Using Authorities to Improve Subject Searches

by: Edward T. O'Neill, Rick Bennett, and Kerre Kammerer

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.

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Suggested Citation:

O'Neill, Edward T., Rick Bennett, and Kerre Kammerer. 2012. Using Authorities to Improve Subject Searches. Tallinn, Estonia: Eesti Rahvusraamatukogu.