New experimental Web service assignFAST automates the manual selection of FAST Subjects

Breaking news from our colleagues at OCLC Research about a new experimental Web service available:

assignFAST: A New Prototype Service for Efficient FAST Subject Assignment using Autosuggest

OCLC Research announces the availability of assignFAST, a new experimental Web service that automates the manual selection of FAST Subjects (the Authorized and Use For headings) based on autosuggest technology.

Subject assignment is a two-phase task. The first phase is intellectual: reviewing the material and selecting the correct heading. The second phase is more mechanical: finding the correct form of the heading, along with any diacritics; cutting and pasting it into the cataloging interface; and potentially correcting formatting and subfield coding. If authority control is available in the interface, some of these tasks may be automated.

assignFAST consolidates the entire second phase of the manual process of subject assignment into a single step based on autosuggest technology. The service can easily be added to an existing browser based interface, providing both subject selection and authority control in a single step.

A demo is provided at This interface is only intended to show how the feature can be integrated into an existing interface. The experimental Web service is available at documented with the FAST API. Three potential cataloging formats are given: a common (non-MARC) format, an OCLC Connexion®-style format, and a MARCBreaker-style format. Other formats could be added by a programmer by following these examples.

assignFAST takes advantage of the features of FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology). Faceting, along with a fully controlled vocabulary, allows simple selection and authority control to take place that would be hard to accomplish in LCSH.

Learn more about assignFAST on the OCLC Research site.

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