The Significance of Authority Control in Library Catalog Searching

Written by Ligia Gomez on September 18, 2023. Posted in General

Authority control plays a pivotal role in ensuring efficient and accurate library catalog searching. This essential process involves the standardization and management of names, subject headings, and other bibliographic data to maintain consistency and coherence within library catalogs. Here are the key reasons why authority control is indispensable for library catalog searching:

1. Enhanced Retrieval Accuracy: Authority control minimizes the chances of retrieving irrelevant or duplicate search results. By establishing standardized forms of author names, subject headings, and other metadata, users can more precisely locate the materials they need.
2. Improved User Experience: Consistency in catalog data makes it easier for library users to navigate the catalog and discover relevant resources. This improves user satisfaction and encourages them to return to the library for their information needs.
3. Effective Cross-Referencing: Authority control allows for the creation of cross-references, guiding users to related topics, authors, or terms. This feature facilitates serendipitous discovery and helps users find materials even when they may not know the exact terminology or authorship.
4. Interoperability and Sharing: Libraries often share cataloging records and resources. Authority control ensures that cataloging records are compatible and can be exchanged seamlessly between libraries and library systems, promoting resource sharing and collaboration.
5. Reduced Ambiguity: Names and subjects can be ambiguous, especially when dealing with multiple authors with the same name or terms with multiple meanings. Authority control disambiguates such cases, reducing confusion and ensuring the correct identification of authors and subjects.
6. Support for Browsing: Library users often browse the catalog to explore topics of interest. Authority control assists in organizing catalog entries into logical hierarchies, making browsing more productive and informative.
7. Facilitation of Collection Development: Librarians rely on authority control to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their collections. It enables them to identify gaps in subject coverage and make informed decisions about acquisitions and deselection.
8. Adherence to Cataloging Standards: Authority control is essential for complying with established cataloging standards, such as MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging) and RDA (Resource Description and Access). This ensures that library catalogs adhere to industry best practices and are readily compatible with other systems.

In conclusion, authority control serves as the foundation for efficient and effective library catalog searching. By maintaining consistency, accuracy, and standardization in catalog data, libraries can provide a superior user experience, promote resource sharing, and support the discovery of valuable materials, ultimately fulfilling their mission to connect users with knowledge. Learn how MARCIVE can automate authority control for your library at [email protected].

MARCIVE processing of Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloging (RBMS) updated, and authority records now available

Written by Ligia Gomez on June 8, 2023. Posted in General

June 8, 2023

The Controlled Vocabulary for Rare Materials Cataloging (RBMS CVRMC) has officially launched. RBMS CVRMC is a linked data thesaurus that combines the former RBMS Thesauri (Genre, Binding, Type, Printing and Publishing, Paper, and Provenance) into a single resource with a redesigned structure. It is hosted by the Library of Congress Linked Data Service at  This thesaurus provides standardized vocabulary for retrieving special collections materials by form, genre, or by various physical characteristics that are typically of interest to researchers and special collections librarians.

This vocabulary was previously represented by one of 7 codes in genre terms (655 _7) subfield $2 (rbgenr, rbbin, rbpap, rbpri, rbpub, reprov, or rbtyp).  These codes have been consolidated into one code ($2rbmscv) and many of the terms have been changed. In order to properly update these terms, all current customers receiving RBMS processing will have terms with any of these obsolete codes updated to the new $2 rbmscv code automatically.  These changes will be done near the beginning of processing so the code will be correct for the authorities matching step.

In the past, authority records for this thesaurus were not available, but libraries can now choose to receive the authority records for matched terms.

