Authorities glossary

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Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Second Edition. The national/international standard for cataloging library materials. The rules are "designed for use in the construction of catalogues and other lists in general libraries of all sizes. The rules cover the description of, and the provision of access points for, all library materials commonly collected at the present time." The rules are maintained by the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR and published by the American Library Association, the Canadian Library Association, and the Library Association.

access point
A name, term, code or other indexed characteristic of an authority or bibliographic record that helps make the record searchable and identifiable. For example, titles, names, and subjects are access points.

American Library Association. The leading professional association for public and academic libraries and librarians in the United States.

ALA character set
American Library Association defined characters used in MARC records, including standard alphabetic characters, diacritics, special characters, 14 superscript characters and 14 subscript characters. These characters are valid in MARC records.

authority file
A list of the authoritative forms of the headings used in a library catalog or file of bibliographic records, maintained to ensure that headings are applied consistently as new items are added to the collection. Separate authority files are usually maintained for names, uniform titles, series titles, and subjects.
See OCLC Authority File.

authority record
A collection of information about one name, uniform title, or topical term heading. An authority record can contain the established form of heading, see from references, see also from references, and notes.

authorization level
Defines a range of tasks that can be performed when logged on to a service. Also called authorization mode.

authorization number
Number assigned by OCLC to authorize use of OCLC services. Usually used in conjunction with a password. See also password, default holding library code.
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A process by which records to be processed are collected into batches. The records in a batch are loaded all at once. See OCLC Batchloading services.

bibliographic record
Contains the cataloging information that describes the physical format and intellectual content of a single entity (a book, video, computer file, CD, etc.). Catalogers create records by encoding this information using tags, indicators, and subfield codes in a standard format called MARC 21 ( MAchine- Readable Cataloging). Each record is divided into fields (author, title, subjects, etc.) Fields are subdivided into subfields (place of publication, publisher, etc.).

Scan an index for a match or the closest match to a term (word, phrase, or whole phrase) in records. The system matches the exact text string—character by character, from left to right—against the characters in the specified index. Produces a browse list that highlights the closest match and shows the number of records for each term in the list. Clicking an entry opens the record or a record list, if multiple records match.
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call number
A set of letters, numerals or other symbols (in combination or alone) used by a library to identify a specific copy of a work. A call number consists of the class number and book number (or Cutter number).

Cataloging Agent mode
An authorization mode that allows the Cataloging Agent of an institution or a group to process cataloging records on a client's behalf. Agents may also process unresolved records from the group's batchloading activity. See also processing center.

Cataloging In Publication
A Library of Congress program that provides bibliographic data for new books in advance of publication. Records are created from information supplied by publishers. Records are available for distribution and loading into bibliographic databases.

cataloging source
The agency that created the bibliographic record in WorldCat. Four elements of OCLC-MARC records have cataloging source information:
  • Srce in the bibliographic fixed field

    Note: The source in Cataloging Source (Srce) may not necessarily be the same as the institution that input the record.
  • Source in the authority fixed field
  • Field 040 (Cataloging Source) in bibliographic records
  • Field 040 (Cataloging Source) in authority records

character masking
Entering a question mark (?) or number sign (#) in a search in place of other characters to retrieve multiple words. Example: computer? retrieves records that contain computer, computerization, or computerized.

Types of dates used by publishers to identify the individual bibliographic unit of a serial, for example, date of coverage, date of publication, or date of printing.

See Cataloging In Publication.

CODEN Designation
The Chemical Abstracts Service assigns six-character Coden Designations to serials. The first four characters are letters and have a mnemonic relationship to the serial. The fifth character is either A, B, C, or D. The sixth character is an alphabetic or numeric check character. For example, AISJB6, CADIDW. The Coden Designation is located in field 030, subfield ‡a and can be used during batchload matching.

communications format
In machine-readable cataloging (MARC), the standards for representation and exchange of data in machine-readable form. In the USA, this is an implementation of an ANSI standard. MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data (formerly called USMARC) is an implementation of ANSI standard Z39.2. OCLC-MARC is an implementation of MARC 21 that conforms to the ANSI standard. Standards provide a common way of organizing machine-readable records so that they can be easily exchanged among users.

conference name
All or part of the name or title of a conference. A conference name could also be included in a title, abstract, notes, or text of a library resource. Examples: names of meetings, exhibitions, expositions, festivals, athletic contests, scientific expeditions.

constant data record
A partial record that contains standardized content for reuse in creating or editing a record without having to retype each time the content is reused. Constant data records are created by and shared among librarians at a given institution for cataloging and resource sharing activities.

content designation
In machine-readable cataloging (MARC), the codes and conventions established to identify and characterize the data elements within a record and to support manipulation of that data. OCLC defines content designation for OCLC-MARC records in OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards, Authorities User Guide, and Union List User Guide.

content of the record
The data in the MARC records. The content is defined by standards outside the format, such as Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Library of Congress Subject Headings, ANSI/NISO Standards for Serials Holdings Statements or other rules and codes used by the organization that creates the record. See also record structure; content designation

corporate name
The names of associations, institutions, businesses, firms, nonprofit enterprises, governments, agencies, performing groups used as entries in records.

