FAST Guide Book and Map-based Demo Interface Now Available

A guide to principles and applications of the Faceted Application of Subject Terminology schema has just been published by Libraries Unlimited, and OCLC Research has released a demo prototype using a Google Maps interface to FAST Geographic authority records.

FAST: Faceted Application of Subject Terminology, by Lois Mai Chan and OCLC Researcher Edward T. O'Neill, a guide to principles and applications of the FAST metadata schema, is now available from the publisher and other outlets. It will also be available as an eBook.

The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is perhaps the best known bibliographic control system in existence, but it is complex and not always user friendly. The Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) schema reworks LCSH's authority rules so that they are easier to use, understand, and apply. The result is a schema designed to handle a large volume of materials with less effort and cost.

The authors, both members of the original FAST design team, have put together numerous examples of FAST-driven projects, including traditional monographs, special collections (archives, business records), electronic resources, and web sites. The result is a prototype designed to be used not just by experienced catalogers but people with minimal training and experience.

"FAST has been devised as a system to help manage a huge amount of information and retrieve specific items when needed," commented Dr. Chan. "It makes it easy for catalogers and indexers to assign and maintain subject metadata, and for information seekers to understand the system and search for relevant items. FAST is flexible for use across different disciplines and in various knowledge discovery and access environments, including library catalogs, subject indexes, and web indexing. It's a general purpose, English-language indexing schema created in the post-print era without the limitations associated with print."

FAST is compatible with LCSH in terminology, designed to facilitate faceted subject indexing and retrieval, and amenable to computer manipulation.

According to Dr. O'Neill, "FAST is a faceted subject heading system designed to be easy to apply, use, and maintain while supporting new functionality of today's advanced retrieval environments".

MapFASTis a mashup prototype that uses a Google Maps interface to present FAST Geographic authority records. Currently limited in scope, the prototpye presents a different way to look at subject access to bibliographic records. It also demonstrates a strength of the subject faceting approach of FAST over coordinated subject headings. The map interface allows for simple selection of a location, with a link to enter it directly as a search into either or Google Books.

Currently the FAST authority file contains over 1,600,000 authority records. The authority file is extensively indexed to support a variety of search options. Documentation on searching the FAST authority file is available on the FAST web site. FAST is also available through the OCLC Terminologies Service prototype. The full FAST authority file can be licensed for non-commercial use.

OCLC Research has successfully used FAST in several other projects, including FictionFinder and WorldCat Identities.

The FAST team continues to explore collaborative efforts to improve FAST, and is very interested in working with the community to further enhance the schema. Team members also are exploring ways to allow the community to add and/or correct information in FAST records, beginning with geographic coordinates and feature type. The FAST database now includes a link in the geographic authorities display to allow user input of the coordinates. Additional options are under consideration for augmenting and/or correcting FAST authorities.

More Information

FAST: Faceted Application of Subject Terminology, by Lois Mai Chan and Edward T. O'Neill

FAST activity page


OCLC Research Terminologies Service


WorldCat Identities

For more information:

Edward T. O'Neill
Senior Research Scientist
OCLC Research

Robert C. Bolander
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research