Examples: ____________________________________________________________________________

Incoming bib record:           655 _7 $a Manila fiber papers. $2 rbmscv

Changed by MARCIVE to:  655 _7 $a Abaca fiber papers. $2 rbmscv

Incoming bib record:           655 _7 $a Buckskin bindings. $2 rbmscv


Incoming bib record:           655 _7 $a Buckskin bindings. $2 rbbin (obsolete code)

Changed by MARCIVE to:   655 _7 $a Deerskin bindings. $2 rbmscv

Authority record provided: _________________________________________________________________

001    cv00504

003    IlChRBM

005    20230531074559.0

008    230426|| anznnbabn          |a ana     c

024 8 $acv00504 $0

035    $a(IlChRBM)cv00504

040    $aIlChRBM $beng $cIlChRBM $dDLC $dMvI $frbmscv

155    $aDeerskin bindings

455    $aBuckskin bindings

455    $aDoeskin bindings

555    $wg $aLeather bindings

If you are an existing customer, please contact your MARCIVE representative to find out how to add this processing to your current profile.  If you are not a customer yet and want to know more about this processing, please contact [email protected] for further information.

Homosaurus terms processing added to MARCIVE authorities processing options

Written by Joan on April 26, 2023. Posted in Blog

February 22, 2024

MARCIVE has added processing for libraries wanting to use Homosaurus terms in their catalog. Our processing offers two robust options for processing terms from this thesaurus.

The first option is to add Homosaurus terms based on existing Library of Congress headings in your database. The Homosaurus Editorial Board has provided a list of over 400 Library of Congress Subject heading terms that they have identified as exact matches to a Homosaurus term. As a preprocessing step, we will examine the 650 _0 terms in your data and add the equivalent Homosaurus term when available. Homosaurus terms do not have subdivisions, so any subdivision in the LC heading will not be copied into the new Homosaurus term.

Examples: ____________________________________________________________________________

LC Access point: 650 _0 $a Gay authors $z United States.
Added by MARCIVE: 650 _7 $a Gay authors. $2 homoit

LC Access point: 650 _0 $a Body piercing.
Added by MARCIVE: 650 _7 $a Piercings. $2 homoit

LC Access point: 650 _0 $a Fertilization in vitro.
Added by MARCIVE: 650 _7 $a In vitro fertilization $2 homoit

In addition to adding Homosaurus terms to bibliographic records, these added terms, along with any existing terms coded as Homosaurus (_7 $2 homoit) can be compared to the Homosaurus vocabulary Preferred term and Alternative Term (Use For). The terms will be verified or updated as needed and URIs can be added.

Example: ____________________________________________________________________________

Incoming heading: 650 _7 $a Gender inclusive language. $2 homoit

Based on Vocabulary for this term, library’s bibliographic heading is updated to:

No URI added: 650 _7 $a Gender-neutral language. $2 homoit
URI added 650 _7 $a Gender-neutral language. $2 homoit $0

From Vocabulary for this term:
Identifier: homoit0002259
Preferred Term: Gender-neutral language

Alternative Term (Use For)
Gender inclusive language
Gender neutral language
Gender-inclusive language

If you are an existing customer, please contact your MARCIVE representative to find out how to add this processing to your current profile.  If you are not a customer yet and want to know more about this processing, please contact [email protected] for further information.

Denise Thompson Retiring from MARCIVE

Written by Ligia Gomez on January 3, 2023. Posted in Blog

January 1, 2023

Many of our customers likely would have had at least minimal contact with Denise, who retired in December after 39 years with the company.

Her association with the company began in 1981 as a Computer Operator at Trinco which was a Trinity University-owned corporation providing computer services throughout Texas. MARCIVE was originally conceived as a cataloging service to meet the needs of the Trinity University Library, but as word spread to other libraries about the automated and economical services the MARCIVE project was providing Trinity’s library, other libraries were added. When Trinity University decided to close Trinco in 1981, Robert Fleming asked Jim Plaunt, Bill Terry, and Richard Smith to partner with him to purchase the rights to the MARCIVE project and start MARCIVE, Inc. Denise joined the small staff in 1983 as one of the support staff that was on board right at the beginning.