See OCLC Customer Services Division (CSD).
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Database Enrichment
A capability that allows modifications of WorldCat master records.

See duplicate detection and resolution.

Selections predetermined by the computer or an application on the computer in the absence of specific selections made by the user.

default holding library code
The holding library code that appears automatically in bibliographic field 049 (Local Holdings) when a user displays a bibliographic record in the Connexion client or browser cataloging interface. Each authorization number/password combination has a default holding library code. See also authorization number, password.

default values in workforms
Values automatically supplied in workforms (templates for creating MARC records), depending on the MARC format selected for the new record.

Character ( ‡), followed by a single letter or number code, used to define the beginning of a subfield within a variable field in a MARC bibliographic or authority record. See also subfield.

For batchload services, the delimiter is entered as a dollar sign ($). If immediately followed by a lowercase letter or single numeral, OCLC converts the dollar sign into a delimiter. A $ followed by a numeral and period, two or more numerals, or a blank space is interpreted as a monetary value and is not converted.

derive new record
For cataloging in Connexion, using a pre-existing record to create a new record to to add to the system.

A mark that modifies the phonetic value of another character or characters. It does not occur alone but is used in conjunction with another character. In records each diacritic occupies its own position, directly following the modified character, although the display shows correctly.

In a file of records, the series of entries that contain the tag, length and starting location of each variable field in a record.

duplicate detection and resolution
Software that identifies and merges duplicate records in books and serials format. The software uses complex algorithms and can match some records that failed to match in regular batchload processing. For example, regular batchloading does not match the publisher strings Charles Scribner and Chas. Scribner. DDR software may find that all other criteria match, recognize the identical Scribner strings in the publisher, and determine that the records match. OCLC uses this software at its discretion, based on a given file's probable matching rate and probable duplication rate.
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See OCLC Electronic Data Exchange (EDX) account.

Electronic Data Exchange
See OCLC Electronic Data Exchange (EDX) account.

embedded holdings data
Holdings information added to an existing MARC 21 bibliographic record rather than being in a separate linked local holding record.

Enc lvl
See Encoding Level (Enc lvl).

Encoding Level (Enc lvl)
The level of completeness of the authority record. The level of specificity of the holdings statement.

An OCLC program for libraries to add to the quality of records in WorldCat. Qualified libraries are given special logon authorizations that allow them to replace full-level, member input records in non-serial formats (Books, Maps, Scores, and so forth). National-level Enhance allows replacement of records from national libraries.

existing record
The master record in the OCLC Authority File.

(1) A command or action that causes a record to be converted to OCLC-MARC or Dublin Core format and output to a file on a workstation or in a local system. (2) Downloading a record from WorldCat.
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In a record, a marked area in which the same kind of information is consistently entered.

file structure
See record structure.

file transfer protocol (FTP)
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a TCP/IP-based protocol that is generally available for file transfers to and from a large variety of hosts including IBM mainframes, Tandem Guardian systems, and Unix hosts. FTP is the method used to retrieve files from an OCLC EDX account. It is also used in the OCLC Electronic Batchload Service. See also OCLC Electronic Data Exchange (EDX) account.

fill character
A black box or vertical bar in workforms that represents content that must have valid data, or where no attempt is made to provide data.

fixed field
In OCLC-MARC, as defined in OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards, the field in which mnemonic labels identify elements that contain coded information for describing the item and the record. The fixed field has a fixed length. It is a combination of various MARC 21 control fields.

A standard for the representation and exchange of data in machine-readable form. Standard organization for MARC bibliographic records. The library community uses formats so that MARC records can be readily transferred among automated systems. See also record structure.

See file transfer protocol (FTP).

function keys
Keys and key combinations on the keyboard that transmit signals not associated with printable or displayable characters (examples: F1, F2, etc). In specific applications, such as OCLC Connexion, function keys are programmed to initiate commands.
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government document number
Government-assigned number for materials printed at the expense of and by the authority of any office of the government, for example, United States Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) numbers. Other government numbers may be used such as Canadian government numbers from the Outline of Classification. The form of these numbers varies.

