New Publication: Using Authorities to Improve Subject Searches

The National Library of Estonia has published this paper, by OCLC Researchers Edward T. O'Neill, Rick Bennett, and Kerre Kammerer, along with other papers from the IFLA Satellite Post-Conference, Beyond libraries - Subject Metadata in the Digital Environment and Semantic Web, 17-18 August 2012, in Tallinn (Estonia).

The paper was presented on Friday, 17 August, during Session 1: User needs and subject access design in the digital environment.


Authority files have played an important role in improving the quality of indexing and subject cataloging.  Although authorities can significantly improve search by increasing the number of access points, they are rarely an integral part of the information retrieval process, particularly end-users searches.  A retrieval prototype, searchFAST, was developed to test the feasibility of using an authority file as an index to bibliographic records.  searchFAST uses FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) as an index to OCLC's bibliographic database.  The searchFAST methodology complements, rather than replaces, existing access.  The bibliographic file is searched indirectly; first the authority file is searched to identify appropriate subject headings, then the headings are used to retrieve the matching bibliographic records. The prototype demonstrates the effectiveness and practicality of using an authority file as an index.  Searching the authority file leverages authority control work by increasing the number of access points while supporting a simple interface designed for end users.

More Information

O'Neill, Edward T., Rick Bennett, and Kerre Kammerer. 2012. Using authorities to improve subject searches. Tallinn, Estonia: Eesti Rahvusraamatukogu. (.docx: 708K/ 21pp.)

IFLA Satellite Post-Conference Program page (hosted by the National Library of Estonia)

FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology)

searchFAST user interface

Edward T. O'Neill, Ph.D.

Rick Bennett

Kerre Kammerer

For more information:

Edward T. O'Neill, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
OCLC Research

Robert C. Bolander
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research