Taught largely by Jim Plaunt (who retired in 2014) the intricacies of the MARC format, she learned much of the customized programming that was the core of all of the company’s services. Over the years, she has worked as programmer and customer support in many areas including Brief Record Upgrade, GPO Services, Retrospective Conversion, Reclassification, and authority control. From the “olden days” of dealing with boxes of shelflist cards, wrangling label printers, mounting magnetic tapes to the age of the Internet and RDA Conversion, Denise was able to maneuver the myriad of changes that have taken place in the industry of library automation with finesse. Her vast mental storehouse of accumulated knowledge will be sorely missed by MARCIVE staff and our customers.
Denise plans to spend her retirement with her family and in particular her adored three grandchildren, watching her Dallas Cowboys, traveling, and learning to bake. We wish her the best in this next phase of her life.

MARCIVE Enhances Catalog of U.S. Government Publications

Written by Joan on April 26, 2022. Posted in Blog

Recent Updates to Records in the CGP

In March 2022, Library Services and Content Management’s (LSCM’s) new authority control contractor, MARCIVE, updated and enhanced most of the bibliographic records in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP).

All of the following Library of Congress Subject Headings have been replaced as follows:

  • Aliens > Noncitizens
  • Illegal aliens > Noncitizens + Illegal immigration
  • Children of illegal aliens > Children of noncitizens + Illegal immigration
  • Illegal alien children > Noncitizen children + Illegal immigration
  • Women illegal aliens > Women noncitizens + Illegal immigration
  • Alien detention centers > Noncitizen detention centers

Other enhancements:

  • 76,666 bib records have had Library of Congress (LC) classification numbers added
  • Addition of content/media/carrier fields (336/337/338)
  • Addition of some Genre/Form terms
  • Spelling out of abbreviations

In addition, over 4 million subfield $0 Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) have been added to access points. Identifiers, and specifically URIs, are a prerequisite for linked data models such as BIBFRAME. These URIs display only in the MARC view (or format) in the CGP. Records included in the Cataloging Record Distribution Program (CRDP) will currently be made available without the subfield $0 URIs, but the option for CRDP participating libraries to select these records with the subfields is being investigated for next fiscal year.

Example records CGP: 001151392 ; 000297717

FDLP News & Events is a service of the Federal Depository Library Program.

Illegal Aliens : Part 2

Written by Joan on February 17, 2022. Posted in Blog

February 17, 2022

Change in our processing for the Illegal aliens subject heading

In November 2021, the Library of Congress replaced the heading Illegal aliens with two headings: Noncitizens and Illegal immigration.  The headings Women illegal aliensChildren of illegal aliens, and Illegal alien children were replaced in the same way.  While this was an action many in the library community had eagerly anticipated, this change has created discrepancies between the resulting split headings and the original heading subdivisions.

Fixing a fix

Illegal aliens (a “class of persons” subject heading) now gets split into Noncitizens (class of persons) and Illegal immigration (topical subject heading).  Any original subdivisions remain with the split headings. For Noncitizens, that’s fine!   Any subdivision appropriate for classes of persons is still valid when added to Noncitizens, as Noncitizens is a class of persons.

It’s possible, however, that Illegal immigration could be paired with subdivisions only valid for classes of persons. This is also possible when splitting Children of illegal aliens, Illegal alien children, and Women illegal aliens.

So these incoming headings:

Illegal aliens $x Employment $z United States.
Illegal alien children $x Medical care $z United States.
Women illegal aliens $x Abuse of $x Prevention.

Would have become these headings:

Noncitizens $x Employment $z United States.
Noncitizen children $x Medical care $z United States.
Women noncitizens $x Abuse of $x Prevention.
Illegal immigration $x Employment $z United States.
Illegal immigration $x Medical care $z United States.
Illegal immigration $x Abuse of $x Prevention.

The subdivisions Employment, Medical care, and Abuse of can be used under classes of persons, but not under topical headings like Illegal immigration.  To prevent incorrect heading construction, our processing will remove the entire heading and not just the invalid subdivision when Illegal immigration is paired with an invalid subdivision.  This will be our standard processing for replacing these specific split terms. 

So now a bib record with these incoming headings:

Illegal aliens $x Employment $z United States.
Illegal alien children $x Medical care $z United States.
Women illegal aliens $x Abuse of $x Prevention.

