[enter record ID].

Click the Search icon and search one of the indexes beginning with "Staff":
Staff Name Headings Search
Staff Subject Headings Search
Staff Title Headings Search
Staff Name/Title Headings Search
Highlight a heading identified as "Authorized" or "Reference" in left column, click the authority button, and highlight and click the authority record.

With the bibliographic record active, click Record>Retrieve Authorities

Headings may be validated by either of the following methods, when the bibliographic record containing them is active:

Select a heading by left clicking on the gray selection column, and click Validate Heading in This Field

When saving the bibliographic record, an authority validation box will appear (see Validating and Saving in the section on the Bibliographic Record).

Parameters for validation may be changed by clicking Options>Preferences>Validation. When using Voyager validation, keep in mind that a valid heading may be a heading for another person with the same or a similar name. Always verify that each valid authority record is the correct heading.

For each name, subject, or title access point in a catalog record, search the Local Database for an an existing authority record. If the Descriptive Cataloging Rules in the 008 field is coded either z (RDA), c (AACR2), or d (AACR2 compatible), the heading may be used. If no authority record is found, search for usage of an unestablished heading in bibliographic records. If the Cataloging Form in the Leader of a bibliographic record is coded either i (RDA) the unestablished heading may be used. If the Cataloging Form is coded a (AACR2), the unestablished heading may be used, with editing as necessary in accordance with RDA rules and LC interpretations.

If no authority record exists, and no RDA or AACR2 usage is found in bibliographic records, review Yale's Authority Control Workflow and local repository guidelines to determine if an authority record is required. If an authority record is not required, create the heading in conformance with RDA.

If an authority record is required, gather the materials to create one, according to the instructions below.

Gathering Information for Creating Authority Records

In gathering information for an authority record, search the following, in order, as appropriate:

Orbis database (Local Database)
Library of Congress Authorities
National Union Catalog
Reference sources (see suggestions in Appendix F: Reference Sources)
Manuscript materials in hand

Record the following types of information from the sources listed above, as appropriate, and pass all information on to an authorized NACO cataloger:

Personal Name:

‡a Personal name
‡b Numeration
‡c Titles and other words associated with the name
‡d Dates associated with a name
‡q Fuller form of name

Corporate Name:

‡a Corporate name or jurisdiction name as entry element
‡b Subordinate unit

Meeting Name:

‡a Meeting name or jurisdiction name as entry element
‡c Location of meeting
‡d Date of meeting
‡e Subordinate unit

Geographic Name:

‡a Geographic name

For all headings:

Any variants for "See" tracings.

Any variants for "See Also" tracings. Each "See also" reference must also be separately established as a heading.

For each source consulted: title, date, page number if applicable, and exact form(s) of heading found.

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Authority Record top
Manuscript Cataloging Guidelines
Appendix A: Single Manuscript Instructions
Beinecke Manuscript Cataloging Manual