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Electronic user documentation that is available from the Help menu of a specific product such as Connexion, FirstSearch, etc.

The number of records or the number of times a record or word is found as a result of searching the system.

holdings symbol
See OCLC holding library code.
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A detailed alphabetical or numerical list for a specific kind of bibliographic data provided by the system for retrieving a record or sets of records from a database such as WorldCat.

index label
A two- or three-character code followed by a colon or equal sign that indicates to the system the index against which to match a search term.

Each variable field in a MARC record has two indicators that follow the tag. The indicators supply information to the system for indexing, card production and other system functions. Values can be blank or numbers 1 - 9.

institution symbol
See OCLC symbol.

integrated local system (ILS)
See local system.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
A unique identification number assigned to a work by its publisher. OCLC has converted the existing 10-character ISBN to the new 13-character format. The thirteenth character is a check character that may be a number or the letter x. In printed form, the ISBN has three hyphens. Hyphens are omitted in online records. ISBNs are stored in field 020 in bibliographic records.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
A unique identification number assigned to a serial through the ISSN Network. Each ISSN has eight characters. The eighth character is a check character that may be a number or the letter x. A hyphen follows the fourth character.

The physical embodiment of a work or representation that shares the same physical characteristics. For example, a book is an item; an audiocassette recording of the book is another item. An institution may have multiple copies of an item.
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See Library of Congress Rule Interpretations.

Data elements that provide information for the processing of the record. The data elements contain numbers or coded values and are identified by relative character position. The leader is fixed in length at 24 character positions and is the first field of a MARC record.

Library of Congress Rule Interpretations
Cataloging guidelines issued by the Library of Congress (LC), specifically on their implementation of AACR2.

Limited mode
A type of logon authorization generally used for training new catalogers. Those who log on to the system using a Limited authorization can search for and edit records and export them if needed, but cannot take final OCLC actions on records.

The data between a SOM (Start of Message symbol) and an EOM (End of Message symbol).

local data
Data in a record that is pertinent only to the institution cataloging the record. For example, local processing information and cataloger's notes are local data. Certain 9xx fields are reserved for local data. Local data is not preserved in the master record.

local system
An institution's computer system that manages cataloging, acquisitions, circulation, serials and/or an online catalog. If elements of a local system are designed to interact, can be called an Integrated Local System (ILS).

lock and replace
The process whereby authorized users may edit certain elements in WorldCat master records.

log off
The process of disconnecting from a local or remote system.

log on
The process of connecting to a local or remote system.
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Machine readable cataloging

main entry
The entry determined by AACR2 to be the primary access point for the item.

Machine-Readable Cataloging. An international standard digital format for the description of bibliographic items developed by the Library of Congress during the 1960s to facilitate the creation and dissemination of computerized cataloging from library to library within the same country and between countries. By 1971, the MARC format had become the national standard for dissemination of bibliographic data and by 1973, an international standard.

Several versions of MARC are in use internationally, the most predominant of which is MARC 21, created in 1999 as a result of the harmonization of U.S. and Canadian MARC formats. UKMARC is used primarily in the United Kingdom. UNIMARC is widely used in Europe. Besides formats for bibliographic records, the MARC 21 family of standards now also includes formats for authority records, holdings records, classification schedules, and community information.

MARC record

The number of times the system identifies a search term, or the number of records retrieved as a result of a search.

master record
Version of WorldCat or LC Authority File records available to all OCLC Connexion catalogers. A master record does not include local data for any library. Catalogers can retrieve a record, edit it, and export it to their local system, even when the master record is locked by another user. Adding, replacing, setting or deleting holdings on master records or working with bibliographic institution records requires Full cataloging level or higher.

maximum field/record size
Bibliographic records must meet size limits defined in MARC21 standards. The number of characters in a field cannot exceed 9,999. The number of characters in a record cannot exceed 99,999. These limits apply to records you catalog using Connexion. The system capacity for a field in a record in WorldCat is 9,999 characters.