 Will only get only these split headings:

Noncitizens $x Employment $z United States.
Noncitizen children $x Medical care $z United States.
Women noncitizens $x Abuse of $x Prevention.

Lists… always lists

We have a list of the subdivisions that are only for people, and are therefore invalid with Illegal immigration.  Now our processing looks at the split term and determines if the subdivision is appropriate for use under topical headings.

If the incoming split term has subdivisions appropriate for use under topical headings, the heading Illegal immigration will be created with these subdivisions.

Not a destination, but a journey

The use of access points in library catalogs that are meaningful, inclusive and relevant to your specific community in this point in time is an ever-evolving process.  Current terminology to describe resources is increasingly important, as the vast amount of metadata continues to grow at a rapid pace.  This makes the use of authority control even more important than ever.  Is your library keeping pace?

If you have questions about problematic access points in your catalog, contact us at [email protected] or at 800-531-7678.  We are here to help!

Written by Candy Riley, MLIS, Manager of Metadata Services and Joan Chapa, MLS, Director of Marketing and Sales.


Changes to Illegal aliens and other subject headings

Written by Joan on December 6, 2021. Posted in Blog

December 6, 2021

What’s in a name?  Or even a specific term?  Actually, a lot.  Over the last several years, there has been growing concern about problematic or insensitive terms in library cataloging.  Updating subject headings is an important step in library diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Libraries have implemented in-house or outsourced solutions to ensure that library collections are inclusive and welcoming of the patrons they serve.  One of the way we can help libraries is the use of substitute language as provided by the library.  See how we helped Kansas City Public Library with their specific needs.

On November 12, 2021 the Library of Congress replaced the heading Illegal aliens with two headings: Noncitizens and Illegal immigration.  Other similar headings that were changed at this time include: Women illegal aliens, Children of illegal aliens, and Illegal alien children.

What does this mean for libraries that are getting MARCIVE services?

Customers getting Comprehensive Notification Service will receive BOTH the updated authority records and the updated bib records as soon as we process their next scheduled update.  If that is not soon enough for the library and they get Overnight Authorities service from us they can send in bib records with these headings and we will return the updated bib records at the library’s current per record pricing.

How MARCIVE will change these bib headings depends on what option the library has chosen in their Authority Control Profile regarding split subject term processing.

From our profile:

Standard processing replaces a single access point with all matches to the formerly authorized terms.

  • If you prefer to leave split subject terms unchanged, check this option

When LC splits one term into two or more authorized terms, our standard processing replaces the single former term with the two or more authorized terms as directed by the LC authority records.  The library can choose to leave split subject terms unchanged, however, in which case the incoming former term will not be changed by MARCIVE.

Here are examples of bib heading changes customers can expect via Comprehensive Notification or Overnight Authorities services with standard processing options:

Incoming heading:                           650  _0 $­a Illegal aliens.

Outgoing headings:                         650  _0 $a Noncitizens.
650  _0 $a Illegal immigration.

Incoming heading:                           650  _0 $­a Women illegal aliens.

Outgoing headings:                         650  _0 $a Women noncitizens.
650  _0 $a Illegal immigration.

Incoming heading:                           650  _0 $­a Children of illegal aliens.

Outgoing headings:                          650  _0 $a Children of noncitizens.
650  _0 $a Illegal immigration.

Incoming heading:                           650  _0 $­a Illegal alien children.

Outgoing headings:                         650  _0 $a Noncitizen children.
650  _0 $a Illegal immigration.

Checking the profile option to leave split subject terms unchanged causes the term “Illegal aliens” would remain as is.  Probably not the desired result!

From time to time, we have had the request to substitute such problematic terms with the ones supplied by the library in a spreadsheet, and we are happy to do so.  But we do not delete the LC terms in question. In general, it is usually a bad idea to remove access points.   In the case of “Illegal aliens”, if that heading were deleted a term that isn’t there cannot be flipped!  It is very possible that LC will update other such terms, so deleting them completely from a bib record will not facilitate what an authority record is supposed to do—change outdated terms to current, relevant ones.

