London School of Economics

Type of Library:

Address: 10 Portugal Street, London, UK  WC2A  2HD

Project Coordinator: Glyn Price, Technical Services Manager

E-Mail: [email protected]

Problem To Be Solved:

  1. Poor support for authority control in earlier systems
  2. Imports of records from a variety of sources
  3. A method of performing a regular check of the catalogue

MARCIVE Solutions:

  1. Backfile Authorities Processing
  2. Authorities Notification Service, Overnight Authorities Service, NewMatch

The Story:

The Library of the London School of Economics houses over 4 million printed items, (including 32,000 past and present journal titles), 30,000 e-journals and a growing number of e-books.   It responds to around 5000 visits from staff and students each day, and as a specialist national and international research collection also serves over 12,000 registered external users every year.

The Library of Congress (LC) subject authority file is mounted as part of the library management system.  The name authority file has no equivalent third party authority reference file loaded, and has been maintained locally, by remote reference to LC.  Name and subject headings are routinely checked and authorized for newly created bibliographic records.  Due to a legacy of poor support for authority control in earlier systems, however, and imports of records from a variety of sources over the years there were approximately 3.7 million headings in the system flagged as unauthorized.

The project was put out to tender and responses from three companies assessed by a small working group before being awarded to MARCIVE.

The library catalogue comprises around 1 million bibliographic entries in MARC 21 format and is mounted as an implementation of the Voyager library system.  The requirement was for a full one off automated check of all Name, Title and Subject headings in the catalogue against standard LC headings, and to correct any unauthorized headings.  We asked for details of the proposed working method, strategy for checking headings, predicted success and error rates, treatment of headings not appearing in the authority file, likely duration of project and a quote for a regular check of the catalogue once the initial project had been completed, as well as a proposed method for doing so.

We estimated that it would take 21,000 hours to complete an authority control project in-house, so MARCIVE’s automated solution allowed us to carry out the work in a more time-efficient way.  Our catalogue is now more consistent and has fewer errors, making retrieval more straightforward for users.

Our catalogue gets a consistently high satisfaction rating in our annual user surveys, based on a ranking of “important to me” and “satisfied” or “very satisfied”, thus proving it to be one of the most well-respected services that we provide. The quality of data in the catalogue is crucial to achieving these high satisfaction ratings.

The profile of authority control has been raised within the Bibliographic Services team, which combined with our ongoing services from MARCIVE means we are in a strong position to keep the catalogue in good condition as we move forwards.

As well as a project manager our authority control work required the support of colleagues in the Bib Services team who took part in testing data, and staff in our IT team to deal with technical issues.  The project was time consuming but very worthwhile.


MARCIVE will be closed Dec. 23, 26, 30 and Jan. 2 for the winter holidays.

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