An aid used help memory. Fixed field elements of records have mnemonic identifiers to help catalogers with coding and interpretation.

mnemonic label
The labels of the fixed field elements that are constructed from the name of the element they represent. For example: Enc lvl for Encoding Level.

modified record
A record that has been changed.
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Name Authority Cooperative Program. Name authority component of the Library of Congress Program for Cooperative Cataloging. NACO participants create and maintain authority records in the OCLC Authority File.

new record
An authority record that does not previously exist. This record may be created:
  • From a workform
  • From an existing authority record
  • From the name heading of an existing bibliographic record

numeric search
A type of WorldCat search that allows you to search for records by number, such as ISBN or OCLC control number.
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Previously called Online Computer Library Center, Inc. and Ohio College Library Center. Nonprofit membership organization serving libraries around the world to further access to the world's information and reduce library costs by offering services for libraries and their users.

OCLC Authority File
A database which helps provide consistency of name and subject headings to be used in a catalog by establishing the authoritative forms of names (personal or corporate) and subject headings.

OCLC control number
A unique accession number assigned by the OCLC system when a record is added to WorldCat. Used to search for records.

OCLC Customer Services Division (CSD)
OCLC's user assistance and support contact desk that provides support for telecommunications, hardware, and software. Formerly called OCLC User and Network Support (UNS).

OCLC Electronic Data Exchange (EDX) account
Service offered by OCLC for the transfer of data via standard File Transfer Protocol (FTP) whereby OCLC provides an Electronic Data Exchange account into which OCLC posts bibliographic and authority records, label records, and reports. The institution retrieves files from the account via the Internet. See also OCLC Product Services Web, file transfer protocol (FTP).

OCLC holding library code
A unique code that identifies a holding library within an institution. See also OCLC symbol.

OCLC's implementation of the MARC bibliographic format. See also MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data.

OCLC Product Services Web
An OCLC Web site from which users retrieve labels, records, and reports from their OCLC Electronic Data Exchange (EDX) accounts. It also provides OCLC software downloads, macros, scripts, and labels. See also OCLC Electronic Data Exchange (EDX) account.

OCLC symbol
A unique identifier assigned by OCLC to member libraries and other participants. OCLC symbols in records and in holdings displays identify libraries that have entered, modified, and used the bibliographic records for cataloging. See also OCLC holding library code.

OCLC User and Network Support (UNS)
See OCLC Customer Services Division (CSD).

online error reporting
Using field 952 of a record to inform OCLC of needed additions and corrections to the record. Used for errors in records that cannot be made by the users and do not require proof.
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A sequence of characters required to gain access to a computer system. Usually used in conjunction with an authorization number. See also authorization number , default holding library code.

Program for Cooperative Cataloging. An international cooperative project. PCC includes BIBCO (monographic bibliographic component), CONSER (Cooperative Online Serials Program, the serials bibliographic component), NACO (name authority component), and SACO (subject authority component). For more information, see

Portable Document Format. The Adobe Acrobat standard that enables the same graphic display of a document on different platforms. Because the graphical display preserves hard-copy features such as page numbers, logical page breaks, tables of contents, etc., printing a PDF document makes a better hard copy than printing HTML-formatted documents. Most OCLC user documentation is available in PDF as well as HTML.

phrase indexes
Search indexes used to search for an entire field or subfield in records. Phrase indexes are also browsable.

phrase search
Words, numbers, or character strings used to initiate a search for an entire field or subfield in a record. To enter a complete search string using a "command line" search in Connexion or an "expert" search in FirstSearch/Resource Sharing, use a phrase index label in the format xx=.

Example: To search for a personal name phrase, type pn=brooks, gwendolyn.

The person or company responsible for placing a book or other resource on the market. A publisher and printer may be the same person or company, although in modern publishing this is not usually the case.
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record matching
Computer system operation that compares one record to another based on search criteria to determine a match.

record standard
A standard for representing and exchanging data in machine-readable form. See also record structure.

record structure
The order in which content designators and content appear in the record and/or file. Record structure can include such specifications as tape media, header, blocking techniques, and characters sets. The terms record standard and record structure are used interchangeably. See also content designation; content of the record
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save file
In Connexion, a temporary online storage area for bibliographic or authority records that catalogers are in the process of creating, editing, reviewing, etc. Each library has a single online save file per logon authorization that is accessible to catalogers from that library only.

In the Connexion client only, catalogers can also use local save files while logged on or offline ("local" means that they are stored on a workstation or shared drive).

Online and local save files can store up to 9,999 records.

save file number
The number the system uses to track records in your library's cataloging Save file.

One part of a derived search. See derived search.

Time between logon and logoff when an OCLC library is logged on to the OCLC system to use a production or service.

special character
Alphabetic or phonetic character other than that used in modern English. In records, each special character occupies its own position, whether or not it is used in conjunction with another character. See also diacritic.