Customers who have removed these LC terms completely from their bib records or moved these terms to a different tag will not be able to get the updated headings via Comprehensive Notification or Overnight Authorities services.  It will be up to the library whether to change the local terms they are using in-house and to do this work themselves.

Talk to us about ways we can make your collections more inclusive to your users.  We are here to help!

Written by Joan Chapa, Director of Marketing & Sales, and Candy Riley, Manager of Metadata Services

Help your Spanish Speakers Find Materials in your Catalog

Written by Joan on April 12, 2021. Posted in General

April 12, 2021

MARCIVE has added new processing where we verify access points in the Spanish Language in your bibliographic records.  Having the language in your database can make your catalog discoverable by keyword search to your Spanish-speaking patrons.  The Queens Borough Public Library (QLSP) created these Spanish headings as a project in 2008, and has made them publicly available for some time.  The headings are static and are not being updated, however MARCIVE can validate theses QLSP headings in your records at no extra charge to our authorities processing customers.  Contact [email protected] for further information.

Examples: ____________________________________________________________________________

Incoming bib record:               650 _7 $a Habitantes de apartamentos $2 qlsp

Verified by MARCIVE as:         650 _7 $a Habitantes de apartamentos $2 qlsp

Incoming bib record:               655 _7 $a Materiales en español $2 qlsp

Verified by MARCIVE as:         655 _7 $a Materiales en español $2 qlsp

New URI Enrichment Option

Written by Joan on January 15, 2021. Posted in Blog

January 15, 2021

With the focus on linked data, libraries now request that we provide the information when a bib term is matched to an appropriate authority record. We can insert the control number of the authority record or the URI of the authority record into subfield $0 of the bib record (recommended).

Example of control number in subfield $0 of a bib record:

650_0 $a Drawing. $0 (DLC) sh 85039408

If this option is chosen, subfield $0 control numbers will be added for the following vocabularies: AAT, ACP, FAST, GSAFD, LAC, LCSH, LCGFT, MeSH, NASA, NLA, Sears, TGM.

Example of a URI in subfield $0 of a bib record:

100 1 $a Kelly, Katy, $0 $e author.

If this option is chosen, subfield $0 URIs will be added for the following vocabularies: ACP, FAST, LCSH, LCGFT, MeSH, TGM.

There’s been some documentation from PCC declaring a preference for using URIs that represent full matching access points and not partial access points as we provide.

October 2017    PCC Task Group on URIs in MARC Year 2 Report to PoCo (October 2017) (page 5)
“After careful consideration, the Task Group recommends against providing URIs that represent only partial entities of a MARC field. Faceted vocabularies provide an alternative means to represent such concepts by post-coordination. If the entire concept is to be represented as a single semantic unit within the LCSH vocabulary, in our view that becomes an issue for the maintenance agency rather than for implementers.”

This recommendation was repeated in a 2019 report (quoted from the 2017 report above): 09/12/19   PCC Task Group on Linked Data Best Practices Final Report (page 9)

To date, we have not seen anything from the Library of Congress regarding community-wide adoption of these recommendations and it may be up to the library to choose to follow them or not. In response to customer inquiry, we will now insert subfield $0 when either a full or partial access point matches an authority record, or only when a full access point matches an authority record.

Which option is best? It really is up to the library.  If a library want to follow PCC stated best practices, they should get $0 URIs for full matching access points only.  However, this will result in a lot fewer added $0 subfields in their bib records and this additional information may be missed.  Unless the library is experimenting with Bibframe and the Sinopia linked-data editing environment, we suggest that the option to get $0 subfields for full and partial matches be chosen.  Since this is an ever-evolving area, this is likely not the last URI recommendation we will see from PCC.  It may well be that partial match URIs are acceptable in the future.

It should be noted that the choices a library makes for adding $0 subfields do not affect which authority records are returned to the library, as these are an entirely separate processes in Authority Match.  Our authorities processing provides authority records to the library for the fullest matching string.  If the library chooses to add $0 subfields for full matches only, they will still receive authority records for full and some partial matches.  For example, there is no authority record match for this full string so a URI will not be added if the library chooses to add them for full access points only:

650_0 $a Automobiles $x Air conditioning $z Arizona.

