Policy on Authority Control for MOBIUS

Developed by

MCDAC, Reviewed 05/03/2016 by the MOBIUS Office

Date Adopted

Revision Dates

Policy Type


One of the goals of MOBIUS is to provide the capability for our users to do a local search that can then be moved to search the central database without re-keying the search. In order for this goal to be realized, there must be uniformity between the headings found in each cluster’s database. Authority control of headings is the means of achieving uniformity. Thus, authority control is the primary method of exercising quality control of the MOBIUS union catalog.

Authority work serves the patrons of MOBIUS members by bringing together titles of the same author or titles on the same subject under one standard form of heading. It also serves to separate people, organizations, or subjects that appear to be the same, but are, in fact, different. Authority work provides more efficient searching and retrieval of information. It reduces patron frustration and reduces the chances that patrons will miss records that are in the database.

It is essential that each MOBIUS cluster exercise authority control over its own database. Because the MOBIUS union catalog is a virtual database, bibliographic records cannot be edited in the union catalog. Thus, authority control cannot be done at the statewide level; authority control can only be done at the cluster level. If clusters do not exercise authority control over their databases, their users--and in fact all users of the union catalog--may not be able to find materials which are nonetheless owned by a contributing library.

Even though authority control is actually done on the cluster level, the contract with an authority control vendor will be managed and paid for by the MOBIUS Consortium Office for only those libraries that are part of a cluster.* Quarterly, the MOBIUS Consortium Office will send to the authority control vendor a copy of the new bibliographic records added during the previous quarter to the databases of each cluster. Once the headings in these bibliographic records have been processed by the authority vendor, the changed bibliographic records--with their corrected headings--will be added back into each cluster’s bibliographic database. The authority records for each name heading (which includes series titles and uniform titles) and each subject heading will also be loaded into each cluster’s authority database.

As a result of the authority vendor’s work, reports will be generated for each cluster. These problem reports will be divided up among the libraries in each cluster for resolution. Each cluster must agree to a formula which the Consortium Office can use each quarter to distribute the reports.

Basic Principles

  1. No library will be expected to perform authority work on types of headings which are not used for its patrons, i.e. libraries using MESH headings will not be expected to do authority work on LC subject headings, or vice-versa.
  2. It is the responsibility of each library to resolve the problem headings distributed to it in a quarter’s problem headings is received. The resolution of some problems may require contacting the inputting library.
  3. Headings may be added to another library’s bibliographic record, but they are never deleted from another library’s bibliographic record unless they are patently wrong.
  4. Headings on bibliographic records are changed only in order to correct them to conform to national standards.
  5. An untraced series may be changed to a traced series, but a traced series is never changed to untraced. In other words, more is always better--so long as the access points are correctly formulated.
  6. In no case will a heading on a national-level authority record be changed, though crossreferences may be added.
  7. Libraries with access to the OCLC Authority Files are asked to verify and use the Name and Subject Headings as found in the OCLC Authority Files.
  8. Libraries without access to the OCLC Authority files are asked to verify and use Subject Headings as found in the printed publications of the appropriate national library or thesaurus, if they own the printed publication. These headings should be tagged 65X with second indicator 4.
  9. Subject Headings which deviate from the appropriate National Library or Sears forms may be used, but should be tagged as a 69X heading.