Maxwell's Guide to Authority Work

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"Unidentified Flying Objects," not "UFOs" or "Flying Saucers"

Authority work is the linchpin of the library catalog. As the author puts it, "Without authority control, the burden is placed on the user to think of all the possible forms a cataloger might have used to give access in the catalog to a given author or subject." If a subject is not sorted by its authorized heading, then the library and its users and staff are left without a system and ultimately the cost of an unsatisfied user. From one of the preeminent experts in the field, this is the step-by-step guide for ensuring that your library and staff are creating and maintaining authority records with the end user in mind. Comprehensive and definitive, Maxwell's Guide to Authority Work is a must-have.

In this readable text, authority work is broken down to its most basic components so that you can trace and follow the preparation of a complete authority record. Helpful illustrations identify the key characteristics of good authority records, common acronyms are defined, and cross-references throughout reinforce material. Step-by-step, you'll learn how to:

  • Form and record uniform access points
  • Keep thorough and accurate records
  • Share information in an environment of international databases and cooperative cataloging

The authoritative tool for making certain a person, author, corporate body, organization, book, or other media is appropriately classified under its authority name, subject, and form, Maxwell's should be part of any library's toolbox.

Glossary Of Acronyms

Chapter 1: Introduction
Authority Files
Why Do Authority Work?

Chapter 2: Standards Governing Authority Control
Standards for the Formulation of Headings
Names and Uniform Titles
Encoding Standards (MARC 21)
Variable Fields
Fixed Fields
The leader
The 008 field
RLIN and OCLC fixed field displays

Chapter 3: Basic Authority Control Procedures
Work Flow When Establishing a Heading
Changes to Established Headings
Creation of the Authority Record
The Heading
The 670 field
The 675 field
General principles
4XX fields
5XX fields
The 663 field
Other Parts of the Record
The 010 field
The 040 field
The 053 field
The 083 field
The 667 field
Fixed-Length Data

Chapter 4: Authority Control of Names
Choice of Name
Personal Names
Corporate Names
Geographic Names
Name or Subject?
Names (events)
Subjects (events)
Form of Name
Personal Names
Undifferentiated names
Corporate Names
Subordinate bodies
Geographic Names
Changes to the form as found

Chapter 5: Uniform Titles: General Information
What Are Uniform Titles and What Are They Used For?
When Should a Uniform Title and a Corresponding Authority Record Be Made?
Choosing the Uniform Title
Creating the Authority Record
Authorized Heading
Fixed Fields

Chapter 6: Uniform Titles: Particular Problems
Collocation Techniques
Collective Titles
Laws and Treaties
Differentiation Techniques
Standardized Qualifiers
Works Created before 1501
Manuscript Headings

Chapter 7: Series: General Information
Analyzable Serials
Multipart Items
Relationship of the Bibliographic Record to the Series _Authority Record
Identification of the Series
Choice of Entry
Sources of Information
Formulation of the Heading
Series Numbering
Change of Title
Multipart items
Parallel Titles
Subseries or not?
Establishment of subseries
Bibliographic record: main series unnumbered
Bibliographic record: main series numbered
Very generic terms as subseries
Supplements and special numbers to serials
Works of Personal Authorship in Series
Series-Like Phrases

Chapter 8: Series Authority Records
Overview of the Series Authority Record
Detailed Treatment of MARC Authority Format Fields
The Heading: 1XX field
References: 4XX fields
Series entered under author: references from the title
Series entered under title: name-title references
Reference from other names
Title variants
Qualification of references
References: 5XX Fields
Numbering: 640-642
Identification of the Publisher: 643
The Library's Treatment of the Series
Analysis (644)
Tracing (645)
Classification (646)
670 fields
675 fields
667 fields
Fixed Fields

Chapter 9: Authority Control of Terms: Thesaurus Building
Equivalence Relationships
Hierarchical Relationships
Generic Relationships
Whole-Part Relationships
Instance Relationships
Interhierarchical Relationships
Associative Relationships
Descriptors within the Same Hierarchy
Descriptors Belonging to Different Hierarchies
Choice of Descriptors

Chapter 10: Authority Control of Terms: Subjects
Subject Thesauri
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Choice of Term
Geographic Names Established as Subjects
Latest Entry
Hierarchy in LCSH
Subdivision Practice
Independent establishment of headings containing _subdivisions
Free-floating subdivisions
Pattern headings
Geographic subdivision
Order of subdivisions
MARC Subject Authority Records
Fixed Fields Heading
Library of Congress Control Number
Library of Congress Classification Number
Cataloging Source
Citation of Sources
Scope Notes
Form of Geographic Subdivision

Chapter 11: Authority Control of Terms: Genre/Form
Use of Approved Thesauri
Prominent Thesauri Containing Genre/Form Terms
Multiple Thesauri in a Single Database
MARC Coding of Genre/Form Term Authority Records
Variable Fields
Fixed Fields
Creation of Records Based on Existing Records
Subfield ?2

Chapter 12: The Library and Beyond
Sources of Authority Records
The Utilities
The Library of Congress
Cooperative Cataloging Programs
The Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC)
NACO (Name Authority Cooperative Program)
SACO (Subject Authority Cooperative Program)
BIBCO (Bibliographic Record Cooperative Program)/ CONSER (Cooperative Online Serials Program)
Maintenance of the Library's System


Robert L. Maxwell

Robert L. Maxwell is a Senior Librarian at the Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, where he has chaired the Special Collections and Formats Catalog Department. He is the author of Maxwell’s Handbook for RDA (ALA Editions, 2013), which won the 2014 ABC-CLIO Award for Best Book in Library Literature and the ALCTS 2015 Outstanding Publication Award. He also won the ALA Highsmith Library Literature Award for 2002 for the book Maxwell’s Guide to Authority Work (ALA Editions, 2002) and is the author of a number of other books on cataloging published by the American Library Association. He has taught cataloging at Brigham Young University and the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science and has chaired the Bibliographic Standards Committee of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). He has been a voting member of the ALCTS Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access, the body responsible for developing official ALA positions on additions to and revisions of RDA, and currently is the liaison between that committee and ALA’s Subject Analysis Committee. In addition to an M.L.S. from the University of Arizona, he holds a J.D. from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in classical languages and literatures from the University of Toronto.

"Robert Maxwell has written a very important book bringing the subject of authority control up to current standards and explaining the complexities in simple language. The writer of this review learned a few things from this book, despite having extensive experience in dealing with authority records. I highly recommend the book to anyone who needs to learn about authority work for the first time and those with some experience who would like to refine their skills."
Technical Services Quarterly

"A step-by-step text for creating efficient, complete authority records."
—Public Libraries

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