However, the library does get two matching authority records for this string:

$a Automobiles $x Air conditioning                          sh 85010204

$z Arizona                                                                       n  79034873

Here’s another example:

650_0 $a Personality disorders $x Religious aspects $x Buddhism

There is no authority record match for this full string, so a URI will not be added IF the library chooses to add them for full access points only.  The library will get this matching authority record:

$a Personality disorders $x Religious aspects       sh2019101837

Whether a library chooses to follow the current PCC guidelines for $0 enrichment or not, we have an option that is best for your library.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions at [email protected], or if you wish to adjust your profile options.

Written by Candy Riley
Manager of Metadata Services

MARCIVE Receives Platinum Honor in the 2021 Modern Library Awards

Written by Emily Garner on January 14, 2021. Posted in Blog, News, News & Events

2021 MLA Awards

MARCIVE’s Authorities Processing and RDA Conversion Services Are Distinguished as Platinum by the 2021 Modern Library Awards

January 14, 2021 (San Antonio, TX)— MARCIVE, a trusted provider of MARC bibliographic services, is pleased to announce that two of their innovative services have received the platinum distinction in LibraryWorks’ seventh annual Modern Library Awards (MLAs). Each year, the MLAs recognize the top products and services in the library industry through a peer-reviewed judging process. Librarians at public, K-12, academic, and special libraries who have experience using the products/services in their facilities are permitted to judge.

MARCIVE’s Authorities Processing and RDA Conversion services received a score of 9.1275 out of 10. Judges rated these services based on their quality, functionality, value, customer service experience, and overall satisfaction. As part of their submission, one judge commented, “Really excellent customer service, fast responses, and willing to answer all sorts of questions.”

“We are honored to have received such high marks and praise from the librarians we serve,” said MARCIVE’s president, Robert Fleming. “We have always been at the forefront of the development of ways to improve metadata and streamline the cataloging process for libraries.”

Authorities processing is at the heart of MARCIVE’s comprehensive cataloging services. For 40 years librarians have turned to MARCIVE’s expert team to standardize bibliographic records and correct problems that can affect display and indexing. Since 2013, MARCIVE has been helping libraries with the transition to Resource Description and Access (RDA) and has performed more than 100 conversions for academic, public, school, law, and special libraries of all sizes, with various systems, and different characteristics.

For more information about MARCIVE, Inc. and how we can help improve the discoverability of your catalog, please visit or call 800.531.7678.

About MARCIVE, Inc.

Incorporated in 1981, MARCIVE, Inc. specializes in providing high quality, cost-effective MARC bibliographic services for all types of libraries. Our comprehensive services improve the discoverability and accessibility of collections by updating, standardizing, and enhancing the metadata that powers the search function of any ILS. With MARCIVE’s help, your catalog will always be up-to-date, and patrons will quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.

About LibraryWorks

LibraryWorks helps administrators to make informed decisions about library technology, automation and software, collection development and management, facilities and furnishings, staffing, purchasing, and other areas that drive effective strategic planning and day-to-day operations. Our family of resources can enable you to identify best practices, monitor trends, evaluate new products and services, apply for grants and funding, post or find a job, and even enjoy some library humor.

About the Modern Library Awards program

The Modern Library Awards (MLAs) is a review program designed to recognize elite products and services in the market which can help library management personnel enhance the quality-of-experience for the library user and increase the performance of their library systems.



MARCIVE will be exhibiting at the ELUNA Annual Conference which takes place May 14th-17th, 2024 in Minneapolis, MN.

The Significance of Authority Control in Library Catalog Searching

MARCIVE processing of Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloging (RBMS) updated, and authority records now available

Homosaurus terms processing added to MARCIVE processing options

MARCIVE Enhances the U.S. Catalog of Government Publications
See the announcement from GPO's FDLP News & Events 

15 new libraries to be added to the Cataloging Record Distribution Program for FREE cataloging