Words to be omitted from a search because they are so common that they have no informational value. Stopwords are not indexed and are therefore ignored by the system if entered in a search. See stopword lists in the Help for Connexion or the Help for FirstSearch/Resource Sharing. Examples: a, an, and, or, and the.

The smallest unit of information in a variable field. Data in subfields is preceded by a delimiter ( ‡) and a single letter or number code. A subfield a ( ‡a) is implicit at the beginning of most fields (the delimiter and code do not display). See also delimiter.

subfield delimiter
See delimiter.

subject headings
The most specific word or phrase that describes the subject, or one of the subjects, of a work, selected from a list of preferred terms (controlled vocabulary) and assigned as an added entry in the bibliographic record to serve as an access point for retrieving records in a database.

A subject heading may be subdivided by the addition of subheadings (example: Libraries--History--20th century) or include a parenthetical qualifier for semantic clarification, as in Mice (Computers).

The use of cross-references to indicate semantic relations between subject headings is called syndetic structure.

The process of examining the content of new publications and assigning appropriate subject headings is called subject analysis.

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The number of a variable field in a MARC record that identifies and distinguishes the field. Fields appear in tag group (numeric) order. Each number indicates what kind of data the field contains. Example: Field 245 is a title field.

tag group
Tags beginning with the same first digit. Tags are grouped by this first digit according to function. 1XX tags are main entries, 2XX tags are titles, 3XX tags are for physical description, 4XX tags are for series data, 5XX tags are for notes, 6XX tags are for subject access entries and terms, 7XX tags are for name and title added entries, and 8XX - 830 tags are for series added entries.
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uniform title
Collects the publications of an author, composer, or corporate body into a unit. The unit may contain several expressions and manifestations of the work, for example, complete works, works in a particular literary or musical form, or translations into various languages for commonly known or classical works. Examples include sonatas, songs, Aesop's fables, Bible, and translations in various languages of Hamlet. Other uniform titles distinguish between different publications (usually serials) with the same titles.

See OCLC Customer Services Division (CSD).

Update a record
Replace existing information with more recent and/or correct information via the Update (u) command.
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validate a record
Examine the data in certain fields for consistency and compliance with various rules via the Validate (val) command. The system also performs automatic validation on records when you Replace, Produce, Update, or Delete Holdings.

variable field
Any field in a MARC record, consisting of variable control fields (00X fields) and variable data fields. Each variable data field has a tag identifier, indicators, and subfields preceded first by a delimiter (‡) and then by a single letter or number subfield code. Some variable fields may occur only once in a record; others can be repeated. Length of field data is variable. MARC 21 standards require that the number of characters in a field not exceed 9,999. See also fixed field; subfield.
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whole phrase index
Search indexes used to search for entire indexed fields of records. Whole phrase indexes are also browsable.

whole phrase search
All words, numbers, or character strings used to initiate a search for an entire indexed field in records. To enter a complete search string using a "command line" search in Connexion, use a whole phrase index label in the format xxw= (where xx represents the label).

Note: FirstSearch/Resource Sharing supports only one whole phrase index—Subject. This index label has a different format; see example below.

For a whole phrase search, enter all field data or truncate using an asterisk.


  • To search for a subject field in Connexion, type suw=library science computer* (field data is truncated).
  • To search for the same subject field in FirstSearch/Resource Sharing, type sa=library science computer* (field data is truncated).
For searching purposes, any character or group of characters between two blank spaces, including initials or abbreviations.

word indexes
Search indexes used to search for a word or number in specific indexed fields of records. Word indexes are also browsable.

word search
A word, number, or character string used to initiate a search for a word in an indexed field in records. To enter a complete search string using a "command line" search in Connexion or an "expert" search in FirstSearch/Resource Sharing, use a word index label in the format xx:.

Example: To search for an OCLC control number, type no:10998406 (or #10998406 or *10998406).

An OCLC-MARC template used to create an original record or local holdings record. The system automatically supplies some of the appropriate fields and data, depending on the format you select for the material you are cataloging.

working copy
A copy of the master record, displayed on the user's screen. When the user edits the working copy, the master record remains unchanged. Also called "editing locally."

A database of tens of millions of online records built from the bibliographic and ownership information of contributing libraries. The WorldCat database is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. OCLC members use WorldCat for a full array of technical library services, including cataloging, interlibrary loan, reference, union listing, local holdings, and many more. WorldCat is the foundation of many OCLC services that let your library process, manage and share information resources. And with its records now opened to Web search, bookselling and bibliography sites, holdings in your collection are even more easily located and obtained by both your local patrons and a broad-based Internet usership.